How bars & restaurants can maximise outdoor spaces to increase business


We kiwis love our outdoors – hence why alfresco dining on warm summers evening is a popular choice for many throughout the summer months. NZ winter however, is not quite as forgiving, and we quickly retreat indoors as the temperature drops. For bars and restaurants, this generally means a decrease in seating capacity as patrons are less willing to brave the outdoors.

With seating capacity often decreasing by as much as half, finding a way to maintain a comfortable outdoor space will have a noticeable progressive effect on profits.

In order to create a fruitful outdoor space, you need to strive to make your patrons in your outdoor area just as comfortable as those indoors. Though this might appear an expensive undertaking, the cost is in fact rather minimal, considering the increase in usable business space. To effectively achieve this, you must focus on three main factors – Heating, Shelter and Lighting.

Shelter – protecting patrons from the elements

While many establishments make an attempt to cover their diners with the like of awnings and umbrellas, NZ’s notoriously blustery breezes easily drive in cool wind and rain – driving diners out. To combat this, use artificial walls or floor fixed blinds. This will protect your patrons from driving wind and rain and are actually a very reasonable price. Transparent PVC Patio Blind are a product which is easily rolled up and down and only cost around $100 per blind – a very cost effective way to keep your patrons sheltered.

Lighting your outdoor space

Good lightening is important for 2 reasons – creating atmosphere and allowing diners to easily see what they’re doing. In addition to this, exterior lights act as a great marketing tool, drawing prospective customers into your establishment. The most cost effective lights are LED, due to the fact that they conserve much more energy than other bulbs. Unlike previously, they are now quite cheap to produce, hence why most major restaurants have refitted their premises with LED lighting.

Outdoor Heating

Heating is the best way to attract prospective diners. However, it is important to note that not all outdoor heaters on the NZ market are the same and it pays to research exactly what you are getting. Traditionally, we have seen heat lamps used to warm up outdoor diners. However, the use of gas powered heaters is not only costly, but is actually very inefficient. Gas heats simply heat the surrounding air, meaning a lot of energy is lost in a slight breeze.

At Kelray Heating, all of the commercial outdoor heaters we produce are electric and use infrared heating technology. Infrared acts very similarly to the sun’s rays, seamlessly passing through the air before being absorbed by solid objects (like our bodies).

Our overhead infrared outdoor heaters create a very comfortable outdoor space, even on the coldest NZ winter nights. In fact after installing our heaters at Te Puia’s event centre in Rotorua, a building without walls, diners commented on the warmth and comfort of the venue – even on a negative one degree evening!

In addition to making outdoor spaces useable, even on the coldest night, our product are the only NZ made heaters using 316 marine grade stainless steel, meaning that our heaters are built to last in even the harshest outdoor conditions.

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