By Tom Wordie, Head of Partnerships at AndCo
Businesses in the hospitality industry tend to make a large majority of their revenue in the evenings and towards the end of the week. Bars and restaurants often occupy beautiful spaces that are not fully utilised during their quieter hours. In order to ensure that they maximise their own potential, and open their doors to as many customers as possible, venues are now starting to think more creatively about how they can use their space during the day.
Flexibility is fundamental for venues that want to push ahead as the hospitality industry develops and this requires them to have a think about their own multifunctionality. Bars and restaurants are often the cornerstone of the community, and this can extend far beyond evenings and weekends. Venues are already endeavouring to maximise their space and establish themselves amongst the community in new and innovative ways, to great success.
A trend that we have seen emerge recently is a tendency for flexible work spaces to be stylised like food and beverage destinations – bringing the calm atmosphere and stylish surroundings that most venues already have. Venues can switch this trend on its head, by offering the growing freelance and remote working population the opportunity to work in bars and restaurants during the quieter hours of the day. Plenty of venues are perfect for this dual use, with private dining rooms serving as meeting rooms, whilst expansive open-plan dining or drinking space provides an excellent alternative to expensive co-working spaces for people who would prefer to work locally. Small changes like taking cutlery off the tables, opens up the space to new uses. Platforms like AndCo offer a subscription service that facilitates this exchange, allowing freelancers and remote workers to work from such locations, whilst venues see an increase in footfall during their quieter hours.
Another way that venues have been repurposing their space is by using it to collaborate with artistic projects. Displaying arts inside restaurants has been happening for a while, with the aim that the installation will attract a wider and more diverse audience than the venue would typically be exposed to. The most successful of these ventures have typically involved the display of local photography. Other similarly creative collaborations might involve fashion brands, whose use of the space could range from the display of collections to using the venue as a set for a photo shoot. In this context, the venue benefits from increased footfall, and wider marketing by association to different companies and brands. Word of mouth is still such an important tool for food and drink venues, so widening access to new demographics can help grow venues’ profiles amongst the local community and beyond.
Bars, restaurants and pubs are often considered the hub of local communities, and engaging with communities is an excellent way for venues to put their space to great use. Many pubs are allowing local groups to meet weekly in their venues during the day, for instance, to hold book clubs or amateur film screenings. Likewise, using spaces for seminars and talks during the day brings a great association as being a space for a culture fix. All these multifunctional uses increase footfall during the day, leading to an inevitable boost in sales as well as increased profile-building for the venue.
Empty space inside venues is something that has historically been accepted as an occupational inevitability but as the industry develops this viewpoint is changing. Food and beverage outlets are starting to think more creatively about the space that is available to them and how they can best utilise it as a business. There are so many options for venues looking to reprogram their space that are not only gainful for the companies themselves but the communities around them too.