Carve, Austin TX

Newly opened at 45th and Bull Creek in Central Austin, renowned restaurateur Chris Perry honors the roots of the butcher shop his father opened in Houston in 1979 at this special venue. His menu is already famous — the Cooking Channel and Food Network have featured their incredible Wagyu Meatloaf Cupcakes and Long-Bone Chicken Fried Porkchop. You’ll find hand-selected beef and custom cuts done with fire, smoke, and wood grilling to enhance natural flavors. The 10,000-square-foot setting for this incredible food is impeccably designed with a wine tower and three private dining rooms. Look for the golden knife and fire feature out front and you’ll know you’ve arrived. 

Our custom patio enclosure design for Carve needed to create the perfect first impression since outdoor dining starts at the front wall and wraps around one full side. The separation between indoor and outdoor dining had to feel seamless, contemporary, and high-end. Choosing top-of-the-line motorized blinds was the winning answer, offering the look of permanent walls when down. Then, with the touch of a button, the extra wide and extra tall blinds elegantly disappear. The degree of technical difficulty is often high with our commercial installations. Our experts ensure that measurements are accurate, and the commercial materials are the very best to stand up to the durability test that Mother Nature in a state like Texas offers up.

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Summer Salad Days for Restaurants

There’s more farm at the table in summer. The humble salad gets elevated to its highest and most flavorful version. So, step aside Caesar. Everybody’s going to branch out on restaurant menus right about now.

Salads Taste Better Out

Your guests know it. Chefs aren’t afraid to use fats, salt, or creativity in ways home cooks don’t. They balance seasonal ingredients with smooth and crunchy textures. It’s the combination of raw and cooked ingredients plus herbs, grains, proteins, and dressings that works. Pros tantalize the eye too. Many restaurants spiral veggies or pattern them diagonally, horizontally, or even scatter them artfully. Why not frame a salad by fanning thinly sliced veggies across the top? Then, drizzle a balsamic glaze.

A Field Guide to Summer 

Off-the-vine heirloom tomatoes take center stage and the Caprese salad is one of the season’s stars. Many restaurants source local cheeses and herbs and even grow their own. So, this salad likely gets more flavorful the closer it stays to your restaurant’s home. Consider it a winner.

If you’re making a main dish salad, step up proteins for umph. For instance, a Crab Louis salad, featuring crab meat always impresses. Or your own creative salad with spiced chickpeas or cold grilled tenderloin makes it a meal too. 

Fruit and Veggies Team Up 

The dried fruits of winter are history. Think watermelon and cucumber with feta and mint. Baby greens with grilled chicken, walnuts, blue cheese, and raspberries. How about endive with mixed greens, nectarines, and sliced grilled beets? Right now, balsamic vinegars with fruit overtones work well with olive oil too. 

Seven Summer Tips

  1. Beware. Hangry and cranky go with heat and humidity. So, keep the water flowing early and often. 
  2. Mentioning that your salad ingredients are locally sourced often earns extra customer loyalty. 
  3. Keep delivery going in case your customers don’t want to work up a sweat going out to lunch. 
  4. Language on your summer menu makes a difference. Sprinkle in crispy, magical adjectives. Is it lettuce or tender local baby greens? Croutons or sourdough croutons?
  5. Chilling a plate is a nice trick to keep greens lively.
  6. Edible flowers are in now too! Add nasturtium on top for a wow. 
  7. Greens can never be too clean. When in doubt, rinse again.

Crisp Greens. Fresh People

We can all wilt right about now. Did you know that specialized solar shade materials can block up to 95% of the sun’s heat and rays? When they get added to a patio enclosure system, restaurant guests feel a 10-degree temperature drop right away. Pair them with misting fans and air conditioning to cool things down even more. Ask our experts how to design a patio enclosure that makes it easy to enjoy any salad in the perfect outdoor setting. We’re here for you.

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Bakkhus Taverna — Kemah, TX

Near the lively boardwalk in Kemah, you’ll find a special spot serving Greek and American food with a Southern twist. Greek-style beignet, anyone? Dig into a gyro platter or grilled meats blissfully marinated in herbs, citrus, and olive oil. Every eye at your table will light up when those flaming cheeses arrive. And seeing Greek families eat here tells you that this menu has culinary roots that go back across the ocean!

Friends meet up on the patio for Bottomless Pasta Night. And if it’s rainy, nobody stresses thanks to their patio enclosure. Our custom-measured and fitted roll-up curtains protect guests when a summer rain cools off the day or during a breezy fall evening. They’re the strongest manual curtains available, plus certified flame and fire retardant. To see the difference Southern Patio Enclosures can make, just take a short walk from the Kemah boardwalk.

 

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Put Restaurant Loyalty on Repeat

You know your best customers’ names and make sure they get a great table. Now, nearly half of all restaurants make these relationships even more rewarding with a loyalty program. Your regulars tend to spend more than new customers, so this can make a lot of sense. On average, repeat guests generate 10x the revenue, according to Toast, who also says that “increasing customer retention by 5% can increase a business’s profitability by an average of 75%.”

Serious Rewards Program Benefits

Customers like being treated well by getting something back. There’s an exclusivity that makes guests feel like they belong to a club. 

For restaurants, loyalty programs are low maintenance and low cost compared to some other kinds of marketing. People who opt opt-in to hear from you. By having their information, you can send coupons, updates, or reminders. Serving your most loyal customers a well-timed offer when you need additional revenue is smart. A program like this also helps nudge an occasional diner to become a more frequent visitor.

Offer A Wow

Choose a number that guests can work toward, like a free appetizer on a tenth visit. Meal discounts are always a hit and encourage loyal diners to bring friends or family, introducing your establishment to new people. Or how about a free delivery code? Everybody now wants flexibility and you’ve likely perfected entrees that travel well. A free hat and tote bags can be winners too, not to mention a great way to keep your name out there. 

Ways to Increase Sign Ups

Customer-facing tablets and terminals allow customers to add their own emails and information. A simple “opt in” box does the trick too. Think about sending short email newsletters, which give you a little more room to go into program details. You can also tie loyalty rewards to a specific credit card and whenever it’s used, points rack up. 

Do Loyalty Affordably

You don’t have to break the bank to get this going. New third-party programs offer ways for you to delegate loyalty affordably. Some partners offer tools on an “as-service” basis, while others offer fuller support. What’s more, you may already have added the digital technology needed. 

Make the top 20%  happy

Usually, 80% of your revenue comes from your most valuable guests — regulars who make up the top 20% of your customer base. Taking care of them matters more than ever. 

We like helping restaurants care for these all-important guests with custom patio enclosures. Being able to see outdoor greenery or to people-watch in comfort makes guests want to come back again and again. And once there, they want to stay for one last course. 

Customer loyalty means a lot to us too. It’s an honor that Chuy’s, Snooze,  Fuzzy’s Tacos, and others who turn to us for one patio enclosure recommend us within their restaurant family across the country. Please let us know if our experts can ever help turn your outdoor space into a repeat destination. 

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Your Restaurant Menu, Diversified

As restaurant-goers become more educated, curious, and empowered, they’re asking for more. Health-conscious eaters want their fruit and veggie count high. Some people have allergies, food restrictions, and dietary needs. Some guests simply want to be more adventurous. These new demands now push restaurants to anticipate their customers’ needs. This can be taken with a grain of salt and a spirit of fun. Who doesn’t appreciate a well-timed pumpkin spice trend?

Changing It Up

You can be flexible from the start with a build-your-own salad, burger, or omelet option right on the menu. Why not allow sides to be healthier too with the option for fries or cous-cous, or the choice of a lettuce or flour wrap? 

Regionality may be important to consider as well. Someone from North Carolina may want BBQ and someone from New England creamy clam chowder. When you notice a trend among guests or in culture, think about adapting.

Managing Food Allergies

The eight major food allergens are: shellfish, wheat, eggs, peanuts, milk, tree nuts, fish, and soy. Allergies are becoming more common and requests at restaurants to manage them are on the rise. It’s profitable to do. According to Evok, when P.F. Changs introduced a complete gluten-free menu they saw a 140% jump in gluten-free sales. 

If your kitchen is allergy-friendly talk about it on your website. For obvious reasons, these folks heavily research restaurants before venturing out. Search engine optimization will get you seen, noticed, and your table booked. 

Your kitchen should understand the nuances of preventing cross-contamination. Your menu can also clearly define which dishes are safe to order based on allergies or special diets from raw to vegetarian and gluten-free. Listing nutritional information is also a great help for anyone trying to simply eat healthier or to lose weight.

The Big Three Alternative Diets

Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free eating are the trio gaining prominence.  The basis for the vegetarian diet is fruits, vegetables, beans, and grains with no meat or fish. Veganism is a stricter form of vegetarianism. Vegans exclude dairy, honey, and eggs as well. This is part of the reason we’re all seeing almond, oat and soy milk.

Many people deal with Celiac and Crohn’s issues. They can’t process the gluten protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. This means no pasta, bread, pie, or cake. You can offer them breads and desserts made with gluten-free flour. Creating simple gluten-free swaps, for instance spaghetti squash for flour-based pasta is another way to help. People with these issues like being seen and supported. Doing it right means thinking outside the over-used vegan bean patty. 

Being Welcoming

At the end of the day, you likely want everyone to feel at home at your restaurant. Helping people with genuine physical issues related to food or honoring different personal food choices makes you a host who offers true hospitality.

As you think about hospitality, please let us know if we can ever help you diversify your space with a durable, attractive patio enclosure. A comfortable outdoor eating area allows your guests the choice of outside or inside dining. We make it simple for everyone. Most patio enclosures are easy to install with how-to videos and written instructions. You can also call us with any installation questions during business hours. Or we’ll send pros to do it for you if you like. Here’s to making guests happy and pass the oat milk for our coffee, please.

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Perry’s Steakhouse — Franklin, TN

With butcher shop roots dating back to the late 1970s, Perry’s has become one of the country’s most-loved steakhouses with locations across the U.S. from Houston to Colorado and Miami. Here, it’s all in the many thoughtful details, like tableside carvings, aged and marbled steaks, and the pecan wood used to roast their famous seven-finger-high pork chop for 6 hours. Guests also rave about the fillet mignon, which can be sauced with Bearnaise or peppercorn reduction.

In addition to four private dining rooms, this new Tennessee location offers patio seating. Creating a seamless visual look for this high-end enclosed patio came down to choices as thoughtful as those on Perry’s menu. We worked in tandem with their architect to make sure that every technical detail was spot on. Then we installed everything to ensure that every square inch lined up. These motorized shades keep the exterior dark and elegant, yet guests get a maximum window view! We’re proud to have helped create this sleek top-to-bottom look that protects guests throughout the year and pleases the eye whether you’re driving past it or eating inside.

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A Restaurant Patio for Fido

Dogs have a pretty good gig in the U.S. Over 65 million people have befriended every breed from labradoodle to pug. Many paw-rents want to bring their pooch wherever they go. Is your restaurant ready to welcome the four leggers in the family?

Dog Rules and Regs

The first thing to consider is whether your state allows dogs at your restaurant. Right now, there are 20 states in the U.S. that support it. You can see whether your state is one of them with this interactive map

States that approve of having furry BFFs dine too usually have health and safety laws, plus additional guidelines. You may also need special licensing and want more insurance. 

In many states, you need to plan and implement a way for dogs to access the patio, offer clear signage for restaurant guests, document food safety to prevent cross-contamination, outline cleaning procedures for the area, and commit to cooking and cleaning materials that are safe for dogs.

For Everyone’s Comfort

Make sure furry friends can relieve themselves away from humans eating. This space needs to be large enough that a few dogs at a time could use it. Litter bags and clean up kits should be nearby. Have plenty of hand sanitizer around for guests to use. Consider hiring a dedicated employee to take care of removing dog waste and helping corral any dogs who misbehave. And every four-legged bestie should be on a leash. 

Menu du Dog

In addition to water bowls to keep dogs hydrated, they’ll probably want to eat as well. Who wants jealous canine eyes staring at you? Consider a simple, affordable dog menu with 3-4 choices on it. How about a mini-hamburger or pizza crust, chicken tenders or chicken and sweet potatoes? For dessert, dogs often enjoy offerings like peanut butter and banana popsicles or whipped cream.

The Nautti Dawg Marina Café has a “Yappi Hour” menu that includes mahi, scrambled eggs and chicken breast. 

Outdoor Patio Design

The entrance should be a direct patio access for furry ones so there’s no reason to go inside the restaurant. Like humans, dogs can be sensitive to temperature shifts. So cooling misters for summer and heaters for winter can be part of the plan. Some especially dog-friendly restaurants offer a fenced playground with toys and separate sections for large dogs and small dogs. 

You may want to dedicate a patio section to people-only dining and leave the other half for dogs and people. Our patio experts have 20+ years of experience helping countless restaurants create flexible enclosed patio options with panel walls that “disappear” with the push of a button. Let us know if we can help you attract dog owners with a design that bow wows.

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LOST LAKE WOODS CLUB

This year-round club on 10,000 acres in northeastern Michigan is called a hidden gem. In every season, there’s more than enough to do with miles of two-track trails for ATVs, fishing and ice fishing, snowshoeing, hiking, hunting and cross-country skiing. An 18-hole golf course and five lakes round out the many outdoor offerings. Guests can stay in the simple lodge or at an 84-site campground. 

We recently helped make a large, free-standing pavilion beside the lake more friendly for outdoor picnics and events with our retractable roll-up vinyl panels. They can be rolled down when the weather gets feisty to keep the good times on track. With a large window space, the view stays expansive even in a downpour or on a sunny day that’s just too windy for comfort without the extra protection. This series of panels fits tightly together for maximum comfort and the high-quality windows will stay clear over time with routine maintenance.

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Restaurants in the Age of Millennials

Every generation makes its mark on the world, including the restaurant world. Millennials, that often notorious and misunderstood group of folks born between 1981 and 1996 have taken it on the chin. Yet overall, they are globally and community-focused, digitally savvy, deeply curious, imaginative, and highly adaptive to change — all great qualities. What’s more, they’re now the largest age group in the U.S. So, what’s that doing to restaurants?

Millennial Vibes and Value

Liveaboutdotcom says, “Millennials are rapidly changing the way we dine. Their values of societal and environmental good, coupled with a thriftiness toward money are creating a new kind of restaurant experience that focuses on sustainability, local foods, healthy options, and bargain prices.”
Which means, they’re not eating out like their parents do.

It’s said that you can feel a Millennial-focused restaurant when you walk in. The script is flipped. Millennials have a new checklist for judging quality, one that centers on an exceptional experience. They’re not impressed by the fancy French creds of the chef. Philadelphia Magazine says, “The dining room at Royal Izakaya is nearly pitch-black, with 90’s Pokémon projected on the walls. That’s just the right vibe for high-end Japanese food, at least from a millennial’s perspective: stripped-down, nostalgia-laden elegance.”

Creating a Restaurant Millennials Like

If your menu calls out integrity like no GMOs, no trans fats, no corn syrup, or gluten-free ingredients, it’s a win. Sustainably raised foods get noticed. Less grease gets the nod too. They’re also adventurous eaters, willing to try a new ethnic dish without hesitation. Maybe that’s because they’ve seen food celebrated on social media and watched more food shows on cable TV than any other generation. They’ve been raised as foodies.

Juxtaposing the everyday with highbrow and nostalgic bites with international flavors is the secret recipe for many who see success with this age group. A fair number of successful ventures started out as pop-ups or food trucks. It’s a great way to test an edgier concept and fine-tune it.

Millennials as Restaurant Staff

To attract Millennial guests, it makes sense to represent them on your staff. You’ll want to give them input on decisions and create a spirit of collaboration. Many want to feel like they’re making a difference and have a pathway to bigger roles within an organization. So, changing things up and keeping the culture fun also makes a difference. Flexibility is a big deal because having a good work/life balance matters. “Millennials are about serving and helping one another for the greater good…And if you’re transparent about standards and expectations, they’ll hold themselves accountable,” according to QSR Magazine.

Design Counts

Some Millennial restaurants are building three-level concepts to create a part night club and part-restaurant vibe. They’re turning to high concept, Hollywood-style interior designers too. Restauranteurs who know how to create a feast for the eyes will do well.

Millennials also love outdoor seating. Think about how edgy a patio can be for these foodies. Is there a water feature to add? Neon lights? Upcycled furniture to incorporate? Or maybe you want to show off herbs grown for the kitchen on the patio. From fabric to color and patio screens, whatever customization is needed, you can get a one-of-a-kind-look. Whether it’s hiding an ugly view or shielding guests from a tough rain storm, great design inspires Millennials to hang out. After all, what’s more fun than eating outside? If you’d like to brainstorm, our design experts translate imagination into high-quality materials that hold up longer. So, play with it and take things in a new direction to welcome in the new majority.

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Restaurants with Soulful Goodness

There’s nothing more natural than celebrating culture through food. Soul food is one of America’s most beloved cuisines and continues to evolve in delicious ways.

The Staples of Soul

Close your eyes and the first thing that comes to mind is crispy chicken or catfish fried to perfection. Tucked beside it, you may find collard greens that have been cooked low and slow with a hint of smoked ham hocks and vinegar. Or maybe some homemade mac and cheese oozing with flavor from shredded cheddar, mozzarella, and Colby. There’s cornbread on the table, likely cooked in a cast iron skillet and ready for you to drip butter on top. The ending to a meal like this is sweet with fresh peach cobbler topped by a biscuit or cinnamon crumbles, maybe with a scoop of vanilla ice cream saying hello to it all from above. Or was sweet potato pie the way you wanted to end this daydream?

Soul Food for Your Bucket List

The queen of soul food, Sylvia Woods, opened Sylvia’s in Harlem in 1962. She fueled the spark that made soul food mainstream. It’s so popular that presidents and celebrities have stopped there to enjoy its world-famous platters for lunch, dinner, and Gospel brunch with eggs, grits, and buttermilk biscuits.

Wille Mae’s Scotch House in New Orleans has been voted the best fried chicken in America by the Food Network. It has a storied history,  starting out as a beauty salon, barbershop, bar, and restaurant. Then Wille Mae’s expanded the restaurant as the hair business died down. People from all over the world visit the Lower Nineth Ward to eat there. 

When in the Mississippi Delta, you’ll want to visit Bully’s in Jackson which is known for some of the authentic soul food in the country. This humble little spot is the real deal and the place to get everything from fried green tomatoes to oxtail and pig’s feet, all of it served on red cafeteria trays with a big smile.

In Washington, D.C, the Florida Avenue Grill claims the title of “oldest Soul Food Restaurant in the world.” While there, you’ll want to go for the incredible pork chops, either lightly breaded or covered in their famous onion gravy. 

These are just a few of many names that started as neighborhood joints and became famous. There are so many incredible soul food restaurants, you could create a whole road trip around them.

Soul Food Evolution

Food gets influenced by creativity and local ingredients. That’s the beauty of it. 

If you go to Richmond, VA, Croaker’s Spot reigns as the “Soul of Seafood.” You can skip the extra dash of hot sauce here when you order its flavorful main event, the Fried Fish Boat. Thick strips of fried whiting come with a sassy tomato sauce, fried onions, and peppers.

Vegan soul food is also now trending as our modern world realizes that the greens, beans, rice, and sweet potatoes are incredibly healthy. Sweet Soulfood in New Orleans is a standout, offering up sweet hot fried cauliflower and Soul Veg City in Chicago gets raves for dedicating themselves to plant-based cooking decades ago. Order up a black-eyed pea burger.

Upscale soul food has also blossomed. In Dallas, Roots Southern table Top Chef alum Tiffany Derry whips up award-winning black eyed pea hummus, oxtail ragu and duck fat-fried plantains. What’s more, it’s done with heart. Tiffany and her partners are working to help the local community through mentoring, workshops, and economic innovation for those who need entrepreneurial support by developing Roots Chicken Shak. 

Joy for Belonging

Bringing people together is what restaurants do best. As we all work to build a connected community, we thank the restaurant leaders who use a language we all speak — food with love baked in!— to help us all do exactly that. 

If you need tips on getting a design going to expand your restaurant dreams and bring more people together, we’re happy to share our knowledge. Our expertise is patio enclosures for everyone from simple family establishments to upscale hotel projects.

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