5/28/2013 9:51:00 AM The essence of the patio Establishments, customers rely on outdoor seating during summer months
Lord Fetcher’s West Deck was a perfect outdoor venue for friends (left to right) Crisy Lauwagie, Chaska, Deanna Morris, Mound, and Sara Stillson, Denver, to enjoy a business lunch at the Spring Park restaurant and bar Thursday, May 23. PHOTOS: email@example.com
Lord Fletcher’s general manager Tom Emer said 80 percent of sales occur in a five-month span.
The warmer weather brings along the opportunity for many to get outside and shed the lingering effects of a seemingly endless winter. But for some local restaurants, the rise in temperature results in a rise in the number of customers coming through their doors.
For those restaurants that do take advantage of expanding their capacity by opening up patio seating during the warm-weather months the increase in their business can be significant.
"Eighty percent of our sales are within five months, the five-month summer period," said Tom Emer, general manager at Lord Fletcher's, located in Spring Park.
Around 50 percent of their year-round business is directly related to their patio, Emer said, adding the business they do outside each year is essential and not having that option would make running the restaurant difficult.
"We'd make it, but it's definitely a huge part of our business," he said.
Nicole Lenzner, manager at Sunsets in Wayzata, said 35 to 40 percent of their business takes place on their patio during the summer months.
While not going so far as to say having the patio is essential Lenzner said they still depend on having the patio open for those months.
"I'd say we're pretty reliant [on patio business]. If it's good weather we at least try and have one server out there and have at least a section of it open for people to sit out there and enjoy," she said.
Maynard's in Exclesior has been serving outside for close to a month, said Beth Maloney, manager and co-owner.
Emer, Lenzner and Maloney all said that as long as the weather is nice they do what they can to get people outside.
Each summer, along with the usual upkeep required to maintain the atmosphere outdoors, such as planting flowers, re-staining decks - and for Maynard's reopening an entirely separate kitchen and bar specifically for their outdoor patrons - all three restaurants see an influx of new staff.
Sunsets, which has a patio capacity of a little more than 100, almost doubles their staff for the summer months, Lenzner said.
Emer said at Lord Fletcher's, with a capacity for 800 outside on their patio, they add around 200 staff members every summer.
"We go from about 80 [staff members] in the winter to 280 total for the summer," he said.
Aside from having to open their separate bar and kitchen at Maynard's every summer, Maloney said hiring and training new staff can be tough.
"As far as staffing goes, that's a whole other animal that's really tricky because it's a whole entire different staff," Maloney said. "In the wintertime I have approximately 30 servers inside working and in the summertime my staff increases to over 100. We spend the majority of March, April and May hiring, training and getting people ready to go outside."
Maloney said their employee base goes from approximately 80 people in the winter to around 300 in the summer. Maynard's also adds a valet service in the summer, which they do not offer in the winter, she said.
The patio season varies each year depending on the weather, but Maloney said they haven't been hurt by the slow start to spring this year.
"It's tough. Obviously, if it was 80 degrees and sunny we'd be much busier than we are now. But still, we do get to a point in the year when people have just had it with winter and rain. So we consistently stay busy even when the weather isn't that great."
Lenzner also said they haven't been overly bogged down by the weather this spring.
"Our overall business, honestly, it hasn't affected us that much because people just like to come inside and have a view of the lake," she said.
Maloney said while many people are excited to get outside early in the year on a nice 65-degree day in the middle of May, by the time the middle of summer roles around and the thermometer starts to creep toward 90 degrees everybody wants to come back inside.
Regardless of when the patios open and close each year, all parties involved get what they need, whether it be a respite from the chill of winter or an increase in business.