Restaurant Seating Buyers Guide

Your restaurant seating might be made up of chairs, booths, stools, or couches, but whatever you choose will play a vital role in the overall design of your restaurant. Before you start placing orders to buy what you think you want, take careful stock of a few factors so you get the most for your money. Your choice can ultimately and affirmatively affect your restaurant sales.

The Size of Your Restaurant 

Compact booths might be a better option than large tables and chairs for smaller restaurants. You'll want to maximize the number of tables and chairs in the restaurant without sacrificing a clean flow of foot traffic between the kitchen and the dining room. Make sure you know exactly how much space you have available to devote to actual restaurant seating before you begin buying furniture. This will help you select the right size seats and tables.

Another thing to keep in mind that diners generally aren't too thrilled about being squeezed into a restaurant like sardines in a can. Resist the urge to pack as much seating into your available space as possible, particularly if it's limited. It might seem like it allows you to serve more meals, but it might not be to your advantage, particularly if you're just starting out and haven't made a name for yourself quite yet.

If the whole town knows that you indisputably offer the best slow-roasted pork, diners are likely to tolerate a little more inconvenience to enjoy it. But if they don't yet realize that your pork is to die for, they might expect more in the way of comfort until they get the message. 

And, of course, your goal is to give them both: great pork and a comfortable place to enjoy it. 

The Design of Your Restaurant 

The design of your restaurant is crucial. Compact, plastic booths might fit well in a family-friendly diner or other casual eateries, particularly if customers tend to bring their kids with them. Chairs covered with an elegant fabric seat would be a better choice for a fine-dining restaurant. Kids spill. Plastic is easy to clean up. Elegant fabric ... not so much. Consider replacement costs along with ambiance when you're purchasing. 

Your Budget 

This leads us to your budget. Prices for tables and chairs—or booths, stools, and other restaurant seating—can quickly add up. You might consume a good portion of your initial startup budget before you know what hit you. You might love a certain style of chair, but ask yourself if you really need it. Will a cheaper version suffice?

What to Look for When You're Buying Restaurant Seating 

Look for easy-to-clean designs when you're looking for restaurant seating. This can't be over-emphasized regardless of whether you're catering to families with young kids or mostly to adults who are less likely to spill. Avoid styles with a lot of designs and crevices. They'll be harder to wipe down and keep free of crumbs and other debris.

If you're purchasing chairs or restaurant booths with fabric seats, be sure that you have the fabric treated with a stain resister. And plan to budget for a professional cleaning at least once a year, but preferably twice a year.

About Your Waiting Area  

Couches or other comfy chairs for your waiting area are another matter. You'll want to make sure they're durable and covered in an easy-to-clean material, such as leather. Yes, leather. Not plastic. Remember, this is your customers' first glimpse of your establishment. You want the area to look appealing, but without breaking the bank.

Your waiting area furniture should reflect your restaurant theme, too, just as your dining room or bar furniture does. Consider that when you're choosing styles, fabric, and size.

What to Skip

Avoid buying non-commercial restaurant furniture. The main reason restaurant seating is so expensive is that it's designed up to hold up to the wear and tear of a lot of everyday use by your customers. Just like restaurant dinnerware, restaurant seating is durable and made to last many years.

That said, if you purchase your restaurant seating new, make sure you keep the warranty.