Make an Impression with Your Restaurant Furniture
Your restaurant's furniture will be one of the first impressions your customers have of your business, so having a cohesive design that reflects the nature of your restaurant is vital. Your furnishings, which communicate to the customer what kind of food and service to expect, can significantly influence your table turnover rates, sales, and, believe it or not, even how much you can charge for your dishes.1
Before you begin looking at restaurant furniture, it is important to understand the layout of your dining area. For family dining, or to fit more tables into a small area, compact booths may be the best way to go. Tables and chairs are the most appropriate furniture for formal dining, but can also be worked into most dining room layouts, and many customers have a strong preference for one type of seating or the other.
A thoughtfully designed dining room layout is one way you can influence how customers perceive your business. A busy atmosphere can help improve your turnover time, so if that is your goal, try to position each table to have a good view of the entire dining room. If your goal instead is to upsell customers on items like wine and dessert, consider designing your dining area to give each table a sense of privacy, so patrons are tempted to linger.2
The chair is the piece of furniture your customers will have the most contact with, and it can have a big impact on how long your customers decide to stay. A balance must be struck when it comes to restaurant chair comfort. If it's uncomfortable, the customer may choose not to return; if it's too comfortable, the customer may linger too long and take up space another paying customer could occupy.1 Deciding whether to focus on quick table turning or upselling can help make this decision easier.
Your restaurant's concept can often help narrow down the type of seating you have to consider. Quick-service or family restaurants may choose from metal or plastic chairs, or wood if you're aiming for a more traditional style. Plastic and metal tend to discourage lingerers more than wood, and are a breeze to wipe clean between guests, but wood's classic style makes it more popular. It can match almost any décor, and still encourage a faster turnover than cushioned seats.
More formal settings tend to offer more elegant seating options, with cushioned wooden chairs or a parsons-style chair. These chairs are more comfortable and encourage diners to linger for more wine and dessert. However, you will need to budget for the upholstery to be cleaned at least twice a year. When considering upholstery colors, keep in mind that light colors stain more easily and may require more frequent cleanings.
Restaurant tables are sold either as a solid piece or separately as a base and table top. Wooden tables are the most popular for fine dining restaurants, but they are more expensive and require more upkeep than other tabletop types. Granite is another option that offers visual appeal while being more durable than wood.
A more economical option for tables is a laminate-coated particle board or melamine. Both of these materials are durable and easy to clean, making them perfect choice for quick-service restaurants or foodservice operations that attract families with children. These table tops add less warmth to the atmosphere of a dining area than wood, which encourages higher table turnover and can improve your sales.
If you are purchasing table bases separately, make sure the base can support the weight of the table top you have chosen. Disc- and square-style bases are easy to clean around, but can prevent chairs from being pushed all the way in, which means they take up more floor space. T-style bases allow chairs to be pushed fully underneath the table, but make cleaning under it a little more difficult.
1. Servicescapes: The Impact of Physical Surroundings on Customers and Employees Wilkes University. Accessed October 2015.
2. Turning the Tables Cornell University. Accessed October 2015.
3. Restaurant Furniture Buying Guide Pinnacle Hospitality Systems. Accessed October 2015.