Eating out: Al fresco dining serves up restaurant profits

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For an increasing number of patrons at this time of year, wanting to dine out means means wanting to dine outside.

As temperatures ease (finally!) and summer officially kicks off, an unprecedented number of patios and rooftops stand ready to welcome Minnesota diners, and restaurants offering al fresco service are reaping big rewards as a result.

The Business Journal has a comprehensive story about the financial windfall that an outdoor component has generated for scores of Minnesota restaurants; the patios have proven to almost guarantee more diners and create a boost in sales. Patios become so common in the past 15 years or so that the story says they are now considered "must-have features" that contribute to an establishment's bottom line.

WCCO Radio noted that we are now in the middle of the 2nd annual Patio Week, sponsored from May 19-26 by Meet Minneapolis. Here is a list of 38 patios, which include decks, rooftops and places on the sidewalk and by the water. All are offering special deals during the promotion.

The Pioneer Press carried a list of the top 30 outdoor patios in the metro area, including spots in the cities, suburbs and along the waterfront in the St. Croix Valley. The story focused on old favorites like W.A. Frost in St. Paul and new spots with the latest in four-season retractable roofs, including the Union Rooftop in downtown Minneapolis. The roof option allows diners to remain outside even in the fickle weather.

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