Choosing the Right Restaurant Booth
While much of the equipment in your kitchen is somewhat standard, restaurant seating is an area where you can really exercise your creativity and set the atmosphere of your dining room. With a virtually endless number of combinations available, the custom look of your booths can help bring your brand to life. Here you'll learn how to identify the parts of a booth and the differences between models, equipping you with the knowledge you need to choose the right booths for your dining room.
Booths can offer more seating capacity per square foot than chairs, and many customers prefer the privacy and comfort of a booth. Their stationary nature helps keep them out of the way, ensuring traffic flow is not interrupted by chairs left out in the aisles. Several styles are available to help you make the most of your space. Depending on whether you want an open concept or if you want to create more intimate spaces, you can choose 36-, 42-, and 48-inch heights to customize the level of privacy diners have at the table to achieve the right feel.
Restaurant Booth Styles
Booths come in five main styles: single, double, wall bench, half circle, and three-quarters circle. Single booths offer flexibility in that they can sit against the wall or in the aisle, and they're typically used as the terminal piece in a lineup. Unlike wall booths, their reverse sides are finished in a similar fashion to the front, which means those parts can be visible to the customers.
Double booths, with back-to-back seats on either side, are installed between two tables and provide seating to both. Along with single booths, these work well with square and rectangular tables. If one side of the seating will be against the wall, you may want to consider a wall-positioned table, with a flat side for putting against or mounting to the wall. The opposite end has rounded corners to make it easier for guests to get into and out of the booth.
Half circles and three-quarter circles work well in corners, maximizing space and creating a seating solution for larger parties. These typically work well with half- and three-quarter-circle tables, which have a corner cut off to allow for easier access by servers across the table. Round tables, on the other hand, take up unnecessary space and make serving customers harder.
A wall bench can be coupled with chairs to offer a customizable combination of both seating types. Wall benches can also be a clever way to meet ADA requirements, as the chair side can just as easily be used by patrons in wheelchairs, so long as the tables are installed at right height.
The most important part of a booth may be the seat cushion, at least from your customers' perspectives. There are two basic types of cushions: ones with interlocking springs with a layer of foam on top and others constructed of one solid, dense piece of foam.
Seats made of foam are firm and supportive, while springs offer a little more give. Foam tends to be more reliable, but will eventually lose its firmness and need to be replaced. Much of the choice between springs and solid foam comes down to individual preferences, and you may find that your clientele prefers one to the other.
Upholstered back cushions may be solid and plain, or have stitched-in channels that may run vertically, horizontally, or in a V-back pattern. The backs may also be tufted with buttons. The channels and tufts are simply design considerations that have no real effect on the booths' functionality. Some designs integrate headrests that are usually upholstered, with extra foam cushioning for comfort.
Booth Trim and Add-Ons
Once you've chosen the basic style and cushion types you need, it's time to round off your new booth design with some accessories and options to achieve the details you imagine for your dining room.
- The upholstery you choose for your booth is the most important aesthetic option to select. Both vinyl and fabric options are common, with each available in virtually any color you can imagine. Vinyl is an easy-to-clean option, while you may find that fabric fits more in line with the mood you're trying to set. Non-upholstered, all-wooden booths are an option, and those are available in a number of finishes.
The industry uses an upholstery grading system that might be a little counterintuitive. The scale, from 1-18, measures the cost of the material, which may or may not correlate with its durability. For example, two pieces of vinyl that are identical in quality but different in color might come at different costs because one color is produced in more limited quantities. In that case, the more expensive option would be graded higher, even though it is identical to the lower-priced one in terms of quality.
- The toe kick is the piece around the base of the booth between the floor and the seat. This piece is designed to withstand the inevitable spills and scuffs that come along with foot traffic. If you clean your floors with water and chemicals, many models have the option of an upgraded, marine-grade toe kick for floors that are regularly hosed or wet mopped. Standard toe kick materials may break down over time if they're repeatedly exposed to such solutions.
- An optional piece, the skirting, covers the area of the toe kick just below the seat cushion and is generally upholstered in the same fabric as the cushion. You can choose a second color for a customized look. A particularly eye-catching method is to choose a fabric for the cushion and a coordinating vinyl for the skirting. You may opt for an all-vinyl booth, but contrast the colors of the cushion and the skirting.
- Many popular models incorporate a crumb strip that runs the length of the booth where the cushion and backrest meet. This feature provides an easier way to clean between the cushion and the back, helping to maintain a more sanitary dining room. It also acts as a catch-all for items like flatware and patrons' belongings, making them easier to retrieve.