Restaurant Furniture Buyers Guide

These days, everyone's a restaurant critic. Guests start judging your restaurant’s appearance as soon as they step through the door, viewing the atmosphere of the dining room as a reflection of the kitchen. If your furniture is shabby or dirty, you could lose customers before they get the chance to taste the food. Even diners who enjoyed their meal may choose not to return if the setting is unappetizing.

Associated with higher consumer experience ratings and overall satisfaction, a dining room’s ambiance can have a dramatic effect on your business. With people sharing pictures of their food and location on social media and writing reviews, your cozy little eatery might just be making its first impression on sites like Facebook, Instagram or Yelp.

Whether you're opening a new restaurant or redecorating an existing establishment, your furniture should complement your cuisine. And just like changing up the menu from time to time keeps it fresh, updating the decor keeps customers coming back to see what's new.

With all the challenges of running a restaurant, you want comfortable furniture that looks great but still leaves money in the budget to cover payroll and food costs. Use the BizChair comprehensive restaurant furniture buying guide to help you select the right seating and tables for your restaurant dining room.

Restaurant Table Layout and Seating Capacity
Your customers want plenty of elbow room to enjoy their meal and your servers need enough space between tables to provide excellent service. Measure the dining room to determine how many tables and chairs/stools/booths will comfortably fit in the available space while providing the maximum seating capacity.

The size and shape of your tables will also determine how many people can be seated together. Dining tables and tabletops are generally available in three basic shapes: round, square and rectangular. Round tables range in size from 24 to 72 inches in diameter. Square and rectangular tabletops range from 24 by 24 inches to 72 by 30 inches and larger.

How do you layout a restaurant dining room?
We recommend leaving anywhere from 11 square feet of space per chair for fast food joints to 18 or 20 square feet of space per chair for fine dining establishments. As a general rule, allow 24 inches behind a seated guest, 48 inches between a table and wall and 72 inches for main aisles.

Use our Seating Capacity Guide to help you choose the shape and size of your tabletops based on how many people can be seated.

Dining Tables
Whether they’re returning patrons or new customers, guests come to your restaurant to enjoy a delicious meal and even celebrate special occasions like holidays, birthdays, and major milestones. In order to provide a positive dining experience for every party you seat, you need reliable dining tables that serve your business’s needs. Since dining tables are among the most important furnishings in your restaurant, it’s important to make the right selection. You can choose the separate tabletops and bases as well as the shape, style, and materials that best suit your restaurant.

Purchasing tabletops separately from the base gives you flexibility in creating a custom look for your restaurant. Additionally, when you decide to update your dining area, you'll save money by not having to replace the base. You can just replace the tabletops.

Which tabletop is best for your restaurant?
Tabletops are crafted from a variety of materials, and many times, table style is determined by the type of eating establishment. Here's a brief description of the most common tabletop types and uses:

30 inch Round Solid Ash Table Top and Base Standard Height Solid Wood
Usually used in steakhouses and high-end restaurants, solid wood tabletops are more expensive than other options. They're available in finishes like walnut, natural, mahogany, cherry and black to coordinate with your décor.

30 inch Square Table Top with High Pressure Decorative Laminate
Laminate tabletops use a sheet of very thinly sliced (1mm to 1.5mm) wood or synthetic material is glued to the particle board or plywood tabletop core. This helps improve the appearance, increases abrasion resistance and durability and makes the tabletop easier to clean. You might find laminate tabletops in a family restaurant and reversible laminate tabletops at a fast food place. 24 inch by 30 inch Rectangular Two-Tone Resin Cherry Table Top with Mahogany Edge Resin

Made from molded plastic, resin tabletops are the same color all the way through, lightweight, inexpensive and easy to clean. Resistant to scratches, chips and water damage such as rotting, molding and cracking, resin is a great option for your outdoor dining area. Although resin is very durable, hot dishes can melt the surface.

Natural Granite Square Outdoor Uba-Tuba Tabletop 54 inch round Granite
Suitable for indoor and outdoor use, granite tabletops are available in many different colors and patterns. Tabletops made from solid granite are heavier to move and more expensive to purchase, whereas pressboard or plywood tabletops with a granite laminate surface are more affordable and lightweight for rearranging tables. Nevada Table

Top 32 inch Round Black Aluminum
Lightweight and affordable, aluminum tabletops work well in both indoor and outdoor settings. Smooth and slatted surfaces with powder coated finishes give you the look of wood with the sturdiness and durability of an aluminum frame.

Table Bases
Once you've chosen your tabletops, you'll need to select table bases that will support the size and weight of your tops. Options include square, round and cross bases available in standard dining table, bar and adjustable heights. Most table bases are made from stainless steel, aluminum, chrome or cast iron and some bases come with a foot ring, giving your customers a place to rest their feet.

Which table base is right for your restaurant?
Although bases are fairly interchangeable, you can follow these general guidelines for pairing tabletops with bases:

Round table bases typically best suit round tabletops. Cross table bases are often preferred for rectangular or square tabletops, but they can also be used for round tabletops. End bases are used to support long, rectangular tabletops. For larger or heavier tabletops, you'll need a base with a larger floor plate. Floor plates can range from 18 to 36 inches. For extra-large tables, you might consider choosing two end bases, four individual legs or double/triple column bases. When choosing your bases and tabletops, remember to consider their combined weight if you plan to rearrange your tables from time to time. Lightweight materials make it easier to move your tables to seat larger parties or refresh your layout. If movability isn’t important, you can have the base mounted to the floor for stability.

Refer to our Table Top & Table Base Size Guide for additional help with sizing.

Restaurant Seating
Buy restaurant chairs and booths designed for commercial use so they can hold up to everyday wear and tear while maintaining a clean, updated aesthetic.

Restaurant Chairs
The chairs you choose directly affect the customer experience. Wobbly chairs are annoying at best and a safety hazard at worst. If your chairs are uncomfortable, your customers are uncomfortable. You need restaurant chairs that are supportive, stylish and stable for optimal dining seats.

When asked, "Would you like a table or a booth?" many people seem to prefer a booth. Booths are more comfortable and more private. Their placement around the outer walls prevents other customers from squeezing between tables and chairs on their way to the restroom, however, cracked booths can irritate customers' legs and look old and worn.

Restaurant Booths are available in a variety of designs and materials that give you many options to create a unique and original style for your restaurant.
button tufted back double sided booth

Booth Shapes
Single, Double, Wall Bench, L Shaped, Three- Quarter Circle, Half Circle and Corner channel single sided booth Back Designs
Fan Back, Channel Back (Vertical/Horizontal/Floating), V-Shaped Back, Plain or Button Tufted, Biscuit Tufted wood booth Materials
Resin, Wicker, Wood (Natural, Cherry, Mahogany, Oak and Walnut) and Fully Upholstered Back Height

42", 36", 48"

Choosing the Right Restaurant Seating
Restaurant chairs come in many styles to match your decor or design theme and serve distinct purposes. For example, a formal style is expected in a fine dining setting that would be out of place at a burger joint. Choose your seating based on the type of eating establishment or food service experience you provide for your customers.

Fine Dining:
Use upholstered metal or wood chairs arranged around elegantly covered tables with richly upholstered booths around the perimeter.

Casual Family Restaurants:
Durable wood chairs, laminate table tops and compact booths with table units provide a welcoming, laidback feel.

Fast Food, Cafeterias and Sandwich Shops:
Create cluster units with a table and two or four seats, two single bench seats or a double booth. These units are available in many colors and are easy to keep clean and looking good.

Moveable Feasts:
Folding or stacking chairs are standard for pop-up restaurants, event catering and impromptu celebrations.

The bar side of a restaurant will often have bar stools and bar height tables in addition to the bar itself. If food is served in the bar, there may also be standard height tables and chairs. With margins on alcohol sales much better than food, there's less emphasis on turning tables. Choose the most comfortable barstools you can find so your customers can sit and enjoy their drinks for longer periods of time. When shopping for chairs or booths with upholstery, pick fabric that resists stains and is easy to clean because above all, your furniture must be clean! When your seats are sticky or greasy, customers make assumptions about your kitchen that may or may not be true. Many booths feature a crumb rail, a flat strip at the base of the seat back that makes it easier to wipe away crumbs, preventing them from accumulating between the seat and back cushions.

And of course, it's always good to have extra chairs and tables for an especially large party/event or in case of damage.

Patio and Outdoor Dining Furniture
Patio dining is a great way to expand your dining area and seat more customers, especially during seasons with pleasant weather conditions. Since it will remain outdoors most of the time, you'll want to be sure your restaurant patio furniture is designed to withstand exposure to the elements as well as regular wear and tear. Look for furniture made from materials that can handle heat and sunlight, wind, rain and more. Consider adding misters to keep customers cool in the heat and umbrellas or awnings to provide shade from the sunrays and guard against the occasional drizzle.

Which Furniture Materials are Best for Restaurants?
round aluminum indoor-outdoor table with 2 slat back chairs Aluminum

Lightweight, rust-resistant and durable, aluminum furniture can withstand daily use and inclement weather. square yellow metal indoor-outdoor table set with 2 vertical slat back chairs Steel

Heavier and stronger than aluminum, steel-framed furniture is also very durable for outdoor use. outdoor wrought iron table with round top Iron

Iron tables and chairs are the strongest and heaviest of all metal patio furniture. Wrought iron is rust-resistant but may need occasional paint touchups. outdoor wicker dining furniture set Wicker and Rattan

Suitable for indoor or outdoor use, wicker and rattan furniture brings a woven texture to your restaurant decor. 7 piece outdoor dining set with oval butterfly extension table and 6 curved x back arm chairs Wood

A natural alternative to metal or plastic, wood furniture requires more maintenance to keep it looking good, however, cedar and teak naturally resist rot and insects. resin plastic outdoor dining set Plastic & Resin

Inexpensive, lightweight and durable, resin and plastic furniture is molded into shape and can be used with or without cushions. They're also easy to clean. Upholstery

Upholstered seats provide cushion and comfort, but are not recommended for your outdoor dining area, as leaving upholstered pieces outside in the rain increases the chance of mold and mildew. However, certain water-resistant materials like vinyl, or cushions designed for outdoor use offer a comfortable, padded option.

Waiting Area/Host Station
Although your waiting area doesn't generate revenue, don't underestimate its significance. Your waiting area furniture tells your guests more than you may realize about your restaurant and food before they ever reach their table. As they enter your establishment, they take in the sights, sounds and smells that influence their opinion of their overall experience.

Look for furniture that's easy to keep clean like wooden benches for outdoor waiting areas or sofas and chairs covered with vinyl upholstery for inside. If you serve a beverage to make time pass more quickly for your customers, add some cocktail or end tables where they can set their drinks.

The furniture in this important area should coordinate with your restaurant's decor and be stylish and comfortable without creating a traffic jam near the host station. When guests are comfortable, waiting for a table during busy times is not as much of an issue. You may even want to post menu boards featuring the Daily Special or promoting upcoming events.

Quality restaurant furniture makes a great first impression, keeps your customers comfortable and enhances your restaurant's ambiance. At BizChair, we maintain an extensive inventory of all types of restaurant furniture, equipment and supplies. We also have signage, table linens and other restaurant essentials for the finishing touch!

If you have a specific question or need more information, call one of our knowledgeable team members at 1.800.924.2472.

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