The Art of Outdoor Dining: Creating Inviting Al Fresco Spaces for Your Catering Business

al fresco dining

As modern customers seek unique and memorable dining experiences, outdoor dining spaces have become an increasingly popular and lucrative feature for businesses in the catering, leisure, and licensed trade sectors. Offering al fresco dining creates a distinctive atmosphere and allure, being a particularly enticing prospect during warm summer months. In this insightful blog article, we will explore the essential considerations for designing and setting up outdoor dining spaces that are both comfortable and stylish, to ensure that your establishment stands out and attracts customers seeking the perfect al fresco experience.

ABM Catering for Leisure Ltd’s comprehensive services, covering design, specification, supply, and installation, are perfectly suited to assist you in creating stunning outdoor spaces tailored to your business’s unique requirements. Our dedicated in-house workshop, specialising in bespoke furniture and upholstery, allows for the creation of customised pieces that perfectly complement your outdoor aesthetic. With our expert support, your outdoor spaces can provide charming and delightful experiences, ensuring that patrons not only enjoy their visit but return time and time again.

In this detailed guide, we will cover essential aspects of creating exceptional outdoor dining spaces, from selecting weather-resistant furniture and fixtures to enhancing the ambience through lighting and landscaping. Additionally, we will demonstrate how partnering with ABM Catering for Leisure Ltd can make the process seamless and stress-free, allowing you to focus on providing exceptional service and unforgettable al fresco dining experiences to your clientele. Immerse yourself in the art of outdoor dining and let ABM Catering for Leisure Ltd help you create inviting spaces that inspire memorable moments and foster customer loyalty.

Selecting Weather-Resistant Furniture and Fixtures

A crucial consideration when designing an outdoor dining space is selecting furniture and fixtures that can withstand varying weather conditions, as they have to endure both sunshine and rain showers. Keep these important factors in mind when choosing suitable options:

1. Material selection: Opt for weather-resistant materials such as aluminium, teak, and synthetic wicker that can endure moisture and temperature fluctuations without suffering damage or losing their charm.

2. Upholstery: When selecting upholstery for outdoor seating, choose fabrics specifically designed for outdoor use, such as solution-dyed acrylic, which resists fading and mould.

3. Quality: Invest in high-quality furnishings and fixtures from trusted suppliers such as ABM Catering for Leisure Ltd. Our bespoke furniture options, crafted in-house, ensure durability and longevity for your outdoor space.

4. Easy maintenance: Choose outdoor furniture that is low-maintenance, ensuring that your staff can easily clean and prepare the space for your patrons.

Enhancing Ambience with Lighting

Integrating thoughtful lighting design into your outdoor dining area is crucial for ensuring that your customers feel comfortable and enjoy their meal as dusk sets in. Consider these approaches to create a well-lit and inviting atmosphere:

1. Festoon lights: Suspend strings of festoon lights above the dining area to add a warm and inviting glow while also providing ample lighting for your customers to see their menu and meal.

2. Lanterns and candlelight: Scatter lanterns or candles on tables to create an intimate setting and a soft, flickering light that adds warmth and charm.

3. Pathway lighting: Illuminate pathways and walkways with subtle ground-level lights, guiding guests to your al fresco seating area and showcasing your landscape features.

4. Ambient lighting: Consider installing dimmable permanent fixtures, such as wall-mounted lights or post lights, for versatile ambient lighting options that can be adjusted according to the desired atmosphere.

Designing an Inviting Layout

A comfortable and engaging layout is essential for crafting a successful al fresco dining experience. When designing your outdoor space, keep these key elements in mind:

1. Flexible seating arrangements: Create a mix of seating options, including tables for large groups, intimate corners for couples, and bar-style seating for guests who want a quick bite or drink. This flexibility can accommodate a wide range of customer preferences and occasions.

2. Privacy and enclosure: Utilise garden screens, plants, or trellises to create separated areas offering privacy and enclosure, while still maintaining a sense of connection with the surrounding environment.

3. Accessibility: Ensure that your layout is easily navigable and accessible for all patrons, including those with mobility challenges.

4. Comfort and functionality: Consider incorporating features such as heaters for cooler evenings and shade solutions, like umbrellas or pergolas, to protect diners from the elements without compromising the al fresco experience.

Enhancing the Al Fresco Experience Through Landscaping

Incorporating thoughtful landscaping into your outdoor dining area can heighten the al fresco experience, adding natural beauty and creating a serene atmosphere. Consider the following ideas to enhance your outdoor space through landscaping:

1. Greenery and plants: Introduce colourful flower beds, potted plants, and hanging baskets to create visual interest and improve the overall ambience.

2. Water features: Incorporate water features or small ponds to create a soothing, relaxing atmosphere and mask any background noise from nearby streets.

3. Vertical gardens: Install vertical gardens or living walls to enhance the dining area’s intimacy while also improving air quality and bringing in natural elements.

4. Patio surfaces: Choose durable, slip-resistant flooring materials like natural stone or composite decking to create a safe and visually appealing patio surface.


Creating captivating al fresco spaces that offer comfort, style, and enjoyable dining experiences is key to attracting customers and standing out in the competitive catering, leisure, and licensed trade industries. By focusing on weather-resistant furniture, inviting lighting design, functional layouts, and thoughtful landscaping, your business can create compelling outdoor dining spaces which encourage repeat custom. Partner with ABM Catering for Leisure Ltd for high-quality furnishings, professional catering equipment installers, and bespoke solutions that bring your al fresco vision to life, cementing your establishment’s reputation as a go-to destination for memorable outdoor dining experiences.

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