Future-proofing the outdoor hospitality sector.


Brew92 Palazzo Riyadh

As a number of countries around the world begin easing—or planning to ease—their coronavirus lockdown restrictions, both the inside and outdoor hospitality sector is gradually reopening. This is welcome news, especially in the UK, for example, where the hospitality sector’s revenues plummeted by £80.8 billion between April 2020 and March 2021. While there is an initial focus on outdoor eating and drinking, the measured return to indoor dining will mean that businesses must think about how they operate in both the short- and long-term. The coronavirus pandemic has brought about a need to reassess the time-honoured rules of hospitality. When the pandemic has abated (although it is suggested that COVID-19 will likely be with us forever), it cannot be assumed that people will once again act naturally—the impact of the pandemic on our future social interactions and behaviour is as yet undetermined. For that reason, the planning and designing of outdoor spaces, and indeed indoor, should aim to future-proof the hospitality sector.

The availability of outdoor trading space differs from country to country, and is impacted by factors such as the weather and local planning regulations. If we take the UK, for instance, just two in five licensed premises have some form of outdoor space available to them: a garden, terrace, car park, or other area in which guests can be seated. Premises with no outside space will need to find imaginative solutions if they are to trade. In these circumstances, local authorities can take a proactive approach to opening up street spaces. A business might consider lobbying its local council, asking them to temporarily cone off an area of the street or to think about pedestrianising it altogether. One solution is to implement the timed pedestrianisation of streets, where any business deliveries are made by an agreed time—the street can then be given over to al-fresco dining.

Parklet at Kaafi Coffee

The Wellhead Bar Bristol

While there is no absolute panacea for issues raised by limited outdoor dining space, creative low-cost and scalable solutions can be found. One such solution is the construction of a parklet, a public space that sits on or alongside a pavement, and typically involves redesigning a number of on-street parking spaces. In Belfast, The Ormeau Parklet is a trial placemaking project, with the aim of testing how the city can creatively redesign its public spaces. The parklet was formed using five on-street parking spaces, and is separated from the busy road by seasonally appropriate planting and corten steel (with its oxidised surface, it has a warm, red appearance). Low walled planters provide impromptu seating, while local cafes and restaurants (who prior to the parklet had no outdoor space), can use the space to set up tables and chairs.

Whatever type of outdoor space a business plans to use, at present it must adhere to a government’s covid restrictions. In the UK these include: the two metre rule between people/tables, the placement of screens (though not mandatory), and the erecting of shelters—at least fifty percent of any shelter must be open. Businesses might also use one-way routes and phone app ordering systems. Moreover, because of the pandemic, consumers and diners are likely to be cautious, and more attuned to hygiene measures as well as their proximity to others.

Francis Outdoor Easy Chair

Bread Lab London

Of course, businesses will need to take the customer experience into consideration. The outdoor space should be pleasing—appearance and ambience are an important part of hospitality. If the setting is a pavement, it should be designed where possible to encompass people, ensuring they feel separate from the street and traffic. Planters and plants will divide an outdoor space: they’re practical, attractive, and make for a more interesting backdrop. A canopy or umbrella is inviting and great for regions with changeable weather conditions. If a business has a garden, the outdoor space can be delineated by a raised level, such as a deck—this provides diners with a different perspective and they feel as though they are stepping into a distinct space. Furniture is also a key factor. Discerning diners will seek out places that prioritise comfort and have an aesthetic quality. Liqui’s sleek Francis Easy Chair has a contract grade steel frame with a selection of colours, finished in a polyester powder coating. With an outdoor upholstery option, this contemporary armchair adds an easy ambience to any outdoor hospitality setting.

Restaurant branding is a crucial component of any outdoor space, and businesses should seek to bring their branding outside with a logo, colourways, and textiles. Consumers who knew a business before covid may expect to see a level of service reminiscent of those times, and it will be important to listen to their views and opinions. A business can also think about its digital presence, and work to drive traffic to its website via social media: here, customers can make online bookings, and find out more about a business’s current offer and future plans. Having the right technology in place will be essential, for example, providing diners with the ability to place an order by using an app on their smartphone.

Remembering that indoor drinking and dining will once again be made available, any period where people are confined to outside spaces provides a perfect opportunity for a business to invest in its interior space. Whether it’s a deep clean, a spruce up, or a redesign, giving attention to the inside can pay dividends now and in the time ahead. For those businesses in the hospitality sector, the covid pandemic has entailed extended periods of closure, a number of legislative changes, and unplanned, additional expenditure. Now, businesses will need to adopt a ‘pandemic mindset’. Instead of viewing covid-related measures as temporary, city planners and businesses should think about future-proofing work that has already begun. If planners prioritise flexibility and accessibility, public spaces can adapt and improve. In spaces that have been modified, for example, a short-term street closure, we might ask whether or not it can be made permanent. It is actions such as these that will help to benefit the hospitality sector in the future.


‘Because things can be different’ with Liqui Group, is a new podcast that explores ideas on contemporary business, retail, and design. The latest episode is titled ‘Four points a hospitality business should consider now’

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4 key points a hospitality business should consider as COVID restrictions are eased – BTCBD Podcast – Episode 7.

4 key points a hospitality business should consider
as COVID restrictions are eased

Episode 7 of Because Things Can Be Different


The latest Step for the UK’s Roadmap to recovery came into play today as the Government eased a number of restrictions. For Hospitality this is a huge break, as venues can now open their outdoor space areas for ‘Al-Fresco’ dining.

But what does this all mean for the Hospitality industry?

In this article and the latest episode of our podcast launched today, we cover the four key points a Hospitality business should consider now that restrictions have been eased.

  1. What the current and future steps of the COVID 19 Roadmap mean to hospitality
  2. Outdoor dining – does it make sense?
  3. Branding – what to focus on now
  4. The interior – now might be the best time to invest in this


1. Right now what is the state of play for businesses….

As of the 29th of March in the UK all venues were only allowed to offer a takeaway service, thankfully that has now changed. As of today, 12th April 2021, hospitality venues (Restaurants, Cafes, Bars, and Pubs), can serve an ‘Al-fresco dining experience if they have the space to do so.


 What will this mean for businesses?

Having looked at several sources, there seems to be the potential for more than 41,000 venues to open their outdoor spaces to consumers, offering a much-needed boost for the economy and the hospitality industry in general.

There are a number of things to consider…


2. Outdoor dining

Restaurants, and hospitality venues in general, looking to maximise outdoor bar, patio and lounge spaces, could also seek creative ways to make use of street fronts, car parks, gardens and terraces.

Only two in five licenced premises have permanent space to trade outside according to data analysts CGA and advisory firm AlixPartners. This does differ by location and type of business – for example, more than 80% of pubs have beer gardens, whilst for casual dining restaurants it’s only 12% that have outdoor spaces.

In larger cities like Birmingham, Manchester and London, they are preparing temporary road closures and pavement widening to help with this.

This same study also found that the numbers reopening may not be as high as we might expect due to limitations on space and the costs of equipment and staffing.

Should this be a stopper?

Demand for those establishments that are reopening however seems high due to pent up demand. Creating an outdoor environment people want to spend time in and that reflects a business is important.

The current UK government guidelines for outdoor dining state that…

– 2m between groups/tables/people
– Screens can be used
– Fixed booth seating less than 1m+ apart plus additional screen making the back 1.8m
– Shelters can be erected – 50% of walls open whilst in use as ventilation

Space planning will be key…

Large volumes or groups of businesses that are open in close proximity are advised to consider the cumulative impact of visitors. It is suggested that steps could be taken to regulate the capacity and staggering entry times to avoid build up on the street.

– Arrange one-way routes.
– Reconfigure seating to maintain social distancing.
– Reservation systems, looking at 3rd party apps or even a booking system on a website.


3. Branding

For branding, a lot of what should have been utilised at the start of lockdown will remain an essential piece of a brand strategy for businesses to operate effectively throughout the COVID-19 roadmap.

We have already covered a lot of this in our earlier podcasts, and if you are a business owner who has done nothing with your brand during the previous lockdowns, you might be too late. Your competition, if they have been brand-focused, may have an advantage.

However, there are focus point that should be looked at regardless.


Customer service and customer sentiment and behaviour.

As we start engaging with hospitality environments, and with their staff, consumers may expect a certain level of service reminiscent of what it was like before COVID, and their sentiments and behaviour towards a business will offer valuable insight.

Listen, now more than ever to what consumers are saying and how they feel. Keep an ear to the ground, and it will provide you with the best insight into how to adapt your offering to meet customer demand, monitoring the changes in concerns or sentiment.

What are hospitality staff going to be like after months of not serving?
Training will be essential, not only to implement a strict Covid policy but to keep the brand engagement on point.

Strict hygiene and social distancing for the short to medium term will be essential. This has a tendency to strip away the warmth of human contact, and the businesses that bounce back will inject warmth and friendliness into the experience.


Ramp up Digital delivery if you’ve not done it already

Your customers want to know what steps you are taking as a business to look after them, so plan for this demand. They may also like to know how your staff and the wider community are being treated, as this helps them feel safe.

Update the website, make sure it can handle the demand whilst business comes back online, and put in place a robust way to make bookings online. This will also go a long way in the business efforts for track and trace, helping to meet those government guidelines.

Put a COVID Policy in place that outlines your efforts as a business, and not only display that at the venue but make it prominent on your website.

Drive traffic to your website via social media, and create great content that focuses on the positives that are coming from being able to operate in a normal(ish) capacity once again.


Reviews will be the ultimate cherry on the icing, indicating that the business is still providing a quality service. Have in place a process that easily puts the option to leave a review directly in front of a customer. If they book online, then send a follow-up SMS or email to get that feedback. This will also help with ranking signals on Google helping a website with SEO and search visibility.

Offer incentives during the early stages to generate interest that will drive traffic to your venue. Discounts can work well, especially when trying to fill those quiet periods.


4. Investing in your interior

The next step in the UK Roadmap (17th May) states that there may be the potential for Hospitality businesses to reopen their interiors, whilst still keeping all distancing measure in place from step 2. There may also be a 30 person limit in outdoor spaces.

So now might be a good opportunity to invest in the interior.

Deep clean, spruce up or re-design?

Some businesses may have taken advantage of government-backed schemes, which will provide an opportunity to invest some money back into the business and create a better interior and digital presence, rather than on staff. It may mean that the business will have a better chance of recouping the cost later as it will have a better presence on the high street and online. The staffing costs can then be covered later as the business following starts to grow off the back of the interior investment and business increases.

For many, there have been little or no shutdown costs, but there may also be a lack of surplus money to afford any sort of investment. This could mean that the best way to update the interior might be to do it yourself and get involved with the painting.

It may also be an opportunity to look at the business model, and switch it to something like the ‘and’ model. We have seen a rise in ‘Coffee-and’ models consistently over the past couple of years, and that may be a viable option. This could be key in the regeneration of a business.



For more please subscribe to our podcast.

‘Because Things Can Be Different’ with Liqui Group – A podcast show that discusses all things business and design.

Join our hosts from Liqui Group Ltd, as they discuss the world of Branding, Interior Design, and Business, providing listeners with some all-important insight into these powerful business essentials.

Episode 7: 4 key points a hospitality business should consider as COVID restrictions are eased.

Uk Lockdown restrictions are starting to ease and in Episode 7 of “Because Things Can Be Different” Cameron Fry and Mike Page discuss the 4 key points that any Hospitality business should consider, now that outdoor dining has been given the go-ahead.

They cover the Steps in the Roadmap and what it means to hospitality businesses, the reopening of outdoor dining and what to consider, the brand and what to focus on, and if now is a good time to invest back into the interior.

Embrace the ‘Al Fresco’ dining experience.


Our podcast is available on iTunes and Spotify.


Thank you for watching or listening to ‘Because Things Can Be Different’. Please like and share our podcast.

We would love to hear from you.

If you have a question about any of the topics raised in our podcasts, or even an episode request, please contact us.

You can find out more about Liqui Group Ltd at liquigroup.com, and Follow us on Instagram: @liqui_group and @crate47.



Liqui Group are longlisted for Design Studio of the Year 2020.






Liqui Group announce USA launch.




Interior design practice Liqui Group, are well-known for their award-winning coffee shop design projects, with clients around the globe in Saudi Arabia,  UK  and  The  Netherlands,  Liqui  Group  has set up shop in the trendy Fashion District DTLA, of Downtown Los Angeles. Expanding their contract division to North American clients, Liqui Group is offering  their  full  turn-key  design  services  including;  commercial  interior  design,  furniture  and  lighting design.

After  a  successful  presence  at  the  Los  Angeles  Coffee  Festival  earlier  this  month –  Liqui  Groups’ interior design practice, has made it its mission to partner with highly skilled furniture manufacturers and architectural/ interior contractors  based  in  Southern  California,  establishing  a  strong  team  that  will  oversee  their  interior projects, with the same commitment to traditional techniques, allied with a modern sustainable approach, as that of their UK headquarters.

‘The decision to expand Liqui Group to the US seems like a natural step’ – says Cameron Fry, Liqui Group’s Founder. ‘We work on projects all over the world, designing some of the best coffee shop design experiences, and felt it was time to explore the US market, starting with one of our favorite regions.’ ‘The coffee industry in Southern California is moving at a real pace, and as one of the leaders in the sector, it seems silly not to embark in this new venture.’ — adds Cameron.

New interior design practice Liqui Group, launch in downtown LA

New LA interior design practice Liqui Group, launch their downtown office       Interior design practice Liqui Group, launch their Los Angeles Office

Liqui Group interior design practice , launch in downtown LA

Liqui Contracts – 100% Design.





Liqui Contracts will return to 100% Design with a creative collection of new furniture and lighting, presented in an impressive, handmade wooden pavilion inspired by trees and a canopy of leaves. It’s the ideal showcase for this innovative British manufacturer, whose commitment to traditional techniques, allied with a modern, sustainable approach, is capturing the imagination of a diverse range of customers. With this in mind, Liqui is keen to wow visitors at 100% Design, the UK’s largest trade event for industry professionals.

Design London

At 100% Design, Liqui Contracts will be part of Design London, a carefully curated selection of brands chosen for their focus on high-quality design, exceptional craftsmanship and thorough attention to detail. Contributing to London’s status as a world design capital, the brands featured in Design London will show their work in a specially created area during 100% Design. For Liqui, this is the perfect opportunity to present its considered design ethos, process and approach, alongside a number of contemporaries.

Honest, well-made, functional and aesthetic furniture and lighting

Following months of prototyping and crafting, with sleeves rolled up and much toil at its Brighton-based workshop, Liqui Contracts will show thirteen products at 100% Design. A collection of chairs, tables, shelves and lights, these products reflect Liqui’s desire to create honest, well-made, functional and aesthetic furniture and lighting.

The quirky Moore Chair and Moore Stool, with a single ‘eye’ placed on one side of the backrest, take their name from Patrick Moore, the eccentric monocle-wearing English astronomer. Made from formed beech ply and a steel wire frame (and available in oak veneer or upholstered versions), the characterful Moore Chair and Stool are ideal for use in coffee shops, cafes and restaurants. Also perfectly suited to a range of hospitality settings, the Delores Chair and Delores Stool each have a lozenge-shaped, padded backrest and seat, set on a tubular steel frame. The smart, modern dining chair and bar chair/stool offer great design versatility: upholstery is available in a variety of fabrics and leathers, and the tubular steel frame can be specified in any colour choice.


Inspired by the Milan-based Memphis movement, Georgie is a bold series of tables created with a postmodern aesthetic. The Georgie Coffee Table, Side Table and Cafe Table each consist of a wooden tabletop, metal column and base, and make an eye-catching addition to any coffee shop and restaurant. With its Japanese and Scandinavian design influences, the Shaw Shelving unit makes a handsome bookcase or display case, and takes its name from Irish playwright and author George Bernard Shaw. What’s more, in Old English the word ‘shaw’ means ‘woodland’—entirely apt, as the shelving is handmade in Britain using sustainably sourced solid oak. In the manner of the Shaw Shelving unit, the Shaw Coffee Table and Shaw Side Table draw inspiration from Japanese and Scandinavian design. These elegant solid oak tables are also handmade in Britain using sustainably sourced timber.



The Whittington glass pendant is a contemporary capsule-shaped light that harks back to those classic lighting styles of the 1920s. With its opal glass shade and a hand turned wooden cap (in oak or ash), the Whittington pendant—used individually, in a row or in a cluster—makes a stirring statement. Margot is a spun aluminium pendant light that’s made by spinning a metal plate at high speed on a lathe. With an integrated hand tool, a craftsman forms the light shade around a mould. Owing to the spinning process, Margot was named after English ballerina Margot Fonteyn. The pendant is available in large and small versions, in plain aluminium with a lacquered finish or in any colour choice.

Liqui Contracts’ birch canopy-like pavilion stand

The clever design of Liqui Contracts’ trade stand at 100% Design will provide an exciting showcase for its work. Conceived as a canopy-like pavilion, the stand, constructed from sustainably sourced birch ply, embodies Liqui’s proactive approach to design and craftsmanship. Despite its large size, the stand’s wood structure will be open, warm and inviting. And built on a larger scale, it will be noticeable from different vantage points. To create an airy pavilion space, an open canopied framework is supported by tree-like columns. Sitting on a raised floor, the pavilion is divided into four tiered areas, each perfectly suited to displaying Liqui’s collection of furniture and lighting. Low walls decorated with small diagonal perforations are used to separate the display areas.

In creating this impressive stand, Liqui is able to highlight its creative, multidisciplinary approach: one that includes the design of contract furniture and lighting, commercial interiors, exhibitions and trade stands.

Liqui Contracts has its complete range of products available to view online. Click here to view their website and their contract furniture and lighting options.










Contact us.

General enquiries
Interior enquiries
Product enquiries
General Enquiries:

Interior Enquiries: interiors@liquigroup.com

Contracts Enquiries: contracts@liquigroup.com
London Office

+44(0)2031 304069

Thomas House
84 Eccleston Square, London

Sussex studio & workshops

+44(0)1403 740086

The Campus
Unit 4B Thornhill Court, Billingshurst Road,
Coolham, West Sussex, RH13 8QN. UK