How to choose restaurant furniture

You've written your business plan, chosen your location, written up your menu, you're thinking about staff and you're eager to get out there and run a successful restaurant. You've got all your bases covered, right? Furniture is a crucial part of the restaurant experience and is an often overlooked aspect of opening and managing a restaurant. After all, your guests will be spending a great deal of their time getting acquainted with what they're sitting on! When it comes to buying cafe, bar or restaurant furniture, you've committed to a balancing act. You're juggling comfort, cost, durability, how well everything fits with the theme /atmosphere you're going for, and unfortunately unless your budget is unlimited you may be trading these attributes off against each other. Below we've outlined five top tips on how you can make the best decisions to get the best bang for your buck when you're in the market for restaurant furniture.

Your environment and concept

When searching for furniture for your cafe or restaurant, it's always good to have a concept or theme in mind as to what style will best suit your establishment. What environment are you going for? Your furniture must reflect this theme. Will your restaurant cater mostly to large formal parties and meetings? Then you should consider buying longer dining tables or large banquet tables. Is your theme more of a romantic setting? Then smaller tables are a must. Restaurants with a more formal dining theme should be going with high-backed chairs.

Buy commercial grade

Don't make the mistake of buying residential quality furniture for a commercial environment such as a restaurant or cafe. Residential quality furniture will often not stand up to the hard-wearing bar or restaurant environments. Commercial quality will make sure the joinery, hardware and other potential problem areas are of a sufficient standard for heavy use. If buying metal furniture go for fully welded where possible. A commercial warranty of a reasonable duration vastly outweighs any residential warranty, a chair with a 2 year commercial warranty will be subject to heavy use that will exceed what a residential chair goes through in 20 years.

Consider maintenance requirements and go for quality

When choosing furniture for your restaurant, bar or cafe two of the chief considerations should be maintenance requirements and quality. Some materials require more maintenance and attention than others, and if you do not have the time to spend then this could affect your other operations. Low maintenance materials that deliver style and comfort include anodized aluminium, high quality polypropylene resin and powder coated steel. Wood, including Ply requires more caring for and more staff education.

Dual purpose furniture

If outdoor restaurant furniture is what you're looking for, it may not be best to invest in things that look strictly good outside - where do you live? Will people be sitting outside in the winter months? Dual purpose furniture exists to offer solutions that look equally in place indoors as they do outdoors. Materials such as high quality polypropylene or aluminium are indoor-outdoor neutral, working in either setting.

Keeping costs down

Succeeding in the restaurant industry has a lot to do with budgeting, it is important to be smart with your spending. One question stands above all in keeping costs down: "Are you the importer of this furniture?" You'll quickly realize that unless you are buying direct from the manufacturer you are likely buying an imported product. Re-selling by middle men is a rampant practice in the hospitality furniture industry, quite often by tracking down the importer you can access the wholesale price that the middle man would have purchased and added his margin on just by doing a bit of google research - you'd be suprised how regularly the search terms "chair x importer" will yield you the result. A small amount of effort for potentially thousands in savings!

About the Author

Michael (http://www.hospofurniture.co.nz) was brought up in New Zealand where his father started ByDezign Furniture, a furniture importing business in 1995. This has meant a life long education in the ins and outs of the furniture industry and many a summertime spent focusing on furniture during school and college. He now works full-time alongside his father at bydezignfurniture.co.nz.