As we have stated in previous blogs, restaurants can more directly target a single ambience compared to a café or bar, owing to their unique ability to heavily filter their potential clientele prior to them even entering the building.
Therefore, the really keen restaurateur can more carefully segment their market and directly target their desired audience not just through their distinctive menu but also through their interior design. But, is this a blessing or a curse?
It’s the age-old debate. Does one want to be a jack of all trades but a master of none or, on the other end of the spectrum, one so highly specialised that anything even slightly outside of their usual frame of reference and they fall to pieces? Neither is ideal.
Spread the message too thinly and it may be lost in a flurry of trying to please too many people but too precise and your establishment will appear far too refined to appeal to more than around three people.
What is called for here is a clear, cultivated vision of the kind of ambience and vibe that is desired. Only through this lens can the landscape of restaurant furnishing be truly examined.
It will probably end up taking quite a lot of your time. That’s the sad truth of the matter. They’re just the salient facts. Due to the influence that furniture has on the customer experience and journey, you can make or break your restaurant with just one piece of rogue seating. Forming part of the recipe for success, pun fully intended, is the 3m behind the main window.
When walking or even driving past restaurants, one quick look through the window and you know what kind of establishment it is. And it is the furniture that plays the most vital role in the building of ambience, class and character. Ahead of even lighting and music.
The restaurant furniture and staging serve as a first indicator of what to expect and of what is expected. It signifies quality, you know what to expect. And because you know what to expect from the restaurant, you know what is expected of you in return in terms of dress code, etiquette and, indeed, remuneration.
One doesn’t simply walk past a Mcdonald’s window and expect Michelin star quality food to be on the tables. It just doesn’t happen. Lashings of oak and walnut can suggest quality in much the same as the wood in a Rolls Royce does.
The lengthy growing process is reflected in the beauty of the knots, grain and weathering in the tabletops – it symbolises patience. Whereas, plastic, bright paints and wallpaper certainly do not give the same impression of quality.
What to Consider
With a clear vision of the ambience you want to create in mind, the next step is to consider how functional, comfortable and durable the pieces of furniture are.
And indeed, need to be. With the vast majority of the furniture, you purchase for your restaurant being either a table or chair, and with there being generally a minimum of two chairs per table it makes sense to start with the chairs.
The seating at a restaurant generally gets the most use out of any furniture in the building. It is literally designed to comfortably accommodate patrons and, at the very least, not be detrimental to their experience. But, to hopefully even enhance the experience of the paying public.
Be it a leather bar stool, a wooden armchair or a booth, the seating is paramount to how Generation Z and millennials view your restaurant. You wouldn’t see a booth in the middle of a Michelin starred restaurant just as you wouldn’t see vintage leather armchairs in KFC.
The point that we are trying to make here is that you have got to know your audience inside out – pitch to their tastes and you can’t go too far wrong. But be sure to make sure that it's comfortable and hard-wearing - it’s going to be sat on by an average of 10 people a day for the next 5 years at least.
Second only to the chairs, the tables in a restaurant give an indication of the intended purpose of the space. And, let’s face it, the table is the centrepiece of your dining experience. Pun slightly intended.
With tables being front and centre it makes sense for restaurants to make a fuss over their tables. Just think of the feeling of walking through row upon row of dark, almost black, commercial tabletops. We think there is even an application here for some reclaimed wood furniture. Providing some much-needed character to the expensive restaurant.
Top Top Tips
So, to wrap up, it’s always best to spend a little time envisaging your dream environment first. It is where you can conceptualise - focus on the nuts and bolts – the tables and chairs. Don’t be too diffuse with your aims. Head over to the Shop tab and scroll through our range of new, reclaimed, vintage or industrial furniture. Just think of the possibilities.
You could have a reclaimed and repurposed industrial table, a brand new sofa, a plush booth literally or any other restaurant furniture tomorrow. And, if you’re local or willing to travel, most certainly head down to our Hooton emporium to test your favourite pieces and ensure they have the levels of style and comfort your customers will be expecting.