The Move to Al Fresco – Will Hospitality Have the Energy to Pivot Their Venues Again

For many hospitality venues across Australia, the past 6 months or so have been the hardest they’ve ever experienced. For those in fire-affected areas, it’s been almost 12 solid months of hell – lost profits, lockdowns, closures, curfews, takeaway pivots and a load of new rules and regulations to abide by.

Nisbets has been supplying the Australian hospitality industry with catering and hospitality supplies for the past ten years and has seen the industry move from one of the global backbenchers to a world-class dining destination in the space of a decade. But they’ve never seen challenges like the ones 2020 has delivered.

“Whilst we’ve seen the industry go through ups and downs over the past ten years, we’ve not seen anything like those from the impact of COVID-19. From pivoting menus, introducing takeaway and even new cleaning regulations, we’ve had to work hard to help our customers adapt to these tricky times,” says Michael Micallef, Managing Director of Nisbets ANZ.

In their attempt to help hospitality venues make up for lost time and boost those crumbling bottom lines, the NSW Government has now given a green light to bars and restaurants across Sydney to expand their seating areas to include outdoor areas on footpaths and garden spaces.

This new regulation has been dubbed the ‘al fresco revolution’ and means that the State Government can work through applications to change licence boundaries in a week, rather than the usual timeline, which takes up to three months.

“The new regulations for outdoor dining are a huge win for an industry that has suffered more than any other during 2020. Outdoor dining helps to maximise a venue’s profits by increasing the amount of space available to customers,” says Michael Micallef, Managing Director of Nisbets ANZ.

Whilst the initial roll out on 16 October only includes 16 venues in The Rocks, Rob Stokes, Minister for Planning and Public Spaces, has advised that remaining Sydney venues can apply to expand their spaces from 1 November.

Melbourne has also just announced that they will follow suit once stage 4 restrictions lift with free, fast-tracked outdoor dining permits to provide hospitality venues with more options to trade safely.

Whilst this is great news for a lot of venue owners, there are still many venue owners that are concerned about the additional expense that will be required in order for them to expand outside and to provide suitable al fresco seating options for their customers.

“We’ve had many customers get in touch as they want to expand outdoors, but don’t have the necessary equipment such as waterproof tables, chairs and even shade umbrellas,”explains Michael. “We’re working hard to address each venue’s needsindividually and suggesting the best, cost-effective options to help them navigate this next step in the coronavirus recovery.”

For venues considering an expansion to their service area, Nisbets are offering some basic advice that can be used to help select not only the right items for your location, but to choose items that are cost effective, and will stand the test of time.

Outdoor Furniture

Having good quality tables and chairs for your al fresco dining area is essential. The right outdoor dining furniture should be lightweight and easy to move and put away, as well as durable so that it can withstand all kinds of weather. Featuring brands such as Bolero and Werzalit, Nisbet’s range of al fresco dining furniture offers a variety of materials to suit any outdoor setting. Check out their range of tables and chairs.

Hot tip: For a lightweight and reliable option that is easy to move and keep clean, aluminium outdoor furniture is hard to beat. Steel and wooden designs are also available, while faux wicker looks great in bistro dining areas. In Australia, Nisbets also reminds venue owners to consider umbrellas to provide shade and protection from the weather.


An outdoor umbrella can really transform an al fresco dining area. It provides diners with shade during hot summer days and guarantees maximum use of a venue’s outdoor seating by offering all-year-round protection from the weather. Nisbets has a wide range of canopy colours and styles available, guaranteed to enhance the appearance of any outdoor setting. Check out the range here.

Hot tip: A garden parasol umbrella must be quick and easy to open or close (to avoid awkward customers encounters!), so a user-friendly pulley system is essential. Bolero outdoor umbrellas are particularly popular for their simple operation and effectiveness in providing shade for outdoor tables and outdoor chairs on patios, deckings and terraces. They are equally reliable as a pub garden umbrella, particularly when paired with a compatible base stand.

Barrier Systems

As many venues will be expanding their spaces further into pedestrian zones such as footpaths, it is essential to have measures in place to stop pedestrians walking through. This not only ensures your diners feel comfortable, but also works to lower the risk of COVID transmission from external sources, if cases were to rise. Nisbets offer effective rope barriers that are incredibly easy to set up and remove by your staff, and which can be packed away easily when your venue is closed.

The Finishing Touches – making your outdoors area shine

Whilst expanding outdoors is a fantastic step to increasing your patronage, it’s essential to ensure your outdoor area doesn’t look like it was a ‘second thought’. Ensure you’ve got menu or special boards, table numbers and high quality presented menus and bill holders to bring the space together and to ensure it matches the standard you offer inside your venue.

Nisbets have a huge selection of venue accessories to choose from.

Invest in quality cleaning products

All venues are now required to use a lot more cleaning supplies than they did pre-COVID, in order to ensure hygiene and safety is routinely managed. Nisbets’ range of cleaning equipment includes leading brands such as Jantex and Rubbermaid, ensuring that your cleaning efforts are effective.

For health and safety reasons, the majority of Nisbets cleaning equipment is colour coded, reducing the risk of cross contamination.

By choosing a colour to use in one designated area, not only will you be addressing health and safety but you will be keeping the products identifiable for team members too. From disinfectant wipes to buckets, dustpan and brush sets to cloths, these products are available in blue, red, green and yellow to comply with industry standards. It’s also essential to make sure that the relevant health and safety notices are displayed clearly in your kitchen and communal areas prior, and during, cleaning with Nisbets’ selection of safety signs.


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