Who doesn’t love to sit out in the sunshine on a lovely summer day and enjoy beautiful weather while you enjoy a delicious meal? Maybe there’s a serene creek nearby to add to the ambiance, or maybe you offer a broad patio perfect for live music to go with those cold brews. Even without “that little something extra” to make the outdoor seating at your restaurant special, having an outdoor dining space can be a major draw for customers. Of course, for anyone who owns a restaurant with outdoor seating, you know it’s not all sunshine and fresh breezes.
Outdoor dining may bring in the crowds, but it can also create headaches in terms of mess and overhead expenses. After all, how often have you watched a paper menu with the happy hour specials float away on a stiff breeze? Just as often, a surprise downpour can send customers scrambling to get inside, breaking dishes and leaving menus to get drenched. Between the wind, rain, high pollen days, and accidental spills, menus and menu inserts are some of the most common casualties of outdoor seating. If keeping your menus in good shape is an ongoing struggle, try these tips:
Avoid Laminated Menus That Fold
If you rely on laminated paper to create menus, skip the multi-page foldable options. Anywhere laminated materials fold is an undeniable weak spot. Each time a laminated menu is folded or bent, it wears away at the bond of the laminated coating and leaves your menus looking worn and dingy. Eventually, that bond will split, taking the paper in between with it and making your menu far less legible — and that’s before the lamination splits enough for liquids to seep in. If you insist on sticking with lamination, your menus will survive better if you stick to single-sheet options.
Skip The Plastic Sleeves
Like lamination, menu books with plastic sleeves are a decent option if you want to change our your offerings often. Of course, those open-topped sleeves make them less wonderful in terms of both aesthetics and durability. The opening to the sleeves makes it easy for rain, spilled drinks, and even condensation on a customer’s hand to seep in and warp the page. As much as possible, avoid menus that use sleeve protectors if you want to protect the pages.
Find Colorfast Materials
When you have an outdoor seating area, your menus are going to sit out in the sunshine a lot. You have to be prepared for the customers that want to hold onto one menu for the drinks list as well as the folks who get to chatting and leave the menus sitting open on the table. Then, of course, there are the number of times a menu is set to the side or left under a table for hours. The point is, your menus will be exposed to a lot of sunlight, and that light will quickly fade many inks without some sort of protective coating. While we’re on this topic, keep in mind that lamination materials also have a tendency to go yellow or discolor when exposed to sunlight as well.
Look For Stain-Resistant Options
Like any restaurant menu, there will always be the risk of spills causing stains. Heading outdoors tends to increase that risk; many customers don’t worry as much about food or drink sloshed on the ground since it’s outdoors and can easily be washed away by a hose or rain. On top of that, you’ll also need to consider pollen and other environmental factors that can increase the risk of stains.
Focus On Durability
Restaurant menus need to be either durable or inexpensive to replace. That’s simply a fact of running a restaurant. Add in outdoor seating, however, and that need for durability jumps up. Think about how often your customers are likely to set their menus on the ground or lean them against a chair to get them out of the way. You may not want to have a separate set of outdoor menus, but durability should definitely be an important factor.
But Wait! The Better Alternative
Here at TerraSlate, we’ve developed an option for menu printing that can withstand even the messiest of outdoor dining environments. Our waterproof paper is tear-proof and colorfast, so it can stand up to the heavy handling, being dropped on the ground repeatedly, and even being used as a makeshift placemat over and over. We take such great pride in our waterproof paper’s durability, we put it through an industrial dishwasher and a tear test. It came through both experiences undamaged, untorn, and still totally legible. Better still, our waterproof paper is less expensive than lamination and easy enough you can handle all of your menu printing in the office of your restaurant, if you choose. Of course, if you need menu printing services, the ease of printing with our paper means we can get orders printed and shipped out quickly.Experience the benefits for yourself. Shop TerraSlate Menus now for waterproof menu options and more!