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Why communal seating is still trending in restaurants

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Communal tables have long been a staple of fast food restaurants as they are a simple way to maximise space, but in recent years the trend has moved over to wider meal experiences.

For restaurants and eateries that are attracting young consumers, non-traditional seating arrangements are becoming more common. In the competitive market, restaurants are constantly having to innovate to create a space that appeals to the younger generation. With communal tables offering the social experience that this audience craves when eating out, this piece of furniture is becoming a normal sight. But why is it that restaurants like them?

Offer variety

Communal tables can serve as a station for sole-eaters, small groups and as a private table for large groups. What used to require tables to be pushed together in a mismatch organisation, can now be accommodated by housing one of two large communal tables.

The entire restaurant doesn’t have to be made up of communal tables. In fact, they work best when surrounded by tables for two and four. This way, customers have the option and if they want an intimate meal, they can reserve a table in advance.

Cost-effective

A restaurant that houses communal tables is certain to be able to fit more people in than a restaurant that uses a traditional method. If space is a problem, communal tables are a possible solution.

By placing guests on a communal table, space is freed up on private tables for two and four. If a restaurant doesn’t have communal tables, they would have no option but to place a lone guest on a private table, effectively sacrificing the other seats at the table.

Communal tables help restaurants increase revenue by maximising the space available to them.

Millennials love them

Used properly, communal tables completely overhaul a restaurant’s atmosphere. They create a social buzz that attracts millennials and allows them to snack, engage in conversation and linger without feeling pressured to move on.  

The tables do this by making it possible for groups to share a dining experience with other like-minded people. Instead of a table for one, the communal table removes the stigma and gives a sense of community.

Restaurant chairs for communal tables

At Trent Furniture, we have a range of restaurant chairs suitable for accompanying communal tables as well as a more traditional layout. Browse our range today to find a style that matches your restaurant’s interior.

Replacing Your Outdoor Table Top - Your How To Guide

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As summer swings into autumn and the outdoor furniture retreats to hibernation, now is the perfect opportunity to freshen it up in preparation for its next appearance. Following the long summer of outdoor dining, table tops have no doubt have bared the brunt of many a drink spill and plate smash.

At Trent Furniture, you’ll find the very best in outdoor tables in a range of different colours, sizes, and finishes to suit your needs. All of our products are built to last and are weather resistant, stylishly designed with practicality in mind. To help you make your decision, we’ve put together a guide to help you choose the right table top for your needs.

Table top types

With so many materials and styles on offer, it can be difficult to know which table top to choose. Below are some tips to choosing the correct table top for the perfect outdoor setting.

Polywood

Made from 100% engineered plastic to retain its clean wood look, polywood table tops are maintenance-free as the weatherproof plastic lasts longer in all conditions for a durable performance. The high-density polyethylene is not only eco-friendly but is also UV resistant and withstands all of nature’s seasons.

Glass

Get more from your wicker furniture with a glass-top table. Stain-free and easily maintained, glass will withstand the year-round weather for a long-lasting finish which can be enjoyed time and time again.

Wood

Rustic wood furniture fits in with any garden setting. As an eco-friendly choice, it is made to withstand the outdoors with a weather-resistant finish. Wood furniture has natural beauty, texture, and colour.

Metal or Mesh

Steel Mesh offers a traditional look to any garden. The rustproof coating withstands the wet and winter months. A versatile piece that can be used year-round.

HPL

High Pressure Laminate is both durable and highly decorative. It features superior wear-resistance for a long-lasting and stylish finish.

A step by step guide to replacing your table top

Outdoor table tops are designed and manufactured to withstand consistent use as well as the unpredictable British weather. However, if your table top should need replacing, we’ve put together a step-by-step guide using glass as an example to help you out.  Just remember, replacing a broken table top will be much more challenging, so take care!

When choosing your replacement glass, make sure the sizing and strength are correct for your needs.

Remove the top and outer rim by pulling up on the rim.
Place the table rim upside down on a protected surface, and angle your new glass table top into the rim.

Snap the supplied plastic clips into place, starting where the top meets the rim, pressing under the lip around the edge of the rim.
With the top and the rim still upside down, insert the table base (with the legs pointing up) and press down, snapping the glass into place.
Turn the table the right way up, and reposition in your outdoor area.

Looking after outside table tops

In order for table tops to stay looking clean and fresh, each material requires different furniture care processes to ensure it looks good for you and your guests. For starters, we recommend using a breathable cover when your furniture is not in use for additional protection. Read on to find out more about our tips to clean and maintain your furniture.  

Polywood tops

The plastic resin of polywood tops have been purified and UV protected. Generally, it can be cared for and cleaned with soap and warm water. For certain stains and additional cleaning power, a 1/3 bleach and 2/3 water solution can be used on the product without affecting the colour.

Glass tops

Perhaps the easiest of table top choices to maintain, use a hot, soapy solution or a glass cleaner to ensure your table top is kept in a good condition. To remove the stubborn stains caused by pollen or dirt, use a glass-safe nonabrasive scrubbing pad.

Wooden tops

Clean with a wet cloth or soft-bristled brush and soapy water at least once a year. We recommend cleaning in the autumn, just before the colder months arrive.

Mesh tops

Coated to withstand all conditions and prevent rust, clean your table top with a cloth or sponge and mild washing-up liquid. Rinse any soap residue off and dry thoroughly. Applying a good quality, clear car wax once a year prolongs the life of your metal furniture – a top tip from us!

HPL tops

Clean the surface with a fat-dissolving cleaning agent that does not contain abrasives. To avoid discolouration, ensure the cleaning agent is removed from the surface with a damp cloth. Abrasive or highly aggressive cleaning products, such as steel sponges, can scratch HPL surfaces and cause irreparable damage to your table top.

Here at Trent, we are here to help you make the right choice in furniture. With customer service at the heart of what we do, we strive to ensure the products you purchase from us are of the highest quality.

Check out our full range of outdoor furniture, where you’ll find everything you need for a perfect outdoor dining experience.

Getting Your Pub Ready for Christmas – a Business Guide

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Is it too early to start thinking about Christmas in September? If you run a pub or a bar, the answer is no. By planning well in advance, you’ll be able to take full advantage of the seasonal increase in spending on drink and food. This doesn’t mean that you should be putting your Christmas decorations up in September.

Last year a number of pubs were ridiculed on social media for doing this: “I’m still traumatised”, said one Twitter user after finding a Christmas tree in their local pub more than three months before Christmas. So: hold off on the decorations (more of which later). But preparations and publicity? Definitely.

If you have a space such as a function room that can host office Christmas lunches or work parties, now is the time to start taking bookings. Increasing numbers of pubs now have chalkboards both inside and out, so this is a good way of drumming up bookings. Our you could place laminated leaflets on the bar and on the tables around your pub.

It’s often worthwhile getting a local print shop to produce these – they will have a professional, glossy look. Bear in mind, too, that some people are happy to leave their Christmas celebrations until January, so be prepared to stretch your offering into the New Year.

Planning your Christmas menu

Christmas in a pub

If your pub serves food, you will need to start planning your Christmas menu soon. This will almost inevitably involve turkey, but it’s worth thinking about how this can be served: rather than cooking a whole turkey, with the risks that the meat will become dry, your kitchen could look into dishes such as turkey parcels or turkey tornedos – pieces of turkey breast meat wrapped in bacon or pancetta; these can be prepared in advance and cooked or reheated to order.

And remember that diners these days are becoming more adventurous with their Christmas fare: meats such as rabbit and venison are increasingly popular. Cooked in stews and casseroles with seasonal berries and herbs, they have a lovely wintry warmth. Remember, too, that vegetarianism is no longer a fringe choice – a recent poll put the number of vegetarians in the UK at more than 3 million, which is nearly 6 per cent of the population.

Seasonal drinks can add to your offering: winter ales, mulled wine and mulled cider. If your pub is one of the increasing number that serve coffee, there will be spiced Christmas blends available – the aroma of these will add to the atmosphere. If you are serving mulled wine, you will need to think about how to keep it hot.

Smell is a vital part of Christmas: the scent of pine from Christmas trees and from spices such as cloves and cinnamon helps to create a warm, welcoming atmosphere. Scented candles with these and other seasonal scents can be placed on tables or windowsills. These will emit fragrant scents and give off a soft, romantic glow.

Trees and baubles

Christmas baubles

On the wider question of decorations: Christmas can very easily be made to look cheap and tacky. Many of us wince at the memory of Christmases marked by faded paper chains, tatty tinsel and scuffed baubles. These days, the trend in Christmas decorations is: less is more. It’s likely that someone on your staff will have a creative streak, so it would be rewarding for them to let them have a say in your decorative scheme.

Remember that although Christmas is a Christian festival, it also has pagan roots: the tree brought indoors was traditionally a way of keeping greenery alive until spring arrived – a German tradition that was popularised in the UK in the Victorian era by Prince Albert and Queen Victoria. Likewise evergreen holly and mistletoe. So sprigs of greenery, used sparingly, can create a tasteful Christmas atmosphere. If you have space for a tree, take care to dress it properly, and don’t overdo it.

Hold back on the tinsel. The ideas website Pinterest is a goldmine of decorating inspiration. Rather than buying mass-produced decorations and baubles, it’s worth looking at e-commerce website such as Etsy, where hand-crafted items such as baubles (as well as candle holders) created by individual makers are available. Now is the time to start sourcing these items.

An unusual Christmas decoration that would be particularly suited to the pub environment would be hops. A vital ingredient in the making of beer, hops also have attractive flowers and leaves. In their dried form, strings of hops, known as “bines”, can be bought as decorations that would be ideal for a pub at Christmas. A quick Google search brings up several suppliers of fresh and dried hop bines and garlands.

Another attractive Christmas plant is the poinsettia, with its vivid red flowers against green foliage. These are inexpensive and the flowers last for four to six weeks, so a well-timed purchase of a batch of these plants will work its Christmas magic over the festive period.

Glass vases or containers filled with small Christmas baubles and pine cones – perhaps spray-painted silver or gold – are an increasingly popular decorative idea. Now is the time to get to work preparing pine cones and sourcing containers and baubles.

Let there be lights

Fairy lights for Christmas tress

Christmas would not be Christmas without fairy lights. And the good news for those with memories of flickering, tacky and unreliable strings of tangled lights is that today’s LED lights are reliable and come in a spectrum of styles and colours. Strung around your bar area, along window ledges or even draped under the ceiling, they will add a twinkly glow to your pub. If you have an outdoor area with space heaters that’s used in the colder months, strategically hung fairy lights can give it a grotto-like appearance. You could also have a supply of blankets and cushions available to keep customers cosy and comfortable outside. Remember too that today’s outdoor pub furniture is durable and weatherproof.

An all-singing, all-dancing Christmas

To create a Christmas buzz, you could hold special events in your pub. Is there an amateur choir in your neighbourhood? Choir singing has become a hugely popular activity, so the likelihood is high that there will be a nearby choir. You could invite a choir to perform Christmas songs and carols in your pub; they might accept payment in return, or perhaps just free drinks for the evening, or it could be a charity fund-raiser. Some choirs are simply grateful for the chance to perform in public; also the exposure helps them to recruit new members. But you will need to start looking into this now, as it can take several weeks for a choir to rehearse a repertoire of songs. Song sheets could be printed off and circulated so that your customers can join in on some of the more familiar numbers.

Other traditional forms of Christmas entertainment include handbell ringing and Morris dancing. If you have space – a car park, say, or a pub garden – you could invite a troupe of Morris dancers to perform Christmas dances and mummery. Again, this could be a charity fundraising event.

Christmas warmth

Charity is always at the forefront of people’s thoughts around Christmas time, so your pub could nominate a chosen Christmas charity and use events such as these to collect money for it over the Christmas period. You could even ask your customers to vote for their chosen charity from a list of nominations. A running total of money collected could be published on a chalkboard and on your pub’s social media site. Christmas is about warmth, and a Christmas charity appeal will add to that sense of warmth and fellow feeling.

Trent Furniture: A Brief History of Beer

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The accidental drink

Humans have been brewing and drinking beer for thousands of years. It is now the third most widely drunk beverage in the world (after tea and coffee), and it is brewed and drunk in almost every country (with the exception of strict Islamic nations such as Iran and Saudi Arabia). And yet it seems that beer was not actually invented, but came about by accident.

The arrival of beer coincided with the early cultivation of cereal crops several thousand years ago. No one knows exactly how or when it happened, but it seems likely that a crop such as barley was left standing in water somewhere in the cradle of civilisation, the Middle East. The atmosphere contains naturally occurring wild yeasts, which would have activated on contact with this mixture. Result: fermentation. Eureka! Beer had arrived. The earliest physical evidence of beer has been found in traces in containers found in present-day Iran, which date back 7,000 years.

Soon the recipe was being refined, with the addition of spices and other flavourings. Water was often unsafe to drink, so beer became a safe source of hydration. Ancient Sumerian society is famous for its love of beer: they used to drink it through straws (a technique also used in ancient Egypt). One of the earliest written references to beer came in the “Hymn to Ninkasi”, written around 1,800 years ago in tribute to the Sumerian goddess of beer:

“When you pour out the filtered beer of the collector vat,

It is the onrush of the Tigris and Euphrates.”

Pyramids built on beer

Meanwhile in ancient Egypt, beer became a kind of currency – labourers working on the pyramids were paid in beer. Beer ingredients and containers were included in Egyptian burial chambers. Detailed evidence of ancient Egyptian beer-making techniques has survived to this day, leading to a number of brewers, archaeologists and historians brewing replicas of Egyptian beer. In the 1990s the Courage brewery marketed Tutankhamun Ale, a beer brewed using emmer wheat similar to that used in ancient Egypt. And recently the British Museum led a project to create an authentic Egyptian beer, the results of which can be seen on YouTube in its entertaining and informative Pleasant Vices series. Flavourings such as coriander, cumin and rose petals were added to some of the brews, one of which, in the British Museum’s experiment, was brewed in a terracotta container for extra authenticity. The tasters, who included a bio-archaeologist, all seemed to think that the beers were eminently palatable (“citrusy”, “winey”).

The first pubs

By the time the ancient Romans arrived in Britain, beer was already well established. But the Romans moved things forward with the introduction of tabernae – taverns – the forbears of today’s pubs and inns. With these tabernae came the earliest pub furniture, which would have been very crude trestles, planks placed across barrels and suchlike. Individual pub chairs were a luxury that didn’t become commonplace for many hundreds of years.

Many early north European beers were brewed using “gruit”, a combination of flavourings and spices such as dandelion and burdock, but around 1,000AD, brewers began to use hops – or, more specifically, the flowers of the climbing hop plant (which had been used for centuries as a salad ingredient). Hops introduced new bitter flavours to beer, and also had anti-bacterial qualities, which meant less spoilage. Hops spread across Europe, arriving in Britain in the 1300s, being grown in huge quantities in Kent; here they were traditionally picked by holidaying East Enders, for whom this was often the only break from the smoky city they would get. There are, however, some brewers who have stuck to the old ways: today gruit beer is still made in Belgium and The Netherlands.

Beer for breakfast

By the late Middle Ages, in Britain, beer was drunk at every meal, including breakfast; as in ancient Egypt, it was a safer alternative to water, and much of it was of low strength (known as “small beer”). Average beer consumption at this time was more than a pint per person per day. In Germany, meanwhile, in the 16th century the powers that be in Bavaria decided that quality control was needed, so they came up with the famous beer purity laws of 1516 that are still in force in Germany today: only barley, hops and water can be used (elsewhere, ingredients such as rice and maize have become commonplace).

The subsequent centuries saw new types of beer being brewed: lager, using cool fermentation, and Pilsner, first brewed in the city of Pilsen, now in the Czech Republic. The lagers use yeasts and fermentation techniques that are different to those used in the brewing of ale. Other variations include white beer, so called because of its cloudy appearance, caused by yeast and wheat proteins suspended in the liquid.

Gin vs beer

In Britain in the 18th and 19th centuries, beer consumption fell as a result of the “gin craze”, the effects of which were depicted by the artist William Hogarth in his engraving, Gin Lane (which was shown alongside his Beer Street, showing the benefits of drinking beer). Legislation to reduce gin sales included the introduction of a new kind of pub, the beerhouse, which was cheaper to set up and run than the “gin palaces”. These premises were crudely furnished, with beer often served in jugs or straight from the barrel. The battle between gin and beer had been won by beer, with a little help from the government.

Fast-forward to the mid-20th century, when ubiquitous, fizzy, mass-produced beers such as Watneys Red Barrel gave rise to a backlash: the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), which was formed in 1971 to encourage smaller breweries that produced real ale, and which aimed to preserve the traditional British pub. “Real ale”, according to CAMRA’s definition, is beer that finishes the fermentation process in the barrel, or cask (hence “cask conditioned”). Although CAMRA has been subjected to some ridicule for its image as a haven for a certain type of bearded male beer drinker, its female membership has grown, and its campaigning has borne fruit: today Britain has a thriving brewing industry, with more than 2,000 breweries and microbreweries, many of them brewing the new generation of craft beers. Among the beers on offer today are gluten-free beers and beer made from leftover bread. CAMRA now has a membership of more than 190,000.

Elsewhere in the world, beer has been viewed very differently. In Russia, for instance, for centuries it wasn’t really seen as an alcoholic drink – this status was reserved for spirits such as vodka. Beer was marketed as a healthier alternative to spirits. However, in 2011 it was finally classified as an alcoholic beverage. In Iceland, by contrast, although beer was brewed and drunk by ancient Norsemen, beer was banned for most of the 20th century for reasons of temperance and also patriotism (beer was seen as Danish, and therefore unpatriotic). Only in 1989 was it finally legalised, which has led to a growth in Icelandic breweries, and a shift away from “hard” liquors towards beer.

Beer from a beard

Today beer comes in a glorious spectrum of flavours and variations. Among them is the New Belgium Brewery’s multi-flavoured Coconut Curry Hefeweizen, which would surely fall foul of Germany’s beer purity laws if it were brewed there. In Mexico, the Unknown Brewing Company has created a beer whose name roughly translates as “The Path of the Fiery Scorpion through the House of the Dead Chupacabra”. It is strong, around 10 per cent ABV, and among its ingredients are the remains of dead (food-grade) scorpions. The Wynkoop Brewing Company of Denver puts bull testicles in its stout. And Rogue Ales of Oregon came up with a beer that has a truly unique ingredient: it is made from yeast that was cultivated in the brewery owner’s beard. It is called, of course, Beard Beer.

Finally, which country in the world drinks the most beer? By volume, unsurprisingly, it is China. Per person? It’s the Czech Republic, at 143 litres per capita annually. As for Britain: surprisingly, given our long history of beer drinking, it comes in at a measly 25th in the league table of beer drunk per head.

Signs that your hotel needs a renovation

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Hotels that fail to renovate and move with trends are the most of risk of missing out on trade. For a weekend away, holiday with the family or a business trip, an outdated building is not going to be very appealing to travellers.

Whether it be minor tweaks or a complete face-lift, the idea of renovations can be daunting to hotel owners. Down-time, cost and design ideas are all concerns but this doesn’t mean a renovation should continue to be pushed back.

How can you spot when your hotel is in need of an update or renovation? Here are some signs to look out for: 

Negative reviews are becoming more common

Is the number of negative reviews you’re receiving growing week on week? Perhaps the most obvious sign a renovation is needed is noticing a stark nice is the number of bad customer reviews. However, it can be surprising how many hotel owners will ignore comments from customers and move on without taking notice.

If someone says something negative about your hotel, chances are that plenty of others are thinking the same thing but haven’t taken the time to write a review. Hotel owners must listen and make adjustments where necessary.

Damaged furniture

It can be all too easy to turn a blind eye to damaged furniture but it’s safe to say that your guests won’t be so quick to turn the other way. Guests will expect that a hotel has clean and well-maintained furniture. Damaged furniture needs to be replaced as soon as possible, not only to appease customers but to meet health and safety standards.

If you are looking to renew your hotel furniture but aren’t sure where to start, have a read of our hotel furniture buying guide here.

Stained carpets and walls

Imagine walking into a hotel and finding marks on the lobby walls and stains on your room’s floor. It’s not exactly the best first impression. Have the cleaning team report any rooms where there are any stains that cannot be removed. Don’t waste time in laying down a new carpet or repainting the wall when necessary.

You’ve not renovated in the past five years

There is no perfect timeframe for hotels to follow when it comes to renovations. Much of it depends on how well a hotel is maintained and the standard of hotel. Nevertheless, with fierce competition and changing trends, hotel owners should aim to renovate around every five years. This doesn’t have to be a full renovation by renewing all fixtures and fittings, but a freshen up where wall marks are painted over and new designs are installed.

If you haven’t refreshed your hotel in the past five years, look at the hotel’s facilities objectively and think if it needs a touch-up.

Hotel furniture

If the furniture in your hotel’s reception, bedrooms or eating area looks like it needs a refresh, Trent Furniture has hotel furniture suitable for every type of décor. Browse our full selection here.

 

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