Where is Restaurant Furniture in the Restaurant Opening Process

restaurant furnitureThere are so many steps that go into opening a restaurant, it’s hard to make sure you plan for all of them.  First time restaurant owners can become overwhelmed easily with all that goes into the process.  Many restaurants can take a year or longer to work through the process of opening.  Creating a great restaurant opening plan from the very beginning can be very beneficial and cost saving in the long run.

Here’s a short list of the steps involved, in generally the order they should be completed.

Decide on the concept.
Select the location.
Choose a name.
Write a restaurant business plan.
Find financing.
Apply for license and permits.
Design the restaurant.
Create the restaurant menu.
Buy the kitchen equipment and furniture for front of house.
Hire staff.
Advertise restaurant.

As you can see, purchasing restaurant furniture is towards the very end of the restaurant opening process.  While that may seem reasonable, this can cause problems if furniture isn’t at least considered earlier in the process.  Below is some basic information about buying furniture for your restaurant and some topics to consider that should make the process smoother for you.

Budget

How will you pay for your furniture?  Do you have an estimate of the total amount your restaurant tables and chairs will cost?  Are you going to buy new furniture or used?  Are you aware there is a difference between commercial furniture and residential furniture options?

Of course, the first consideration in purchasing tables, bases and seating is the total amount you can afford to spend.  This is why furniture should be considered when you are writing your business plan and finding financing.  If you can get a commercial furniture vendor involved at this stage of the process, you can achieve a very good estimate of the total amount you will need to spend for furniture to include in the amount of financing necessary.

Considering whether to buy new or used furniture at this point is also valuable.  Used furniture can seem like a great cost savings, and sometimes it is a substantial savings.  An example would be at an auction a high quality chair may be purchased for $15 each.  If buying used commercial furniture, you will need to carefully inspect it and ensure it is in very good condition.  You may not be able to find the quantity you want of certain tables or chairs if buying used nor the exact color.  Used furniture normally does not come with a warranty like new commercial furniture does.  New commercial furniture from a reputable vendor comes with a warranty.  There are new table, chair and bar stool options in almost every price range.  Restaurant furniture suppliers can provide options that fit within your budget even though they may not be your first choice.  Functionality of the furniture and fitting within the type of restaurant you have may be more important than getting the exact restaurant chair or table you initially selected.

Lead time

Considering furniture early enough in the process can allow you to get certain products you desire that may have a longer lead time.  Just as an example, many customers aren’t aware that the awesome butcher block restaurant tables are custom made.  Some customers think these tables are available for immediate shipment.  There are many in-stock selections in every category, but they may not be your number one choices.  Talk with a commercial furniture vendor early in the process so you’ll have a great idea what the lead time is for your selected products and ensure their delivery before your restaurant opens.

Storage and labor

Storage and labor are a few other topics to consider when purchasing restaurant furniture.  When your furniture arrives, it will need to be properly stored in a climate controlled space.  There is normally a lot of activity going on in a restaurant before it opens, and it can be tough to store boxes and pallets of furniture.  Planning where you will store your furniture, and how much space this requires, will relieve a lot of stress.  As for labor, consider whether you will have employees or some type of assistance when your furniture arrives.  Many restaurant owners don’t have assistance at this point, as the restaurant is not yet open.  You will need someone available to unload the furniture from the freight carrier when it arrives.  You may also need labor available to assist in setting up the furniture, and attaching table tops to bases, among other items.

Considering your restaurant furniture budget, its lead time, and storage can save you time, money, and stress in the long run.  Good luck on opening your new restaurant!