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Pubs and live music are natural partners. In a convivial gathering of people, lubricated by alcohol, it seems natural that music should be part of the picture. Over the centuries, music has played a central role in the life of British pubs, either in communal singing such as the sing-songs around the piano that used to be a fixture of working-class pubs, or in performances by singers and musicians.

The revival of folk music in the 1960s was focused on small clubs, cafés and pubs where travelling singers and musicians would turn up and play a session. When Paul Simon toured the UK in 1964, many of the small venues he played were pubs such as the Cross Keys in Liverpool, which still hosts live music.

Rock and roll bands such as The Rolling Stones learnt their trade playing pubs such as the Red Lion in Sutton, Surrey – now called the Winning Post – which has been preserved thanks to its link to the band’s history (they were spotted there by a promoter). The Who were regulars at the Railway Hotel in Wealdstone in their early years. Meanwhile in the 1970s, London’s pub rock scene emerged as an alternative to what were seen as bloated, out-of-touch arena bands. This tradition is kept alive today by bars such as Ain’t Nothin But the Blues in London’s Soho.

Today, as many pubs struggle to stay in business, pub owners are seeking ways to improve their offering and bring in new regular customers. Hosting live music has been shown to improve takings by up to 48 per cent. If it is a regular event, a music night at a pub can bring customers back week after week. Music can help to spice up cafés, too. And performance poetry is a growing phenomenon that could help to bring in customers.


Licence to entertain

So, what do pubs, bars and cafés need in the way of licensing if they want to host live music? In recent years, the law has become simplified to help smaller venues host live music without onerous restrictions. The key provision of the Music Act of 2012 – which was updated in 2015 – is that any premises can host amplified live music as long as the audience is under 500 people and it takes place between 8am and 11pm. Also, the premises must be alcohol-licensed. The law also applies to amplified recorded music, which means that DJs can play music to alcohol-licensed premises between 8am and 11pm to audiences of under 500 people. A licence is not required for unamplified live music at any place between the same hours – and there is no restriction on audience numbers for music that is not amplified. These rules apply to England and Wales; in Scotland and Northern Ireland, the laws differ.

It’s important, though, to check the terms of your premises licence. And it’s important, too, to make sure that any music performances that you host do not create a noise nuisance for neighbours. There used to be stipulations that doors and windows had to be kept closed; these no longer apply, but it’s still important to use common sense and consideration.


Dancing and wrestling

Other activities have also been de-regulated: you don’t need a licence for Morris dancing. And while this is unlikely to apply to most pubs, you don’t need a licence for a contest, exhibition or display of Greco-Roman wrestling, or freestyle wrestling, between 8am and 11pm before no more than 1,000 spectators.

In almost all of these examples, there is one kind of licence that is mandatory: a PRS PPL licence. This licence collects royalties on behalf of songwriters and performers and is essential if any kind of music is being played or performed in a public place. Until recently, two separate organisations were responsible for this, but now they have formed a joint venture, PRS PPL, and created a one-stop-shop for music licensing, which has simplified the process.

Poetry, meanwhile, is another increasingly popular form of entertainment for pubs and cafés. If you have a mental picture of wistful recitals of romantic verse, think again: today’s poetry “slams”, as they are sometimes called, are vigorous, dramatic and loud; poets take turns to come up and perform, rather than recite, their work, and audience participation is encouraged. Cafés have opened that specialise in poetry, such as the Poetry Café in London’s Soho, home of the Poetry Society, which hosts regular poetry events as well as live music.


The stage is set

So far, so good. What else does a pub, bar or caf  need to host live events? One important factor is furniture: your furniture layout needs to be flexible so that your pub and bar chairs and tables can be re-arranged and reconfigured to accommodate performers. Perhaps this would be an opportunity to explore stackable furniture. Today’s stacking furniture is lightweight but robust and easily stored away. A small stage or raised area would help, and when not in use it can be used as a regular seating area. Lighting and amplification equipment will also be needed. Live groups and bands will bring their own amplifiers, but they will normally need an in-house PA system to amplify vocals.


Finding the right performers for your pub

If you are holding a regular weekly blues night, say, or a folk evening or a poetry night, posters around your pub can advertise this, and your social media pages can also publicise events. Booking agencies such as Alive Network can put you in touch with a range of performers, from acoustic singer-songwriters to tribute bands. You could also ask your staff and customers if they know of any acts that could perform. Fees will vary, depending on the act and the number of performers: a five-piece band are unlikely to play for less than £300, but a solo singer-songwriter will command a much more modest fee, say £60, or perhaps less if free drink is offered. Increased takings at the bar, and possibly an admission fee for larger acts, should cover this.

In recent years there has been a rise in the number of music colleges offering courses in music performance and songwriting. If there is one of these colleges in your neighbourhood, you could approach them to see if they have any keen young performers looking to get experience of live performance.


Loud and quiet

Finally, remember that you will have regular customers who just want to sit and have a quiet chat or enjoy a peaceful pint. They may not appreciate their conversation or quiet contemplation being drowned out by loud music. So, unless you want to turn your pub or bar into a fully-fledged live music venue, don’t overdo the music. And it’s best to tailor the kind of music you host according to the audience: a deafening thrash-metal band might not go down well in a traditional country pub.

Perhaps the most fruitful way to go is the singer-songwriter. A singer with an acoustic guitar, or perhaps a piano, does not require sophisticated amplification or lighting (Elton John cut his teeth playing piano in a pub in Pinner), and will not drown out conversation. Nor will they require a large fee. Your customers can either cluster round and listen to the music, or sit on the fringes and chat. That’s how it will have been for Paul Simon when he was touring the UK back in the 1960s.


Do you have a story about how live performance made your pub come alive? Leave a comment below!

The restaurant and bar industry is always on the lookout for the latest Instagram-worthy features and trends to entice more customers to visit venues. As trends notoriously change very quickly, what was in fashion last year will be old news by the following. At Trent, we have the knowledge and experience to help our customers furnish and decorate their restaurant whilst staying abreast of current trends. We’ve done the research so you don’t have to; read on to find out what’s hot and what’s not in 2020…

Pick your paint carefully

With pale colours well and truly a thing of the past, 2020 is set to be the year of the rich blues and cool greens. Fresh tones will be the backdrop for restaurants and bars alike, the new wave of colours helping to attract more customers across the threshold. If you’re looking to give your restaurant a lick of paint, blues and greens complement wooden furniture very well, keeping the Scandinavian style in fashion. 

Eco-friendly is still in fashion

With such a heavy focus on environmental issues, it’s no surprise that the eco-friendly mindset has continued to influence what we consume and where we consume it. Recyclable materials like glass and wood have become a staple trend, as minimalism continues to grow. From up-cycled furniture to low-energy light bulbs, every element of what makes up a restaurant must be taken into account when adopting the eco-friendly style! We’re expecting to see stripped-back décor making more of a presence in a year or so.

Multi-functional furniture

In response to the ever-dwindling spaces restaurant owners have to play with, furniture design has evolved to accommodate, producing more compact yet functional pieces. Bar seating is an ever-popular choice for restaurants and cafés alike, with the compact tables and stools perfectly placed in the bay of a window saving space whilst maximising the seating potential. Long benches and cleverly-designed banquette tables are set to become more prominent in the restaurants of the future too, ultimately creating a much more communal and social space.

Out with the industrial look

White walls and exposed beams have been replaced with a return to more natural and earthy tones. Bright colours and different textures, from mix-matched crockery to modernist art donning the walls, will replace the charcoal grey of last year. Quirky lighting and neon signs will be popular, especially on the Instagram feeds of influencers, so consider making your décor photo friendly.

The urban jungle is here to stay

Just as trends disappear to never be seen again, some withstand the test of the time, and the urban jungle is no exception. The colour green is in every nook and cranny, from palm printed wallpaper to potted plants; the feeling of nature and the outdoors is certainly brought inside. With the rise of veganism and a return to more natural ways of consumption, we’re predicting that this trend, perhaps more of a lifestyle change, will be here to stay!

At Trent, we’re passionate about helping you make the most of your restaurant space. Whether you need help selecting the right furniture at the right price, or you’re just looking for some design and décor hints and tips, we are on hand whenever you need us. Why not check out our blog for a little inspiration, follow the link here. Get in touch with us our friendly customer service team on 0116 2864 911 for all your furniture needs.

A recent survey from HGEM has revealed the way diners judge a restaurant before and during their visit. A panel of mystery guests were asked about their latest dining experiences and the results provide some valuable insights for restauranteurs.

First Impressions Matter

75% of guests paid attention to the interior and design of the restaurant when they first entered and 72% said the atmosphere and ambience was important to them. This illustrates how important it is to ensure the décor and vibe of your restaurant is inviting to customers as soon as they enter it.

86% of customers said they always expect to be greeted on arrival and 83% expect to be shown to their seat. Some respondents even said they have left a restaurant after not being greeted quickly enough!

See our guide to making the right first impression in your restaurant for some top tips on this.

The top 10 important factors

HGEM asked what the 10 most important factors were when it comes to the restaurant experience, and consumers answered:

1. Quality of food

2. Overall customer service

3. The price of food

4. The cleanliness of the venue

5. The atmosphere and ambience of the venue

6. The range of food

7. The presentation of food

8. The speed of service

9. The price of drinks

10. The authenticity of the food

Unsurprisingly, food plays a key part in this top 10 list! However you may be surprised to see ambience and cleanliness rank as such important factors.

Cleanliness is crucial when it comes to any food environment, so ensuring your restaurant is cleaned before any customers arrive, and during the service period, is a given but it is also worth checking the state of your furniture, fixtures and even walls on a regular basis. We’ve got handy guides to keeping hospitality furniture clean as well as maintaining furniture so it can always look its best.

When it comes to ambience, great lighting, beautiful décor and high-quality furniture can transform your restaurant. Visit our blog for guides on decorating your restaurant space, or get in touch with Trent Furniture if you have questions about the best restaurant furniture for your space.

Modern minimalism and natural Scandinavian style have dominated design for the past few years, but experts have identified 2019 as the year colour is making a comeback in restaurant design.

How to use colour in a dining space

When dealing with colour in a hospitality space it’s important to remember that colour impacts much more than just the look of a location - people have psychological reactions to colours which can go as far as to affect whether or not they choose to eat at your restaurant.

Shades like blue and purple are less commonly found in eating establishments and food branding as they don’t evoke feelings of hunger and are not associated with natural foods. Using shades like this sparingly can add vibrant pops of colour but all blue walls may not be the best idea if you want to create a welcoming ambience to eat in

On the other hand, oranges and yellows promote feelings of the space being fresh and cheerful. Greens and browns are relaxing and associated with freshness, making them ideal shades to use in restaurants and cafes.

Bearing these colour tips in mind, here are two ways that colour is being utilised in the hospitality sector in 2019:

Deep hues set the atmosphere

Deep and luxurious hues like mustard, deep greens and pewters can add an expensive look to any dining space for a low cost. Pairing these colours with wooden panelling, bespoke lighting and plush leather-style furniture creates a truly luxe feel.

We recommend the Munich Retro Faux Leather Chair, Chesterfield Two Seater Sofa and Rimini Dining Chair in Brown Faux to achieve this look.

Examples of leather style contract furniture from Trent Furniture

Bright shades are back

Bright colours are also being adopted in more and more spaces. Klein blue, phonebooth reds and lemon yellows can lift a space and create a fun atmosphere. This trend is not surprising given Pantone’s energizing colour of the year for 2019; living coral. The shade was chosen as Pantone felt it symbolised ‘our innate need for optimism and joyful pursuits’, and embodies ‘our desire for playful expression’.

Give your hospitality establishment a more playful feel by adding pops of colour in your furniture, artwork and accessories.

We recommend the quirky Bella Tall Stool, Bella Chair and the Retro French School Chair to get this look.

Examples of contract furniture with bright colour schemes from Trent Furniture


Love it or hate it, the trend of communal seating in restaurants that has emerged over the past few years looks like it’s here to stay. These large tables that can sit more than one party at once have grown in popularity and can be found in many chain and independent dining establishments. We’ve weighed up the pros and cons of communal dining to help you decide if it’s right for your restaurant.

The benefits of communal tables

The clearest upside for any restaurant owner is the increased number of seats and high turnaround – especially useful in a smaller space. Not only does it mean a higher number of seats, it also saves the additional space that would normally be found between tables. Add to this the logistical reason that you no longer need to pull tables together and move around the furniture to accommodate big groups and the communal table truly sounds like a winner!

There is also a social element to communal dining that can be more enjoyable for some diners. Restaurant Development and Design Magazine said that communal tables are “particularly appealing to millennials, who look for restaurant destinations that can accommodate their desire to socialise, graze and linger.” They can also provide a more pleasant dining experience for solo diners, who can either relax at a table which is clearly not designed for two or engage with other solo diners and parties around them.

The downsides of communal dining

Communal tables are not suitable for every type of dining establishment, and they are not always the best choice on a personal or practical level.

If your restaurant caters for families with smaller children, then communal dining can certainly work but the height of the table and safety of the seating should be considered. Other diners may also prefer not to be seated with families so it’s important to offer alternative seating options if you do opt to go communal. Other groups of customers such as couples on a date, those having work meetings or anyone who just isn’t a fan of eating in close quarters with strangers may also not appreciate a communal space.

If you do decide to try out the communal table trend, it’s definitely a good idea to continue to provide more private traditional seating alongside it for diners who feel more comfortable dining in privacy.

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