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Food Service Industry Updates Franchising Industry Updates

‘We’d Like a Quiet Table Near the Fire Hydrant, Please’

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iStock/Bjorn Bakstad

More than 40% of full-service and about 25% of limited-service restaurants have added outdoor seating on sidewalks, parking lots or streets since March 2020. That provided a much-needed venue to serve customers who missed the restaurant experience while also allowing them to feel like they were dining at an outdoor Parisian cafe (if they squinted).

These “streeteries” may have started as a temporary fix to preserve revenues and jobs during the pandemic, but it turns out consumers really like them. The National Restaurant Association today reported that 43% of adults sat at one of these improvised al fresco locations during the past 12 months. Even more adults (84%) said they favored allowing restaurants to continue setting up tables in these locations on a permanent basis.

That sentiment was shared among diners regardless of factors such as age, gender, region and income level, the association said.

“Among baby boomers, 84% think restaurants should be able to permanently offer expanded outdoor seating,” the association said in a statement. “That is more than three times higher than the 27% who were able to dine outside at a table that was located on a sidewalk, parking lot or street during the last 12 months.”

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