How Do Restaurant Pergolas Differ From Restaurant Awnings

You’ve probably heard that restaurant pergolas are the hottest new trend for keeping your patrons cool this spring and summer. So naturally you’re considering adding one to your outdoor dining area. But maybe a restaurant awning would be better. Before you make a final decision, you should compare the benefits and special attributes of restaurant pergolas and awnings.

Both awnings and restaurant pergolas can enhance your business and your building, in amazing ways. You can use either one to highlight and adorn your entrance, to shade your sidewalk or a walking, to cover outdoor seating or a small performance area. Both restaurant pergolas and awnings can be very attractive.

And they’re both entirely customizable, but in very different ways, giving very different looks to your establishment. Awnings can be crazy-bright and bold or subtly sleek and elegant. Restaurant pergolas tend to provide more of a “garden” look, although they can be very simple or intricately detailed in design. Either works well with any architectural style. Both are subject to your local building codes.

Let’s look at what really separates restaurant pergolas and awnings.


  • Can be fabricated from metal or fabric.
  • Are completely covered across the top, regardless of their shape.
  • Can be retractable or permanently installed.
  • Vary in terms of sturdiness, making your local weather conditions an important design consideration.
  • Require periodic cleaning and other light maintenance, including seasonal snow removal.
  • Require structural support from your building’s exterior wall.
  • Generally do a better job of shading windows and interior areas, so you’re more likely to enjoy the additional benefit of reduced air conditioning usage and costs.
  • Most architectural awning fabrics are highly UV resistant, protecting both people and furnishings underneath from the sun’s harmful rays.
  • Can give your place a wider variety of “looks,” whereas restaurant pergolas tend to have a similar appearance regardless of their detailing.

Awnings provide extensive marketing value for your restaurant. You can cover an awning with your logo or other graphics, or make it an unusual shape. Placed over your entrance or along your street frontage, awnings serve as a “billboard” 24/7, making it easy to spot your restaurant from any direction. They can provide protection from the sun’s hot rays, but also from rain and snow.

Restaurant pergolas:

  • Are usually constructed of wood. They have posts or pillars, with a series of separated cross-beams across the top rather than a continuous roof.
  • Can provide more of a “fresh air” feeling because they’re more open and retain more natural light.
  • Are easy to dress up. You can plant vines to climb up the pillars and across the top, increasing shade and leafiness. Or hang pots of flowers, which are too heavy for awning structures.
  • Support their own weight, even if they attach to your building.
  • Are extremely sturdy, structurally able to withstand nearly any type of weather conditions.
  • Require virtually no maintenance, unless you choose to customize restaurant pergolas with paint or stain.
  • Can last for many years.

Restaurant pergolas are a wonderful choice if you’re looking for filtered shade. There’s just something especially welcoming about them that gives a welcoming presence to any business that has outdoor seating. You could add signage to restaurant pergolas, but they don’t provide the same range of visual marketing opportunities you can get with awnings.

In the end, what you choose will depend on your type of restaurant, your location and the visual and functional considerations that matter most to you.

So much to think about. So little time. Despite what it looks like out the window right now, spring will be here soon. It’s time to call your awning professional, to discuss whether restaurant pergolas or awnings would be the better choice for you.

Photo Credit: Field Outdoor Spaces via Flickr