With COVID-19 now a daily part of life, restaurants are looking to expand their outdoor dining spaces to take the place of dine-in services, and to accommodate public health directives that call for social distancing. Many eateries are spilling their seating out onto sidewalks and parking lots, and the need for both temporary and permanent design solutions are needed. Enter parklets and enclosed patio spaces, both of which create distinct outdoor areas for people to eat and relax while still maintaining distance from others.
What is a Parklet?
A parklet is an extension of parking lot or sidewalk space that has been converted to a community space by adding seating, greenery, and other design elements. These community spaces can be temporary or permanent and are usually created through a partnership between a business, their city, surrounding businesses, and community support. Parklets can be used as mini parks and shared public spaces, as “parking lot dining” areas for restaurants and cafes, bicycle parking lots, and more. Shipping container parklets and other innovative designs are also cropping up as iterations of this growing trend of converting outdoor spaces for community use.
Parklet Ideas for Your Restaurants
What does a parklet need to have as a functional, inviting outdoor dining area? Parklet construction typically consists of a barrier (both visual and physical), adequate seating and tables, and some décor elements for ambiance.
Parklet barriers can consist of outdoor planter dividers and other elements that clearly outline the boundaries of a space yet still make it look warm and inviting. Bolsters or posts are also strongly recommended for parklet borders to make the area more visible to traffic. For temporary parklets, parklet planters and other mobile space dividers can be used, creating a sort of “mobile parklet” that moves into place when in use, and easily moved and stored when not in use.
Jai by Wolfgang Puck Restaurant
La Jolla, California
Parklet seating may consist of outdoor tables and chairs, though benches are often used to maximize the space. Planter benches incorporate the best of both worlds: providing seating and an attractive parklet barrier, and plants that act as privacy screens with natural beauty. Easy to reconfigure for your changing design and space needs, these benches also create “modular parklets” you can switch up as you see fit.
Enclosed Patios Solutions
What if your restaurant already has an outdoor area, but you want to enclose it or block it from sidewalk and parking lot traffic? At Planters Unlimited, many of our designer clients use rows of our planters, trellises, artificial hedges, and other space dividers to create their patio border. These commercial solutions have many benefits: they create private, intimate dining spaces, add ambience and natural beauty, block unwanted views (like parking lots, dumpsters, etc.), and reduce noise pollution from cars and foot traffic.
Great Road Kitchen Oyster Bar & Grill, Littleton, Massachusetts
All Planters Unlimited planters and furniture are made with industrial-grade materials that withstand the rigors of commercial environments without cracking, chipping, or splitting. Even after years in harsh weather and high-traffic areas, they last beautifully, making them ideal design elements for restaurants, hotels, hospitals, apartment complexes, and other public spaces.
Case study: International Smoke restaurant
The International Smoke restaurant in Del Mar, California, is one in a chain of new cuisine restaurants started by celebrity entrepreneur Ayesha Curry and award-winning chef Michael Mina. They were looking for a permanent solution to enclose their outdoor patio in a way that reflected the upscale vibe of their restaurant, while at the same time creating a barrier between the sidewalk and parking lot and their patio. They decided on using a row of our custom Madera planters to create a spacious, though separated, patio area buffered from the noise and activity of the surrounding thoroughfare. Snake plants were planted in the planters to create privacy, filter views, and add green beauty to the space.
International Smoke Restaurant, Del Mar, California
Our Madera planters offer the look of natural wood (even featuring natural-looking wood grain patterns) but are actually made from fiberglass, a durable material known to withstand weather and moisture without warping, rotting, splitting, or cracking. As such, these planters are ideal for outdoor solutions in all weather—even freeze and thaw conditions. The Madera planters, like most of our planter collections, are fully customizable in size, style, material, color, and finish.
Ready to Expand Your Outdoor Dining Space?
Looking for ways to expand your outdoor dining area temporarily or permanently? Planters Unlimited has helped countless restaurants increase revenue and attract diners by creating inviting outdoor eating spaces. We offer a variety of commercial planters and furniture, all of which can be customized to fit your space both functionally and aesthetically to create a design that works best for you and your customers. Visit us at www.plantersunlimited.com or call us toll-free at 1-800-320-0626.