Not Your Mother’s Food Court

Food Halls Taking Over!

‘Fall’, ‘collapse’, ‘failing’, and even, ‘dying’. These are just a few of the words that have littered headlines the past year, describing the closure of America’s malls and vacant retail spaces. But with the death of brick and mortar stores, one section of retail has thrived—food.

Food has become more than just daily sustenance; people want to experience their food in exciting ways. In 2008, food trucks were all the rage, a trend that is still visible today. Almost ten years later, food halls are taking over the US, one city at a time.

Thanks to the perfect storm of the Food Network, millennials, and “foodie” culture, the food hall trend has skyrocketed in the US market. Per Cushman & Wakefield, the number of existing food hall projects increased 37.1% in the first nine months of 2016. This trend has left its mark on cities like New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles and is moving its way into Austin, Washington D.C., Miami, and Charleston in 2017.

But what is the difference between the food courts of yore and these newfangled food halls? Why quality, of course. In food halls, you won’t find the stereotypical hot dogs that have been turning on rollers for the past week or slushies with Red Dye 40 like you would a traditional food court. Instead, you will find artisanal enchiladas and hand-rolled chicken dishes.

With a new mission and business model, food halls can escape the confines of a mall food court, bring quality food to surrounding communities, and offer a restaurant incubator-like setting for new chefs.

Here’s Why Food Halls Are Taking Over:

Space Revival

Food halls can be a range of sizes, making blueprints malleable and transitional for just about any location. Not all halls have the sheer size of Chelsea Market (clocking in at 165,000 square feet) or Eataly (not looking too shabby with 50,000 square feet), others can hold their own with smaller spaces like the Smallman Galley (with 6,000 square feet) or the Pennsy (at 8,000 square feet).

Because they can fit a variety of spaces, food halls can be located anywhere that a space is open. For example, empty mall anchor stores can be a good foundation for larger food halls, while the ground floor of office buildings can provide adequate space for smaller models. If there is an available space, food halls can fill and occupy it, giving new purpose.

The ability of food halls to morph into any shape or size free space allows them to focus on the root of their business: providing quality food to the community.

Eataly

Community

Interestingly enough, food halls are not a new concept. It’s no surprise in the United States that this trend first started to take hold in the cultural mecca of New York City. According to Cushman & Wakefield, a real estate powerhouse, New York City accounts for more than 25.4% of all United States food hall projects.

With a flexible location, food halls bring together different palettes, diets, and preferences, all under one roof. Because of the vast offerings in a single space, it creates opportunities for the surrounding community to gather. In the U.S., food halls have gravitated toward cities, because they give office workers a haven to snag lunch, coffee, and a break from their cubicle. If they offer seating, food halls will often use communal tables because the dining space is like no-man’s land. Whether you’re a fan of communal dining or not, this type of seating arrangement leaves the decision up to the patrons whether they want to mingle or stay in their proverbial bubble.

Food Hall Spread

Operator-Friendly

New businesses can drive traffic to neighborhoods and often increase profits of other businesses in the area as well.  The business model of a food hall is no different. These food halls present a lower risk option for both developer and hopeful restaurateur, with quick customer turnover and fewer startup costs. While building owners have the ability to charge a higher rent rate (taking popularity into consideration as well), that rate is still less than the cost of an entire restaurant for a chef just starting out. Instead of a sole tenant being responsible for the cost, utilities are often split, lessening what a typical restaurant would pay. Food halls serve as a restaurant incubator for up-and-coming chefs that maybe aren’t quite ready to break out all on their own.

Spices

While the quality of food halls is much different than that of a food court, the concept is similar. The beauty of food halls is that they aren’t restaurants; change is a part of the norm. These are places where food-lovers of all kinds can gather together and enjoy new fares daily. The cyclical fashion of always bringing in new talent, food, and customers is exciting for the restaurant industry, even when other sectors of retail seem to be flopping.

With this trend still sweeping the nation, the list of cities with food halls continues to grow, check out this list to see if one is headed toward you!

Need help outfitting your food hall? Call our customer care representatives at 1-800-986-5352 for the latest trends in commercial furniture and what would work best in your establishment.

How Your Outdoor Patio Can Boost Your Restaurant’s Profits

 

restaurant patio

Imagine soft laughter, the clinking of glasses. Touches of sunlight illuminate plates of fresh food. A light summer breeze weaves between tables, but not just any tables, these are your tables on your restaurant’s outdoor patio. And these tables are full of happy customers enjoying the great outdoors all the while paying for drinks and food.

patio setup

 

Offering al fresco dining is so much more than just expanding your seating capacity or increasing your curb appeal.

So how can building an outdoor patio boost your profits? Because it gives your customers more space for special events, shows off your restaurant from a distance, and gives them a comfortable spot to stay longer and keep the good times going.

Here are just a few of the benefits that your restaurant can take advantage of by integrating an outdoor patio into your business plan.rooftop dining

 

 

Patios add more space. By having a patio space, you not only have room for more activities, but also an opportunity to offer a breath of fresh air to your restaurant.

This is all depending on the environment around you. The empty lot next to your restaurant could be your future bustling patio.  But acquiring space is not always the answer, sometimes you can make better use of the spot you already have. If you’re short on space but have some room in front of your restaurant, adding sidewalk seating can be an option and create a café vibe.

If you have a flat rooftop that you have access to, you’re in luck! Rooftop bars are very trendy and give a secluded feel to what are often crowded city bars.

Having a patio can give you room for exciting events like live music, games, or a fire pit for chilly evening dining. More involvement at your restaurant can lead to more people having a reason to stop, staying longer, eating and drinking more, and therefore, increasing your profits. All of which can happen right in the outdoor space you may already own.

restaurant patio customerPatios are free advertising to foot traffic. Making a successful outdoor patio space could be your best advertising asset. Depending on the way that your restaurant is set up, it may be the very first thing a customer sees.

If your location is by a landmark, attraction, or even just a beautiful landscape, having an outdoor dining area should be a given for your restaurant.

The sight of current customers having a great time and the scent of fresh food can bring potential customers from the street that would have maybe not chosen your restaurant. It’s like a free sneak peek of what customers can expect when they come to your restaurant, and can be used to your advantage.

While customers are having a wonderful night out with friends and family, make sure you have your social media hashtags and Snapchat usernames in plain sight. If guests take a picture and post it, they will know exactly what location to tag. With that in mind, it doesn’t hurt to create a Snapchat filter exclusively for your business either.

Creating a patio that is visually-stimulating can attract and keep potential and current customers coming back for more. More traffic means more sales for you!

Patios relax customers, leading them to spend more. If you already have a happy hour, make it a patio-exclusive. Patios are a great way to give happy hour guests an exclusive area for drinks and appetizers, making it feel less stuffy than trying to crowd them in with those enjoying a meal. Having a patio-only happy hour can make guests feel relaxed and can lead them to staying longer, which often means the drinks continue to flow.

customers on patio

By allocating happy hour to your patio space, you are giving guests a place to gather together and increase your sales simultaneously. With profit margins on bar drinks being anywhere from 60-85%, depending on the beverage, you can still make a pretty penny on patrons that are ready to blow off steam after work.

Just make sure you have a bar that is fully-staffed and ready to roll in your outdoor area to reduce staff having to run back and forth.

Once your patio is up and running, keep these tips at the top of your mind to ensure continued success.

  • Maintain your patio. Keep your furniture clean and floor space free of garbage. If something spills, clean it up. Don’t use your extra outdoor space as a graveyard for uneven tables and less than supportive chairs. The patio can be a goldmine for increasing your profits, so make it look like that.
  • Keep up with outdoor trends. According to the National Restaurant Association, you should be updating your patio every five to seven years to keep it looking modern, similar to your dining room. Your outdoor patio is an extension of your restaurant; don’t let the average passersby think otherwise.
  • Staff appropriately. You don’t want your indoor crowd to suffer at the hands of your outdoor patio, especially at peak dining times.

Depending on what stage your patio is in (fully-functioning, needs improvement, or non-existent), will give you a ballpark of how much you need to pour in to make it a successful space. Having a patio space will not break your business, but it certainly could help make it.

Let our customer care representatives guide you on your journey to furnishing the perfect outdoor patio at 1-800-986-5352.

 

 

 

 

Design Trends and How to Incorporate Them into Your Restaurant

As anyone who has ever walked through a fixer upper home can attest, design trends can go from cutting edge, to quaint, to downright dated, if not changed. The same concept applies to restaurants and bars. The dining area, where guests eat, plays a major role in how they experience the menu and ultimately, the opinions they form about a restaurant. To bring you emerging design trends, we spoke to Lauren Williams, Director of Design for Primanti Bros. Restaurants, about where she sees the future of restaurant design heading including lighting, colors, and dining styles.

Lighting

Many restaurants that you enter today will have some form of an Edison bulb giving off light; the bulb has its own sort of appeal and definitely gives any space an industrial chic vibe, but patrons are starting to experience some fatigue with the trend. What was once a unique way to light a space has become so commonplace that it fails to make a restaurant stand out. While the bulbs are beautiful in their own way, sometimes they can leave a space feeling a little too dark compared to some of their brighter counterparts.

Some restaurants are moving back towards having more light in their establishments. Williams predicts a move “towards light, both natural and artificial,” and the idea of coming back to “seeing the food and seeing the people you’re interacting with in the space in a pure light.”

Allowing more light into a restaurant can be achieved through either large windows that encourage natural light to fill the space or with more powerful lights and light fixtures. A unique way to achieve those large windows is by incorporating glass garage doors into the front of the building. Garage doors allow for plenty of light and can either be opened to allow a cool breeze in the summer, or closed during the cooler months to prevent customers getting a chill.

Colors

Image found at hauteliving.com

After several years of dark, industrial design, patrons are beginning to look towards the opposite end of the spectrum. White, bright, fresh looks that are originating in places like California and Miami are making their way across the United States. Think more boho-chic than industrial charm for the future of restaurant design. Be on the lookout for bold use of color making its way back onto the scene in the upcoming years in response to the earthy tones that have been trending for the past few years.

An easy way to incorporate more color is by adding bright centerpieces to your table or hanging interesting, bright art on the walls. If you are looking for a more drastic change, consider making one of your walls into a bright mural that can be incorporated into your current design.

Less Formal Dining

It used to be that burger joints and formal dining spaces were mutually exclusive, but prepare to start seeing those lines blurring. Williams discussed the phenomenon as “flexibility as the number one goal. Rooms within rooms, privacy but also openness… it’s a shift to almost residential architecture”.  It is the trend of creating a residential feel that has communal dining furniture styles on the rise, along with more padded seats, similar to what would be found in a home. Communal dining is when a large group of diners sit at the same table to share a meal. In keeping with the trend, many restaurants have started serving meals family style with shareable plates. Large communal table tops make it easier to serve those meals on the large plates and trays that they require.

Tiles aren’t just for Bathrooms

Another emerging trend that contributes to creating a residential feel, is using tile to decorate areas of the dining room. Don’t be surprised to see tiles being used to create backsplashes on bars and even accent walls in restaurants. Tile, whether it is colorful or not, is a great way to bring interest into a particular area of a restaurant without being overwhelming. Designers have determined it is time for this material to shine in an area other than the bathroom and are working to bring it into more prominent areas of the restaurant.

Incorporating Trends in Your Restaurant

What if you own a preexisting restaurant? It wouldn’t be realistic to overhaul your entire restaurant design scheme every time the trends changed, but how do you stay relevant with what customers are looking for? According to Williams, new restaurants are more the trendsetters, while corporate restaurant groups or preexisting restaurants need to focus on maintaining their identities with subtle shifts to where the trend is appealing to their audience. A great way to do this is by “layering the vintage and the modern. Sometimes you go heavier on the modern, sometimes you go heavier on the vintage” urges Williams. It is all about reaching a balance that works for you, your restaurant, and the area you are located in.

If your restaurant is a predominantly vintage style, try adding in a few modern pieces to create the layered effect. Consider changing some of your current light fixtures for brighter alternatives or replacing your current wooden menu boxes with brightly painted metal holders instead.

Something to be conscious of when making any design choices, is your audience and location. Urban areas might be more accepting of trendy spots and designs that encourage communal eating, while rural areas might not be the best market to push the full trend on.

It is important for restaurant owners to stay abreast of the current design trends. Not only are these trends important to staying relevant and making sure your aesthetic doesn’t feel dated, but to giving your customers the complete experience of great food, an enjoyable atmosphere, great customer service, and a visually pleasing environment. Possibly, with a few adjustments to lighting or colors, your restaurant can be on top of the emerging trends that are leading the next phase of restaurant design.

Three Different Looks, One Table

A popular trend in the restaurant industry, communal tables encourage exactly what their name promotes: community. From the long form tables at your local brewery to the stretched tops at your regular coffee shop, communal tables are in! Communal tables aren’t just meant for large parties; they are a chance for your guests to get more social. Although you aren’t required to strike up a conversation with your neighbor, these tables promote interaction among customers. By offering this kind of environment for customers, you can encourage groups to come and work together, which can often turn into more sales for you the longer they stay. These tables help restaurateurs maximize their layout efficiently and provide a break from traditional seating options.

A new addition to our outdoor collection, this Outdoor Communal Table with Four Legs brings the communal dining trend outside. To make furniture selection simple for you, we created communal tables to match our New England, Caribbean, and Atlantic collection pieces. Each collection’s communal table use the same materials in construction but vary in look.

So what makes these tables so different from the rest of our outdoor lines? With a Sandtex finish, powder coat, and poly slats, these tables are easy to clean and are rust-resistant against the exterior elements. The durability doesn’t stop at the materials; we also used the fixed leg structure to give added stability, something that is crucial with outdoor furniture. Take this trend to your patio with our three different takes on the communal table for outdoor dining.

Caribbean Fixed Leg TableCaribbean Communal Table:

If you want to mix things up on your patio this year, the Caribbean Communal Table is for your restaurant. This table is extremely customizable for your needs with its silver or black frame and 24 poly lumber colors to choose from.

New England Fixed Leg TableNew England Communal Table:

Channel the beaches of Nantucket or Cape Cod into your outdoor space. The New England Outdoor Communal Table fits right into the rest of its collection with its barn wood poly slats and rustic feel.

Atlantic Fixed Leg TableAtlantic Communal Table:

This table combines the look of premium high-end restaurant outdoor furniture at a lower price and is easier to maintain. The teak-inspired poly slats of the Atlantic Communal Table convey the modern, yet relaxed aesthetic that you see in the rest of the Atlantic Collection.

Whether you’re looking for a rustic, teak, or colorful look, these communal tables are a great addition to your patio.

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2017 National Restaurant Association, Hotel-Motel Show

Come see us at the National Restaurant Association Trade Show May 20-23 in Chicago!

Our trade show season is in full swing and Chicago we’re coming for you next! We love taking East Coast Chair & Barstool on the road to meet new and current customers in person. Trade shows allow us the opportunity to form a fast connection with our customers. This year’s National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show (NRA) will be no different!

The NRA show brings together the movers and shakers of the restaurant industry to Chicago’s McCormick Place for a four-day event that you won’t want to miss.

At the NRA show, you will be surrounded by around 45,000 guests and 2,000 different companies exhibiting. Because of the sheer volume of exhibitors, pavilions, and booths, this is a show you will want to take your time. We recommend allotting at least two days just to cover the bulk of the show floor.

Any professional in the foodservice or lodging industry is eligible to attend the NRA show, so if you’re in any part of this industry, this is the place to be. Immerse yourself in the newest technologies, experimental cooking, and trends surrounding the restaurant and hospitality industries. Enjoy education sessions like “Building a Winning Brand”, “Custom Condiments”, and “What’s Really Going on in the Kitchen” to further you and your staff’s knowledge of the challenging restaurant industry. Culinary presentations by Robert Irvine, Duff Goldman, Stephanie Izard, and other celebrity chefs bring gastronomic experiences to life right in front of you.

We are ready to hit Chicago with our never-before seen Lake Shore Collection, our newly designed 850 and 925 bucket bar stools, and beautifully handmade Quarter Sawn table tops.

If you’re around the Chicago area, make sure to come out May 20-23 for the NRA show. We’d love to meet you and show you what East Coast Chair & Barstool can do for your restaurant.

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The French Connection

French food is backFrancophiles, rejoice! The James Beard Foundation has named French cuisine a hot trend for 2017 and French restaurants are creeping back onto the scene.

French cooking, with its structured techniques and timeless traditions, has often been held as the golden standard in the culinary world. But the past 35 years have been a rocky time for French cuisine, including a New York Times article claiming French food needs to be saved.

Even though French cuisine is laden with time-consuming recipes like cassoulet and gut-busting rich roux, French cuisine has fairly simple roots. Both “cuisine du potager” (cooking from the garden) and “cuisine du marché” (cooking from the daily market) are the foundations of French cooking. Food was always seasonal, fresh, and differed from region to region, creating astoundingly different regional dishes.

From the beginning, French cuisine took on many different characteristics. French cuisine from the northern regions focused on vegetables local to the area, dairy products, and sausage. Southern regions incorporated richer ingredients like mushrooms, herbs, and game birds. Many chefs took these regional cuisine styles and created many esteemed cooking techniques. Sautéing, “sous-vide”, and “déglacer” are just some of the French cooking terms that have been outside the realm of the cuisine.

French cooking was known around the world for its finery and strategic practices that made this an art form more than just preparing food on a plate. But many chefs wanted to move away from the heavily regimented procedures and decadence of French cuisine and come up with a lighter alternative. Lower fat sauces, the integration of more garden vegetables, and using simpler presentations began in the 1960’s. From this, “nouvelle cuisine” was born. This movement was embraced for a small period of time, but met with heavy criticism from traditionalist French chefs and food critics.

By the end of the 1980’s, “nouvelle cuisine” had fallen out of vogue and many chefs returned to the more classical methods.

However, other ethnic foods such as Italian and Mexican began to take center stage. French restaurants and cuisine took a hit by being perceived as stuffy; customers were more interested in other flavors and combinations. Even many French chefs began going the safe and less expensive route, giving up their quest for Michelin stars, and focusing on the basics.

Most recently in 2014, the French government has tried to let consumers be aware of a restaurant’s quality of food with a “fait maison” logo. This logo would indicate whether a restaurant’s food is in fact “homemade” or not. In an effort to reduce costs, many restaurants in France were relying on industrial caterers or external food service providers to prepare food. While this is done by many restaurants internationally, it does take away from the integrity of French cuisine, which was once upheld has the standard for all culinary traditions. The many exceptions to the “fait maison” make it easy to circumvent as well as receiving a large negative backlash from food critics and chefs.

Even though it seems French cuisine has toppled from its pedestal of grandeur as of late, this trend is on the watch list for 2017 and is making a comeback. Many classically-trained chefs around the country are looking to restore the name of French cuisine and others are bringing their own flavor on the great classics.

French Laundry

Once housing a saloon and then steam laundry business, Thomas Keller’s French Laundry continues to make history on Washington Street in Yountville, California. French Laundry has been dazzling palettes with its tasting menus (which change daily) and wines since 1994. Even with a decline in formal French dining, Keller’s restaurant has succeeded over the years and is a testament to his expertise. Among winning the “Five Diamond Award” annually since 2005, Thomas Keller is the only American-born chef to have three star Michelin ratings for two different restaurants (French Laundry in Napa Valley and Per Se in Manhattan). French Laundry has set high expectations in French cuisine for restauranteurs, service, and patrons.

French Laundry

Photo via Femme Rouge

Bistronomic

Combining the words bistro, gastronomy, and economic, and all that they mean to French cuisine, chef Martial Noguier opened his first independent restaurant Bistronomic in 2011. While Chicago is becoming a food capital, Bistronomic is right there and relevant as ever with its comfortable atmosphere and Midwestern ingredients. Noguier keeps classic items on the menu with a regional twist in the maple leaf duck breast a l’orange and escargot with breadcrumbs. Making French cuisine seem approachable is quite an understaking, but Bistronomic and Noguier pulls it off.

Bistronomic

Photo via Bistronomic

Petit Trois

Shaking up the traditional white-tablecloth atmosphere of many French eateries, Petit Trois is Los Angeles’ exclusive but approachable bistro. With a “bar á la carte” menu style, Petit Trois focuses on simple French dishes such as escargots and omelettes with simple wines and cocktails. Opened by Ludo Lefebvre, Vinny Dotolo, and Jon Shook in 2014, this bistro champions no-frills French cuisine with a relaxed feel- no stuffiness here! With a no reservations policy, the 21 bar stools are up for grabs to the early bird. Petit Trois has landed at the top of many “best of” lists, including “2015 Restaurants of the Year” by Food & Wine. It is rumored a second location will be opened in the California’s San Fernando Valley.

Petit Trois

Photo via Eater LA

The Twisted Frenchman

Cities around the United States are seeing the return of French cuisine in the forms of fine dining and casual bistros. French cuisine is even making its way back into the steel city of Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh. New ownership transformed what was the former Notion Restaurant on South Highland Avenue, into chef Andrew Garbarino’s The Twisted Frenchman in 2015. Up-and-coming on the restaurant scene, Garbarino has to rely more on his food than his name to bring guests in. With its food described as “modern French”, The Twisted Frenchman’s menu is peppered with game birds and quintessential French entrees. Lovingly referred to as “foie gras PB&J”, this appetizer is Garbarino’s signature and gives a contemporary take on an otherwise classic dish.

The Twisted Frenchman

Photo via TripAdvisor

Le Coucou

In the mid-20th century, there were six luxury restaurants that ruled New York City and held the standard for French dining. Since 2004, all except one (La Grenouille) have closed their doors. The white table clothed finery of these establishments lives on and served as inspiration for chef Daniel Rose’s Le Coucou, opened in 2016. Along with Stephen Starr, restaurant extraordinaire, Le Coucou is an encouraging sign of fine French cuisine reigning once more. French delicacies line the breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner menus, including the cheeky “tout le lapin” (all of the rabbit). While this is Rose’s first stateside restaurant, Le Coucou is the resurgence of fine dining for local New Yorkers and tourists to share in alike. To many of Le Coucou’s patrons, this isn’t a resurgence; this a whole new experience.

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Closeout Craziness

As a company, we take pride in offering our customers the lowest prices in the land, but there is one section of our website that has exceptionally great deals. That is our Featured On Sale Items page. And right now that page is full of closeout items at prices so low they will blow your mind. Let’s take a look at some of our newest closeout additions to the page.

Reversible Laminate Café Table Tops

These table tops come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors.  For shape, you have your choice of round, square, or rectangular. Once you decide on the shape you can choose from an array of sizes. Finally, you can choose between Mahogany/Black and Oak/Walnut colors. Bases for these table tops are sold separately. With prices starting at $10.00 a top these table tops are sure to sell out quick.

Clear Coat Bar Stools and Chairs with Rust Markings

Due to some issues at the factory, we have received an order of clear coat chairs and bar stools that have unique rust blemishes underneath the clear coat. These blemishes do not compromise the structural integrity of the furniture in any way. The rust markings are sealed and will not change in shape or size. Made of the same 16-gauge steel as their non-blemished counterparts, these pieces are able to stand up to the rigors of everyday commercial use. Each piece is unique in no two markings being the same. These items are priced to sell at $14.00 for chairs and $16.00 for bar stools.

If you are on the hunt for an amazing deal one of these closeout pieces could be great for you. But be sure to hurry, stock is limited and once they are gone we won’t be ordering any more. Click the link below to start shopping now.

 

http://www.tableschairsbarstools.com/featureditems.html

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5 Common Regrets When Buying Restaurant Furniture

Ladder Back Bar Stools

Besides purchasing or leasing the actual space for your restaurant, buying commercial furniture is another obvious cost that you will have to shell out for. Regardless of the physical size of your business and how many pieces you are buying, ordering furniture is no small undertaking. Whether you are a first-time purchaser or a seasoned restaurant owner of 30 years, there are five regrets you will want to avoid when outfitting your restaurant or bar.

So you didn’t measure your space…

You are buying furniture to fill your space, but not to the brim. Knowing how much space you have to work with allows you to choose the correct amounts and sizes of furniture you need. In the end, inaccurate measurements can cost you some serious cash. If you don’t have enough furniture, you won’t be maximizing your revenue opportunities. From there, if you have to order more, you will not only have to add on the cost of the additional pieces, but also the shipping and handling that comes along with it. It’s simply best to order it right the first time with the most accurate dimensions.

So you didn’t take your customers into account…

Eat'n Park

Eat’n Park Restaurant- Photo via Trip Advisor

When it comes to furnishing your restaurant, knowing your targeted demographic can help you make a decision on what styles to select. Who are your regular customers? For example, if you’re a family-oriented establishment that considers messy toddlers a large portion of your market, you should focus on tables and booths that are easy to wipe down and clean.

Likewise, if your customers are interested in a finer dining setting, look into high back, cushioned chairs in a dark color that make sitting feel exclusive.

Think like your customer when you’re buying your furniture. What would you want to sit on and dine on top of?

Morton's the Steakhouse

Morton’s The Steakhouse- Photo via WeddingWire

 

 

 

 

So you didn’t coordinate with your restaurant’s theme…

Minimalist design, a light green and white color palette, and natural-wooded accents. Would you stuff heavy, dark restaurant booths along the wall? No, because it doesn’t flow with the theme.

Themes tie all the loose décor ends together for a cumulative design scheme that just makes sense. And décor does not stop at wall hangings; it includes your furniture! Coordinating your furniture to go with your theme is vital to completing your restaurant vision.

So you didn’t think about your environment…
It can be expensive to buy restaurant furniture. So when you go about purchasing, you want to make sure durability is a top priority. Wood tables are a popular choice for many restaurants. Despite their versatile look, these table tops can crack or split because of excessive heat, cold, and dryness. Wood tops should be kept at 68°-72°F, with humidity between 40-45%, and proper air circulation to avoid damage. For seaside restaurants, choosing furniture that can endure the heavy beating of salt spray and buildup is crucial. A strong poly lumber will hold up far better than wrought iron. For all-weather outdoor furniture, invest in aluminum or synthetic wicker pieces to be on your patio.Cayman Arm Chairs

When selecting the furniture for your space, keep in mind what goes on outside your restaurant’s window and the amount of maintenance you’re ready to commit to.

So you didn’t think about your restaurant’s strategy…

Are you a sit-down eatery where customers are encouraged to stop and stay awhile? Or are you focused on punctual and speedy service to turn and burn your tables? Whether you’re on either end of the spectrum or somewhere between, your restaurant furniture should reflect this mission. For those slow down bistros, furniture should be geared towards coziness like padded seats and comfy booths. For quicker-paced restaurants, the focus can be on more streamlined, metal pieces with clean lines that communicate a no-nonsense feeling. Your restaurant’s strategy can make a statement through your furniture, so definitely take that into consideration when you order.
Opening or upgrading your restaurant can be a lot of pressure. The best way to avoid regrets when buying your furniture is to take into consideration your space, customers, theme, environment, and strategy. It’s your restaurant, so the creativity is up to you!

Have a regret that we didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments below!

5 Restaurant Trade Shows You Won’t Want to Miss in 2017

Trade Show Set UpIndustry trade shows are crucial for top players in the restaurant business. Owners, managers, and decision-makers can network, sample new food methods, test top of the line technology, and discover upcoming trends within the industry. Trade shows bring together the moving parts of the restaurant community with the common goal of bettering businesses.

Whether you’re just breaking into the industry or you’ve owned your restaurant for 30 years, these five trade shows are a great place to reignite your inspiration and make connections to further your restaurant.

International Restaurant & Foodservice Show- New York, NY

March 5-7, 2017

Calling all food lovers! Celebrate the City that Never Sleeps with the International Restaurant & Foodservice Show. Enjoy the newest food trends at the “Taste NY & Craft Beverage Showcase” pavilion or spectate the “27th Annual U.S. Pastry Competition” for a deliciously good time. One of the largest trade shows on the eastern seaboard, this trade show is a must-see for restaurant owners. Located in the Javits Center, you’ll find 550+ exhibitors to interact and network with. Previously this trade show boasted 20,000 attendees and is limited to restaurant and foodservice professionals. Industry insiders can buy a 3-day pass to enjoy vendors, live demonstrations, and educational opportunities. Gain a fresh perspective on your business and get inspired with specialty events and pavilions. If you’re looking to bump elbows with some of the most experienced individuals in the restaurant industry, make sure to check out this trade show!

Nightclub and Bar Trade Show- Las Vegas, NV

March 27-29, 2017

Bringing the neon and glamour of the Vegas strip, the Nightclub and Bar Trade Show sparkles at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Work hard and play harder at this trade show with an estimated 39,000 attendees and more than 600 exhibitors. The NCB show caters to everyone from single owner operations all the way to multi-location tycoons. And don’t be fooled by the name, restaurants and hotels alike frequent this show with its Vegas-like atmosphere. This show is not open to the public, giving attendees a more exclusive and efficient interaction with suppliers. It also offers additional conferences and networking parties to further the education and connections of attendees. Show-goers can choose from a series of ticket packages to customize the experience. Whether you are an owner, buyer, or industry newcomer, this trade show is a great place for networking and experiencing the nightclub industry at its truest form.

Craft Brewers Conference and Brew Expo America- Washington, DC

April 11-14, 2017

If brewing is your game, the Craft Brewers Conference and Brew Expo America is the show for you. Taking place in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, this trade show brings in 11,500 attendees and 700 exhibitors. This show takes a large part in providing education, services, and technology for the ever-expanding brewing industry. Because it is an industry trade show, the conference and show is not open to the public. For industry-insiders, different ticket packages are available depending on which events you wish to attend. To stay updated in this industry, seminars are offered at this show with titles like “Starting a Quality Lab in a Craft Brewery”, “What I Wish I Knew Before Opening a Brewery”, and “101 Ways to Blow Up a Bottle/Can and How to Not Do It”. From brewing masters to industry newbies, this trade show brings together the brewing community to new heights.

National Restaurant Association Show- Chicago, IL

May 20-23, 2017

If you’re looking to have plenty of vendors and options in one space, the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago is definitely one to check out. One of the largest trade shows in the restaurant industry, the NRA show spans four days and requires at least two of these days to walk the entire show floor. Simply put, this trade show is enormous. Located in McCormick Place, this trade show rakes in 44,000 attendees and 1,300 exhibitors. While this show presents a great opportunity for start-up businesses to be launched into the restaurant industry, this is a popular show for larger chains and veterans to hit up because of the vastness of the offerings available. Needless to say, this is a great show to make connections from all over the country. This show is not open to the public, but is accessible for anyone involved with the food service or hospitality industries.

Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show- Orlando, FL

September 10-12, 2017

Whether you’re in the beginning stages of managing a restaurant or have 15 locations, the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show is a must-attend show this fall. Located in the Orange County Convention Center, this trade show boasts around 8,000 attendees and approximately 400 exhibitors. Don’t let size full you, this trade show is highly attended by large resorts and corporate chains. Exclusive to the restaurant and food service professional industries, the general public is not permitted to attend this show. The FRLS excels in food demonstrations and culinary experiences. This trade show offers over 40 education sessions, informational forums, and a variety of exhibits to keep your Floridian stay filled to the brim.

IFRS in NYC

Photo via International Restaurant & Foodservice Show

Ready to attend an industry trade show? Make sure to check out these tips before you go to get the most out of your trade show experience.

Are any of these trade shows on your short list to attend this upcoming year? Let us know in the comments below!

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Layout and Design Tips for Large Space Restaurants

So you’ve secured a space for your new restaurant and are so excited for what lies ahead. The realtor hands over the keys and you place them into the lock and turn. You feel the doors give and excitedly push them open to behold your new space in all its glory. It’s beautiful, it’s magnificent, it’s… really big.

You begin to get nervous. The space didn’t look so big the first time you looked at it when it had furniture. It’s a lot of space. What if you bit off more than you can chew? You don’t want customers to walk in the door and think the place looks empty. Don’t worry. With a few changes, you can make your large space a comfy eatery filled with customers in no time.

Planning

Making sure you make the most of your space starts at the beginning. When you start designing your layout you need to ask yourself a few questions. The first question is how much space you want to allocate for the kitchen and dining areas.  The Evans Group, an award winning design firm based out of Orlando, Florida recommends saving at least 1/3 of the space for the kitchen and 2/3 for the dining area. Since you have a good amount of room to work with, if you want to play around with those numbers, go for it. A 40% kitchen and 60% dining room is still a good split but allows for extra staff space.

Now that you know how much space is needed for the kitchen consider where you want to place it. More and more restaurants with ample amounts of space are placing their kitchen in the center of the dining area for all to see. An open layout allows customers to view exactly what is going on in the kitchen, satisfying their curiosity and hygiene concerns. Doing so also helps to make your large space seem more intimate and cozy. With a significant portion of the room being used for the kitchen and the tables being placed around it the layout feels closer to something a diner might experience at home.

If an open kitchen doesn’t fit your taste that is fine too. Once you have an idea of where your kitchen is going, the next question you need to consider is how many rooms you need. To make it feel more intimate consider dividing part of your space into a private dining area. You can market to local businesses looking for a meeting space or offer a quieter dining experience to groups celebrating a special occasion. Who doesn’t like the opportunity for more profit as well as a way to break up the room?

Private dining areas also lend themselves well to customization. Because it is a separate area, the room can change to have a completely different vibe than the rest of the restaurant. This opens your restaurant up to catering to different markets you might not have been able to reach before.

Not ready to commit to building a private dining area? To test it out owners can purchase temporary dividers to create an intimate space even in a large room. Once the event is over the barriers can be removed and -voilá- the room is back to its original size.

Furniture

Now that a rough layout is starting to take shape it is time to consider your furniture. Since there is a lot of space to work with you can have fun with bulkier pieces if you like. Chairs and bar stools with arms are great at providing a way to add comfort for your guest and to take up a little more space to make the area visually appealing.
Sticking to tables and chairs is also a great way to fill your restaurant. While booths may seem bigger, they are actually space savers in the way they allow more people to fit around a table. Table and chair sets also offer a flexibility that booths don’t. If you need to move things around to accommodate larger groups you’ll have no problems.

When considering what table tops to purchase, take a look at round tables if you are looking to use up more area. Not only do they take up a large amount of space but are more conducive for conversation. Additionally, they are less formal and more homey-style to give your large room additional comfort.

Something to keep in mind when selecting furniture is how much square feet you want to allot per customer. According to the North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers (NAFEM), the chart below shows the average allotted square feet per customer by service type.

Type of OperationSpace Allowance Per Seat (SQ. FT.)
School Lunchroom/Cafeteria9-12
Banquet Room10-11
Table Service11-14
College or Business and Industry Cafeteria12-15
Table Service at a Hotel, Club, or Restaurant15-18
Commercial Cafeteria16-18
Counter Service Restaurant 18-20

Between tables and chairs, you’ll need a passage area of 18”. However, you might want to consider wider aisles of at least 36” to accommodate wheelchairs in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Handicap accessible restaurant furniture needs to make up at least 5% of your furniture, according to their regulations.

When planning your furniture layout also consider your restaurant’s needs. Fine dining restaurants need enough room for meal carts; while family-style restaurants may use bussing carts to clear tables. Both need enough space to easily move around the dining room.

Entryway

With so much space to experiment with, owners can use furniture to create a statement area in their entryway. Good flow is crucial to any entryway but feel free to explore your options with larger furniture, as long as you aren’t blocking doors. Nice padded chairs and couches could be a great option for buildings with room to spare. Creating a comfortable waiting area also helps in terms of customer’s overall experience; you want them happy when they arrive at their table. Uncomfortable chairs are not too conducive to happy customers.

Another way to utilize some of that space is by using an interesting hostess or POS (Point of sale) station. Other than helping your staff to stay organized, a unique piece at the front of your restaurant can really set the tone for what your customers can expect based upon your décor. A reclaimed POS station at a gastropub says one thing like we have great burgers to go with our beers, while a sleek modern hostess stand at a breakfast spot says more along the lines of our specialty bacon is to die for.

Décor

If the walls are bare, with sparse décor they will be expecting a different experience than they would in a room with décor that flows and furniture that makes the room complete. With a big open space, the view can be monotonous if you aren’t careful. A great way to add some interest is by adding strong textures.

Expansive walls make great blank canvases. A mural is one way to create visual intrigue for customers as well as a way to share a little bit more about your business and your vision. The options for subjects are endless. If you can find a local artist you can work together to create a masterpiece that says exactly what you want it to.

If a mural seems to be a little too in your face for the atmosphere you want, think about adding interesting floor patterns. It isn’t as dramatic as a mural but has a similar effect in breaking up the monotony of a big dining room. Many different types of materials can be used in flooring. Whether you want a herringbone pattern in your wood floor, or interesting color and texture in your concrete floor, adding some interest to your flooring can be a unique way to break up the room.

Lighting

When thinking about how to decorate your building it can be easy to just slap some lights on the walls and call it a day. Lights obviously have a function but are also an area where function and design can go hand in hand. By taking your lights and hanging them from the ceilings it makes the ceilings appear closer and not as tall, making the room feel smaller and more intimate. As a bonus, interesting lighting fixtures can be a great conversation starter and help to make your restaurant stand out from others that might be looking to serve the same demographic.

Conclusion

If you have a restaurant in a large space and are having problems with flow and visual balance, take a look at your layout and design. You might not have the right furniture or decor for your area, causing your dining area to look empty and uncomfortable; potentially costing you customers. Through planning, layout, and some creative experimentation, a large space can be adjusted to play to its strengths and give customers the comfortable experience they are looking for while having plenty of workflow.

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