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Twelve years ago a radical new law changed life in Britain forever. The Health Act 2006 came into force in July 2007 and smoking in public places was banned. This had a huge effect on many of our public places, and one in particular, that great British institution: the pub. A habit that had become synonymous with drinking and pubs was outlawed overnight. Think of comic characters such as Andy Capp, with his pint in one hand and a cigarette eternally attached to his lower lip, or scenes from great British films from the 1960s such as Kes and This Sporting Life, depictions of working-class life in which a cigarette and a drink were constant companions. All this was gone, and there were many who mourned its passing.

Did the smoking ban kill the pub?

There were predictions that the smoking ban would kill the British pub, and it’s certainly true that pub numbers have declined since the ban – but there is little evidence that this is due to the smoking ban. In fact, since 2007 pubs have come up with ever more inventive ways to accommodate smokers: smoking shelters, outdoor areas, outdoor heaters (it was said, half-jokingly, that the smoking ban would contribute to global warming thanks to the increased use of these heaters). Necessity is the mother of invention, and the increase in outdoor smoking areas and shelters led to a surge in demand for outdoor pub and bar furniture – and pub furniture companies such as Trent Furniture responded with pub chairs and tables for outdoor use that were durable, stackable and weatherproof. Many pubs now have a special area for smokers where they can sit and enjoy their habit in comfort and even warmth. Pub gardens that were previously tatty and under-used are now properly fitted out with comfortable furniture and made attractive with plants, trees, fairy lights and other decorations.

And while the smoking ban almost certainly deterred a certain type of drinker – older, male, smoker – it also meant that pubs were suddenly more attractive to women, younger people and families, as well as those who had previously hated inhaling second-hand smoke and emerging from a pub smelling of stale tobacco. Asthmatics, too, relished the newly fresh air, while bar staff could stop worrying about the damaging effects of passive smoking, and their jobs no longer involved unpleasant tasks such as emptying ashtrays. Pubs became cleaner, brighter, free of nicotine-stained ceilings. And because people began to feel more comfortable about bringing their children into pubs, there was a rise in sales of food in pubs – which, again, had a knock-on effect as sales of dining furniture rose in response. Pubs became cleaner, brighter and more inclusive.

The rise of vaping

Now the pub trade is facing a new challenge: vaping. Sales of e-cigarettes have rocketed in recent years as people discover safer ways to get their nicotine “hit”. Billowing clouds of flavoured vapour drift from these devices, and special shops have opened to supply the paraphernalia required – batteries, cartridges of “juice” (the liquid that is vaporised on contact with heated coils), and the devices themselves.

E-cigarettes have been around in various forms since they were first invented in the 1920s, but it was in the early 2000s that a Chinese pharmacist, Hon Lik, began taking out patents on what was to become the modern electronic cigarette. (Hon Lik was motivated to come up with a safer alternative to smoking after his father, a smoker, died from lung cancer.) Today the UK vaping market is worth more than £1 billion annually. There are 1.9 million fewer smokers than compared with when the smoking ban was introduced, while three million of us are now vaping.

E-cigarettes come in two broad categories: closed and open. Closed systems use a cartridge of liquid that is simply clicked into place. Open systems are refilled by the vaper and the fluid can be customised. The vapour is inhaled, giving that all-important nicotine “hit”.

Vapour is safer

Vaping is popular because it is much safer than smoking. Some health experts have argued that it is a kind of “gateway” to tobacco smoking, and it is certainly true that it has introduced people to nicotine who may not have used it otherwise. But the fact remains that it is comparatively safe, both for vapers and for those around them. Nicotine itself is a relatively safe substance – the dangers of smoking cigarettes come mostly from the chemicals released by tobacco when it burns, and while e-cigarettes do produce some harmful chemicals, these are released in very small quantities.

But what is the legal situation around vaping? There is no UK law banning e-cigarettes from public places. In Wales a ban was proposed but the legislation was defeated. Many public facilities such as railways, railway stations, the London Underground and airports have introduced their own bans on e-cigarettes. But vaping is not in itself illegal in public places.

Nor is it illegal in pubs. It is entirely up to pub landlords as to what they allow; some chains have introduced bans across all of their pubs, while some have left it up to individual landlords.

But regardless of its legality, the truth is that vaping is not allowed in many pubs. Some pubs are worried that seeing someone’s device emitting clouds of vapour can be worrying and disconcerting. Some have banned vaping because the smell of the vapour itself – which comes in an array of weird flavours, including bacon and beer, as well as the more widespread fruits – can be offputting, especially if food is being served. Some pubs will allow vaping as long as the odours are not offensive and it is done considerately.

Pubs can profit from vaping

So in many pubs, vapers are essentially in the same boat – or, rather, the same shelter – as regular smokers. Pubs that have spent money accommodating cigarette smokers following the smoking ban can rest easy, knowing that they have the infrastructure in place, though perhaps they will need to extend or expand their outdoor areas to cope with the extra numbers. Vapers do not need pubs to supply ashtrays or any other equipment. They just need somewhere to sit and enjoy their habit, and Trent Furniture’s range of outdoor furniture is perfectly suited to the task.

But there is also an opportunity here for pubs to increase their revenues and retain their customers. There is nothing to prevent pubs from selling vaping paraphernalia.  Selling this equipment via vending machines or from behind the bar will help to increase revenues in two ways. First, the vaping equipment itself will bring in extra revenue. And second, it will prevent the need for customers to nip off to a shop to replenish their e-cigarettes, which would otherwise have meant a loss of drinking time for the pub. Times are changing, and pubs need to keep up with those changes. Meanwhile, Andy Capp – who is still going strong in the Daily Mirror – stopped smoking in 1983, though he has yet to take up vaping.

The furniture you choose helps to define the look and feel of your restaurant and having chairs and tables that don’t quite fit the style of your restaurant can leave some customers feeling confused. From the food served to the layout, consistency is key! At Trent, we’ve helped thousands of customers kit out their space, and in this post, we’ll be looking at the advantages of fold up and stacking chairs for your restaurant, helping our customers to make an informed choice.

Stacking chairs

At Trent, we stock and supply a wide range of stacking chairs in various colours and styles, offering you a wide choice. Our stacking chairs, alongside all our furniture, are tested by The Furniture Industry Research Association (FIRA). We constantly invest in this service to ensure we deliver high-quality products that are suitable for contract and commercial use. Check out our range here.

Space

Easy to put away or bring out at a moment’s notice, stacking chairs are designed to be moved around your floor and can be stacked on top of each other to save space. Ideal for when times get busy, extra chairs can be added to a table to provide your customers with comfortable seating for their party.

Versatility

Whilst many chairs have the potential to be used for one application, stacking chairs can be used outside and inside, and at any function. Their lightweight nature too, makes them easy for staff to move from place to place, especially at the end of the day when it comes to doing a deep-clean.

Durability

Designed to stand the test of time, and made from sturdy materials, stacking chairs can withstand being moved around and used multiple times. Manufactured from plastic, this style of the chair can be used outside without damage, helping to turn your restaurant’s patio or garden into a useable and profitable space.

Aesthetics

With countless styles and colours on the market, it’s now even easier to find stacking chairs that complement the style or theme of your restaurant. If you can’t find a style of chair that exactly matches your restaurant, customising with cushions and blankets can help you achieve your desired style.

Folding chairs

Folding chairs come with many features to be taken advantage of in a restaurant setting. Much like stacking chairs, they can complement your existing furniture, or help you create a new atmosphere all together.

Easy to use

Made from lightweight materials such as aluminium, folding chairs are easily moved around the interior or exterior of your venue, giving you the ability to design your outside and inside space during exceptionally busy periods. 

Space Savers

Easily stored away, in a neater fashion than stacking chairs, a folding chair while in use can save you more floor space in comparison to more bulky restaurant seating. For large parties dining in your restaurant, using a folding chair will help provide more space around the table as a whole, making the dining experience more comfortable.

Maintenance

Very little care and maintenance are needed for fold-up chairs, however, it’s worth remembering that fold up chairs will rust if left outside in inclement weather, although the occasional splash of rain won’t do any harm. Keep the hinges of the chair well-oiled to ensure the fold up mechanism is easy to work.

Design

Much like stacking chairs, the ability to customise your folding chair is endless. With such a wide choice of colours, styles and accessories on the market, finding chairs that suit your requirements is easy! At Trent, we have a wide range of tips and tricks available on our blog to help you create the perfect dining atmosphere, why not give our other articles a read!

With over 50 years’ experience, we’re the experts in all things commercial furniture. Whatever the look of your restaurant, we’re on hand to help you find the right product at the right price. Our friendly customer service team are on hand to answer your queries, give us a call on 0116 2864 911.

 

 

A new survey from VoucherCodes has revealed that 56% of Brits expect the cost of international travel to go up this year as a result of Brexit. With staycations offering a cheaper travel option, 40% of respondents said they plan to go on multiple trips around the UK which is good news for bars, restaurants and cafes looking to benefit from domestic tourism.

So how can you draw in the crowds looking for the perfect spot for a holiday dinner or drink in the sun?

Make sure your decor and furniture make a great first impression

First impressions are incredibly important for attracting customers who may be visiting the area for the first time. If they don’t opt to search for dining establishments using tools like TripAdvisor or Google Maps, then they may simply look for options as they explore a new area. By ensuring your restaurant, bar or cafe decor is looking fresh and inviting you stand the best chance of attracting these types of customers.

Provide outside dining options

Although the British summer weather can be unpredictable, offering outdoor drinking and dining areas is a fantastic way to draw in customers. If you have a large outdoor space, then going all out with a garden dining area can be a big attraction. Even if space is limited, offering even a few outdoor tables can attract people looking to stop and enjoy a drink in the sun as they pass by. Storing outdoor furniture can be a hurdle to overcome when space is limited, so opt for stackable options to store vertically and save on precious space.

Trent Furniture has a great selection of outdoor furniture to choose from, including wicker, wooden and metal options - many of which are stackable.

Offer seasonal drinks and dishes

Alongside the alfresco seating options, why not adapt menus and dishes to feature summer favourites? If the local area is famous for a particular type of food or drink, then adding this to the menu can be the perfect way to attract customers looking to indulge in the local cuisine as part of their trip.

Utilise social media and reviews

Websites like TripAdvisor and tools such as Google Maps mean it’s easier than ever for potential customers to do their research and plan ahead when it comes to their dining choices. Setting up your profile on these services using plenty of stunning pictures of your interiors, dishes, promotions and more can set you apart from the competition and entice customers. These kind of photos and posts can also be shared on social media, allowing your brand to reach even more people.

What is flex-casual?

Flex-casual restaurants provide diners with the convenience of counter ordering by day and full service at night. Think of it as a cross between fast-casual and casual dining and a way to offer your customers the best of both worlds.

The term was coined by Randy Murphy to describe his business model at American dining establishment Mama Fu's and the concept has since taken off in the hospitality industry.

The benefits

The flex-casual strategy presents an opportunity to capture both the lunch and dinner crowds. At lunch customers are often on a tighter time limit and are looking for a more economical option, making counter service the ideal fit. In the evening however, guests often prefer dining at a leisurely pace and tend to pay more with a higher priced dinner menu.

Not only that flex-casual allows restaurants to target different customer bases, for example busy professionals looking to grab something quickly at lunch and the family and couples crowd looking for a more relaxed sit-down meal in the evening.

Tips to go flex-casual in your restaurant include...

Consider your floor plan and furniture

It’s important that your restaurant can transition smoothly from counter to table service and that customers understand where to go instantly based on the floorplan. You could also consider a switch in lighting and music to set an appropriate atmosphere for the time of day and dining style.

Furniture and decor also need to be versatile to match both settings. Easy to clean and hard-wearing tables, chairs and booths are perfect for the quick turnover of a lunchtime rush, but they need to be stylish and comfortable for evening diners who will spend longer in your establishment. 

Create a seamless transition

Ensuring that employees fully understand how flex-casual works and have been provided with training is the most important element of making the transition run smoothly. You may also need to consider which roles are needed when, for example, waiting staff will be needed in the evening to greet, seat and serve diners, whereas in the daytime counter staff will be essential.

Choose the best days to go flex-casual

Whilst some restaurant owners may try the flex-casual approach 7 days a week, others have found that it’s perfect for Monday to Friday, but they focus on table service through the weekend. This choice depends entirely upon factors like the kind of customers that frequent your restaurant, your location and even cuisine type.

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