As a restaurant owner, you want to ensure you provide versatility to all your customers, offering spaces everyone will love to come and dine in all year long. One thing people look for as they choose a restaurant to enjoy their meals is an al fresco area, especially during the summer. After all, it feels comfortable to sit outdoors and enjoy the natural light and breeze with a delicious meal and lovely company.
However, there are a few obstacles when offering outdoor dining, particularly the weather. Outdoor spaces are only operational during sunny or cloudy days, but they’ll have to close during heavy winds, rainfall, or winter. As a result, you can lose out on headcount, with that part of the restaurant rendered useless for the meantime. But that’s where restaurant patio enclosures come to play!
Read on as we talk about outdoor patio enclosures for establishments and how they benefit your restaurant.
What are Restaurant Patio Enclosures?
Typical outdoor patio enclosures are temporary structures usually made of beams, posts, prefabricated walls, roof sheeting, among other preferred materials. Staff can easily lower these enclosures to provide cover for guests during lousy weather but remove them during sunny days.
Restaurant patio enclosures can be made to a restaurant’s exact requirements. They can also include extras such as vinyl roll-up and down curtains for a more affordable way to protect customers. Alternatively, you can have a large, fixed structure installed over the patio, fitted with retractable elements, or a lightweight retractable enclosure for an open space closed with screens as needed.
Types of Restaurant Patio Enclosures
You have probably come across these types of restaurant patio enclosures while conducting research, such as:
- Lean-to restaurant enclosures
- Freestanding restaurant enclosures
- Back-to-Back Lean-to commercial patio enclosures
- Multi-tier enclosure systems
- Freestanding and lean-to commercial patio enclosures (Skylight)
- Rolling Walls
- Suncover Systems (only roof and wall are enclosed)
- Rooftop restaurant enclosures
- You can also avail custom patio enclosures to get the design and structure based on your restaurant’s individual needs.
There are different types of materials and designs restaurant enclosures are built. For establishments, like restaurants, they would decide between three primary styles:
- Lightweight temporary structures
- Large, fixed structure built over a patio
- Retractable enclosure systems keeping space open most times, which you can close as needed
Many restaurants that select the first option usually choose a roll-up vinyl seasonal shade cover. This enclosure will have the standard overhanding roof with suspended vinyl screens you can open and close with a simple rope and pulley mechanism. It’s a lighter and more straightforward option for temporary protection during inclement weather.
But you can find some restaurants that desire something more permanent and a more substantial addition. These act as an extension of the restaurant’s interior space to use all year long. You can choose among other additions, whether you want a fixed roof or with retractable elements to allow al fresco experiences as desired.
Now, let’s move to the materials patio enclosures are usually built with.
The best permanent patio enclosures are those built using thermally broken aluminum frameworks, which we build our enclosures with. That means you can heat or cool the space as you would with a regular building, along with having the choice of keeping it open or closed for proper ventilation.
Among the different materials we relay here, we highly recommend aluminum. It’s one of the best materials and what we use for our enclosures as it can withstand even the most extreme weather and conditions like:
- High winds
- Heavy rain
At Covers in Play our custom patio enclosures are made from aircraft aluminum alloy designed for strength and durability for all elements while maintaining a graceful aesthetic architecture look. Furthermore, the aluminum frames have a high quality baked on paint finish that will withstand corrosion and won’t require repainting, making it look and perform excellently for a long time with minimal maintenance.
Businesses can also opt to use steel for their structural framing. However, steel would require more cleaning or maintenance compared to aluminum in specific areas like painting. Steel is also heavier, which might lead to issues. For instance, if you plan to add a rooftop enclosure to buildings or have a heritage structure, it can’t support steel’s weight. As well, these structures can only be fixed structures that can’t be opened for nice weather.
Another popular choice is wood, though this is only for specific applications. You can also use wood for fixed roof overlays, which will look beautiful and add a warm, distinctive look and feel. Unfortunately, these will require a lot of maintenance because this material can discolor and fade due to sun exposure but can’t be opened for nice weather.
If you’re considering skylights, then you can choose among different materials, with glass being the simplest and most popular. This material comes in various types, such as tinted, high-performance, and low E glass.
High-performance glass is a broad term we apply to variants of materials with one (or more) enhancements. It can be energy-efficient, with a security glaze, or impact-resistant. As for Low E Glass, this material is treated to restrict UV and infrared light coming into the enclosed area.
One glazing option is Acrylic that is durable and stronger than glass and resist yellowing. It also stays clearer for longer compared to ordinary glass, and UV-stabilized. Furthermore, it’s very lightweight and comes at a lower price than the other materials we mention.
Another glazing option is Polycarbonate that is almost unbreakable material that can resist yellowing when coated with UV protection. It also stays clearer for longer compared to ordinary glass, and heat-resistant. As well it is very lightweight and reasonable pricing than the other materials.
Another material to consider is ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE), a lightweight and robust material inflated to have thermal properties. It results in a pillow-like appearance many people appreciate, and you can have it fit into retractable roof systems. With polycarbonate or ETFE, you can choose between transparent or translucent options with UV protection.
There is also photovoltaic glazing, providing sound insulation and thermal protection while still allowing natural light to come through. This glazing option can filter out harmful radiation and help produce clean and free energy from solar power. While this glass isn’t completely transparent, it can capture sunlight, incorporating semiconductors to generate electricity, resulting in energy savings.
Of course the other option that has been around for years is tempered glass that is similar to your car windshield. It is strong and durable, and when it fails the glass breaks into smaller pieces to minimize personal injury. This options is not used as often as acrylic or polycarbonate for that reason.
Insulated Metal Panels
People can use insulated metal panels on enclosure roofs if they have an area requiring opaque ceilings. That said, do note that we mentioned how businesses, mainly pubs and restaurants, want easier and more flexible protection from the sun and wind, along with the additional capability to open up, creating outdoor spaces effortlessly. As such, business owners would choose rope-and-pulley vinyl enclosures for their economical price and simple patio designs, though these are seasonal.
Restaurants who will make substantial investments in their patio enclosure designs would opt for permanent structures that aren’t only used as accessories and integrated parts of their business’ overall structure. Because of that, they choose fixed aluminum structures they can customize to their particular space, coming in different shapes and sizes based on the area, aesthetics, and functional needs. Again, it’s why many clients opt for aluminum as their primary material for enclosures and why we at Covers in Play mainly use this strong material for our client’s projects.
About Retractable Patio Enclosures
While fixed enclosures have benefits, more restaurant owners opt to invest in retractable enclosures or retractable roof systems for different hospitality environments regardless of weather conditions. They can open roofs or the enclosure (roof and walls) during bright summer days and dry, warm evenings or close it during heavy winds and rains. Furthermore, these enclosures can be custom designed to many shapes and sizes while offering proper energy and operational savings.
Here at Covers in Play, the enclosure styles used for pool enclosures are also used for restaurant enclosures, which can be incorporated in a new building design or retrofitted in existing structures. We also offer various glazing options, which we have mentioned above: tempered glass, acrylic, and polycarbonate, all offering UV protection.
The Benefits of Restaurant Patio Enclosures
There are so many benefits restaurant patio enclosures have to offer, such as:
- Enclosures are more affordable than extensions while offering a unique dining experience. It’s a cost-effective way to add seats to your restaurants without going over budget, as enclosures will extend available space for people to dine in all year long. No need to invest in a pricey full building extension!
- Restaurant patio enclosures allow flexibility, tailoring your space based on the weather and customers’ needs. Either keep the enclosure covered during bad weather or remove it for a better and sunnier ambiance for customers to enjoy.
- Attract more customers by choosing indoor or outdoor dining, giving them a WOW factor. You’ll find many customers enjoying their meals al fresco during sunny days, and if your restaurant doesn’t have that option yet, they’ll probably look for another place to dine in!
- Gain more profit as you get to accommodate more people at once, no matter the weather. You have more space covered with a restaurant patio enclosure since you can utilize the tables even when it isn’t summer.
- Restaurant patio enclosures offer increased daylighting, which promotes energy efficiency. You won’t need to use as many lights during the day, which reduces energy costs and helps the environment.
- Retractable restaurant patio enclosures will allow proper air ventilation, which doesn’t only improve customer comfort, but it’s a plus during a health crisis. For instance, studies related to the COVID-19 global pandemic have shown that poor ventilation can spread the virus indoors. By offering better air ventilation, you get to keep your staff and customers safe, giving them reassurance that you care for their health.
Wrapping It Up
Restaurant patio enclosures are excellent additions to your establishment, offering numerous benefits and customizations to suit individual needs. If you’re interested in these enclosures, contact us now! The enclosure styles we use for pool enclosures also fit patio and restaurant enclosures, coming in various designs, materials, and sizes.