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Our buying guide to choosing the right table tops

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When purchasing tables for a contract environment it is vital that they not only look great but that they offer a hardwearing finish which will withstand the demands of a busy commercial environment. With a range of top finishes to choose from in the Trent Furniture collection it can be difficult to know where to start but our buying guide below should help to point you in the right direction.

We offer a wide range of table top finishes, sizes and colours which are designed for use in a contract environment and will offer both durability and longevity. At Trent Furniture, we understand that the key factors when buying table tops for your pub, bar or restaurant will be appearance, practicality and budget so we offer a selection of table tops to cater for every purpose and budget. From our economy melamine and veneer ranges to solid wood and oak table tops or aluminium for outdoor use, we can offer a top to suit any interior or exterior space. Each of our table tops are of the highest quality and all are suitable for contract use but it is important to choose the right finish for the environment they will be used in in order to ensure you get the best service from your tables.

Veneer Table Tops

A veneer finish offers great value for money if you want the look of wooden tops and an extremely hardwearing top finish but don’t have the budget for solid wood. The 18mm thick particleboard has a real oak veneer, solid edging and attractive thumbnail design edge to protect it from knocks and bumps. Our veneer tops offer a whole host of advantages, from coming in a choice of wood colours and sizes to boasting a very smooth, tough and easy to clean surface. Our veneer tops are also veneered on the underside of the top to prevent warping and ensure suitability for the contract environment.

Available in a choice of wood colours and coated with a protective layer of polyurethane lacquer, the veneer finish provides the authentic wooden look at a fraction of the price. The traditional choice of wood colours makes them popular with pubs, clubs and cafes whilst their durable finish makes them ideal for any busy environment and the perfect choice for a durable and attractive top at a low price.

Veneer Table Tops

Melamine Table Tops

Melamine tops offer fantastic value for money and are a great choice for modern schemes and interiors that require tough table tops which are easily maintained and offer a smooth, durable surface. With a generous 21mm thick MDF centre surrounded by a hardwearing melamine surface, the melamine tops come in either dark oak or light oak colour.

Melamine are a good choice paired with any metal or cast iron base as the oak tones of the tops offer a stylish contrast with either black or chrome based tables. And if you are still undecided on chairs to choose with these tops, the light oak finish works especially well with our modern café chairs such as the Remo, Roma or Catania as the finish of the chairs matches the finish of the table top perfectly.

Melamine tops are popular choices for venues that need an attractive and hardwearing top which take heavy use such as cafes, paly centres and holiday parks. With their easy to wipe surface and simple modern design they offer practicality and style at a great price.

Melamine table tops

Laminate Table Tops

If you still want the look of wooden table tops but your customers are largely families and/or small children then a laminate finish could be a good option. They still look attractive like our solid table tops but require barely any maintenance, are easy to clean and more scratch resistant than some solid tops. Whether it be colouring crayons, cutlery or food and drink, the laminate table tops can take a lot us use and will withstand the demands of a busy contract environment.

The laminate tops have a substantial 27mm thickness manufactured from a particleboard core and high pressure laminate surface. The hard black ABS plastic edging protects further against knocks and bumps and creates an incredibly tough and hardwearing table top.

As with all of our tops, the laminate finish comes in a choice of colours and offers something to suit any interior with traditional mahogany and walnut, light oak or black. The black finish has become a popular choice with many customers offering a stylish and modern finish ideal for contemporary or bold colour schemes.

Laminate Table Tops

Solid Wood Table Tops

Solid wooden table tops are highly recommended for restaurant and bar use as the high end finish provides a very attractive table top that will add a feel of elegance to any interior. The smooth finish of the table is achieved by treating the solid wood with a clear acid catalysed lacquer coating which creates an extremely hardwearing surface that will easily withstand the demands of a busy contract environment without compromising on the appearance of the table. Available in Dark Oak, Walnut or Light Oak, the clear lacquer allows the wood stain to look natural and creates a luxurious finish which would look excellent in any high end restaurant, executive club or bar.

With a 28mm thick solid hardwood design and half bullnose or straight edge, the solid wood tops are both classic and timeless and will create a very attractive appearance even used without table cloths so if you want your furniture to be the highlight of the room and to last for many years to come then solid table tops are a perfect choice!

Solid Wood Table Tops

Stainless Steel Table Tops

Stainless steel tops are supplied with our aluminium based outdoor tables and create an extremely versatile and great for either outdoor or indoor use as not only do they wear well in a patio or garden setting, they provide a durable table top surface for indoors too. Being easy to clean, able to withstand heavy use in a demanding contract environment as well as having a stylish and modern appearance make them popular choices with fast food outlets such as American style Diners, Ice-Cream Parlours and Cafes but also for Children’s Play Centres and Leisure Centres.

For use as outdoor tables tops, the stainless steel provides a water resistant surface which is created by the stainless steel continues from the top and down over the edges or ‘post forming’ . This superior technique is a clever design which prevents water getting into the core of the table top which would otherwise cause the inner core to swell. The post forming method is followed by a clear lacquer creating a durable water resistant indoor or outdoor table.

Stainless Steel Table Tops

Plywood Folding Table Tops (Easy Store Tables)

The Plywood Folding Table range offers a choice of top sizes and easy to store tables which are ideal for any environment where tables need to be stored away when not in use. These hardwearing plywood tops are 15mm thick and offer an extremely hardwearing and durable surface for banquet halls, conference centres or venues which require temporary tabling for events or functions.

Sturdy and extremely robust, the plywood table tops which are supplied on folding tables are a great choice for sports or social club, village hall and community centre tables as they can be brought out as and when needed and stored away when not in use. With a range of sizes to choose from in the plywood tops, they offer excellent versatility to seat different size groups and  large groups of guests or customers are catered for with our largest 6’ round top.

Plywood Folding Table Tops (Easy Store Tables)

How to bring more customers to your restaurant this Valentine’s Day

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As Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” famously asked: “What have the Romans ever done for us?” Well, for one thing, they gave us Valentine’s Day – or at least that’s what many historians think. One theory about the origins of this special day for love and romance goes back to the 4th century AD, when the Roman emperor Claudius II was fighting to resist the rising tide of Christianity.  In Rome, a priest named Valentine was offering secret Christian marriages, his subterfuge was discovered and he was put to death, later martyred by the Catholic church, and is now remembered on St Valentine’s Day, February 14th.

Fast-forward 1,700 years, and today Valentine’s Day is a big celebration – and big business, too. Last year total UK spending on Valentine’s Day was £1.9 billion. The biggest chunk of that spending went on restaurants, with £557 million, so Sunday February 14th is clearly an opportunity for your restaurant to increase its takings – and also to encourage customers to return by offering them a memorable experience.

Wondering how to get more customers in your restaurant for Valentine’s Day? One great way is to extend it. The chances are that Sunday evening itself will be heavily oversubscribed, so you could offer a Valentine’s lunch or even a Sunday brunch. And you could offer Valentine’s specials on Friday and Saturday, too. In fact, it might make sense to ‘rebrand’ this year’s Valentine’s Day as ‘Valentine’s Weekend’, perhaps setting aside an area of your restaurant over three days for romantic dining. As an incentive, you could offer a discount to customers who book for Valentine’s meals, or ‘extras’ such as a free glass of fizz.

Couples will want to feel that this is a special day for them, so they will want an evening that’s intimate, warm and personal. What diners don’t want is to feel that they are being crammed in, processed and rushed through like airline passengers. While it’s tempting for restaurants to take this approach and squeeze in the tables to increase short-term profit, in the long term this could be counter-productive as it will discourage diners from coming back. So keep your restaurant furniture spaced out so that people can enjoy some privacy.

It is worth remember, too, that the ‘pink pound’ is increasingly important; make sure that you are not just aiming at men and women but at gay couples too.

If you are advertising or promoting your Valentine’s offering, make sure it’s done tastefully and professionally. A poorly designed A4 poster taped to your restaurant window will not make much impact. Find a good local designer or print shop who can make something elegant and unique to your restaurant.

If your restaurant plays background music, you could offer a ‘requests’ service: when your customers are booking a table, ask them if there are any songs they would like to hear (most couples will have track that’s ‘our song’). Someone on your staff with musical and technical know-how could compile a CD or a playlist with romantic tunes, and intersperse them with your customers’ requested tracks. Alternatively you could hire live musicians – an acoustic band, say, or even a string quartet (is there a local music college with young players keen to get performance experience?). But wherever your music is coming from, keep the volume at reasonable levels. People want to be able to talk to each other across the table.

The tables themselves need to be decorated, but keep it tasteful. A single red rose in an elegant vase, or simply laid across a plate, can have much more impact than a bunch of flowers (and remember, again, that people want to look and talk to each other without too many flowers getting in the way). You will need a specially-designed menu, which could feature famous quotes about love and romance. (Not all of them need to be slushy either; familiar lines such as Robert Burns’s ‘My love is like a red, red rose’ could be balanced by Dorothy Parker’s world-weary quips such as, ‘My own dear love, he is all my world - And I wish I'd never met him.’)

Candlelight is very flattering, while scented candles will add to the atmosphere. Red and pink are the obvious colours for tablecloths and napkins, but don’t overdo it. A nice touch is to arrange cutlery and a small plate to spell out the word 'love'. Fresh rose petals and Valentine’s ‘confetti’ could be sprinkled across the table and napkins could be folded into heart shapes. But don’t clutter up the table: your diners will want to be able to reach out, touch and hold hands. Helium balloons are a no-no; strictly for children’s parties.

If you have offered your customers a complimentary glass of something fizzy, remember that today’s wine-drinkers are increasingly sophisticated and they know when they are being given cheap, over-sweet Cava, so give them something more sophisticated such as a pink Prosecco or a sparkling French rosé. Not everyone drinks alcohol, so perhaps non-drinkers could be given a special 'mocktail'.

As for the food itself: a set menu is fine; this is not a night when the food itself is the focus – people will be paying attention to each other. So a sharing menu is perhaps best, or a tasting menu with a succession of small dishes. There’s something romantic about two people sharing from the same plate. Heart-shaped food is obviously a big theme, but it is possible to overdo it, so keep it tasteful. French and Italian foods are the most popular among Valentine’s Day diners, according to research by the restaurant booking website Toptable. But whatever you serve, keep it light; there’s nothing romantic about reaching for the indigestion tablets.

At the end of the evening, send your diners on their way with some keepsakes. Offer them the menu, and perhaps a flower from the table, to take with them, maybe a couple of foil-wrapped heart-shaped chocolates too. This could all be stowed in a ‘goody bag’ for convenience. Does your restaurant have a website or a Facebook page? A picture of your customers on the way out, clutching their goody bags, could be taken at the reception desk and uploaded after the event (with their permission, of course).

If your customers have had a warm, romantic, memorable meal, the chances are they will be back for more – and not just on Valentine’s Day 2017 (which, if you’re interested, falls on a Tuesday).

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