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When considering a retro design, there is a wide scope. There are many realms that retro can fall under so bars, restaurants and cafés have the ability to choose furnishings from a range of different eras whilst remaining on trend.

For those who house a retro interior, there are many options available and we are pleased to stock a range of tables and chairs that fall under the retro bracket. The latest addition to our retro furniture range is the retro French school chair.

What is the retro French school chair?

Inspired by iconic industrial designers, the unassuming contemporary retro French school chair has been refined and reproduced. The timeless style is one that is ideal for contract environments such as restaurants, bars and cafés.

Based on early 20th century designs, the chair exudes French elegance. The chair is made of durable plywood seat and comes in a colourful choice of tough steel metal frames.

When to use the retro French school chair

The retro French school chair is one of the few chairs that will not look out of place in any environment. The chair looks great on its own and but can also be used alongside other retro chair styles for a real rustic, industrial look.

The simple design and smooth lines of the chair work well in a modern minimalistic room whereas exposed brickwork, wood panelling and shabby chic interior details will be equally as effective at housing these chairs. They have heaps of charisma and most interiors are suitable.

Why choose retro furniture?

The vintage retro look is in demand at present. Designing a restaurant, bar or café with a retro theme gives it character and personality. Add a retro menu, artwork and lighting to your retro furniture and you’ll be on your way to completing the look.

Choosing the right retro furniture creates a nostalgic yet stylish atmosphere and is a possible differentiator from the competition.

Commercial retro furniture

At Trent Furniture, we have a range of retro chairs, each with their own individual style from the past. Bentwood and American diner to Xavier Pauchard Tolix inspired, you can browse our full range of retro chairs, including the retro French school chair here.

Having an interior that doesn’t match the dining type can leave customers confused as to what it is exactly you’re offering. Can you imagine visiting a Michelin starred restaurant whose design and aesthetics are better placed in a fast food chain?

The restaurant’s overall concept runs through everything from the food to the choice of seating. Each restaurant has different needs and in this post we’ll be looking at what chairs you would match with each type of dining.

Coloured metal stack chairs - Trent Furniture

What is the best type of chair for fast food businesses?

The main functions of furniture in a fast food environment are that they are robust, easy to clean and attractive. With customers only staying for a short amount of time, there is no need to go overboard when it comes to comfort.

You don’t want customers spending lots of time with you once they’ve finished if they are taking up a table that other paying customers could be using. Fast food is very much about quick turnover. A high volume of short visits means chairs and tables are constantly shuffled and used, so durability must be a key component.

Chairs of choice: retro French school chair and Bella chair range

Choosing the best chairs for cafés

Customers expect more or less the same experience when they go to a café. Order their food and drink and then either have it taken out or stay and sit for a few hours to be productive or socialise. For those who do stay, comfort is key and offering a variety of seating options lets customers choose their preference.

Chairs of choice: round Chester stools and Bentwood slatback side chairs.

How to buy the right casual dining chairs

Casual restaurants offer food at affordable prices and house an enjoyable relaxed atmosphere. Especially popular with millennials, these restaurants need a unique design to attract customers.

Chair designs must be contemporary and trendy. For chairs that can be upholstered, consider matching the colour or pattern with your interior or use it as an opportunity to do something different.

Chairs of choice: American diner chair and Washington side chair ranges.

Formal dining chairs buying help

Formal restaurants are reserved for those special occasions. They are much about the ambience and atmosphere as they are the food. Eating at a high-end restaurant is an experience and customers will not want to feel rushed, and will instead usually stay for at least a couple of hours.

It is important to choose chairs that look and feel high quality so that the restaurant is set apart from more casual environments. Thus, elegant, style and high-quality seating is needed for a formal restaurant.

Having comfortable, luxurious furniture also means that customers feel more inclined to stay for longer. As restaurants make most of their money on alcoholic beverages and desserts, this is welcome news.

Chairs of choice: Harrogate dining chairs and Abbruzzo dining chair ranges.

Restaurant furniture buying tips

brown leather metal frame chair

Each restaurant and bar will have different needs and requirements depending on the image they’re trying to present. Whatever space you are working with, it is nearly always possible to alter the ambience of a space with careful manipulation of design elements.

Whatever interior your restaurant is looking to create, Trent Furniture can help. Call us now on 0116 2864 911.

A new hospitality and leisure report by Barclays has found that UK restaurants, bars and leisure clubs could make a further £6.75bn per year by adapting opening hours to changing consumer working patterns.

Britain's high street is suffering from weak consumer spending and fierce competition. There are simply so many options for consumers to choose from when going out. It seems that most leisure streets now have at least a couple of dining options.

Add to this the rise of food delivery services such as Deliveroo and Just Eat, if restaurants fail to adapt to trends and customer demands, they risk falling behind their competition.

The report states that restaurants, takeaway meal outlets and pubs, bars and clubs could make an extra 5.5 billion pounds in revenue each year by adjusting their opening hours.

How adjusting hours would help

The need for alternative hours for restaurants and dining options is fuelled by the 57 per cent of British workers who work extended hours, part-time or flexibly. With fewer working the traditional 9-5 working day, the times at which people want to dine out or visit the gym are changing.

Almost one in five late-night diners would choose to get a takeaway between 11pm and 5am, when most restaurants are closed. This number rises to 37 per cent amongst 18-24-year-olds. A third of this age-group also expect 24-hour services across the hospitality and leisure sector.

If businesses responded to these demands, restaurants would expect to take an extra £2.2bn in revenue per year, takeaways £2.1bn and pubs, bars and clubs £1.2bn.

The most common barrier for extending opening hours is increased overheads but it is worth operators trialling the system. A restaurant could stay open two hours later than usual for takeaway orders and see how their customers behave for a one-month period. If it proves popular and it makes logistical sense, extend the new operation for another couple of months.

With many customers willing to pay a premium for services at unusual hours, businesses that find ways to meet this growing demand could take advantage of a large opportunity. It’s all about meeting the demands of consumers and staying ahead of the competition.

Restaurant furniture

Each restaurant and bar will have different needs and requirements depending on the image they’re trying to present. Whatever space you are working with, it is nearly always possible to alter the ambience of a space with careful manipulation of design elements.

Whatever interior your restaurant is looking to create, Trent Furniture can help. Call us now on 0116 2864 911.

Coffee is well and truly in its Third Wave and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere soon. More and more independent and chain coffee shops are popping up around the country, eager to cater to the conflicting desires of both comfortable cafés and fast-paced coffee bars. Not only has it become a social media phenomenon, but coffee is getting younger – the fastest growing age bracket of coffee drinkers is 13 to 18-year olds

So how do you make your coffee shop stand out from the crowd?

Having a Clear Concept for Coffee Shops

A large part of attracting customers to coffee shops is making sure that they know who you are and why you’re different from anyone else. Having a clear concept is important to any business, so make sure you know what kind of coffee shop you want to be before you even open your doors. 

Are you going to be traditional? Trendy? Shabby chic? Do you have a Unique Selling Point to mark you out from the crowd, such as being a dog-friendly café? Or do you take inspiration from a certain era or country, like the Art Deco period or French café culture? Are you going to be uniform in your design like a high street chain, or a bit more relaxed and casual?

Making it clear from the pavement what kind of environment and atmosphere you’re offering is important for pulling customers in. 

Coffee Shop Design and Inspiration 

Once you’ve got your concept, you need to make sure your design echoes your message. Think about colour schemes and materials: are you going to have wooden chairs, or fabric-covered ones? Light wood, light fabrics and elegant designs have all become popular in the recent shifts in interior design. Don’t worry about wear-and-tear on upholstered furniture – today’s fabrics are durable and easy to clean, while the foam padding used in chairs, like the ones in our Abbruzzo range, is non-sag. 

Shabby-chic has endured several years of popularity and is still up in one of the top-spots for café design with its emphasis on natural materials and painted surfaces. Of course, it is meant to look slightly worn down, so buying shabby-chic furniture will be an investment that will improve with age! Our Farmhouse Tulip Table in light oak is the perfect shabby-chic table for an afternoon coffee.

Art Deco has also started resurfacing in popularity, and Trent Furniture has several items available that would be ideal for creating that perfect 20s-inspired feel. With a wide range of fabrics to choose from, Trent’s Art Deco Colebrookedale Three Leg Stool can be customised to specific colour schemes in order to create a design that flows throughout your whole shop.

Know what furniture you need

Once you know who you want to come into your shop and how you want it to look, the next stage is finding the right furniture. Seating to suit duration of stay is important. Big tables with room for food as well as drinks will attract shoppers, families, and groups of friends looking for somewhere to sit for longer stops. We recommend our Madison two-seater sofa, which is perfect for catching up with old friends.

You could even have some stackable high chairs on hand if you’re happy for babies to be in your shop. Sofas with coffee tables additionally provide space for businesspeople and their laptops during lunch hours. Some cafés have banned Wi-Fi and laptops to promote socialisation, but that choice is entirely up to you.  

If your coffee shop is about quick service and short visits, you won’t be needing comfortable chairs and big tables. Poseur tables, such as Trent’s Black Pyramid Poseur Table, are perfect for fast-paced coffee bars, providing space to stand and chat or even just to add sugar before dashing back out the door.

Layout & Spacing for Coffee Shops

If you or your customers can’t walk freely between tables, it’s way too cramped. A good tip is to try to keep at least 45cm between tables to make sure there is enough space for easy movement.

Floorplans are of course important, but also being prepared to be flexible will definitely pay off if a large group comes in for lunch. A combination of small and large tables, such as our Art Deco Pedestal and Rectangular tables (both in silver), will make sure there is enough seating room for people who want food as well as drinks. 

Keeping sofas to the perimeter of the room will allow more space for tables and movement through the middle of your establishment, whilst also creating comfy, tucked-away corners for post-shopping coffee and cake. 
Not just a drink

The coffee industry has grown rapidly thanks to a combination of independent, specialist coffee shops and chain brands like Starbucks, Costa, and Caffé Nero. Coffee has become an experience, not only due to the popularity surge millennials have given it, but because of the demand for Instagram-worthy décor and innovative coffee.

This doesn’t mean you have to serve everything in mason jars, but there are still ways to make your coffee shop individual and interesting enough to keep customers coming back – and keep them posting about you on social media. Perhaps there’s a particular blend that you love, but no-one else seems to be selling it. 

It’s not just about coffee anymore either. Consumers expect a wide range of tea, with green tea becoming increasingly popular, as well as other herbal or fruit infusions. Milk alternatives are also expected as standard, such as oat milk or almond milk, whether the customer is lactose intolerant or not. 

If you’re serving food, handmade sandwiches, pastries and cakes will add authentic flavour, especially if you can bring something new to the table.

What Next for your Coffee Shop?

From our warehouse in Narborough, Trent deliver fantastic commercial furniture solutions. We work with hundreds of companies all over the UK to create a one-stop shop for all commercial needs. 

To learn more about the products and services we have on offer, please contact us via email on or call 0116 2985 681. 

To the ancient Egyptians who laboured on the Pyramids, it was their main meal of the day: bread, beer and onions. For ancient Britons, it was often a kind of porridge made from ground-up grains of barley or wheat. Ancient Roman soldiers also started the day with a kind of porridge, similar to today’s polenta, made from wheat or barley. In Britain today, it ranges from a bowl of cereal – of which more later – to pastries and “the full English” (or Scottish, or the “Ulster Fry”). It’s been described as the most important meal of the day, a way of replenishing a depleted body with calories, fats and protein. 

And yet for several centuries in Britain, breakfast almost disappeared. This was thanks to the religious beliefs that held sway in the Middle Ages, in particular those of St Thomas Aquinas, the influential Italian priest and philosopher, who believed that “breaking the fast” too early in the day was to commit the sin of gluttony. So for many medieval people, there were just two meals in the day. There were exceptions: labourers, for instance, who needed the calories, were permitted to eat breakfast (perhaps some bread, cheese and ale), as were children, the elderly and the infirm. But it was not something to be enjoyed, and it was certainly not a social event.

Incidentally, the drinking of ale or beer for breakfast was not a sign of mass drunkenness – ale and beer during this period were relatively weak. Drinking this “small beer” (hence the phrase) was a much healthier alternative to water, which carried all kinds of risks.

Breakfast comes back

As time went on and the authority of organised religion began to wane, breakfast grew in popularity. The arrival of chocolate from South America was also a major event – people across Europe loved drinking it so much, the Catholic church was forced to relax its strictures, ruling that “liquid doesn’t break the fast”. Products such as bacon from Wiltshire began to make their way on to the nation’s breakfast tables, paving the way for today’s traditional breakfast. 

The industrial revolution sealed the status of breakfast as an essential meal. A day’s hard labour in the factories required calories that could only be provided by a substantial breakfast. Bread, dripping, gruel and perhaps some fish (which was a relatively inexpensive source of protein) would have been a typical breakfast for working people. 

Meanwhile the middle- and upper-class Victorians saw breakfast as a way of displaying their wealth and status, giving rise to epic breakfasts featuring kidneys, kedgeree, porridge, bacon, eggs, and so on, served from sideboards and eaten around a grand table. This high-status breakfast began to trickle down the class system; the classic “greasy spoon” fry-up that became popular in workers’ cafés is essentially an imitation of the English upper-class breakfast. 

In Victorian and Edwardian Britain, these worker’s “caffs” were part of every high street – a place where the early-rising working classes could set themselves up with a breakfast of eggs, bacon, fried bread, tea and toast (coffee was still seen as something a bit “posh”). They were also popular among late-night revellers seeking an early-morning hangover cure. These cafés were simply furnished with rows of wooden tables and chairs, later with Formica table-tops and counters. 
Though changes in working patterns mean that many of these places have closed down, some classic examples remain – among them the Regency Café in central London, which has featured in films such as Layer Cake and Brighton Rock.

Regency Café in central London

A flaky inventor

In America, the connection between breakfast and religion resurfaced in the late 19th century in the curious beliefs of John Harvey Kellogg. Seventh Day Adventists believed in a bland vegetarian diet that would suppress “passions”. Kellogg, himself an Adventist, set to work creating a breakfast cereal that would meet these requirements. Cornflakes were the result, and Kellogg hoped that his invention would reduce excessive sexual intercourse and other habits. (Kellogg later created Rice Krispies, whose exciting “snap, crackle and pop” seemed to be at odds with his desire for a life without passions or stimulation.)
Like many American inventions, cornflakes spread across the world, and today cornflakes and other cereals are an essential part of many breakfast tables. There is even a chain of hipster cafés, the Cereal Killer Café, serving a huge range of breakfast cereals in eclectically-furnished surroundings. The chain has two cafés in London, as well as branches in Kuwait City and Dubai.

Continental style

Meanwhile as people travelled and adopted more cosmopolitan eating habits, the continental breakfast began to take hold: fresh orange juice, Danish pastries, croissants, and of course coffee. When coffee first arrived in the UK it was not seen as a morning drink – the coffee houses that thrived in the 17th and 18th centuries were open all hours. But the continental European habit of drinking coffee at breakfast began to take hold throughout the 20th century. 

Continental breakfast

Another major influence on our breakfasting habits has been health. These days, fewer of us are manual labourers, so we need fewer calories; a greasy spoon breakfast made to be burnt off in a day’s heavy work is not ideal for a sedentary desk job. There has also been a backlash against sugary cereals – a 50g serving of a typical cereal contains at least two teaspoons of sugar. Hence the emergence of healthier, lower-sugar cereals such as granola and muesli – and the resurgent popularity of porridge.

Bringing back breakfast

For several decades, even centuries, breakfast was a meal shared by the family at the start of the day. Changes in working habits, the rising number of working women and the time-pressed nature of modern life have changed this, so that today around 28 per cent of us eat breakfast “on the go”. Many of us wait until we are at our desks, grabbing a coffee and a croissant or a muffin on the way to work. A substantial number of us skip it altogether – contrary to the health advice which says it is the most important meal of the day.

Full English breakfast

But the rise in café culture is helping to bring back breakfast. The good news for owners of cafés is that Britons now spend around £13 billion a year eating out for breakfast (according to a 2016 survey by the hotel chain Travelodge). Breakfast is seen as a chance to sit in comfortable surroundings eating and drinking healthy, freshly-made food and beverages. For the new army of self-employed and freelance workers, a café with wi-fi offers a chance to combine work with breakfast. 

So if you are the owner of a café, a coffee shop or even a pub (which seem to have been slow to take advantage of the breakfast market), you could be capitalising on the nation’s changing eating habits. Today’s customers want wi-fi, pleasant surroundings, proper coffee, healthy options, and a chance to spread out at a table with a laptop, a tablet or a newspaper. And as traditional mealtimes become blurred, breakfast can last well into mid-morning, when it begins to merge into brunch and then lunch. So, be prepared to be flexible in your offering. Create areas where customers can sit and linger over breakfast, perhaps with a couple of small armchairs or even a sofa and a low table

It’s all a far cry from the beer, bread and onions eaten by those ancient Egyptians.

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