How many seats do you need to fill your restaurant? FAQ’s from the Files of East Coast Chair & Barstool.

How many seats do you need to fill your restaurant

When it comes time to buy furniture for their restaurants, many new owners ask about the ideal number of seats for the square footage of their dining rooms.   The truth is, like most things, that there is no hard and fast rule for the exact number of seats in your restaurant, but there are guidelines that we are happy to share below.

Restaurant Type Square Feet to Allocate per Person Number of Seats per 1000 SQFT
Fine Dining 20 SQFT 50
Fast Casual / Counter Service 20 SQFT 50
Cafeteria 16 SQFT 60
Fast Food 14 SQFT 70
Banquet Center 10 SQFT 100

These guidelines are just general rules of thumb.  The actual number of seats that you can fit comfortably in your dining area depends on a few different variables.  For example, if you are planning to make heavy use of booth and countertop seating, then you may be able to squeeze in a few more seats.  On the other hand, if you are using oversize furniture or plan to make your aisles wide enough for wheelchairs or tableside service, then you will need to reduce the number of seats.  In the end, it all boils down to common sense, personal preference, and meeting the needs of your business.

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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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Restaurant Furniture Trends by State

Restaurant trends run far and wide all over the United States. Some businesses are focused on speed and efficiency while others are more concerned with a customer’s experience. Needless to say, in some shape or form, these businesses need a type of furniture that represents their company and their brand.

Here at East Coast Chair & Barstool, we help restaurants, bars, and the hospitality industry find their perfect furniture that embodies their business and atmosphere. With such a diverse customer base, we wanted to show what has been our most popular furniture items by state in the past year.

1) GLADIATOR Ladder Back Chair and Bar Stool

A durable and simple shape to complement many types of interiors.

2) GLADIATOR Full Ladder Back Chair and Bar Stool

The full ladder back offers even more shape to the contours of your guests.

3) GLADIATOR Full Vertical Back Wooden Chair

An elegant wooden chair with slimming vertical back design.

4) Henry Chair and Bar Stool

A marriage of wood and metal that make for a distinguished look.

5) GLADIATOR Window Pane Chair and Bar Stool

The same sturdy frame of the GLADIATOR Collection with the stylish window pane back.

6) Cayman Side Chair

A distinguished outdoor chair to instantly ramp up curb appeal.

7) Shipyard Backless Bar Stool

Brushed aluminum gives this bar stool a streamlined appearance for your outdoor patio.

8) Simon Bar Stool

Bring a clean-cut, modern look to your restaurant with this bar stool.

9) GLADIATOR 825 Bucket Bar Stool

Our newest bucket seat offers ergonomic seat and back support with premium molded foam.

10) Gulf Coast Outdoor Chair

We combined poly lumber slats with an aluminum frame that’s easy to maintain on your deck.

11) Viktor Chair

Convey a contemporary feel to your brewery or coffee shop with this industrial style.

You will notice there aren’t many avant-garde furniture styles represented here. While many customers still order them, most focus on classic silhouettes that will blend into any atmosphere with ease.

The GLADIATOR Collection takes up quite a bit of space on this map. We can attribute this to the style’s customization opportunities with various seats and finishes. The GLADIATOR Collection looks great in any kind of restaurant because of their traditional structure.

What’s your state’s most popular item from us? Does your restaurant have similar characteristics to it? Let us know in the comments below.

Popular Restaurant Trends Throughout the Years

Popular Restaurant Trends

How many times a day do you see blog articles pop up on social media titled “25 Most Embarrassing Food Clichés of (insert year here)”? And once your curiosity has gotten the best of you and you’ve clicked on these articles, you see a list teeming with negativity about food and restaurant trends from years gone by. While these articles can be entertaining, hindsight is always 20/20.

It’s safe to say that the restaurant industry has had plenty of changes occur from its inception, some of them better than others. “New” trends are difficult to come by in the restaurant industry, with many ideas being perfected over the years. But as restauranteurs, it’s necessary to look back on restaurant history to see what’s coming in the future.

The 1950’s

The 1950’s easily became the golden era for American restaurants. The Great Depression and war were a thing of the past and left the economy booming. This time of prosperity made it simple for other industries to flourish as well. Due to improvements in the nation’s highway system, the need for stops along interstates grew. With more and more travelers on the road, franchise restaurants became more in demand.

McDonald's in 1954

Photo from allday.com

Many of these franchised restaurants are still popular today. In 1954, the McDonald’s restaurant we know today was bought from the original McDonald brothers and transformed into franchise gold by Ray Kroc. McDonald’s was not the first fast food restaurant, but the assembly-line system was revolutionary for fast food restaurants to come. Kroc was able to turn this humble hot dog stand into a quick and efficient franchising opportunity. McDonald’s franchise model became a beacon of success for other restaurants, like Kentucky Fried Chicken and Dairy Queen, to follow in suit.

Highway System

Photo from nesbittrealty.com

With the highway system improvements also came advancements in the automotive industry. The 1950’s was filled with car culture; so why would restaurants be any different? While the first drive-in was opened along the Dallas-Fort Worth Highway in 1921, the 1950’s were the true heyday of drive-in diners. Serving up burgers and shakes, sometimes on skates, these diners became social hangouts for teens and families alike. The drive-in trend continued through the 1960’s and then declined with the increasing number of drive-through options in restaurants.

The 1960’s

Steak and Ale Menu

Photo from cravedfw.com

Although processed and junk food captured much of the baby boomers’ attention, it wasn’t the only trend happening in America at the time. Steak and Ale (casual dining) began offering a salad bar buffet to guests, keeping them occupied while waiting for their dinners. Soon enough, salad bars were popping up in steakhouses all over the country as a way to customize a guest’s appetizer.

Dining in the 60's

Photo from petermoruzzi.com

This decade was also defined by the meats served in restaurants. Most entrees at this time were focused around beef of some sort. Beef wellington, steak Diane, and Swedish meatballs were all popular beef dishes of 1960’s. In middle class restaurants, beef and lobster (or surf n’ turf) dinners were commonly seen on the menu.

Howard Johnson's

Photo from slate.com

At this point in history, there was an increasing emphasis on family time outside the home (vacations, a meal out, etc.). Popular restaurants of the time, Japanese steakhouse Benihana and Howard Johnson’s were often patronized by these families looking to spend quality time together and bond over dinner. In the 1960’s, dinner became more than just food and more focused on the emotions associated with it as a family.

The 1970’s

The 1970’s marked the beginning of environmentalism as the newest social cause, affecting the food and restaurant industry. Changing their tune from the 1960’s, customers wanted healthier options that were unprocessed and uncomplicated. This shift led to a rise in vegetarianism and health food stores.

At this point in time, there was a shift in gender roles. With a larger number of women in the workforce, restaurants were used as experiences with the family or a chance to get away from the preparations and cleaning up required of cooking at home. More casual-dining chains began spreading across the nation like the Cheesecake Factory and Ruby Tuesday, both opening their doors in 1972. For a quick bite, the 1970’s marked Subway’s start into franchising. Much like the fame of the McDonald’s assembly line from the 1950’s, the Subway assembly line was just as important for future restaurants in similar niches.

In finer dining, Le Cirque (New York City) opened its doors in 1974 by Sirio Maccioni and became a landmark in the city. One of the most infamous dishes to come out of Le Cirque was pasta primavera. This entrée soon became one of the most ordered items at restaurants across the country, its popularity spilling over into the 1980’s as well.

Le Cirque, New York City

Photo from insatiable-critic.com

The 1980’s

Innovation ran rampant in 1980’s restaurants. Chefs were taking creative license to create new combinations and dishes, making restaurants trendy and modern. While there were many traditionalists who argued against these new methods, it was certainly an exciting time to be in the restaurant business.

Nouvelle Cuisine

Photo from caraandco.com

Nouvelle cuisine was popular especially in finer dining establishments. Chefs worked hard to create elaborate presentations with their dishes, using the plate as a canvas. Popular New York City restaurants like Odeon and Quilted Giraffe used this style quite fervently throughout the 1980’s. Championed by chef Michel Guerard and food critics Henri Gault and Christian Millau, nouvelle cuisine allowed young chefs to be more artistic and not held to the restrictions of traditional French cooking.

Although this cooking style allowed chefs to be more creative in their practice, it ended abruptly with the stock market crash of 1987. With the largest one-day drop of the Dow Jones in history, customers expected more out of their restaurant helpings than the smaller, artistic portions of the time.

Chef Paul Prudhomme

Photo from investors.com

Another popular trend in the 1980’s was Cajun cooking. While other American chefs looked to other countries to inspire their dishes, chef Paul Prudhomme looked to his Louisiana roots. Prudhomme used classic Louisiana ingredients like blackened beef, crawfish, and shrimp to create exciting menu items such as Chicken and Andouille Gumbo and Cajun Jambalaya. The blackening technique became very popular in the 1980’s, being used in fish and other meat entrees.

The 1990’s

Fusion cooking was on the rise in the 1990’s. A trend, fusion cooking is the combination of different cultural dishes to create something new. Laying the ground work for this new trend, celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck served dishes that combined French and Asian influences for an interesting mixture. Items on Puck’s Chinois on Main menu included foie gras with pineapple and catfish with fried ginger.

Wolfgang Puck

Photo from minnpost.com

While these dishes could be highly creative and delicious (like this Thai-inspired pizza), some chefs took it a step too far and created “con-fusion” which were unexpected flavor hybrids that didn’t complement each other well. The “con-fusion” was a result of the chefs trying to jump on the bandwagon and allow their restaurant to have the next big thing, which doesn’t always coincide with a customer’s palate. It is very difficult to specifically label certain “con-fusion” recipes as a failure because taste is extremely subjective. But something tells us that a recipe for spicy Asian green beans with blue cheese isn’t going to be our new favorite food either.

Fusion Cooking

Photo from guyeatsfood.com

Many chefs are not a fan of the term “fusion cooking”, claiming negative connotations from the 1990’s. Even though it is still a popular cooking style in the modern world, the term fusion cooking is not normally used.

The 2000’s

At the turn of the century, America became much more conscientious about their foods. Consumers were more concerned about where their food came from, how it was processed, and what was in it. This kind of curiosity led to many consumer-driven changes that effected food suppliers, distributors, and restaurants.

Super Size Me documentary

Photo from netflixlife.com

One of the most revolutionary food documentaries to ever hit the small screen was Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me, which premiered in 2004 to a shocked America. It was common knowledge at this point that fast food was not the ideal meal for a healthy diet, but this documentary took just how unhealthy fast food could be and made it a living nightmare. After this documentary, many fast food chains began to evaluate their menu offerings.

Fresh food

Many consumers demanded more health-conscious options from all of their eateries. Even big-box retailers like Walmart were starting to offer organic options to their customers. So why wouldn’t restaurants as well? More restaurants began creating and marking healthier choices on their menus while others provided more detailed information about where the food came from. This kind of communication with the customer makes them feel more in charge and able to make more educated decisions based on the information that is provided to them.

Because consumers were aimed to obtain healthier foods (for the most part) they frequented businesses like Subway, Jamba Juice, and casual dining establishments like Applebee’s and Olive Garden. Some of the most popular foods of this decade included sushi, bacon, super fruits (blueberries, acai berries), and cupcakes. Many restaurants assimilated these flavors as a part of their core offerings.

The 2010’s

While we are 60% of the way through the 2010’s, there are still prominent restaurant trends that will have sticking power throughout the remainder of this decade.

Chipotle Assembly Line

Photo from qz.com

Restaurants that offer assembly line-like service allow for customers to choose how they want their food prepared are huge right now. The customer is able to tailor their experience from station to station to have their food made exactly the way they want it. This customization ability can be seen in restaurants like Chipotle, Blaze Pizza, and even Starbucks.

Coffee craze

Speaking of Starbucks, the 2010’s are drink-crazed. Whether it is coffeehouses or microbreweries, the interest in mixology has skyrocketed. Many restaurants are not limited to regular or decaf coffee offerings anymore. Similarly, restaurants are also producing their own type of craft beer or wine. There is a certain fascination with making these concoctions because it is all about creativity, and is great for expanding your profit margins.

In urban areas where rent is astronomical and constantly changing, the newest restaurant trend isn’t to become a physical building; it’s to have a food truck. This trend has roots starting in Los Angeles with Kogi BBQ truck and chef Roy Choi. With the help of Twitter and the combination of Korean and Mexican cuisine, the Kogi BBQ truck became a success that inspired restauranteurs to take an alternative route for restaurant ownership.

If you’re looking to create something new in your restaurant, it is always helpful to look to the past for inspiration to create your future. These popular trends from the 1950’s all the way to today have their time and place in history. The restaurant industry has a cyclical nature; trends are bound to find their way around again. While the subject matter of the trends may not be your restaurant’s cup of tea, at the very least, you can get a theme night out of it!

What are some trends (modern or older) your restaurant has tried? Let us know in the comments below!

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Why We Love the Rustic Industrial Trend (And You Should, Too!)

Rustic TrendWant a look for your restaurant’s interior that has an organic, elegant style with an effortless je ne sais quoi? A timeless style that’s easy to pair with other décor items? Then the rustic industrial trend is the right theme for you.

Seen in home design, wedding themes, and splashed across Pinterest, the rustic industrial trend is still going strong in late 2016. But what inspired the Mason jar fervor?

As a culture, we are obsessed with authenticity. We crave a sense of legitimacy and timelessness. We love seeing genuine, honest to goodness labor turned into beauty. Showcasing cracks, daily wear and tear, and distressed accents embody this trend.

So what does this mean for your restaurant and the industry?

Within the last 10 years, restaurant-goers have seen a rise in sustainability and local allocation of food in the businesses that they frequent, playing upon authenticity and individualism to set themselves apart from the competition. Customers are more likely to trust these singular operations that are original in the way they do things. This trust is key to differentiate your restaurant. If you can get customers to believe in your mission and purpose, it will set you apart from your competition.
The desire for authenticity has birthed the rustic industrial trend. The interior originality of the restaurant is just as important as the food selection to consumers.

One characteristic that ties restaurant interiors into this look is showing evidence of craftsmanship. The raw aesthetic of these restaurants remind us of the physical labor that went into creating them with their visible markings. Some common features of rustic industrial interiors include natural materials, high ceilings, and unfinished wood for accents. It’s these nitty-gritty details that can transform your space into the charming eatery of your dreams.

We’ve made a list of our awesome customers that rock the rustic industrial trend.

11th and Bay

11th and Bay (Columbus, GA)

Built in an old cotton warehouse, 11th and Bay fits right into the rustic industrial theme. This restaurant pulls rustic inspiration with the exposed white brick, distressed rafters, pendant lights, reclaimed wood seats, and sliding barn door. The cool metal of the bar stools and chairs add an engineered look to this otherwise very warm-toned atmosphere. This balance looks great together and prevents the room from looking too antiquated. The interior of 11th and Bay reflects the business’ passion for southern hospitality and quality ingredients.

The Feed + Co.

The FEED Co. Table and Tavern (Chattanooga, TN)

A feed warehouse in the early 1900’s, the Chattanooga Craftworks building is now home to The FEED Co. Table and Tavern. The rustic industrial style was a no-brainer in a building with this kind of history. This restaurant is split into a table area and a tavern area based on where the warehouse was sectioned off. Exposed brick, factory swing doors, and wood floors use the building’s origin and make it work with the theme. To tie the individual rooms in together, the reclaimed tables and seats add a unifying element.  Harmonizing with the manufacturing atmosphere of the building, chairs, bar stools, and fixtures add a metallic contrast and create the balance between rustic and modern.

Hell n' Blazes

Hell’n Blazes Brewing Company (Melbourne, FL)

The building that now houses Hell’n Blazes Brewing Company has come a long way since its hardware store roots. The brewery still proudly displays its history with the adorned ceiling, hardwood floors, stone accents around the bar area, and other rustic décor. Visible duct work and drop lighting also add metallic tones, matching the chairs and bar stools. Hell’n Blazes holds onto the original feel of the building while introducing industrial design elements, an ideal setting for their combination of craft beer and historic structure.

Grain Craft Bar + Kitchen

Grain Craft Bar + Kitchen (Newark, DE)

Grain Craft Bar + Kitchen uses the rustic industrial theme to set the atmosphere and complement its combination of craft beer and live music. A casual setting for Newark restaurant-goers, this restaurant and bar is decorated with a unique machinery collection assembled on the wall, chalkboard details, and use of deep wood tones, contrasting with the exposed lightbulb fixtures. This type of lighting casts a soft glow on customers, reflecting off the metal chairs and bar stools. Grain Craft Bar + Kitchen brings together the rustic and industrial styles with the help of décor and furniture.

Distinguishing Rustic Features

The rustic industrial trend is a combination of varying materials and textures. If you are building or designing your restaurant with this trend in mind, here are some materials to consider using. To meet in the middle of rustic and industrial, you need pieces from both ends of the spectrum. Remember to soften hard metal elements with wood tones and vice versa, the blending of supplies makes this trend truly unique.

  • Exposed beams, brick, and stone
  • Unfinished, raw wood
  • Galvanized metal
  • Unrefined edges on furniture
  • Limited color palette of neutral, warm, and subtle tones
  • Concrete or wood floors
  • High ceilings (reminiscent of a barn or warehouse setting)
  • Open floor plan
  • Visible, bare light fixtures
  • Items repurposed to serve a function such as a pallet furniture, barrel sink

Ready to try the rustic industrial look in your restaurant or bar? Here are some of our must-have items to get your upgrade started.

Reclaimed Reclaimed Wood

Each reclaimed table top is made of solid oak wood salvaged from Pennsylvania or Ohio barns by our Amish craftsmen and come with a story of their own. Unique knots and grain patterns are combined to create an individual look every time with these tops. Repurposing items to use them as something else is what the rustic industrial trend is all about.

Urban Distressed

Urban Distressed Wood

The urban distressed table tops are a great option if you want the reclaimed wood look, but at a lower price point. These tops are handed sanded and distressed to add the rustic charm that’s perfect for your restaurant. Available in a provincial and dark walnut finishes to accommodate whatever color wood tone you would like.

Simon

The Simon

Our Simon bar stool and chair is the ideal complement to the wood of the tables. The Simon contemporary silhouette makes it the perfect match with its clean, smooth lines. To mimic the other wood tones, there is an option available to add a vinyl, urban distressed, or reclaimed wood seat. Or leave it metal for a completely modern feel.

Viktor

The Viktor

Complement your rustic restaurant or bar with the industrial Viktor bar stool or chair. The supportive, laid back structure of the Viktor adds a comfortable alternative to a wooden chair. Choose from rust, brushed transparent, or matte black to pair with your tables. This stylish choice will be a favorite with your tables and warm tones.

Gladiator 101

The GLADIATOR Collection

One of our most popular collections, the GLADIATOR line is sure to please in your rustic restaurant or bar. Contrast against your warm tones with the 101 GLADIATOR style in a clear coat finish. This type of finish accentuates the crafted weld markings. Be sure to add a reclaimed seat to your chairs and bar stools for the perfect mix of rustic and industrial.

Let us know in the comments below if your restaurant uses a rustic design or if you’re ready to take the leap and give this trend a try.

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How to Market Your Restaurant to Millennials: Getting Social

Millennials

United States millennials span the ages of 18-35 and are a force to be reckoned with. This generation, also known as Generation Y, has surpassed the baby boomers (1946-1965) and now number 75.4 million.

Even with millennial numbers increasing, they don’t have control of the market at this point. Baby boomers still hold the buying power in today’s market; almost 50% of retail sales can be traced back to this group. But, millennials’ spending power will only continue to increase as they begin to earn more.

The true difference lies in how these generations communicate with businesses and brands. Generation Y is made up of extremely vocal consumers that are inter-connected and are not afraid to let others know what kind of experience they had at a business.

The millennial generation is often described negatively by their predecessors, but millennials are socially conscious and creative individuals that are becoming an increasing power in the market. This group’s craving for their peers’ opinions can often dictate many buying decisions, including where they choose to eat or drink.

Learning how to market to this rising group should be a priority for restaurant owners. By understanding the mind of a millennial, restaurateurs can uniquely tailor their marketing communications for this generation. Some call them self-oriented or naive, but millennials are changing best practices of the restaurant industry.

Social Media

Social media is an essential tool for restaurant owners to use when marketing to millennials. Restaurants that don’t use some form of technology platform to reach out and interact with customers seem out of date in today’s constantly changing society. Social media can give your business validity to those searching on the internet.

Celebrate what your business has to offer with your social media. Food is a visual commodity. Those who love to eat don’t only want flavorful bites; they want an aesthetically-pleasing experience they can share with others. Tailoring social media to your restaurant, guests, and mission can further brand your restaurant among many. For example, the “food and drink” category on Pinterest is the most pinned and browsed of all the categories and 90% of pinners are saving food and drink recipes on their mobile devices. This is a great indicator that these are items that people have interest in, so cater to it and get guests inspired by your selection.

You can promote events, menu additions, and even new staff on social media to give your business a face. Encourage your guests to check-in, tweet, post, and pin about your restaurant. Restaurants and bars that take the time to create quality content in their social media interactions can increase top of mind awareness and brand recognition. According to the State of Inbound Marketing, social media has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than traditional outbound marketing. Use that to your advantage!

Although it is on a larger scale, Chipotle does this very well and it is a brand that millennials want to follow on social media to see what they will post next.

Chipotle

Think of your business as a lifestyle brand that you need to promote. Consumers want to learn more about you and your company’s background and be able to relate on a personal level. Whether it’s about the latest rules on food safety or what your lunch specials will be, creative content about your business and its industry makes you an authority on the topic. Millennials appreciate the diverse but relevant subject matter and your business becomes a reliable resource your niche.

Do's and Don'ts of Social Media

Social Experience

Millennials are constantly branding themselves. By sharing their organic mango and black bean salad on social media, this generation expresses more than just what they’re having for dinner. When looked at closely, these actions say this consumer supports the story behind their food and that this is the type of restaurant they frequent.  Millennials brands themselves to coincide with the identity of the business. They are proud of their decision to eat out, and they want to share their experience with others. Of course, an Instagram feed is often a very skewed perception of reality but still presents a rose-colored lens for the rest of the world to take a peek.

Because of this show-all, tell-all way of thinking, millennials are buying experiences at restaurants instead of just food. Restaurants and bars take on a form of escapism where they can get away and have a gastronomic adventure. Going out to eat is seen as an event by millennials, so always try and exceed their expectations with your restaurant practices. For example, Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville has risen far above the standards of just being a restaurant chain; it’s now a lifestyle choice. This may seem like an overwhelming feat for a small business but it is possible! Rosarito’s Fish Shack (Williamsburg, New York) does a great job as a single location restaurant that brands themselves as a lifestyle. From its tasty Instagram pictures to the nautical exterior, Rosarito’s Fish Shack transports guests straight to the New England coast for a seaworthy experience.

Be proactive with your customer’s experience by training and communicating with your staff appropriately. A restaurant’s staff can make or break whether customers enjoy their stay. Take the time to show them the over-arching goal of the restaurant and your expectations of the team. How you train and communicate with your staff can be the difference between a good and bad experience for your customers. It is these little things that seem insignificant that truly add up in a consumer’s decision to visit a restaurant again.

Do's and Don'ts of Social Experience

Social Responsibility

Consumers can evoke change in the way that restaurants do business, especially consumers that are as vocal as the millennial generation. This generation is extremely cause-driven and wants to see their patronage to a restaurant have a deeper meaning.

Generation Y customers feel the need for a greater value proposition in purchases; they want to know they are making a difference in the world. As science and communication have improved, sustainable movements have been center on the world’s stage for the lifetime of millennials.

Eco-friendly activities strike a chord with this generation quicker than their predecessors. Millennials want the food and restaurant industry to share these same values.

To narrow down what works the best for your restaurant, you have to know your situation. What’s best for your theme, customer, and price point could be completely different than the restaurant next door to yours. This being said there are lots of ways to improve sustainable practices in your establishment. Use local meat sources, beef up recycling efforts, take steps to reduce food waste, find ways to reduce energy output, and visit farmer’s markets for produce.

Millennials are willing to spend more to support businesses that have these values in mind. Whether this way of thinking is selfish or not, Generation Y makes decisions that will increase self-esteem, which, in this case, works to the benefit of the environment. There are multiple ways for you to get involved in your community while also using it as an edge to market it to millennials. It’s not only social responsible for you to consider local and organic options for your restaurant, it could be lucrative as well.

Do's and Don'ts of Social Responsibility

Social Cause

The millennial generation is a melting pot of beliefs and cultural traditions. The widespread effects of social media have made them more aware of the world around them. This drives millennials to search for a greater purpose of community, which restaurants can get in on as well.

More and more restaurants and businesses are using cause marketing as a strategy instead of just an added bonus when you buy that certain product. This technique is attractive for both business owners to increase patronage and also millennial consumers that have deep interests in bettering the community around them. Cause marketing can inspire people to eat at your restaurant because you stand for something, especially if it is a cause already near and dear to that particular community.

For example, Rosa’s Fresh Pizza in Philadelphia started a movement where for a $1 you can prepay for a pizza slice for a homeless person. Rosa’s has championed single location cause marketing that has reached national recognition, with over 10,000 slices pre-purchased for others. This helped grow and aid the Philadelphia community to be more aware of others.

Another example of restaurants doing good (and through pizza) is the mission behind Malawi’s Pizza. This pizzeria’s “Pizza with a Purpose” tagline promotes the restaurant’s buy one, give one strategy. For each meal purchased here, another is given to a child in Malawi.

Pizza

Both of the restaurants are great cases for the success of what combining cause marketing and community can do. Championing a cause is a great way to actively earn free advertising but also allows customers to feel good about eating or drinking at your place of business.

Cause marketing campaigns can help your restaurant differentiate from your competition and do good deeds at the same time.

Do's and Don'ts of Social Cause

As they grow older and acquire more disposable income, millennials are becoming more of an influence in the restaurant industry. Restaurants need to know how to incorporate this demographic when making decisions. The connection that Generation Y feels for the world around them is unique, and it presents a great opportunity for restaurants to appeal to them. As these millennials become bigger consumers, it will be crucial for restaurateurs to craft their businesses to what is important to this generation.

How New Technology Offers Customer Service Improvements at Your Restaurant

Touchscreen Technology for Restaurants
Restaurant owners and managers are always seeking innovative ways to draw new customers and retain current ones. With the advent of mobile technology and social media, it’s become easier to reach out to a much larger customer base than ever before.

Here’s why you’ll want to be using technology that can help you introduce your eatery to the masses:

  • For Convenience. We mean both your convenience and your customers’ convenience. There are quite a few apps out there that can help your customers find you easily and then make a reservation, like Open Table. Having an online registration system that is connected to your computer system through a website, program, or the Cloud will make it easier for you to fill your open spots and open tables. Make sure your website has contact information both at the top and bottom of the page, and add a “Testimonials” tab and fill it with great reviews. Reviews and testimonials pages usually have the third-highest page views on a restaurant’s site, right after the home page and the menu.Offering WI-Fi is a must, and with chain restaurants like Chili’s and Applebee’s putting tablets at each table to place orders and pay bills, many owners will be thinking of other ways they can streamline their ordering system using wireless technology.
  • To Keep In Touch. With mobile devices so popular (more than 40% of website views are made from a tablet or phone), some restaurants create apps that help to tether their customers to them. If you can provide some helpful or entertaining information in app form, it may be a nice way to notify your customers of upcoming specials and encourage engagement with your brand.  How to get them to download it? Offer customers an instant coupon for downloading your app while they’re enjoying their meal, but be sure to provide an ongoing value to your app users.Email lists are helpful, too. Some places like to send out an email to customers that lists the weekly specials or the weekend entertainment schedules. Some owners use email to deliver special coupons to repeat customers, too. You can also use the email to get some fabulous reviews. Have a customer write a quick online review that can be used on your website or on Google Carousel, and then send them a coupon as thanks. They’re likely to return, and you now have a new review that you can publish and promote.
  • To Let You Share Your Experience. After you’ve had a great meal, you probably want to tell everyone how wonderful it was. Your customers are the same way: dining out isn’t just eating a meal, it’s an event they want to commemorate. They love taking pictures of food and sharing it on Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and Urbanspoon.  Online reviews—whether they’re good or bad—are always a good way to connect and keep in touch with customers and everyone who is reading their appraisal of your restaurant.Social media can be a very powerful tool for telling your restaurant’s story and listening to the experiences of your customers.  Embrace social media tools for your restaurant as a way to get feedback and get to know your customers a little better.

The newest way to communicate to your customers may be through technology, but it’s also highly personal (known as “high-tech, high-touch”). Before you can embrace this technology, you’ll have to learn about it so that you can determine what’s most effective for your restaurant and your customer base. From there, you can start implementing some of these ideas, or hire someone to help, because once you start, you’ll get a following—and they’ll expect frequent updates. Set a schedule and stick to it, and get ready to welcome new customers through your door.

Restaurants and Social Responsibility

restaurants and social responsibilitySocial responsibility is an important part of any company’s marketing and operations strategies, including restaurant brands.  Today’s savvy customer expects a high level of corporate ethics, which takes the community, the environment, and the greater good into consideration.  In fact, two thirds of the world’s consumers prefer shopping or dining at companies that give back to society.  This concept of doing good and giving back has become increasingly important to the Millennial generation, which every company needs to have on their radar for marketing purposes; they’ve arrived to market.

At East Coast Chair & Barstool, we have a corporate giving strategy that our owners can feel good about.  In addition to supporting opportunities that promote local B2B networking or highlight our presence in the food service and related industries, our owners strive to create a family-like work atmosphere by supporting causes that are important to the employees.  A dress down schedule promotes philanthropy among the staff, and additionally, our owners are happy to support local educational causes that benefit their children or the school-aged children of their staff members.  We believe that as our company grows, we need to show our gratitude by giving back to our community.

Restaurants are actively participating in cause marketing efforts, too.  In the weeks following Hurricane Sandy, the Boston bombings, and the tornadoes in Oklahoma, we read many stories of restaurants coming together to support their neighbors. Whether it was pouring coffee for the Red Cross volunteers or raising funds for victims, restaurants responded to the call to action.  But brands don’t have to wait for tragedy to strike.  Every brand should have a cause or charity (or a few) that they support year-round, which makes sense for that company.  A perfect example is Firehouse Subs, whose foundation supports hometown heroes: firefighters!  Their entire culture is wrapped around their cause, so it’s a natural fit that their customers and community can believe.

The best part is that establishing a corporate giving strategy really is win-win-win. A) Your customers feel great about supporting a cause when they visit you. B) The cause gets much-needed funds to continue their good work.  C) And you score a loyal fan base.  Revenues tend to rise during fundraising campaigns at stores and restaurants.  For example, Dairy Queen’s Miracle Treat Day, in which the company donates $1 for every blizzard sold during the day to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, is often one of the busiest days of the year for the participating locations.

But beware.  A PR scheme to drum up sales isn’t the best way to approach social responsibility. The consumer is also a good BS-detector.  Be sincere in your efforts, and you can win over the hearts of your employees, your customers, and your community.

There are a lot of ways to support a good cause.  Offer to host a charity event at your restaurant, sponsor a local cause, or donate food and drinks to a special event taking place in your community.  You can recruit staff members to join a team for a charity walk/bike ride, or get a group of staff volunteers together to do a community project, like starting a community garden or building a playground.  Perhaps you create an in-store fundraising night, a celebrity bartender event, or a dine-to-donate program with proceeds going to a charity of your choice.  Participating in an already-established program, like No Kid Hungry, might be an easy way to get started, and it is a great fit for all restaurants.  You might also want to do something locally with your neighborhood food cupboard, soup kitchen, or school lunch program.

Other ways consumers expect restaurants to practice social responsibility is in the way they handle their everyday business operations. If you source locally-grown ingredients and humanely-raised meats, you should add that information to your menu and website.  If you use packaging that is from recycled materials, or if you have a ‘green team’ on your staff, dedicated to reducing your restaurant’s carbon footprint, you should share that information in your advertising.  The more ways you find to promote being a responsible company, the more people will like you.  And being liked is the first step to being successful.

Engaging in socially responsible behaviors will make you proud of the company you’re leading. It might even make you feel a little warm and fuzzy inside, yourself.

How will your restaurant make a difference?

How To Cash In On Lent

We would like to share this great article with you, borrowed from our friends at Restaurant Hospitality!

Is your bar or restaurant hosting holiday parties?

This is a busy time for families and friends to meet up at a local bar or restaurant to reconnect over the holiday season and at the turn of the new year. If you are a newer bar or restaurant or have experienced a lot of growth this year, it might be a little overwhelming to manage all these reservations or impromptu gatherings in your establishment. So, we are here to help! I’ve put together a list of tips to help your bar or restaurant survive (and succeed) this holiday season.

1. Review your menu. Do you have holiday favorites, like spiced apple cider, peppermint milkshakes, or sugar cookies available?  It doesn’t take much for even the smallest restaurant or cafe to add some special treats to their holiday menus this season.  If you are hosting many sit-down dinners, do you have turkey, ham, and pork & sauerkraut meals with all the trimmings listed?  You may suggest family-style dining to your larger parties and try something new that could be very pleasing to your guests!   It’s also a great time of year to test market some new ideas or try out some new seasonal customs.  For example, you could try a ‘decorate your own’ gingerbread cookie for the kiddies, ‘top your own’ hot cocoa (think flavored whipped cream, holiday-shaped marshmallows, or shots of holiday flavors),  ‘create your own’ cocktail, or just add in some new products or promotions you’ve been wanting to try.  Maybe you want to introduce a new dessert buffet or try new mixed drink concoctions. The possibilities are endless, and if it’s popular and well received, you could find a way to work it into your everyday menu.  You may want to add just a small holiday menu, dress up some of your regular menu items in a new way to fit the holiday season, or create a holiday option in each category on your menu (beverage, appetizer, meal, dessert).  Any way your chef, brew master, or caterer addresses the holidays this season, your customers will be thrilled!  Make sure any changes or additions you make fit your bar or restaurant theme and coordinate well with your entire menu’s cuisine (for example, French restaurants could introduce a cranberry crepe or drinking establishments could sample an adult eggnog beverage).  Don’t forget: Be sure to add any new ingredients or required kitchen equipment to your regular purchase orders.

2. Check your staff schedules. With large parties needing extra attention and more people in general coming and going from your establishment, you will need to bump up your salary budget this time of year.  Make sure you are fully staffed and ready to give your patrons the joyous holiday get-together they are anticipating.  We know that end-of-year spending might be tight, but cutting staff at your busiest time of year could prove very detrimental to service and quality of your customers’ experiences.  In addition, take advantage of the prelude to the busy season to re-train or remind your staff on best service practices, speedy kitchen and delivery times, quick and clean bus habits, and overall quality standards.  There’s never a good time to make a blunder at your bar or restaurant, but during the holiday season, you want to make sure everyone and everything is running smoothly. This is especially important if you are introducing new menu items or expect your bar staff to learn how to make new drinks or properly serve in new glassware.

3. Define the space. If you are not used to hosting large parties, you may need to look at your tables and chairs and reconfigure your space in order to keep larger parties all seated together.  Can your tables push together?  Do you need to add extra tables?  Would it be better to place parties in certain rooms or areas and keep the smaller parties in a different section?  Should you swap out your bulky restaurant chairs with more sleek backless barstools to help more people fit around the room?  Large parties will need to feel like they are the only ones in the joint and be able to carry on conversations from end of the table to the other.  Being prepared for a large group of people at your bar or restaurant is your best defense this holiday season. (If you need help with future bar or restaurant furniture needs to help define your space, we can help!  Let East Coast Chair & Barstool show you tables, chairs, and barstools that will eliminate your worry.)

4. Re-design the take-out process. Whether it’s baked goods, holiday party catering, or extra 6-packs of beer, your customers may be demanding more take-out service this holiday season.  Is your bar or restaurant prepared?  Is there a special wait line for take-out orders only?  Do you offer carry-out parking/delivery?  Are the orders being marked accurately, and do you offer in-house order tracking on an order board or customer tracking digitally?  Are your prep cooks ready to handle the bulk of orders and getting enough lead time?  Working out the details for a smooth take-out process now could save you, your staff, and your customers a lot of grief.

5. Address extended wait times. It’s busy.  Your customers are told it might be an hour or longer before they can be seated.  Depending on your establishment and the party, they might have young children with them.  What do they do?  Is there a special room for guests to wait?  Can you hand out holiday-themed coloring books in advance to any kids?  Do you have a bar and appetizer area, so they can get started nibbling?  What about music/TV/other entertainment?  Will a long line that’s visible deter others from stopping?  Will waiting guests get in the way of your wait staff?  Do you have enough seating for waiting guests, too?  Considering how you might address this in advance will be a great help to you when you have a crowd waiting.

6. Set the mood. Decorations. Music. Party gear.  It doesn’t take a huge budget to make a large impact.  Worried you’re crossing a politically incorrect line?  Stay simple and just add a little oomph to dress it up for the season.  If you are doing a New Year’s Eve special event, make sure you have champagne goblets (glass or disposable) on hand for a toast and some kind of party hat, noise maker, or favor for your party-goers.  You want to make your bar or restaurant feel festive, so people have a good time and remember you when they’re looking for a place to eat or drink the whole rest of the year.

7. Announce any special holiday hours. Closing for the holidays?  Or offering extending hours?  Make sure people know!  Post signs on every door, add your new hours to your Web site, let regular customers know via wait staff, and add your holiday schedule to your regular promotions. The one reason why people aren’t at your bar or restaurant this holiday season shouldn’t be because they didn’t know if you were open. And if the only thing someone wants this holiday season is your famous pie, let them know if you are going to be closed so they can pick up a slice ahead of time.

No matter what challenges your bar or restaurant may face from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, remember to stay jolly and show your patrons a merry good time!  Shake off the small stresses and feel honored that your neighbors want to celebrate in your establishment. No matter how big or small you celebrate this season, remember that it’s a special time of year for everyone.

Happy holidays to you and yours!