Not so long ago, it seemed common for trendy or popular restaurants to expect their customers to wait hours to eat and be subjected to less than stellar service. It appeared that the mark of a successful restaurant was that it could treat its customers poorly. It is rare to see this attitude from restaurants anymore. Apparently, the tolerance of restaurant patrons has changed. Many customers now feel if they spend their hard earned dollars at a restaurant, they expect great service and great food at a reasonable price. Customers also want to be comfortable. Many of these customers may not dine out as frequently as they used to and therefore want to enjoy their meal at a leisurely pace, instead of just hurriedly eating and leaving. This article addresses some things to consider when purchasing restaurant furniture and restaurant design to make customers comfortable and keep them coming back.
Basic Restaurant Design
The first thing to look at in creating a comfortable restaurant is the general layout. Most customers can remember a time they’ve been uncomfortable just seated at a restaurant table. Sometimes this is because a restaurant has filled the space with too many tables. Certainly it’s a good idea for restaurants to maximize space, but if customers don’t return because they weren’t comfortable the first time they visited, overcrowding can do more harm than good. If tables are so close together that they impact the way servers move through the area, it can cause problems with food service. In extreme cases, it could even cause a server to drop beverages or hot plates, which could cause an injury to a customer. At the least, when customers feel they don’t have enough room between their chair and the table, or when they find it hard to just get into and out of their chair, they will hardly feel good about the restaurant no matter how fine the food or service is.
In addition to ensuring that there is ample room between the restaurant tables, there are other ways that restaurant tables need to be comfortable. Many restaurants feature both dining height tables and bar height tables. These tables are matched to different heights of table bases, which are called dining height or bar height bases. Restaurant bar stools and chairs come in different heights, but generally the range for dining height is 29 inches to 31 inches from the floor; and for bar height is 40 to 43 inches. It is important to order the right base height whether you are purchasing the tables and bases together or separately. Why is this so important? When restaurants match chairs and tables, there is a specific distance between the seating surface and dining surface that is ergonomically comfortable to the majority of the adult population. The ratio is approximately 12 inches between the seating surface of the chair or barstool and the eating surface of the restaurant table.
Restaurant tables also need to be sturdy. Probably every customer who has eaten at a restaurant has a tale of a wobbly table. What contributes most to the stability of the table tops? Generally, it is the size and quality of the table base. The thickness of the base column and the overall weight of the base determine how stable the table top will be. Most quality table bases also feature glides that need to be adjusted most every time the table is moved. Without frequent maintenance, these glides tend to get lost or are not adjusted. Self adjusting glides are levelers that adjust the table to the floor. Most floors are not flat, so this is an automatic leveling device to keep the tables from wobbling.
Restaurant chairs are arguably the most important factor in whether customers will be comfortable while dining at a restaurant. While commercial chairs are manufactured for their durability first so that they can stand up to the needs of many different types of customers and frequent use, they need not be uncomfortable. Many wood chairs are constructed at the factory with sculpted wood seats which makes for a more comfortable seating position. Comfortable back slat design can also enhance the chair’s comfort. Extra thick side rails are standard on many of these wood chairs, so people can comfortably rest their feet on the rails. Many wood chairs and metal chairs come with thickly padded upholstered or vinyl covered seats. Consider these options and more to make your customers as comfortable as possible.