Starting a new restaurant establishment or renovation process can be a daunting task for many restaurant owners. Through years of working with local owners and managers in Vancouver and the lower mainland, we have come up with a couple useful tips to keep in mind the next time you go shopping.
1. Commercial grade vs. non-commercial grade seating
This is an important tip, which is why we placed it first. Online retailers and big box stores often will sell chairs that look and feel appropriate for restaurants but lack important features. In big box stores, the joinery is often not designed for heavy use while commercial chairs are welded with that in mind. The finish on many of the table tops in big retailers are often residential grade and therefore will have a tough time maintaining the colour and texture under commercial cleaners. Most importantly, the products from big box stores are often not tested by the manufacturer for commercial use. In most cases, non-commercial chairs are excluded from product liability claims if used in a commercial setting. This means that, if a customer is hurt from a chair breaking, the manufacturer will have limited liability and you, the restaurant owner, will be responsible for 100% of the damages. This can cost a lot depending on the situation.
Product Liability: http://www.furninfo.com/furniture-world-articles/3611
2. Understand the ambiance of your restaurant
Understanding the ambiance or "mood" of your restaurant prior to shopping for furniture can help streamline the type of look, finish and material you desire. Typically wood chairs display a feeling of warmth and comfort that's often associated with fine dining, a spot for a full meal or just a place to dine for a while. Metal chairs can have a feeling of coldness that's perfect for bars, clubs or more noisy atmospheres. Chairs made of plastic can look easy-going making it great for cafes, dessert shops, and fast food joints. There are many products made with a combination of the above materials and it's up to you to decide how you would like to convey the ambiance of your restaurant through your decor and furniture.
Creating an awesome atmosphere for your restaurant: http://restaurantbrandingroadmap.com/12-ways-to-create-an-awesome-atmosphere-for-your-restaurant/
3. Knowing your budget
Furniture prices will often depend on look, quality of finish, material, size of chair, place of origin and cost of shipping. While non-commercial chairs are cheaper and often budget friendly, you must also consider the long term risk to your business. It's much safer trading style or finish to save money rather than accepting a non-commercial chair. Modern designs will typically be more costly than standard designs such as a classic ladder back wood chair. You should always look for more local restaurant furniture shops as they are more likely to be more lenient on prices, especially for bulk orders, and you would likely save on shipping costs.