When designing your restaurant, one of the most important things you need to consider is your furniture. The right furniture will tie your theme together and improve the flow of your restaurant. The wrong furniture can make your establishment feel cold and unwelcoming.
Restaurant furniture comes in a huge variety of styles, materials and price ranges. There are several factors to consider when buying tables and chairs for your establishment.
Commercial Tables and Chairs
When shopping for restaurant chairs and tables, it’s important to make sure that you’re buying commercial grade furniture. This may seem like an obvious point, but many new restaurant owners assume that it doesn’t matter whether you buy commercial or residential furniture.
Customers will be in and out of your restaurant during business hours. They will be moving chairs – and maybe even tables – around. Some will sit harder than others. Some guests will bring their children, or make messes on the seats and tables.
Residential quality furniture will not be able to withstand this type of heavy use. Commercial grade furniture is made with durability in mind.
If you decide to purchase metal restaurant tables, consider going with a fully welded option if possible.
Along with durability, commercial furniture will also come with a suitable warranty. A warranty on a residential chair may not accept a claim if the chair was used in a commercial setting. Why? Because that was not the intended purpose of the chair.
Your Environment or Theme
One of the most important things to consider when buying restaurant tables and chairs is your environment or theme. The furniture you choose should go with the flow of your restaurant.
If you’re running a casual coffee shop and café, you may have a mix of cozy booths, couches and lounge chairs. If your plan is to open a speakeasy-style restaurant, you may have tufted velvet or vinyl booths with wooden chairs.
The color, style and material need to match your restaurant’s style and theme. If the furniture feels out of place, it may ruin your entire concept. Remember that every aspect of your restaurant’s design should reflect your brand message, and that includes your furniture.
Height, Width and Sitting Space
Style and durability are crucial, but you also need to consider the height and width of the furniture as well as the sitting space it provides.
And in case you were wondering – yes, there are size rules for restaurant dining tables.
Standard Restaurant Table and Chairs
For standard restaurant chairs, the seat height should be 18” tall for proper use with dining tables, which have a standard height of 30.” The overall height of the chair is entirely dependent on your restaurant theme and personal preference.
What about the width of restaurant dining chairs? Aim for a minimum of 16” wide. Fine dining restaurants tend to have wider seats for maximum comfort and durability.
For restaurant seating at a fast-casual restaurant, there should be two feet for every person at the table. In a fine dining restaurant, aim for 30” of space per person.
It’s also important to choose a restaurant dining table that offers ample leg room. Ideally, there should be 10-12" of space between the seat of the chair and the underside of the table. If your chairs have armrests, make sure there’s at least six inches of space between the armrest and the underside of the table.
What about a high table with stools? Look for bar stools with seat heights of 30" and counter stools with seat heights of 24.” Bar or pub tables should be 42” high to work with standard high top table chairs.
With high top seating, you want the same amount of space for each person – 24.” The same rules apply for legroom. There should be 10-12" of space between the seat and the underside of the bar or high table.
Most restaurant tables and chair sets will come in the standard sizes and heights listed above.
How Long Guests Will Stay
As a restaurant owner, you want to make your guests as comfortable as possible – right? Yes, and no.
It’s important to consider how long your guests will stay. If you run a fast-casual restaurant, most diners will probably stick around for about 45 minutes to an hour. You want a quick turnover so that you can do as much business as possible, particularly if you have limited space.
In this case, you’d look for commercial restaurant chairs that are comfortable for about an hour, but not so comfortable that your guests camp out at your tables. Stiffer wooden restaurant chairs may be a good choice for this type of setting.
If you run a fine dining restaurant and expect guests to spend a few hours at a table, plush upholstered seating may be the best option to keep diners as comfortable as possible.
Maintenance and Care
When choosing a restaurant table and chairs sets, one of the main considerations should be maintenance and care.
If you run a casual restaurant, look for materials that are easy to clean and maintain, such as anodized aluminum or powder-coated steel. For high-end, fine dining establishments, it may be worth the extra care and attention to have high-maintenance furnishings.
Keep in mind that your staff will have to be properly trained on how to care for the furniture. If the maintenance process is too complicated, mistakes will be made, and your furniture will suffer unnecessary damage.
How will you procure your commercial restaurant furniture?
To save money, you may consider attending a restaurants furniture auction. Auctions are great places to find bargains, but keep in mind that inventory is limited. If you need six sets of tables and chairs and the auction only has three sets, you may not be able to find three other sets that match.
Restaurant furniture wholesalers still offer attractive prices, but you won't have to worry about limited stock. Wholesalers typically have minimum order requirements. If you run a small establishment with only a few tables, wholesale may not be an option for you.
You also have the option of purchasing direct from the restaurant furniture manufacturer, but you may pay considerably higher prices.
If your restaurant has an outdoor seating area, you may want to look for furniture that can be used both indoors and outdoors.
Dual-purpose furniture looks just as good on the outdoor patio as it does in the dining room. Materials like aluminum and polypropylene make for great indoor-outdoor tables and chairs for restaurants.
Buying furniture for your restaurant is not a decision that should be taken lightly. Consider all of these points when weighing your options, and don’t forget to keep your budget in mind.