Choosing the Right Umbrella for Your Restaurant Patio

Aug 09, 2022
5 minutes Read
Many yellow and orange patio umbrellas are closely spaced in rows, with colored lights interspersed in the middle of the patio umbrella.

No matter what climate you run a restaurant in, we’re willing to bet that there’s a good chance that you have an outdoor seating area for your patrons to use. The pandemic caused many dining establishments to expand their seating options and serve customers safely. Even as guests return to indoor dining, many of these restaurants maintain their outdoor seating areas. However, these seating areas might be somewhat barebones.

If you’ve been thinking about upgrading your restaurant patio, picking out the perfect umbrella is a fantastic way to start. In this guide, we’ll go over some aspects you’ll want to consider before buying umbrellas and a few must-have features to look for. As long as you follow our tips, we’re positive you and your customers will love the umbrellas you choose.

Factors To Consider

Before you even start looking at potential patio umbrella options, your need to think about how this product will improve the dining experience and what it can do to benefit your business. Here are some of the significant factors to take into account.

How Vital Coverage Will Be to Customers

Before even thinking about umbrellas, you need to think about how important shade or rain coverage will be for your customers. Obviously, almost every place in the world receives either rain or sunshine regularly, but you need to consider the severity of each in your region. If your area is on the coast and deals with constant drizzling, ensuring your umbrellas can sustain a steady amount of water will be vital.

On the other hand, if you live somewhere it can get blazing hot, your customers would certainly appreciate total blockage from the sun. Your umbrella needs to be good at blocking it out and should stretch far enough to fully cover every guest. Guests are more likely to avoid a seat in direct sunlight as they’re trying to enjoy their meal.

What Kind of Coverage You Have

Another important thing to consider is what kind of coverage you already have. Overhangs on buildings and tall trees can help you cover sections of your patio, but none of them will provide the same benefits as an umbrella. Building overhangs are great for keeping people dry, but depending on the direction they face, they might not block out any sunlight once the clouds clear.

The opposite is true for trees. A well-positioned tree can block out a lot of harsh sunlight, but it’ll do virtually nothing to stop rain from landing on your patrons. However, knowing which areas already have coverage from items like these will help you better decide where you should put your umbrellas.

The Tables You Have Set Out

If you buy the first umbrella you see, there’s a good chance it won’t mesh well with the tables you already have. The type of table you have will heavily influence the type of umbrella you should get. For example, square tables will look complete with square-shaped umbrellas, while round ones might be better off with circular coverings.

Another aspect that many people forget to consider is the size. If your tables have holes in the middle, you want to ensure the umbrella’s pole diameter matches your furniture. Meanwhile, if your tables are abnormally long, you’ll need to buy larger options that cover a wider area.

The Branding Possibilities of the Umbrella

So far, most of these considerations center around your customers’ needs, but what about your own? Many restaurant owners fail to realize that outdoor umbrellas can be a great branding opportunity. At Westshade, we offer patio umbrellas that you can print your restaurant’s name and logo onto. Though most people will see your establishment’s signs from the road, branded umbrellas can also grab people’s attention, especially if they’re on foot. Your branding might also appear in the photos guests share on social media.

Plus, anytime you participate in a community event, you can bring a few of these umbrellas with you. They will provide shade to the people who come up to your booth and show off who you are without the need for alternative signage.

Features You’ll Want

Of course, choosing the right umbrellas for your restaurant’s outdoor dining area goes beyond these simple considerations. You also have to think about what kinds of features you want for your establishment.

Strong Materials

When it comes to umbrellas, you never want to go cheap. You’ll need something that can withstand everything Mother Nature throws at it. A bent or ripped umbrella won’t do you any good, so you’ll want to ensure your umbrellas utilize some of the toughest materials available. Plus, you won’t want it to be too light because a strong gust of wind could easily steal it away from you.


Even though you want your umbrella to be heavy enough not to blow away, you’ll still want to have some maneuverability options for both your patrons and employees to take advantage of. A perfect choice that your customers will love is a tilt feature.

Unfortunately, the sun always seems to find a way to get in your eyes. Giving those who are using the table the ability to tilt the top toward the sun is something guests will appreciate.

Also, since your umbrellas might be on the heavier side, installing stands with wheels built into them will make it much easier for customers and employees to move them around as needed.

Color Customization

Having the ability to print your company’s name onto an umbrella doesn’t do you much good if the color options don’t match your brand. If your branding primarily uses blue and purple, you likely don’t want an umbrella that only comes in bright yellow. The right umbrella color will really get people to notice your establishment as they walk by.

Water and Sun Resistance

Finally, the last feature you’ll want to consider is how resistant the material of the umbrella’s top will be to the sun and rain. If neither of these elements is a significant factor where you live, this option won’t be as crucial. However, if you face scorching sunlight or downpours often, you’ll want to pick out a fabric that can withstand them. Options that can’t resist these elements will deteriorate quickly, leaving you with a rather useless umbrella.

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