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Trent Furniture at the Restaurant Design Show 2017/18

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On the 26th and 27th of Sept 2017, Trent Furniture was pleased to exhibit at the Restaurant Design Show 2017/18 at ExCeL London. 

model of the ExCeL centre and surrounding area - London

Our exhibition team took along some of our most enjoyed and frequently purchased restaurant furniture, as well as some of our furniture guides, brochures, and a whole host of tips and advice for business.  

Getting to the Restaurant Design Show at ExCeL

The ExCeL centre and surrounding area - London

For those looking to attend the event and future events, the ExCeL centre in London is approx. 10-15 minutes walk from Canary Wharf, located in the middle of the Royal Docks.

Getting to the venue is easiest by Train/Tube/DLR.

To get to the Restaurant Design Show venue by train/tube and DLR simply:

- Get the train to Waterloo station

- Take the Dockland Light Railway (DLR) to Canning Town

- From the Jubilee line at Canning Town take the Prince Regent Station

At this stage, it's a few steps to the event.

Trent Furniture at the Restaurant Design Show 2017/18

Trent Furniture at the Restaurant Design Show 2017-18

Our team was located at stand 3170, right in the heart of the show for the two days (26th and 27th Sept 2017).

We met lots of enthusiastic and established business owners, purchasers, and furniture buyers; lots of the restaurant, pubs, bars, and hotels/leisure industries, and many from the retail sector too.

Guest Speakers at the Restaurant Design Show at ExCeL

Speakers at the Restaurant Design Show 2017-18

As you might imagine, one of the highlights for many of the businesses attending the Restaurant Design Show 2017-18 was the access to free expert insight, inspiration, and tips about furnishing businesses premises, through to payment solutions, and a whole lot more! 

The Trent Furniture team had lots of interesting conversations with attendees and many exhibitors of the show too - often relating to making the most out of a business layout, getting the right type of furniture for commercial premises, and generally making the right furniture buying decisions. 

guest speaker with a busy crowd 

If you were hoping to attend the show or did attend, but didn't get a chance to chat with our expert furniture team - contact us today!

P.S. for the eagle-eyed attendees, you may have noticed a few celebrities at the Restaurant Design Show 2017/18 including Gareth Gates.

Gareth Gates at the Restaurant Design Show 2017-18

Preparing your restaurant, café or bar for Autumn & the festive season

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Is there anything more dispiriting than seeing Christmas decorations that have been put up too early? The sight of tinsel dangling from a shop ceiling or Santa riding his sleigh across a pub chimney breast in the middle of October is guaranteed to get customers grumbling. So, if you run a pub, café or restaurant and are wondering when to start getting ready for the festive season, the answer is: not too soon. 

Chesterfield sofa in an English pub

Thinking about Autumn and Christmas

It is, however, not too soon to start thinking about Christmas. And with the onset of autumn, now is a good time to start thinking not just about Christmas, but about the months leading up to it. The darker evenings and colder weather are an opportunity to offer customers a warm, cosy retreat from the dull greyness of the British winter. 

the Danish concept of “hygge”

Over the past couple of years we’ve heard a great deal about the Danish concept of “hygge” (pronounced “hue-guh”, it translates roughly as “homeliness”), and this is a trend that looks set to last for a while yet. Which means one thing more than any other: candles. (Danes burn more candlewax per person than any other country in the word.) There’s something special about candlelight: it adds glowing warmth to an interior. Big, boldly coloured candles in simple glass containers on tabletops, counters and shelves are an easy way to create instant hygge, while their fragrances can add spice.

spiced coffee at Christmas

Remember, too, that fairylights these days are not just for Christmas, but the whole year round; trailed around door frames, bars, counters, across walls or even strung from the ceiling, they create sparkle and a sense of occasion. If you have an outside area with patio heaters, fairylights strung around walls, tables and umbrellas can create a twinkling grotto-like effect.

So, perhaps this year, rather than putting up your Christmas decorations overnight, you could make it a gradual process, beginning with candles and fairylights as the evenings grow darker, then adding festive table centrepieces (for restaurants) as the Christmas season begins, then decorative touches such as pine cones and baubles in glass containers, the decorations themselves, and of course the tree. 

Candles adding warmth and atmosphere

Preparing for Halloween

But there’s plenty to think about before Christmas arrives. Remember that Halloween is now Britain’s second biggest “party night” after New Year’s Eve. These days Halloween runs into Guy Fawkes Night, and often incorporates elements from Mexico’s Day of the Dead festival, to create a week or more of fireworks, bonfires, effigies and spooks.

Halloween party in a bar

Restaurants can attract extra customers with special menus, drinks and themed evenings. Meanwhile the Indian festival of Diwali also falls in the autumn (this year it’s on October 19), with lights and fireworks celebrating the victory of light over darkness, good over evil. October and early November are good times for people who like fireworks (though they’re not so good for noise-sensitive pets).

Spicing up drink menus

If you run a café or a pub, this is a good time of year to spice up your drinks menus – literally. The big high-street café chains such as Starbucks offer spiced hot drinks including gingerbread latte. Independent cafés can follow suit by offering a dash of spiced winter syrup with hot drinks. (Also: oat milk is becoming an increasingly popular alternative to regular milk and soya milk.) Pubs meanwhile can join a hot new trend that follows on from the rise of craft beers: craft spirits.

Small distillers are now creating their own unique gins and vodkas. If there is a craft distillery near to your pub, it would be a nice touch to be able to offer your customers the choice of a local gin or vodka, perhaps in a seasonal special offer. (You can find a local distillery here at the Hot Craft Spirits website.) Mulled wine is also a perennial favourite, and it’s not hard to make your own, rather than buying in a ready-made product. 

The smell of gently warming mulled wine is a welcoming aroma. Remember, too, that todaation are an abstemious bunch; alcohol is something that they can take or leave, so be sure to offer suitably seasonal non-alcoholic drinks. The Virgin Bloody Mary is popular, and its deep red colour makes it a seasonal favourite.

mulled wine

Restaurant and Christmas menus

Restaurants, meanwhile, will need to start thinking now about their winter and Christmas menus. So what are the food trends this year? There is certainly life yet in the “slow food” movement – the idea that food should be local where possible, sustainable and cooked with honesty and integrity (in short, it’s the opposite of “fast food”). If this proves challenging in a business where customer turnover is a key part of your business plan, there are other ways you can stay “on trend”.

Grilled vegetables such as cauliflower are currently hot; indeed, food that places vegetables at the centre rather than on the side is becoming increasingly popular. (The current vogue among trendsetting consumers for camel milk, though, looks likely to be passing fad.)

Catering for vegetarians

There is also a move towards vegetable-based foods that imitate meat – “plant burgers”, for instance. And in Hackney, east London, Temple of Seitan, which opened earlier this year, claims to be Britain’s first “vegan fried chicken shop”, serving a chicken substitute made from wheat gluten.

These products are worth bearing in mind when restaurants are planning Christmas menus. Meat remains popular among many diners, but customers are becoming more discerning: they want their beef aged, their pork from rare breeds, their chicken free range and corn-fed, their turkey “heritage” breed. Oh, and sourdough bread is more popular than ever.

Making the most of Christmas trends

When Christmas finally comes around, what are the key design trends for the coming festive season? Scrolling around the internet in search of seasonal design trends brings up mysterious concepts such as “Bloomsbury” and “Indulgent”, but more practical suggestions can be gleaned from the Pinterest website – a free and almost unlimited source of imaginative, creative ideas. There is something of a current trend for British woodland animals in interior design – on cushions, throws, blankets, tiles, etc – and a scattering of these items will add a dash of rural winter to your interior.

This is the time of year when people want to retreat to the warm welcome of a pub or café, so if you can offer a scattering of armchairs or a deep sofa in your café or pub, with rugs and cushions, this will encourage customers to linger.

These can be confusing times for anyone in the hospitality trade. Mealtimes are becoming blurred. Brunch is the new lunch. Young people seem to have stopped drinking alcohol. Pubs serve coffee. Interior design seems to be a question of “If it feels good, do it”. Vegetables are made to look like meat. 

Authenticity

But if there is one theme that overrides everything else, it is this: authenticity. Customers want a “real” experience. They want to know the story behind their food. They want to eat or drink in surroundings that are unique, individual. They want to see their coffee being roasted, their beer being brewed in a microbrewery. And when it comes to Christmas, they don’t want the same old stuff trotted out year after year: tatty tinsel, Slade belting out “Merry Christmas Everybody”.

So, this Christmas, keep it real. Don’t overdo the decorations. Hold back on the tinsel. (But don’t hold back on the candles.) And don’t start putting up the decorations, or the tree, until it really feels like Christmas. Your customers will thank you for it.

How to choose one piece of furniture that will update the look of your pub instantly

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What makes a pub stand out?

Recommendations about where to eat and drink drives a lot of foot fall into pubs these days.  If a friend or relative has had a great experience when visiting a pub for food or drinks, they’re more than likely to recommend it to the people that they like. Which means you’re hopefully hitting your target market without doing anything other than a great job!

However, to do a great job, you don’t just have to make sure the right drinks are available, or that the food served is top notch – getting the atmosphere and ambience correct can be equally as important.  This is often what will make your pub stand out.

Does your pub need a whole new refurbishment?

Sometimes the only way to achieve a fresher, more modern or even just a more authentic, relaxed atmosphere in a pub, is to carry out a complete pub refurbishment, including new decoration and new furniture.  However, sometimes, you don’t need to go quite this far.

Something like adding a colourful feature wall can change the entire look and feel of a room and by adding a feature piece of furniture can change the tone of the room.  The great thing about adding furniture is that, unlike painting a wall, you can choose a piece of furniture that fits in with exactly the look you’re trying to achieve – modern, stylish, chic, expensive, traditional – there is no limit.  

Furniture also gives you the flexibility to change the style of your pub more easily.  For example, if your weekday clientele is hikers and retired couples, who want a nice meal by the fire, then a Chesterfield chair or sofa will help to give your pub an air of high quality.  This Chesterfield armchair, for example, could be the focal point of a room: 

pub chesterfiled sofa

However, if at the weekend, you attract a younger clientele who come in to watch the football, a Chesterfield chair may not gain the same level of appreciation, so can either be moved or be put in a separate area of the pub, away from where the football will be screened.

pub leather sofa
Similarly, if you have a relatively modern style of pub, but wish to create an atmosphere of a more traditional style of pub, something like a gothic table could add an air of traditional sophistication, whilst still fitting in with a modern build.  We have lots of traditional pub furniture available at Trent Furniture, but the Regular Gothic Table in its various finishes illustrates this point perfectly:

gothic metal table for bar

Adding feature furniture to your pub

There are lots of other ways to add feature furniture into your own pub, to help create a new mood or atmosphere.  From colourful bar stools to winged sofas, whatever you are trying to achieve, we’ll be able to help.  

Get in touch with our pub furniture specialists for more information, on 0116 2988 583 or alternatively visit the Trent Furniture website to view our range of pub furniture at https://www.trentfurniture.co.uk/.

From Tea Shops to Coffee Shops - A Brief History of Tea-Drinking in Britain

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For the past twenty years or so, the story of Britain’s high streets has all been about coffee, coffee, coffee. And rightly so: sales of coffee have long since overtaken tea. When people want to get together for a catch-up, these days they’re likely to say, “Let’s meet for coffee.” Coffee chains such as Starbucks, Costa and Caffè Nero, as well as thousands of independent coffee shops, are now a feature of our national life.

Tea drinking making a comeback

Young man drinking tea outside tea shop

Yet tea is showings signs of making a comeback. Although most younger drinkers are not turned on by the milky, often sugary drink consumed by their parents, they are warming to the pleasures of different kinds of tea: green tea, bubble tea (a beverage originating in Taiwan that uses various flavours and tapioca balls), Japanese matcha tea, and all kinds of herbal infusions such as South American maté.

New tea bars are opening up around the UK, while coffee shops and cafés are having to update their offerings to cater for the new generation of tea drinkers.

The history of tea drinking in Britain

A brewed cup of tea

But how did the British come to be drinking tea in the first place? The story begins in China, where tea has been drunk for thousands of years. Evidence of tea-drinking was found in the tombs of Chinese Han Dynasty emperors from the 2nd century BC. One of the stories about the origins of tea – a rather gruesome one - says that a Buddhist devotee, or perhaps even the Buddha himself, was meditating when he fell asleep. Annoyed with himself for dozing off, he cut off his own eyelids and tossed them away, where the eyelashes grew to become the first tea bushes.

Whatever the truth, the bush from which all tea is made – camellia sinensis, to give it its full botanical name – was cultivated in China and slowly spread to Japan and the rest of the world. The Portuguese and the Dutch were among the first to import it to Europe, and tea became hugely popular. In 1662 Britain’s King Charles II married Portugal’s Princess Catherine of Braganza; she popularised tea drinking at court, and the habit spread.

Mid 19th century tea

modern tea varieties in glass cups

By the mid-19th century, tea clippers such as the Cutty Sark were a feature of ocean life, and Chinese domination of the tea trade was coming under threat. British Botanist Robert Fortune travelled around China disguised as a Chinese trader on behalf of the British East India Company (all of which was highly illegal). Acting as a kind of industrial spy, he stole tea plants and observed the complicated processes involved in making tea.

(For a long time it was believed that green tea and black tea were made from different plants; it turned out, though, that they are made from the same leaves, but their treatment is very different – black tea, which is what is most widely drunk in Britain, goes through a process of heating and rolling known as “fermentation”, though in fact it’s more like curing.). 

The contraband tea plants that ended up in India mostly died, but Fortune’s knowledge of the processing of tea leaves proved invaluable in establishing the Indian tea industry. And tea drinking took a huge leap forward in the early 20th century with the invention of the teabag.

Today China is still the biggest tea-growing country in the world, but tea is widely grown elsewhere – India, Sri Lanka, Kenya; there are even tea plantations in Cornwall, on the Tregothnan Estate. 

Tregothnan tea plants

Tea rooms and tea shops

young woman drinking tea at cafe

From the early years of the 20th century onwards, tea rooms and tea shops were found on every high street, with the Lyons chain leading the way. Tea became not just a drink but a social event, perhaps not as laden with ceremony as the famous Japanese tea rituals, but still an important part of daily life. In the second world war, tea played a vital role in keeping morale high. 

Second world war tea break

The growth of coffee shops

In recent years tea rooms have been supplanted by coffee shops and cafès, but now, in a trend that seems to have begun in America, new tea bars and tea shops are opening, offering exotic teas, matcha lattes and herbal infusions in cool surroundings. (Some retailers, by the way, peddle the myth that green tea is healthier than black tea; in fact, both contain equal levels of healthy anti-oxidants.).

 

Fermented tea?

Among the new tea bars is Jarr, which is mainly in the business of selling a drink called kombucha – fermented tea with various flavourings – and which has an outlet at a small “tap room” in Hackney, east London. In Newcastle, Pumphreys – a business long associated with coffee – serves speciality teas at Mrs Pumphrey’s Curious Tea Leaves Shoppe in Grainger Market. Across town, Quilliams Brothers Tea-House offers dozens of teas and is open most nights until midnight. 

Tea shops in London

tea shops in London

In Tooting, south London, The Brew is a new “tea pub” that aims to offer a wide range of teas in a pub-like environment (it serves beer and cocktails, too). Also in London, Amanzi offers exotic-sounding teas, including Ginseng Oolong and T-Rex, at its branch in Marylebone, and has ambitions to become Britain’s leading tea-bar brand. Bubbleology has around a dozen branches selling bubble tea, mostly in London but also with branches in Sheffield and Leeds. 

Amanzi tea brewers

The Urban Tea Rooms sells sandwiches and 10 varieties of loose-leaf tea at its two central London branches. It was set up to provide “a modern equivalent of the traditional tea room”. Speaking of which, the tradition of a proper English afternoon tea has survived the onslaught of the coffee shops, in the form of Bettys, which has six branches in Yorkshire; here, cake stands, fine crockery and doilies are the dominant themes. 

In response to the demand for a wider range of teas, chains such as Starbucks now offer hot and cold teas with names such as “jasmine pearls tea” and “iced shaken hibiscus infusion”.

How can coffee shop and café owners respond to the new generation of tea consumers?

Well, the first thing to say is that tea now comes in many glorious colours, from pale off-white to deepest red, so if you’re following the trend and serving exotic blends and varieties, glass cups might be the way to go; these will show off the rich hues of the liquid. Second, bear in mind that the new tea drinkers are a younger crowd. They will not take kindly to fine china, doilies, cake stands and flouncy old-fashioned decor. They prefer things to be more authentic, natural, honest. 

This often means unvarnished wood, bare brickwork or plain plaster, local photographs on the walls, that sort of thing. Amanzi serves tea in fancy brewers, made from transparent materials so that the process of the tea brewing and straining into the cup can be seen and relished. (Amanzi sells a range of teaware, and also has a helpful guide to brewing the different kinds of tea.) 

And there are all manner of well-designed, cool-looking teapots, stands, strainers and other tea paraphernalia now available.

It seems that what was once a murky brown liquid that was often doused in milk and over-sweetened with sugar has come out into the open in all its varieties of colour and flavour. There’s life yet in the British cuppa.

How to deal with bar queues in cocktail season

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The cocktail season is upon us! While it never really goes away, the true cocktail season is throughout summer and it’s finally here.

fresh summer cocktails at a pub

You’ve hopefully updated your cocktail menu with summery flavours and have made use of your outdoor space so that groups can enjoy their tasty cocktails on your outdoor furniture in the sun.

Selling cocktails at a busy bar

cocktails on a bar

As we’re sure you’re aware, making cocktails can take time. They are often worth the wait but the time that they take to be made means that a busy queue can quickly form at the bar, especially when a customer makes a big order for a range of different cocktails.

Tips and advice for handling bar ques

Preparing your team for the pressures of dealing with large cocktail orders is key for the success of a bar. Here is some advice for limiting the time customers spend in a bar’s queue:

• Ensure that the bar has all of the necessary equipment to make the cocktails as fast as possible. 
• Optimise the process so that making cocktails is as fast as possible. Some of the juices could even be pre-mixed and be ready to add. 
• Make the experience as pleasant as possible for those that are in the queue. Small queuing spaces can lead to bumps and spilt drinks that only make customers even more frustrated.
• Be attentive to everyone. No one wants to spend ages queuing without even being acknowledged by members of the bar. Serve customers in a fair and clear order.
• Create separate queues for those ordering cocktail and those order beers and wines for example. Split the bar workforce so that some are making cocktails and the others are doing regular drinks. 
• New technology means that customers can order on their phones from the comfort of their chair – the perfect solution to queues!

Getting the best bar furniture for your needs

At Trent Furniture we have a bar furniture selection that incorporates many styles of tables and chairs in traditional and modern designs all of which are suitable for use in any commercial environment. 

Browse our bar furniture selection or get in touch with our team on 0116 2985 852 to get ideas on how best to optimise your bar’s space with furniture. 

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