Restaurants with outdoor dining are a staple in any big city in America. These patios are ideal for creating a new ambiance and communal space in your restaurant or bar. Well-Designed outdoor dining spaces will add valuable seating and atmosphere to your business. This article will give you some ideas on decorating and furnishing your restaurant patio in order to maximize the environment and entice customers.

Classic Cafe Table and Setting

Anatomy of a Good Patio

We’ve all been to that restaurant with the impeccable patio. The mood seems right, the seats are comfortable – and is that a fireplace in the corner? A great patio starts with some key elements that will transform any outdoor space into a functioning, comfortable dining area. Take examples from this Travel + Leisure article on America’s Best Outdoor Bars for ideas on what’s included in an exceptional patio.

Comfortable Seating 

Not everyone comes to a patio to sit and eat a whole meal. Sometimes people want to have a drink or a small plate and relax in a comfortable setting. This is where outdoor sofas and sectionals come into play. They’re comfortable and roomy, and when paired with a low table they can be used for casual dining seating. 

Social Centerpieces 

You’ll want to look for the right centerpiece for your patio based on what environment you’re trying to build. If you’re looking for an upscale feel, try a fireplace or fire pit to use as a centerpiece for sofas and chairs. If you want your patio to have a fun and social feel, consider a secondary bar set up in the patio area. A bar is a natural gathering point for customers and can be a nice place to wait for a table or meal. 

Dining and Bar Seating 

While patios will have fun pieces like couches, bars, or fire pits, you should still include plenty of dining chairs or stools and tables. Whether you choose bar height tablesdining height tables, or a combination of both, ensure your guests have a place to sit down and enjoy a meal. 


Adding accents to your patio will add personality and ambiance to your environment. Things like outdoor side tables, poufs, and pillows are great for adding comfort and convenience to this space. Consider some live or fake plants for added visual effect. 

Ambiance and Environment 

A restaurant patio should match the environment of the indoor dining room of a business. Whether it’s formal, casual, or somewhere in between, you should spread your indoor atmosphere to your outdoor dining area. If you have a more casual environment, consider adding a bar and access to things like games and communal seating. These add to a comfortable and casual atmosphere and offer your customers a chance to stay and enjoy themselves. If your business offers formal dining, look at adding things like booths and ambient lighting to create a formal atmosphere. 

Restaurant Patio Layout 

Once you’ve identified your business’s dining atmosphere, whether formal or casual, you can decide the layout of your patio. The environment that you’re looking to create in your patio will dictate the best layout of furniture and gathering areas. We discuss some layout ideas that work for both formal and casual dining on your patio. 

Comfortable Casual Layout 

Center: Create a cozy spot by using sofas, armchairs, and chaise lounges. Place low tables in the center and on sides of seating as a place for food and drinks. Throw in some playing cards or trivia games to keep the conversation flowing. 

Outer Edges: Set up a variety of dining and bar height seating. Consider chairs and stools with backs and arms to keep diners comfortable while eating, drinking, and playing games. Add some more board games or cards to provide additional entertainment. 

Front Corner: A bar is a valuable profit center for any foodservice establishment. Set up a bar on your patio to give easy access to beverages for customers as well as service staff. Be sure to add stools to the bar for a casual seating option. 

Comfortable Formal Layout 

Center: Utilize an attractive piece like a fireplace as the central focal point of your patio. Add some comfortable armchairs and side tables around this for customers wanting to enjoy a drink by the fire. 

Outer Edges: Add dining height tables and chairs with arms for dining seating. Using a uniform height for seating gives a formal feel and allows for comfortable access around the entire patio. Feature some outdoor booths in addition to the tables and chairs for comfort and variety. 

Front Corner: Bars can also contribute to a formal atmosphere given the right setup. Consider some bar stools with backs to seat people at the bar as well as some cocktail tables near the bar for conversation. 

Bistro/Standard Layout 

Center: Utilize the center of your patio for the bar. Add backless stools for customers to drink and socialize but can still be encouraged to take a traditional table and spend more time on your patio. 

Outer Edges: Layout dining-height tables and chairs around the edges of the bar for traditional hostess-led seating. Customers can dine just as they would in your indoor dining room. 

Front Corner: Communal seating has become popular in restaurants across the US. This type of seating is like typical bar seating with a seat-yourself style environment. Offer community-style tables and chairs in the front corner of your patio for customers to sit at as they wish. Communal seating often provides quick-turn tables that can benefit customers and service staff that are short on time. 

Restaurant Patio Style Ideas

While your patio décor should coordinate with the décor in your indoor dining room, you can use your patio as an opportunity to test some trendier styles that eventually could be incorporated indoors. We’ve laid out some design ideas that are easy to recreate in your restaurant patio.

Trendy Chic Cafe


This look involves metal chairs, bar stools, and tables of varying heights. Varied heights in seating allow you to maximize the space of your patio to fit more people, which is where the urban style gets its name. Consider some low-height tables and benches for a trendy option. Add some string lights and plants to complete your trendy look!

Seaside Cafe


You don’t need to live on the coast to love a seaside style for your patio. Add some wood seating or teak wood furniture to give an attractive beachy look. Consider adding some brightly colored upholstered chairs and sofas for a comfortable option as well.

Classic Patio

A classic patio features dining-height tables and chairs made of plastic, metal, and sometimes wood. This style is flexible and can fit with any restaurant décor or atmosphere. Include umbrellas with tables for sun and wind protection and consider some greenery or table lighting to create a warm style. 


Community style patios are trending across the United States, especially in restaurants that appeal to millennials. This style often allows individuals to seat themselves at large cafeteria- or picnic-style tables as the space is available. Large rows of tables and bench seating are common in community design. Supply guests with menus at the table so they can seat themselves freely. 

More on Restaurant Furniture

We can help you set the right atmosphere in your commercial dining room. Read more about buying restaurant and bar furniture that suits your needs.

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