Restaurant owners say open-air seating helps beat summer doldrums

Mallory Baker

For many people, good food, cold drinks and a warm breeze define the perfect summer evening.

And some restaurants are embracing that idea by offering a meal or cocktail on open-air patios and decks where patrons can catch a breeze and perhaps watch the sun set.

Ed Stewart, general manager of the Charlie Horse in West Bridgewater, oversaw the installation of a 2,200-square-foot deck there four years ago.

Summer used to be his slowest season, said Stewart. Now, it’s one of his busiest.

The deck includes a full bar, three flat-screen TVs and seating for about 120. It opens in April, right around the first Red Sox game, and closes in November.

Sides are open to let in the fresh air, but patrons are protected from the elements by a tented roof.

Dennis Gambino, an East Bridgewater resident, comes to the Charlie Horse about once a month for the UFC fights. Sipping a cold beer at the bar on a recent evening, Gambino said the open-air seating is “nice on a summer night.”

“It has a good vibe,” said Gambino’s friend Todd Mooney, a Dedham resident who makes the trek to the Charlie Horse about once a year.

Many customers said they wouldn’t opt for a restaurant without a deck or patio, even if it had a better menu.

Jen Nichols, an Abington resident, said the Abington Ale House and Grill in town offers “atmosphere without the price.”

Nichols comes to the Ale House about three times a week, usually with friends Siobhan O’Hara of Rockland and Cheryl Goggin of Weymouth in tow.

“It’s nice because you don’t have to go to Hull or Plymouth to eat outside,” said O’Hara.

The restaurant boasts a 76-seat deck with a full bar and two flat-screen TVs to watch the game. The deck, which has a tented roof but also is open on the sides, opens in April and closes in November.

General Manager Mike Costa said the deck has noticeably improved business over the summer and fall months.

And many other restaurants in the area have followed suit.

Whether patrons’ taste goes to burger and a beer or steak filet and a martini, local foodies now have plenty of options when they crave a summer breeze.

The Riviera Cafe in Bridgewater, now under new ownership, offers outdoor seating for customers while they enjoy triple-decker sandwiches, burgers and wings.

Emma’s Pub and Pizza, also in Bridgewater, has a similar pub fare menu, with chili cheese dogs, wings and buffalo chicken quesadillas. The pub has a deck with an awning cover in case of rain.

For those looking for elegant ambiance for business lunches or first dates, the Stoneforge Grill in Easton has ample outdoor seating on its stone patio.

The Stoneforge team has a second venue in the area, Stoneforge Tavern in Raynham. The tavern boasts an outdoor bar with seating.

Enterprise writer Mallory Baker can be reached at