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We live in interesting times. Take, for instance, the way we eat. Over the past 50 years or so, British eating habits have undergone a complete transformation. Dishes that once would have seemed impossibly exotic – pasta, pizza, rice, curry, street food – have become staples. In 2001, the then British foreign secretary Robin Cook proclaimed that chicken tikka masala had become our “national dish”, combining the spiced foods brought here by immigrants from the Indian subcontinent with our own liking for a gravy-like sauce. 

Chicken Tikka Masala

Meanwhile there has been an explosion of cafés, restaurants, bistros and gastro-pubs. New meals such as brunch have appeared; dinner has become lunch, and tea has become dinner. Outside the home, coffee has overtaken tea as our drink of choice; thanks to the growth of our coffee culture and chains such as Caffè Nero and Costa, according to market research group NPD, we now drink more than twice the amount of coffee as we do tea.

This has led to a surge in business opportunities – and not just for the big café and restaurant chains, such as Starbucks and Pizza Express. Independent cafés and restaurants are growing in number, offering a distinctive, local, personal alternative to the homogenous high-street stalwarts. 

Café vs Restaurant

If you run a café or a restaurant, or are setting one up, one of the first things you will need to think about – having found your premises – will be furniture. But what’s the difference between café and restaurant furniture? Essentially, it’s about the kind of experience you are offering your customers: a café will be more casual, while a restaurant will offer something more formal. And your furniture should reflect this.

Café furniture

Café customers do not generally stay for a long time. Usually, they’re popping in for a drink, a snack or a light meal. So they will not expect to sink into a plushly upholstered chair or stretch out at an expansive linen-covered table. Café furniture, therefore, is lighter, often brighter in colour and more modern in design. You might say that café furniture is “friendly”: chairs will be made in materials such as melamine with light wood or faux leather finishes. Alternatively, old-style bentwood chairs and wooden bistro chairs offer a more continental-style café experience.

Local cafe dining furniture

Café tables, meanwhile, will generally be smaller than restaurant tables. The surfaces will take a lot of wear and punishment, so they’ll need to be tough and hard-wearing. Again, as with chairs, café tables generally follow one of two styles: bright and contemporary, with metal legs and bases and tops finished in wood veneers; or there’s the more traditional style – bentwood, cast iron, and so on.

Stools, meanwhile, can be used for customers sitting at the counter or clustered around high “poseur” tables. Bear in mind, too, that some of your customers will be on their own, so you should offer enough small tables to accommodate them. Also in recent years we have seen the growth of the “communal table”, where people are happy to cluster around and share the space. This could be one large table, or several shunted together.

Restaurant furniture

A visit to a restaurant is meant to be an occasion, a treat. So your customers will need to feel that they are being looked after, pampered, special. This begins, of course, with the welcome they receive, but it extends to the furniture. They will want to feel comfortable, of course, but a restaurant’s chairs and tables will also need to convey a visual message: this is not just a meal – this is an event. High-backed chairs, upholstered in attractive fabrics or leather, will make a serious statement, as well as keeping customers comfortable over a period of time. (A good furniture supplier will offer a choice of fabrics for upholstery, or will even upholster furniture in fabrics supplied by the customer). If you have space, you might even consider providing some tub chairs – ideal for sinking into over a long lunch or dinner.

Restaurant Furniture at The Berkeley

Tables, meanwhile, need to be large and solid. If you are using table linen, the surface is perhaps less important, but still bear in mind that the legs or base will be on show. For flexibility, you might think about tables that can be shunted together for larger groups of diners. Farmhouse chairs and tables are good for creating a more homely, traditional environment.

Blurrred Lines

So far, so good. But are the differences between cafés and restaurants really so clear-cut these days? Many cafés now offer substantial meals, albeit from a relatively limited menu, while many restaurants now offer a more informal dining experience. In some cases, a café by day will become a restaurant by night, a transformation that can be achieved with the addition of table linen, candles and low lighting.

All this is a reflection of the nation’s changing eating and dining-out habits: we are becoming less hung-up about mealtimes, about informal vs formal, about cafés vs restaurants. We might have burgers for brunch or scrambled eggs at 4pm or pizza at 10pm. The traditional boundaries that once divided the day into strict mealtimes have become less clear-cut.

It may be an exaggeration to say that we are witnessing “the death of fine dining”, but there is certainly a trend towards greater informality in our restaurants. Hushed atmospheres, starched linen and obsequious wine waiters are becoming less common in the fine dining sector – partly for cost reasons, but also because diners these days simply want to relax and feel less inhibited. When Kenny Atkinson opened his House of Tides restaurant in Newcastle, he decided to do away with tablecloths and wine waiters and create a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. “We want guests to have a laugh and enjoy the food,” he told The Guardian.

young man drinking takeaway coffee

So if you are looking to create a similarly flexible, friendly environment, you might wish to take the lead with your furniture, offering a mixture of styles. If you run a café, a scattering of more formal, upholstered or leather armchairs could be combined with more casual contemporary chairs. A restaurant, meanwhile, might combine simple chairs with banquettes. And rather than the traditional formal arrangement of rows of tables, you might want to take a more mixed approach using, say, square and round tables, which can be rearranged if larger groups come in. If you’re doing without tablecloths, bare tabletops can be enhanced by small vases or jugs of flowers, or candles.

Also, bear in mind that people these days are less hung-up about dining solo – a couple of years ago, research revealed that the number of solo diners had doubled over the previous two years. So make sure you have enough smaller tables to accommodate them. And don’t shunt solo diners into the corner: they are not embarrassed to be eating alone. 

solo women diner


Popular restaurant furniture

When most people think of restaurant furniture, the first thing that springs to mind is likely to be tables and chairs.  These are the most obvious, easy items to use to customise your restaurant, as they can be made from wood, plastic, metal or a mixture of any of these materials.

We find that a popular choice, which is relatively cheap and easy to customise in terms of colour as well as being ideal for mixing and matching with different materials, is to use a standard side chair with a pyramid table.  

This style of table is particularly popular for restaurants where space is an issue.  It’s far easier to fit people’s feet and bags underneath a table if there is just one pole supporting it.  A table like Trent Furniture’s Black Pyramid Table makes it easier to fit more chairs around it, for example, if a table for 2 becomes a table for 4 when having drinks or snacks.

Luxury restaurant furniture

There is still a novelty to having large, comfortable tub chairs in restaurants, usually as a pair around a table, or used alongside sofas.  Whilst tub chairs definitely look more expensive than your average chair, they do take up more room, so it’s worth considering how many people you ideally want to serve in your restaurant before splashing out on these.  

Having said that, they needn’t be particularly expensive.  Trent Furniture sells a range of tub chairs in different colours and styles, like this Portobello Cappuccino Tub Chair, which costs less than £100.

Modern restaurant furniture

When thinking of modern and restaurant furniture in the same sentence, it doesn’t have to mean clean lines and multi-coloured.  Sometimes a modern restaurant just needs a splash of colour, like a red leather chair to spruce up some dark wood tables.  Another way of using modern influences mixed in with those from the past is to use a chair with an unusually shaped back, for example the Malmo Armchair from Trent Furniture, or a set of chrome stools.

Bentwood furniture for businesses

Traditional bentwood furniture adds personality to any restaurant.  First produced in the 19th century, bentwood furniture is typically made out of darker woods and soaked or steamed with water, before being shaped.  The style makes chairs and stools look particularly decorative and turns the simplest of furniture into impressive items.  The Low Bentwood Stool range is an example of simply turned sophisticated.

Where to buy restaurant furniture

None of these options needs cost a fortune.  If you’re going to update your restaurant’s furniture or kit out a new one, from American diner style benches to ornate farmhouse tables, we have high-quality furniture at prices that won’t break the bank. 

The short answer to this question is yes!  To prove it, all you need do is to look on photo-sharing social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram for ‘Chesterfield sofas’ to see that the ones people are taking notice (and photographs) of are often featured in restaurants.

What’s even more telling is that people aren’t just featuring the Chesterfield sofas in the background – they’re actually taking photographs of the sofa itself.

This tells us that lots of people really like Chesterfield sofas and that finding one as an option for seating in a restaurant can be eye-catching enough that people take and post photographs of it.  

Well done to the restaurants who have already figured out a way to include a Chesterfield sofa – you’re clearly doing a good job!  For those that are considering adding a Chesterfield sofa to a restaurant, here are some ideas  from restaurants doing it well in different ways:

Restaurants with Chesterfield sofas

One example is at Massimo in Mayfair.  As you might expect from this restaurant’s location, the aim of adding to a Chesterfield sofa for restaurant seating is to add elegance and sophistication.   As a hard-wearing sofa with regal roots, Massimo has really taken advantage of the Chesterfield sofa to achieve a classic look at its restaurant.

Another example is at Hoax in Liverpool. Here, we have a mixture of brightly coloured Chesterfield sofas and chairs, which create a quirky, fun vibe, whilst maintaining an impression of high quality.

Where would a Chesterfield sofa look good in a restaurant?

Restaurants often use Chesterfield sofas either in their lobby or entrance hall as decoration, or for people to sit and wait for their table.  

They are also used in bar areas, especially where customers are encouraged to have a drink before their meal and to stay on for further drinks later into the evening after their meal.  However, the most popular place for Chesterfield sofas is as part of the actual restaurant seating - for people to use whilst eating their meals.  Some are built in; others are standalone.

The beauty of a Chesterfield sofa is that wherever you use it, it looks great.

An example of a restaurant chain that uses Chesterfield sofas as part of its seating, in a way which perfectly complements the interior of its separate restaurants, is Bill’s.  In its Oxford restaurant, Bill’s has an almost industrial chic décor, which uses a bench of Chesterfield sofas all the way alongside one section.

Adopting a completely different style, Bill’s Farnham restaurant uses a Chesterfield sofa to add style and sophistication to an exposed plastered wall, with simple chairs and tables.

Where to find a Chesterfield sofa for your restaurant

At Trent Furniture, we have specialised in supplying furniture to restaurants for many years.  Having recognised the popularity of Chesterfield sofas in restaurants not only in the UK but all over the world, we stock both two and three seaters Chesterfield sofas to fit with all types of restaurant interiors.  

Moreover, our sofas represent the quality associated with Chesterfield sofas, without breaking the bank.  You can buy a Chesterfield sofa from Trent Furniture for under £300!

For more information, visit the sofas section on our website.

For UK pubs, providing accommodation is an opportunity to boost incomings with an additional revenue stream. Food and drink are what one would commonly expect to find in a pub - and now it seems that the third revenue stream taking over the industry is accommodation. 

Pubs are no longer seen as a lower-end option for overnight stays for foreign tourists and British holiday-makers. So much so that 56 per cent of pubs have said that accommodation has added to their incomings.

What’s important to guests? 


Slips in quality are most noticeable in the accommodation industry. For a good reputation, cleanliness is paramount. Bedrooms, bathrooms and communal areas need to be regularly inspected. 


As you’d expect, noise can be an issue in a pub. For rooms that are in close proximity to the main bar area, ensure that they are well-insulated to minimise any noise so that your guests can get a good night’s sleep. Once the pub has closed, make staff aware of their noise levels during tidying and locking-up.


Whether it is cooked or continental, put as much effort into offering a good breakfast as you would into any other menu in your pub. Offering breakfast may mean additional staff and perhaps an earlier start for your chefs. However, breakfast is a service that may be expected by guests to be included in the price, or at the very least available in the morning. Breakfast is the last opportunity to provide a lasting impression on guests. 


  • Whilst food and drink are services that stop when the pub closes, accommodation requires a 24/7 service meaning more responsibility.
  • It’s likely that there will already be established accommodation in the area.
  • Financial outlay for the development. 
  • The possibility of an increase in staffing to help achieve the high level of service needed.

Make it unique

Larger hotel chains are often accused of having no personality in their rooms, this is a reason that many go to independent accommodation providers such as pubs. Avoid generic hotel room standards in favour of a theme. In the same way that your bar and restaurant do, bring your taste upstairs and decorate to stand out from the crowd. Personal touches can also make a guest’s stay that bit more enjoyable. 

Pub owners shouldn’t look for savings on quality. Instead, invest in furnishings that add to the aura of quality and Britishness. Trent Furniture’s hotel furnishings have furniture for every type of décor you are trying to achieve. Browse our full selection on this website.


The café and coffee shop craze is in full force in the UK. We’re sure you’re aware of just how many cafés there are on the high street now. It seems that every other shop you walk past is advertising luxury coffees, teas and smoothies.

It’s not just the major players though. Although there are over 5,000 major coffee shops (Café Nero, Costa, Pret A Manger, Starbucks and Greggs) in the UK, independent cafés seem to be a common feature; perhaps not as commonly on the high street, but certainly on the outskirts and back streets of town centres. So, how does one reap success from an independent café and attract customers?

Be different

Being different from the generic café competition pays off. A café called Run For Your Bun opened as a pop up in London in January. The concept was that customers get lunch in exchange for doing a workout in the café. This idea generated plenty of PR just for having something different about it.

With so many cafés available for customers to go to, it’s important to be unique or have a speciality. Your uniqueness could come from your décor, a special drink recipe or a strong theme. 

Attractive cafe front

The large majority of customers make their decisions based on the store front - what else can they go on when there are plenty of cafés to choose from? Unless they have been to every café in the area, they won’t have built up an opinion of their favourites. 

To pick up ‘floaters’ that are undecided on which café to go to, you need to have a welcoming exterior.

High-quality coffee

The UK as a whole has become a nation of coffee connoisseurs in recent years. Well-made coffee is now a necessity for most and lukewarm instant coffee is far from acceptable. 

Coffee is one of the main reasons that most go to a café. It’s the driver of everything - customers won’t come back if they’re not satisfied. Variety and quality is a must. So, a bartender has to be capable of serving good coffee. 

A cafe is more than coffee

Of course,high-qualityy coffee is important but you shouldn’t rely on coffee alone to make up your income. Push for alternate sales to accompany coffee such as muffins, cakes and pastries and perhaps diversify into hot and cold food options if you have the space available.

Loyalty cards for cafes

Possibly the cheapest customer gaining technique is the loyalty card. So long as they’re attractive and actually reward the customer, they really do work. Tick off more than just one stamp on their first visit to give an extra incentive to return. 

Attractive cafe layouts that promote conversation

In the modern world, much of our day is taken up with technology and virtual interaction. People still seek the normality of a café to enjoy the sociable atmosphere, whether it’s catching up with friends or having an interaction with the baristas. 

Sofa areas with large coffee tables are a necessary asset for a café looking to increase the number of group visitors.

For all areas of your café’s furniture: tables, chairs, stools and sofas, Trent Furniture can help. Explore our café furniture range to find the right fit for your café. Call us on 0116 2989 335 for more information. 

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