6 Key Details to Know Before Purchasing Restaurant Butcher Block Table Tops

restaurant tablesButcher block tables are warm, natural, sustainable and inviting for restaurant customers. However, not all butcher block tables are the same. Below are key knowledge points a person should have prior to purchasing restaurant butcher block table tops. These points are important to attracting and retaining restaurant dining customers and protect against unwanted expenses.

1. What do restaurant customers want in a butcher block table top?

The first thing a customer desires is for the table top to match the ambience of the restaurant. For example, when eating at a better casual restaurant, customers may expect to have a smooth, visually appealing, quality table as opposed to the fast food restaurant where customers readily accept a plastic laminate table top.

 2. What do restaurant owners want in a butcher block table top?

The first thing restaurant owners want is increased sales from butcher block tables helping to attract the targeted customers. Butcher block tables can have interesting grain patterns along with being stained in various colors that make dining a pleasant experience and attract the right customer. After sales, restaurants want t tables durable enough for plates, bus tubs and all the things people put on the tables, anything from water to a hammer. Expenses for maintaining butcher block tables need to be considered, such as refinishing. Regardless of how good the table finish is, it will wear out over time, so that expense should be considered as part of the cost of the table top. It may be worthwhile to hire a marketing company that uses demographic and psychographic research to find out what customers in a particular area want to see in a restaurant, including the types of tables and other restaurant furniture.

 3. How is a butcher block table constructed?

While it is not necessary for restaurant owners to know all the details on how these table tops are made, it is helpful to know some basics. For example, butcher block tables are constructed by taking flat pieces of lumber, putting them on their edge, and then gluing them together. What you see is an accumulation of lumber edges, which makes the top look like various strips of wood. Butcher block tables are made sometimes made where some of the strips of lumber are made of two or more pieces of wood, joined end to end, instead of one continuous board. Since smaller pieces are used and not discarded, this table will cost less. Then there are veneer butcher block tables that are made with thin pieces of wood and have particle board underneath. Since particle board is less expensive, this type of butcher block will be less cost than one that is all wood and no particle board. However, it is more difficult to customize this type of butcher block.

 4. Many different types of wood can be used.

Different wood species are used for making butcher block tables, but the four main types are hardwoods like oak, ash, maple, and walnut. There are also softwoods like pine, aspen and cedar which are sometimes used. The hardness of the type of wood impacts whether or not the table will dent easily. For some restaurant owners, pine wood which dents easily, can give a worn look that customers in certain areas appreciate. Other customers prefer the look of hardwood butcher block tables that don’t dent easily. Before purchasing a restaurant butcher block table, request samples so you can see what the final look will be.

Oak is more pitted, has pink and brown boards and will tend to split easier than other hardwoods. Ash is very similar to oak, but having more uniform off white boards and splits not as frequently as oak. For a variety of colors occurring naturally it is hard to beat walnut with no stain applied, only a clear coat finish. Maple is very smooth, not pitted like oak. Teak tables can be used outdoors and there other very good lumber choices. See various hard and softwood samples so they can be integrated into the restaurant to get the right look.

5. Finish is very important.

If there is one thing that needs to be asked before purchasing a butcher block table, that is asking about the finish. Why? Because some finishes are better than others and most all new table top finishes will look ready to use. Some tables will continue to look new in the future, while others will appear worn out. To lower the initial cost of a butcher block table, some manufacturers will use a cheaper or outdated technology. Catalyzed varnish has been a common finish that has been good for restaurant tables, but newer finishes like the new 2 part polyurethanes are much better. Better finishes can double the life of the table top. For example, in a busy restaurant, a catalyzed varnish will last about 4-5 years where a polyurethane finish may last 10 years. That is a big re-finishing expense that can be put off for a long time.

6. Maintenance issues.

A table that is well constructed and properly finished table does not need much maintenance. Regular inspections should be performed, however, to avoid the early failure of butcher block tables. A regular inspection is simply noticing what the table top looks like, and taking action when an issue arises. For example, a break in the table top finish where the raw wood is exposed will allow water to get under the finish and cause it the finish to peel. A small split in the table will also allow water to get under the finish. The person in charge of maintenance of the restaurant could have checking table tops as part of the job description.

Butcher block table tops can help make a restaurant profitable, and learning about them before purchasing is time well spent.