How can restaurants keep customers dining outdoors through winter?

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Outdoor dining seems to be the safest way to socialize over dinner, but pretty soon, it’s going to be cold! There are some ways business owners can get creative and keep customers coming back.

“Think about ways that don’t really impact our bottom line,” said Lecturer of Food and Beverage Management at Cornell, Lilly Jan.

Adjusting to outdoor dining in the cold months comes down to creativity. Heat lamps are great, but they’re not always affordable to maintain or store. Jan encourages you to think about your menu.

“Creating menus that kind of celebrate the cold, make light of it a little bit. Everybody loves Autumn. The fall is a lovely time so featuring more fall-forward items would be really nice,” said Jan.

Warm options might be things like hot toddies, warm ciders, and seasonal dishes that stay warm without blowing the budget.

“Thai foods, for example, featuring some more soupy noodles,” said Jan. “If you do have those sizzling platters, finding other ways of doing it rather than just fajitas. Maybe you do something else, a melty cheese dish as an appetizer.”

Jan says it’s about changing the narrative from something chilly, to something positive.

Rather than saying, ‘Well, please tough through the cold for us’ maybe it’s like, ‘Hey let’s celebrate being outside and getting toasty together.’

Lilly Jan

If you can, Jan also recommends expanding your social media platforms to increase customer engagement.

“Restaurants are part of the community, so ask your community for help,” said Jan.

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For more local news, follow Nicole Sommavilla on Twitter @NeSommavilla.

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