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So, you walk in and approach the bar at your regular pub and what do you order? A locally brewed beer or a glass of red wine might be the first options that come to mind, but how about a cup of tea? 

We Brits love our tea. Just to prove the point, four billion cups of tea are purchased outside of the home every year in the UK. It is most often associated with café’s and tea houses but the classic beverage is becoming increasingly important to pubs’ and bars’ revenues.

Speciality teas

Like with coffee, customers have become more knowledgeable in recent years and expect a greater variety of teas on the menu than just your standard English Breakfast. Mintel research shows that those aged 25 to 34 are twice as likely to drink speciality teas compared to those over the age of 55.

To appeal to the younger market, in particular, pubs and bars should have a selection that includes green, mint and fruit and herbal teas as well as traditional teas.

When is tea time?

For pubs and bars, there are two generally quieter periods of the day that can be improved by adding tea: brunch and afternoon.

Although it is drank throughout the day, morning and afternoon is the most popular times to drink tea out of the home. More customers are eating out for brunch, particularly on the weekends, so complimenting this customer base with the selection of teas that they crave will only help profits.

As for afternoon tea, it’s a ritual for Brits. But what was once exclusive to high-end hotels and luxury tea houses is also now common sight in pubs and bars. Making afternoon tea more accessible to customers has proved a success. Whether a luxury or casual establishment, businesses can tailor their afternoon tea offerings to their customer base. To save on time, pastries and sandwiches can be brought in pre-prepared.

Offering a selection of quality brews positions a pub or bar to be able to take advantage of this large market that shows no signs of slowing down. Now, where’s that kettle?

Pub furniture

Whether you’re looking for traditional pub furniture or furniture for a quaint area dedicated to afternoon tea, Trent Furniture has a range that adds to the aura of quality and Britishness. Browse our full selection of pub furniture here.

Pitching your pub as a venue for functions opens your space up to whole new markets. Your space can cater for weddings, birthdays, wakes, work dos, christenings and more. The possibilities are endless!

For customers, pubs that offer a space for hire are a popular choice as they also usually offer food and drink - all under one roof. The room may even be offered for free if there are a certain number of guests coming to the event; knowing that a large amount will be spent behind the bar.

So, what do pubs need to have in place before they diversify into a venue to hire?

Find a caterer

If the kitchen is overrun or you don’t have the facilities to provide food, there are still options available: you could operate a ‘bring your own food’ policy or find a reputable caterer in the area. You may need to have a relationship with a few different caterers so that you can open the choice of food provider out to the bookers.


If you are reluctant to hire out the whole venue or if the function room is in a separate area of the pub, extra staff will be needed to cope with the volume of people. Should the party receive poor service, your reputation could be affected. To prevent this, members of your team could be solely designated to serving the party.

Extra seating

It’s likely that a party, whether they take up half of your venue or the whole area, will bring a large amount of people.

Of course, there are times when your pub has busy periods and your pub will already have furniture in place to cope with these busy periods. But with plenty of people arriving, and having paid to use the space, it will be expected that there will be enough seating available for all. It’s advised to have extra seating that can easily be stored away should more seating be needed. Stacking chairs are an ideal option for this.

Foldable tables

Along with extra chairs, you may need some temporary tables. These will not only act as extra space for guests, they will also be useful for the buffets and food spreads that will be provided. Again, these tables should be storable so that they can be brought out as and when there is a function.

There are folding and stacking tables available in a range of sizes, so there is something suitable for every pub.

Trent Furniture’s extensive banquet furniture range is perfect for function events. But it’s not just furniture for functions that we provide. We also have furniture for pubs that can be used all year round.

We live in interesting times. Take, for instance, the way we eat. Over the past 50 years or so, British eating habits have undergone a complete transformation. Dishes that once would have seemed impossibly exotic – pasta, pizza, rice, curry, street food – have become staples. In 2001, the then British foreign secretary Robin Cook proclaimed that chicken tikka masala had become our “national dish”, combining the spiced foods brought here by immigrants from the Indian subcontinent with our own liking for a gravy-like sauce. 

Chicken Tikka Masala

Meanwhile there has been an explosion of cafés, restaurants, bistros and gastro-pubs. New meals such as brunch have appeared; dinner has become lunch, and tea has become dinner. Outside the home, coffee has overtaken tea as our drink of choice; thanks to the growth of our coffee culture and chains such as Caffè Nero and Costa, according to market research group NPD, we now drink more than twice the amount of coffee as we do tea.

This has led to a surge in business opportunities – and not just for the big café and restaurant chains, such as Starbucks and Pizza Express. Independent cafés and restaurants are growing in number, offering a distinctive, local, personal alternative to the homogenous high-street stalwarts. 

Café vs Restaurant

If you run a café or a restaurant, or are setting one up, one of the first things you will need to think about – having found your premises – will be furniture. But what’s the difference between café and restaurant furniture? Essentially, it’s about the kind of experience you are offering your customers: a café will be more casual, while a restaurant will offer something more formal. And your furniture should reflect this.

Café furniture

Café customers do not generally stay for a long time. Usually, they’re popping in for a drink, a snack or a light meal. So they will not expect to sink into a plushly upholstered chair or stretch out at an expansive linen-covered table. Café furniture, therefore, is lighter, often brighter in colour and more modern in design. You might say that café furniture is “friendly”: chairs will be made in materials such as melamine with light wood or faux leather finishes. Alternatively, old-style bentwood chairs and wooden bistro chairs offer a more continental-style café experience.

Local cafe dining furniture

Café tables, meanwhile, will generally be smaller than restaurant tables. The surfaces will take a lot of wear and punishment, so they’ll need to be tough and hard-wearing. Again, as with chairs, café tables generally follow one of two styles: bright and contemporary, with metal legs and bases and tops finished in wood veneers; or there’s the more traditional style – bentwood, cast iron, and so on.

Stools, meanwhile, can be used for customers sitting at the counter or clustered around high “poseur” tables. Bear in mind, too, that some of your customers will be on their own, so you should offer enough small tables to accommodate them. Also in recent years we have seen the growth of the “communal table”, where people are happy to cluster around and share the space. This could be one large table, or several shunted together.

Restaurant furniture

A visit to a restaurant is meant to be an occasion, a treat. So your customers will need to feel that they are being looked after, pampered, special. This begins, of course, with the welcome they receive, but it extends to the furniture. They will want to feel comfortable, of course, but a restaurant’s chairs and tables will also need to convey a visual message: this is not just a meal – this is an event. High-backed chairs, upholstered in attractive fabrics or leather, will make a serious statement, as well as keeping customers comfortable over a period of time. (A good furniture supplier will offer a choice of fabrics for upholstery, or will even upholster furniture in fabrics supplied by the customer). If you have space, you might even consider providing some tub chairs – ideal for sinking into over a long lunch or dinner.

Restaurant Furniture at The Berkeley

Tables, meanwhile, need to be large and solid. If you are using table linen, the surface is perhaps less important, but still bear in mind that the legs or base will be on show. For flexibility, you might think about tables that can be shunted together for larger groups of diners. Farmhouse chairs and tables are good for creating a more homely, traditional environment.

Blurrred Lines

So far, so good. But are the differences between cafés and restaurants really so clear-cut these days? Many cafés now offer substantial meals, albeit from a relatively limited menu, while many restaurants now offer a more informal dining experience. In some cases, a café by day will become a restaurant by night, a transformation that can be achieved with the addition of table linen, candles and low lighting.

All this is a reflection of the nation’s changing eating and dining-out habits: we are becoming less hung-up about mealtimes, about informal vs formal, about cafés vs restaurants. We might have burgers for brunch or scrambled eggs at 4pm or pizza at 10pm. The traditional boundaries that once divided the day into strict mealtimes have become less clear-cut.

It may be an exaggeration to say that we are witnessing “the death of fine dining”, but there is certainly a trend towards greater informality in our restaurants. Hushed atmospheres, starched linen and obsequious wine waiters are becoming less common in the fine dining sector – partly for cost reasons, but also because diners these days simply want to relax and feel less inhibited. When Kenny Atkinson opened his House of Tides restaurant in Newcastle, he decided to do away with tablecloths and wine waiters and create a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. “We want guests to have a laugh and enjoy the food,” he told The Guardian.

young man drinking takeaway coffee

So if you are looking to create a similarly flexible, friendly environment, you might wish to take the lead with your furniture, offering a mixture of styles. If you run a café, a scattering of more formal, upholstered or leather armchairs could be combined with more casual contemporary chairs. A restaurant, meanwhile, might combine simple chairs with banquettes. And rather than the traditional formal arrangement of rows of tables, you might want to take a more mixed approach using, say, square and round tables, which can be rearranged if larger groups come in. If you’re doing without tablecloths, bare tabletops can be enhanced by small vases or jugs of flowers, or candles.

Also, bear in mind that people these days are less hung-up about dining solo – a couple of years ago, research revealed that the number of solo diners had doubled over the previous two years. So make sure you have enough smaller tables to accommodate them. And don’t shunt solo diners into the corner: they are not embarrassed to be eating alone. 

solo women diner


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