How do design commercial outdoor dining

Oct 16, 2022 • Awning Worx
retractable roof

The best way to design outdoor dining in Brisbane

Outdoor dining continues to be hot property for Brisbane restaurants, clubs and pubs. So much so that reinvestment in these areas is always at the forefront of business’ future plans.

Without stating the obvious let recap on the reasons why outdoor dining spaces are so important.

Firstly, more and more outdoor spaces often represent a very large percent of the dining space for paying customers. Functioning outdoor spaces can represent a full house or a big reduction of capacity. Anyone in the restaurant business knows how to count covers and effectively closing a big percent of the space directly effects the bottom line.

Secondly, if there is dramatic change in the weather, as often happens in Queensland with the tropical climate, moving customers or closing spaces is very disruptive. This does not help with the reputation of the establishment.

Thirdly, Being known as a business which is always open, all year round and always has enough comfortable space is going to benefit a business’ reputation long term.

Lastly, in the post covid environment we live in there is a large percentage of clienteile who are going to feel more comfortable with more fresh air around them.

So what are the key goals for a reliable outdoor dining space. Protection from the sun in Queensland is obvious. Only for a short few months in Winter do we find people comfortable sitting out in the sun dining or socialising. The other problem which looms for outdoor businesses is rain. There may be sun protection however what is going to happen when the heavens open.

There are a number of solutions for covering your space and clients and not all are from our retractable awning or retractable roof range but we will run thorugh all of them so you can see the pros and cons of each.

Lets take the traditional view and look at building a roof. Building a fixed roof has many benefits and gives almost complete flexibility with design. You can incorporate all the lights fans, entertainment equipment you like. The main drawbacks will of course be cost, time and planning regulations so a fixed roof extension normally sits in the long term planning basket. A modified option here maybe a steel or timber pergola structure but the costs to do these structures properly quickly add up. It is also important to consider how the roof of a pergola will perform. Fixed roofs in glass or a polycarbonate material will generate the heat through the greenhouse effect and a simple metal roof may radiate heat below.

The use of a fixed shade sail can use two two different types of fabric a mesh or and a water proof tensioned membrane. Shade sails can be very cost effective at covering large spaces like playrgounds and other large outdoor spaces. Their limitions come in two forms. The nature of their design can leave the sides of the structure exposed and as such rain can often drift under the canopy. Using conical shaped structures can assist with protecting from the rain but in Queensland these can catch heat and increase the humidity point under the canopy. Further to note that due to the high wind requirements of Brisbane and other areas in Queensland these structure need to be properly engineered and as such may not be quite as cost effective as intialy thought. However a well designed and thought out tension membrane structure or commercial tensioned umbrella can add a nice design element to an outdoor space when sun protection is the main goal.

We might be slightly biased toward retractable roofs as it is our main business however we definately do not discount the benefits of the above solutions and most of our projects involve working as part of an integrated design plan which may involve using all of the above. For example it makes sense to have kitchens, bars and other critical areas under fixed protection and just have the outdoor dining and event spaces more flexible.

To make a start on retractable and operable systems it is always good to look at the traditional and well known approach of using traditional folding arm awnings. These traditional awnings offer some of the most flexible and cost effect outdoor dining solutions. In a residential setting they are one of the most popular solutions. For commercial spaces they generally have little to no planning implications and can be ordered and installed in very short time frame. With a decent amount of angle on the fabric they will protect against light to medium rain which for a number businesses like cafes or pubs with relatively flexible, low spend clientiele or fast turn around seating may be more than enough coverage.

When the effect of losing the space is more critcal then it is worth looking at retractable or operable roofs as they may become a better alternative. Retractable Fabric Roofs, Operable and Retractable Roofs or Pergolas have a number of key benefits. Firstly, they give a perminant protected waterproof space with the flexibility to open the roof in the evenings when the sun is not longer an issue. In the hotter months they offer the sun protection during the day and open ventilated space with the roof back in the evenings. In Winter they allow diners to catch the sun during the day and when closed in the evening stop the cold from decending. When combined with heaters and blinds you will have a comfortable space for dining every night of the year.

Unless on a more sensitive public precinct or in very visible position which affects the views of others retractable roofs do not have the same planning challenges which extensions and renovations have. They still have a good degree of design flexibility which allow them to stand alone or be integrated into other structures.

They coming a number of louvred systems and fabric systems and there are are specific models and deisgns for a many differing applications.

Awning Worx specialises consulting on how best to utilise our clients space and enhance their outdoor areas to generate great space for their clients all year round.

To see how Awning Worx has integrated our Retractable Roof Projects around Brisbance and QLD  CLICK HERE

To find out more about how Awning Worx can assist on a project CLICK HERE

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