A Guide to Different Types of Restaurant Patio Enclosures

Commercial restaurant patio enclosures come useful when a café wants to expand the number of seats and offer more space for clients. Moreover, they allow guests to enjoy the fresh air and fantastic city views.

Long gone are the day when restaurant patio enclosures pleased visitors only during a warm season. Today, there are many solutions that allow you to serve clients outdoors, even in winter. We are talking about enclosures that are integrated into the main building. Let’s take a closer look at different restaurant patio solutions:

Temporary Enclosures

Temporarily enclosures can be set up and removed when necessary. Usually, they consist of the array of branded panels that make up an open-air restaurant. Their main purpose is to separate the sidewalk café from the street.

The ultimate disadvantage of such constructions is that they don’t protect guests from bad weather. In other words, wind, sun, rain, and dust are going to spoil the whole customer experience and may drive customers away.

For this reason, many cafes invest in retractable awnings or a roll-up seasonal shade cover. This is a rather lightweight and affordable option to provide more comfort to the sidewalk café. With a simple mechanism, the roof can be retracted when necessary.

This is an ideal choice for cafes, restaurants, or hotels that seek a seasonal solution. However, as soon as it gets cold, even cushioning, soft blankets won’t be able to keep your clients satisfied.

Permanent Enclosures

Permanent enclosures are similar to an extension to the main building. They are more like integrated parts of the overall structure of a café or restaurant. That’s why, obviously, they are more expensive.

The ultimate advantage of permanent constructions is that they can be used year-round. Usually, they are produced from thermally broken aluminum frameworks that are ideal for winter enclosures for restaurants. They will keep the heat inside. You can just add a couple of heaters and let your visitors enjoy amazing city views in a comfortable atmosphere.

Permanent enclosures come in two types:

  • Retractable roof/walls. The roof and walls are produced from high-quality materials (usually vinyl) and can be retracted and removed when necessary. This allows you to invest in low-cost materials that don’t provide much light and serve as a shield from bad weather conditions when necessary.
  • Fixed roof/walls. The fixed roof and walls are more like a complete café, just outdoors. They are costlier; however, the benefits like better insulation fully compensate for the price.

You can combine both options and opt for fixed walls with a retractable roof or vice versa. Retractable roofs are a frequent companion to sturdy steel or wooden walls.

Those, who want a permanent roof with an amazing view, can invest a bit more in clear vinyl patio enclosures or any other transparent material. This way, you will create a skylight that is going to magnify customers.

Patio Canopies

A restaurant patio canopy is also a popular choice for setting up a sidewalk café. Basically, it serves as a shield for rain since it covers your visitors only from up.

The canopies can be retractable and permanent. Here. The choice, once again, is all yours. However, a retractable is ideal for a temporary terrace, while a permanent one suits the storefronts well. It also allows visitors to wait for the turn during rush hours in bad weather.

Obviously, in terms of pricing, permanent ones are more expensive. At the same time, they are sturdier, and less like to wear out with time.

What to Pay Attention to

If you wonder how to improve restaurant offers with an enclosure, you choose the right model. To do this, it must satisfy all the needs of your business. Here are some important factors to consider:


Typically, temporary enclosures are made of vinyl. It can be clear, which is a great option for both roof and panels: space seems visually larger, and customers can have a good view of the surroundings.

Permanent enclosures can be made of:

  • Aluminum – an insulated one is a typical choice for winter enclosures as it can be cooled and heated.
  • Steel – it is usually used for structural framing. Keep in mind: steel is much heavier and requires more effort in maintenance.
  • Wood – wooden enclosures have a special look and contribute to a special atmosphere significantly. However, it requires a lot of work to keep it in good shape.

Sun Protection

Your patio should be protected from the UV lights. The best materials to use are polycarbonate, ETFE, and photovoltaic glass. They differ in price: for example, photovoltaic light is the most expensive as it’s typically installed to convert light into electricity.

Select the right option, choose among restaurant patio cover ideas, and set up an amazing sidewalk café!

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