For all you sticklers out there who actually speak Italian, I am not going to discuss in this letter the literal translation of "al fresco" dining, which apparently means dining in the cold and is usually intended to mean dining in prison. I am referring to the Americanized translation, which, of course, means to dine outside, and that is what this issue of rd+d is all about.

Outdoor dining has a history that is exactly as long as dining itself. Really nothing new to report there. The idea that is constantly changing and evolving is what this means to restaurant dining.

When social distancing during the pandemic became an accepted strategy for weathering the viral storm, outdoor dining was increasingly used to lure us out of our homes and to keep restaurants open. Like other pandemic trends such as working from home and having everything imaginable delivered to our doorsteps, it stuck and is now commonplace.

Even in our own little suburb of Elmhurst, Ill., just outside of Chicago, outdoor dining is central to the conversation about downtown planning for the next twenty years. The idea being debated locally even now is allowing restaurants to permanently use sidewalk space in front of their physical locations to offer outdoor dining and even extending that into the street utilizing space that was previously street parking.

We are not unique. This debate or something like it is happening practically everywhere, and it will have a dramatic impact on restaurant design and zoning going forward. Don’t miss Editor-in-Chief Rebecca Kilbreath’s webcast on Outdoor Dining on April 11th at 1pm CDT, as it is sure to be illuminating. Go to to sign up.

Speaking of events, now is the time to request your personal invitation to our next Foodservice Equipment and Design (FED) Global Thought Leadership Summit which will be held Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 at The London House Chicago hotel. Go to or reach out to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

All the best,