There really is something special about alfresco dining. Whether it's the fresh air, hustle and bustle of the streets or the people watching that can be done all from the comfort of your seat – eating outdoors has many benefits. One of the key things that contributes to a great outdoor experience is the furniture.

In many cities, the craze is just catching on, but eating outdoors has always been a favourite with Australians. Regardless of whether you're seated at a small wrought iron cafe table and chairs for two or gathered at a large aluminium booth with benches, outdoor restaurant furniture can make or break the experience of eating alfresco. The menu from inside to outdoors doesn't change, but the setting does. It's a certain kind of ambience that ensues from being seated in the open air. Outdoor dining is unassuming and often spur-of-the-moment; and outside seating can play a key role in making restaurant surroundings not only enticing, but also a relaxed place to sit, unwind, and take pleasure in the view.

Whether informal and modern, sleek and contemporary, or elaborate and conventional, alfresco furniture can be found to compliment any restaurants decor. Outdoor furnishings can make a huge statement about an eatery and help spark the attention of potential customers.

Restaurateurs realise that to keep patrons coming, they must provide scrumptious meals at reasonable prices, decent serving sizes, and surroundings that offer comfortable, stylish seating.

Properly arranged outdoor furniture allows waiters to navigate the area efficiently and gives customers just the right level of personal space while feeling like they are a part of the action. It is of the utmost importance to understand the kind of people who will be frequenting the restaurant. If it's business people, then it's important that the alfresco furniture has a strong air of elegance about it. On the other hand, if it's student who will be the main customers, then durable, bright and easy to clean furniture is a must.

Many hotels, resorts and spas have a different set of requirements for their outdoor furniture. In many cases, they opt for rattan or wicker style pieces which reflect the relaxed atmosphere. Many of these establishments also choose to go for large umbrellas to add that extra tropical element.

Today's outdoor furniture options are almost endless – bar stools, chaise lounges, cafe style table and chairs, benches that can be made from aluminium, wood, plastic, rattan, wicker, and resin. And then there are the colours – greens, blues, creams, black, pewter, bronze, silver or copper. There really is an outdoor setting for every style, taste and budget.

The best possible thing to do when considering outdoor furniture is to research what is out there. Find out what materials are more comfortable to sit in, what wears longer, what is easier to clean, and what prices to expect. Once you've figured this out, chose a style that is going to compliment the restaurant decor and what will entice patrons. Now all that's left to do is enjoy the benefits of eating outside!

Cafeideas is a family owned Australian business that supplies Catering Equipment & Commercial Fridges to Cafes & Businesses.