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Take it outside this summer

We’ve had a look at how many bars and pubs — from the traditional to the cutting-edge — use their outdoor space to encourage more customers through their doors

Summer is here. Obviously the notoriously fickle British weather can dampen proceedings at the drop of a hat, but let’s ignore that and remain firmly optimistic.


And if the summer means one thing in pub land it’s outdoor spaces. From picturesque countryside beer gardens overlooking England’s green and pleasant land to cool city centre roof terraces, and everything in between, utilising your venue’s outdoor space brings with it so many benefits and opportunities.


Indeed, this year’s forthcoming long and hot summer (we checked with Michael Fish — honest) seems particularly apt to take advantage of whatever grass, roof or pavement you have. We’re set for some scintillating top sporting action — from the start of the new Premier League season to European football all before the dark nights and temperature drops.


With that in mind, we’ve had a look at how many bars and pubs — from the traditional to the cutting-edge — use their outdoor space to encourage more customers through their doors.


Here are a few things to consider

* The first thing to state is that when it comes to transforming or enhancing your outdoor space there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Not every lawn will work as an alluring beach bar, and not every rooftop will suit a chic New York-style conversion. There are many factors to take into consideration, but the aim remains the same — to attract more customers. Offering more space for customers means more seats and space outdoors can be a draw.


* What look are you going for? Will it suit your space? Embellishing what you have seems a logical way to go. Got a garden? Embrace it. Located in the city with only concrete for company? Use it. Equally, try and maintain the feel of your pub.


* Remember the not-so-great British weather. Ensure that there is adequate coverage if the elements take a turn for the worse. Outdoor heaters might make sense too.


* Focus on food – outdoor BBQs will always be popular. And the continuing popularity of street food shows no signs of waning. From pulled pork and banh mi to rotis and burritos, current and more exotic hot food trends are worth exploring.


Street food at Hogarth’s, Swansea



* Seating, benches, parasols. These might seem like small aspects. But the devil is in the details.


* Think about getting extra staff. You’re going to be busier – that’s a good thing. So, don’t risk upsetting your customers and prepare for the increase in trade. Adding bars and serving pints outdoors maybe possible at the busiest times.


* For other things to consider when going al fresco, this is a pretty comprehensive guide.


In the city

The Faltering Fullback, London



From bars overlooking rivers or canals or pubs in trendy suburbia, to vast event spaces there are many ways city venues can make a virtue of their outdoor area. From a full-on garden in the heart of London to a pavement space in Glasgow to a Thai-inspired affair in Brixton, if you’ve got the space, use it. The Lord Clifden in Birmingham offers sport, music and food in its welcoming beer garden.




Blind Tiger, Liverpool

Blind Tiger


In the country

George Orwell famously praised the pub garden in his memorable essay extolling the virtues of the British pub, and it’s the countryside pub that most conjures up images of large gardens with plane trees and little green tables with iron chairs around them. And here, simplicity and being sympathetic to your surroundings seems to be key. For family pubs like The Manor House Inn in Croyde having something for all the family means they offer not only a children’s menu but an extensive play ground in the beer garden.


The Manor House Inn, Croyde, Devon



Get the sport on! Screening outdoors

The Metropolitian in Didsbury, Manchester 

So, if you’ve got the space outside, how about screening some of these big events outdoors like Hogarth’s in Swansea? We spoke to Nick Braund, head of technology and innovation at PHA Media, about what pieces of kit you need…


“Avoiding any glare is vital. There isn’t a sun-resistant screen and whilst there are matt covers you can overlay, the best idea is to simply be clever in where you position the screen in relation to the setting sun. However, more than likely it’s going to rain so adequate shelter and protection from the elements is vital.”


“When it comes to large spaces, it goes without saying that you need a large screen TV, however I wouldn’t go above 50in. Anything larger won’t be as good in quality so bear that in mind. The names that you all recognise – Sony, Samsung & LG are where to look.”


“In terms of resolution, 4K is the future and these sets are now widely available but as a relative new entrant, they’re certainly on the expensive side. 4K (or Ultra HD) delivers four times as much detail as 1080p Full HD, which sounds great, but I’d argue that it might be beyond necessary for a football match as the difference really won’t be that significant. However, this is my absolute minimum. Anything less (LED, OLED) is now well past its sell by date for any sporting venue worth its salt.”


“Previously projectors were always a good idea but the execution never lived up to the hype of a huge screen. Thankfully those days are behind us but you won’t be able to provide a quality offering on the cheap. My recommendation is to go 4K if you can afford it. Bar none, 4k is the future so if you can get ahead of the times then your patrons will love you! With any projector, you need a large white wall or screen. Again, the quality of this is vital as a cheat sheet will show up as such.”


If budgets don’t stretch that far you can always hire screens and additional equipment. Companies such as Lightmedia provide a complete service and will talk you through every stage of the process from advising what is best for the size of space you have to the lay out and sound.


Other sport-friendly bars and pubs that utilise their outdoor space are Soar Point in Leicester and Black Dog NWS in Manchester.




Summer lovin’

So there you have it, making your outdoor space work – from stylish makeovers to screening sport – will entice new customers through your doors.


Now all you have to do is hope the sun shines, whip out your shades and get ready to welcome some potential new regulars.