Pubs, cafes and restaurants have now opened for business – we will raise a glass to that. The challenge is that social distancing measures will be in place for the foreseeable future. Creative thinking is required to compensate for the greatly reduced number of covers inside.

If we continue to have a largely dry summer, outdoor seating can provide part of the solution. For a longer-term solution, that can be used throughout the year, some are installing outside dining pods.

All-season Wooden Dining Pods

Wooden pods have been a popular addition to glamping sites across the UK and Europe in recent years. These intimate cabins create the feeling of escaping to the wilds, with a few home comforts thrown in for good measure.

When fitted with sliding glass doors and the option of heating, small wooden pods can provide the ideal all-seasons outdoor dining option.

Charred timbers have been used to create stylish interior design in popular restaurants, such as The Geisha Room, a private dining area at The Ivy Spinningfields in Manchester. They have also been used to create the ultimate glamping experience by companies including Koto Cabins. Why not bring contemporary style to your hotel grounds or pub garden with charred timber dining pods?

Dining Pod Inspiration

One of the first restaurants to hit the headlines post lockdown was Mediamatic ETEN in Amsterdam. They installed small greenhouses along the waterfront in which family groups and couples could dine at a distance from other guests.

In the UK, wooden dining pods have become the latest edition to The White Hart Inn in Margaretting Tye, Essex. These circular wooden pods have proved highly popular with diners. They create a unique, personal dining experience, which makes customers feel safe and special.

Its namesake, White Hart of Wytham in Oxfordshire has also created wooden dining pods, largely from recycled timbers. Decorated with fairy lights, these are a lovely place for locals to enjoy an evening meal.

For something quite different, The Barn Restaurant in Terrington St John in Cambridgeshire have opted for plastic dome pods, which resemble the Eden Project biomes.

Roof Top Dining

Whether plastic or wooden, dining pods are great for pubs with gardens and hotels with grounds, but what about city centres premises?

In some urban areas, the hospitality industry is calling on councils to pedestrianize streets. This would allow for a pleasant outdoor dining experience throughout the summer. Come Autumn, a fresh approach will be needed to draw in customers. Some hoteliers and restaurant owners are looking up.

Disused rooftops are being transformed into elevated courtyards. With a bit of imagination, small concrete spaces have been re-purposed to provide tables with a view.

The idea of rooftop dining pods is not a recent concept; here is one example. In the winter of 2018, The Aviary in Finsbury Square, London introduced exclusivity with small group rooftop dining, which was popular long before social distancing was a concern.

We wonder whether some of the other rooftop terrace bars in London will be installing pods to keep the customers rolling in.


A Growing Trend for Outdoor Kitchens

As architects and homeowners look to optimise social spaces in homes and restaurants, there is a growing trend for outdoor kitchens. In America, this is currently the leading project trend and the demand for covered outdoor kitchens is growing in the UK.

These ‘cook and eat’ spaces can harmonise with garden landscaping with the use of materials including exposed brick and charred timber cladding. For the later, the controlled charring process provides excellent weather-proofing and fire resistance, as well as visual appeal. You can read more about the benefits of charred timber in our article.

So, if you have access to exterior space, the design of an outdoor kitchen, with wooden pods for guest seating could make your restaurant the destination of choice.

Manufacturers and suppliers of Shou Sugi Ban® Charred Timber

Exterior Solutions hold the Shou Sugi Ban® registered trademark. Our trained workshop team create quality charred timbers for architects, building developers, interior designers and landscape gardeners.

Speak to us about your design ambitions and we can recommend suitable timbers and charred finishes to best meet your brief. You can view our Shou Sugi Ban® online brochure and we are happy to send samples. Please contact our team on 01494 711800 or email us at for further information.