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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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.

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