Al Fresco Reopening: A Tale of Two Fortunes (Catering Today)

9th April 2021

A timely article in Catering Today highlighted the issues around reopening for solely outdoor drinking and dining. It featured our comments on how businesses with large outdoor areas can capitalise on the space available and what solutions there are for those venues that have little/no outdoor facilities –

“Catherine Johnstone, founder of the international hospitality consultancy Vigour & Vice, claims that a number of small steps can be taken to maximise those limited areas. She says: “Venues with smaller outdoor areas can capitalise on the limited space they have by ensuring their booking systems are set up and running as effectively as possible.

“Make sure you have a thorough booking confirmation process, including calling the guest on the day of the reservation and just prior to the booking. Make sure your reservations system is being updated in real time to take account of any no-shows or cancellations, and use an effective waiting list to fill any tables that become available last minute.”

Johnstone even argues that investing in “a few nice blankets and umbrellas” while encouraging customers to “embrace the great British weather” can make a vital difference. Yet, while these small changes can perhaps keep a venue ticking over until 17 May, business owners, like Garcia, who are able to open their entire operations on 12 April can truly make the most of a five-week head start if they are properly prepared.

“Venues that benefit from an outdoor area need to be ready for demand,” Johnstone says. “Planning is key – make sure your outdoor area is set up for social distancing and prepare a sound financial plan that reflects both historical trading patterns and the changes in the sales capacity and booking demand.”

Johnstone adds that maintaining an efficient “operational flow” is essential once opened, as it can curtail the possibility of becoming overwhelmed. She also says that “using sales targets and staff incentives” to ensure motivation are vital in capitalising on the five-week advantage.


Read the full article here –

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