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If you’ve ever eaten in a restaurant where the tables are squashed together so that diners are almost clashing elbows with each other, there is a high likelihood that your response to the experience was: “Well, I’m not going back there again.” There’s a simple lesson here for anyone who runs a restaurant, a café or a dining room in a pub: however good the food is, however friendly your staff, however competitive your prices, if your customers don’t feel comfortable, your business will suffer. Figures suggest that 2019 is going to be another challenging year for the casual dining, so anything that gives your business a competitive edge will be welcome.

Whether you are setting up a new business, or redesigning an existing space, if you are tempted to squeeze in a few more tables or places to maximise your revenue, remember that restaurants are heavily reliant on returning customers. If your customers have not had a good experience, they won’t come back. They are also likely to spend less while they are there. A 2009 study in America found that diners in restaurants with less space between tables stayed for less time and spent less.

Space: the final frontier

Rule number one, then, when you are making the most of your dining space, is that there should be around 18 inches between chairs and tables, and 24 inches between the backs of chairs on adjacent tables. This gives diners space to spread out, and it means they can talk in relative privacy. If a space is used as a service aisle by waiting staff, it should be wider still.

Of course, if you are running a fast-food joint, you can get away with more of a squeeze, as your customers will not be staying for long. On the other hand, for a fine dining establishment, customers will expect lots of space between tables. But for a typical restaurant or pub dining room, your need to maximise your revenues should be balanced by your customers’ need room to breathe, talk, stretch out. Remember too that there should be a clear path from every table to the main entrance, and to the lavatories.

If you are designing a dining space from scratch, it’s a good idea to visit other similar spaces to get an idea of what works, and what doesn’t. When you’re planning your space and thinking about what dining furniture to buy, try as much as possible to see things through your customers’ eyes.

Flexibility is the key

Remember, too, that while the typical dining table seats four people, most diners do not arrive in groups of four. Often they are in groups of three or five, or couples. Solo dining is also increasingly popular, and people who dine alone do not appreciate being shunted away in a corner like a naughty child in a classroom. Which brings us to principle number two: be flexible. Your arrangement should take into account the need to push tables together for larger groups of diners. So when you are ordering furniture, it’s best not to simply rely on tables that seat four. A variety of table sizes, and even table shapes will give you more flexibility - and will make your dining room look less like a chess tournament and more like something natural and organic.

Bear in mind, too, that booths are an efficient use of space: they seat more people per square foot. They eliminate your waiting staff’s need to go around all four sides of a table when taking orders or delivering food. Banquettes also use wall space efficiently. In cafes, the space alongside a window can be filled with a long counter with stools; solo diners are often happier when looking out at the world through a window.

Group thinking

Another trend to bear in mind is the rise of the communal table. The cafe-restaurant chain Le Pain Quotidien has been using these for many years, as have branches of Carluccio’s.

Communal eating is a way of dining that comes from Continental Europe and also from China and Japan, where people are less hung up about sitting near strangers. It is, as you might expect, particularly popular with younger people, who move in groups of varying size and often decide to eat on a whim. And the good news for anyone running a restaurant or dining room is that the communal table is a remarkably efficient use of space - it can accommodate solo diners, couples and groups.

A communal table could either be a permanent large table, or you could create one by shunting together several tables - a tablecloth will cover the joins! Carluccio’s has even opened a restaurant in London’s Spitalfields with a communal table placed in the kitchen, where diners can witness the “theatre” of food being prepared - an innovative way to accommodate extra diners.

You will also of course need to bear in mind access for people with disabilities. The 2010 Equality Act spells this out in detail, but the law essentially states that restaurants and other catering outlets must make “reasonable” adjustments for people with disabilities - and that doesn’t just mean people with physical disabilities, such as wheelchair users, but also those with hearing impairments or visual impairments.

It all stacks up

If you have an outdoor space for use in the warmer months, remember that today’s outdoor furniture is durable and weather-resistant - and often stackable, meaning that chairs and tables can be efficiently stacked away when the space is not being used. Trent Furniture’s Capra table is attractive, durable, requires minimal maintenance and goes well with Trent’s wood-effect Monaco stacking chair.

There are other tricks to help you to use your space more efficiently. Using hanging lights, rather than table lamps, will increase the amount of space available on the table. Even making your menus smaller, rather than the vast unwieldy things that are often handed out in restaurants, can make a difference. Try not to have too much clutter on your tables. And do you have space for a small bar next to the reception area? This will enable you to further maximise revenues while your customers are waiting for their table.

Walking in someone else’s shoes

When you have finished designing and furnishing your dining room, now is the time to check it out. There is only one way to do this: sit in every single seat. Spend some time in each one. Does it feel hemmed in? Will waiting staff be able to reach it easily? Is it easy to reach the lavatory? What is the view like? If you are facing towards a wall, perhaps some artwork or soft lighting will improve the view. Try, as much as possible, to walk in your customers’ shoes and to see things through their eyes.

Finally, remember that commercial-grade furniture is built for the job: it is made to last, and it is robustly constructed to withstand the rigours of daily use. Domestic furniture will simply not be up to the task.

The past couple of years has seen a remarkable shift in the way consumers eat out, with a movement towards sustainable, conscious dining.

With global food service and food retail industries one of the most detrimental toward global warming, it’s no wonder consumers are looking for something that leaves a good taste in the mouth when they dine out – and we’re not talking just about the food.

Whether it’s a restaurant, café, bar or hotel, for it to be deemed an ethical option for consumers, sustainability needs to run through its DNA, including the choice of furniture. What use is having local food produce, zero waste and sustainable ethics if the tables and chairs they’ve got to use come from unethical logging sites in the Amazon Rainforest, for example?

Sustainability is a growing market, and for you to take your slice of it, you need to evaluate EVERY area of your business. Your furniture choices might seem like a small detail, but sustainability must run through everything you do.

In this post, we take a look at sustainable furniture and why it’s an important area to consider for you to truly identify as an ethical option for consumers.  

What is sustainable furniture?

Sustainable furniture is also referred to as ethical furniture, eco-friendly furniture or green furniture. The names may vary but the characteristics of the furniture remain the same.

First and foremost, the furniture’s material needs to be sustainable. It needs to also be durable, have an ethical manufacturing process and the delivery for it to be considered truly sustainable. Such considerations appeal to socially conscious customers so it’s important to consider each in more detail:

Which material should you choose?

- Wood can be a fully sustainable material, it’s a case of sourcing it from the right suppliers. Wood is also a great choice for creating that chic, natural appearance which most sustainable establishments strive to attain.

- Aluminium and steel are metals used for furniture that are both fully recyclable. In fact, steel is the most recycled material on the planet! Cast iron is also a great option because it is extremely durable and can easily be ‘upcycled’ in a number of ways.
Unless the furniture is made from recycled plastic or is widely recyclable, this is a material to avoid when choosing furniture.

- It goes without saying that leather perhaps isn’t the best choice for a sustainable establishment. However, if you like the appearance and easy maintenance of the material, faux leather is a good sustainable choice.

- In terms of upholstery, cotton is a durable fabric that is fully biodegradable and renewable making it a good upholstery option. Organic, biodegradable and recyclable, Linen is also very eco-friendly. 

Sustainable wood furniture

Wood is the most popular choice material for establishments so it’s important to ensure it comes from a sustainable source.

Sustainable wood comes from sustainably managed forests. Here, the forest landscape is managed in a way that prevents damage to ecosystems, wildlife and the trees themselves. When this isn’t the case, wood is chopped down without considering wildlife or replanting trees.

At Trent Furniture, all of the wood used to make our furniture comes from sustainable and properly managed sources.

Long-lasting durable furniture

An area often overlooked when it comes to buying sustainable furniture is its durability. Of course, if you’re pledging to be sustainable, you want your furniture to last a long time. Disposing of your furniture every year or two isn’t the best way to go, so ensuring the furniture is strong and durable is vital.

If you have durable furniture, the likelihood of it ending up in a landfill is severely lowered. And even if you want a refresh of your furniture further down the line, finding someone to take your well-kept pieces of furniture is far more likely than if your furniture is in a poor state. 

Upcycle your current furniture

What better way to be sustainable than to upcycle your current pieces of furniture? If you are unsure whether you really need new furniture, upcycling might be an option. As a possible project, chairs and tables can be painted and upholstered to give them a new lease of life.

We’ve previously talked about how you can upcycle your furniture.

Transport and sustainable furniture

Since transportation of the furniture itself uses energy, the logistics of the delivery also forms part of buying a sustainable product. Look for commercial furniture suppliers who transport products efficiently, and don’t use unnecessary energy throughout the process.

From a central UK base in Leicestershire, everywhere in the country is within easy reach of Trent Furniture. Where possible, we also merge orders so that numerous deliveries are fulfilled on each journey, meaning the carbon footprint of each delivery is lowered.

Typically, furniture products are delivered in boxes far larger than necessary and with loads of plastic bubble wrap, a rarely recyclable item. Because most of our deliveries are made using our own vans, we need much less packaging material, using loading blankets which can be used again and again!  

Our new Leicester furniture showroom also allows you to know exactly what you’re ordering before you commit, meaning the likelihood of needless returns and exchanges are minimised. 

At Trent, we are committed to helping you find the perfect pieces of furniture for your bar, restaurant or café. Whether it’s a leather sofa, a bar stool or a table and chair set, selecting furniture that compliments the look and feel of your establishment is essential. With over 60 years of knowledge and experience, we’ve put together our top tips for successfully styling your establishment with contract furniture.

Do your research

Wherever you decide to purchase your contract furniture from, make sure to do your research beforehand! Asking the obvious after care questions about delivery charges and returns policy is a must, and researching into the credibility and sustainability policies of your chosen supplier can help you to make a more informed decision.

Durability is key

It may be an obvious point, but choosing strong, solid furniture that will survive the everyday wear and tear is key. Furniture made from wood or metal are hardwearing and designed for fast paced, customer focused environments. Our very own Shabby Chic Farmhouse Table is a popular choice for fashionable eateries, adding character to rustic and quirky environments.

Opt for easy upkeep

Cleanliness is at the top of most customers’ wish lists, especially where food is concerned, so an important factor to keep in mind when purchasing contract furniture is how easy it’ll be to keep clean and maintain. If you’re choosing upholstery, knowing the appropriate level of care will help to keep your furniture looking inviting. Ensuring those mystery stains are taken care of as soon as possible, and making a regular effort to vacuum off the dust, are just a few easy things you can do to keep your upholstery in top condition.

Less is more

When it comes to furnishing your café, bar or restaurant, the saying less is more is true! It may be tempting to go all out with armchairs and bar stools, but saving some floor space is important to keep the flow of customers and staff moving, hassle-free. Drawing up a floor plan can help you to visually see where changes can be made with your layout to ensure you maximise your available space.

Comfort vs. Function

Ensuring your guests are comfortable is perhaps the most important factor to consider as a host and definitely something that should be kept in mind when purchasing furniture. Decking out with comfy upholstery and adding a tasteful cushion or two will ensure your environment is as inviting and customer friendly as possible. Our Manhattan Two-Seater Sofa is a popular yet stylish choice; the leather upholstery is both attractive and durable for those busy periods.

Consistency is key

Depending on the look and feel of your restaurant, the furniture you choose can help you to tell the “story” of your establishment. By matching your menu, interior décor and furniture to your overall theme, guests are invited into your own world. Alternatively, if you’re going for a more individual and quirky look to your café or bar, furniture in different shapes, shades and sizes can be as equally intriguing to your guests.

Over the phone or online, Trent are here to help you with all your furniture needs! Contact us today

It’s official: wine is now Britain’s most popular alcoholic beverage. A 2015 poll commissioned by the Wine and Spirit Trade Association showed that wine is now the favoured alcoholic drink for 60 per cent of UK adults, compared to all other alcohol products.

Britain has been a nation of wine drinkers since the Romans first introduced us to the pleasures of wine 2,000 years ago. Indeed, vineyards have been cultivated here since Roman times - increasingly so, as global warming makes our climate more suitable to growing grapes.

But most of the wine we drink has been imported, France, Spain and Portugal being the chief sources to begin with. (The British were and still are heavily involved in the Portuguese port and Spanish sherry industries.) Wine for many years was the preserve of the well-to-do, but in the 1860s the British government reduced duty on wine, making it a cheaper alternative to beer and spirits. Wine was seen as a more “civilised” drink and the government, led by prime minister William Gladstone, hoped to change our drinking habits by making it cheaper.

This gave rise to a growth in Victorian wine-drinking. Some of the wine importers began to open up small bars and shops where wines could be sampled and drunk, along the lines of Italian enotecas (“wine libararies”). The British wine bar was born.

Victorian Vino

Some of these wine bars are still with us today. Gordons in London’s Charing Cross claims to be the oldest wine bar in London, dating back to 1890, and its cave-like interior is still redolent of those times: candles in bottles, dark wooden furniture and low brick arches create a world away from the bustle in the streets outside. Old newspaper cuttings and vintage memorabilia add to the atmosphere.

El Vino is another survivor from the Victorian era. This chain started out as a wine importing business and opened a wine bar in Fleet Street in the late 19th century which became a favourite hangout for lawyers and journalists. El Vino also became a battleground thanks to its policy of banning women customers from standing at the bar; for many years, women could only be served if they sat at tables at the rear. After a legal campaign, the practice was finally outlawed as discriminatory in 1978.

Another famous wine bar with Victorian origins is Davy’s, which again had its origins in the wine trade. Branches of Davy’s such as its Boot and Flogger in Southwark, London, which opened in 1964, epitomise the classic British wine bar: dark, solid wood tables and chairs, uniformed staff, and a simple menu of staple dishes such as sausage and mash or gammon and egg - plus, of course, an extensive wine list. (Beers by the bottle are also available here and in most wines bars.)

Bubbles and power dressing

In the 1960s and 70s, as wine drinking gained in popularity, the wine bar began to move with the times. Interiors became brighter, furniture lighter and less fusty, the food became more varied, and female customers - in contrast to the attitude of El Vino - were encouraged and welcomed. Shampers, which opened in London’s Soho in 1977, and is still in business today, was typical of the new breed of wine bars - its very name signifying bubbliness and fun.

The wine bar became associated with the power dressing 1980s and wine drinking became democratised. And the fact that Britain makes very little wine of its own became something of an advantage: whereas the French, Spanish and Italian markets were focused largely on serving wines from their own countries, the UK was free to pick and choose from the best wines across the world. Wines from countries such as Australia - once the subject of a derisory Monty Python sketch (“This one’s guaranteed to open up the sluices at both ends”) - became desirable.

In the 1990s Tony Blair’s government relaxed the UK’s licensing laws, giving pubs and bars freedom to open longer and later. As with the Victorians, the hope was that this would encourage a more “civilised” approach to alchohol, fostering a more continental style of drinking and eating. This had mixed results, but it certainly didn’t hinder the wine bar, giving them leeway to stay open for longer and fostering the growth of bars and cafes.

The new wave of wine bars

In recent years the wine bar has come back into favour, as British drinkers have become more discerning in their tastes. Changes in technology, too, have helped: wine can be dispensed by the glass from machines that inject inert gas into the bottle, keeping the wine fresh. This means that wine bars can serve a far wider range of wines by the glass, which has given rise to a more sophisticated culture of wine-sampling. Food served alongside the wine remains straightforward: sharing plates, cheeses, charcuterie, simple meals.

One of the new wave of wine bars is Salut in Manchester, which aims to offer a demystified, un-snobbish wine-drinking experience and serves an impressive 42 wines by the glass. Surroundings are bright and informal: marble-topped tables, wooden chairs, or high wooden tables with stools.  Inevitably east London has seen a growing number of hipsterish wine bars, with new openings such as Sager + Wilde in Hackney, which took over a former pub to create a cool, informal interior with marble- and wooden-topped tables, wooden stools, and a long bar along which higher wooden stools are placed. The bar also has an outdoor area with benches and outdoor chairs. The vibe is neither fusty nor super-trendy.

Another recent development has seen wine shops setting aside an area for on-the-premises drinking, a kind of mini-wine bar. Laithwaite’s near London’s Borough Market has used its large premises to create its convivial The Arch wine bar within its store: low comfortable soft chairs and low tables, or high metal stools clustered around gigantic old wine barrels which are used as tables, creating a quiet and civilised retreat from the bustle of the surrounding area. Wine-tasting evenings are a regular event here with wine dispensed along a long counter with stools alongside.

Likewise, Nicolas, the well-known French chain, has a wine bar attached to its branch in London’s Canary Wharf, serving a range of wines at relatively low mark-ups and food ranging from sharing plates to three-course meals. Furniture is simple and unobtrusive: light wood, clean lines.

Drinking to the future

The future looks bright, then, for that venerable but flexible institution, the British wine bar. If you already run a wine bar, you might be thinking of refreshing your interiors so that they are in keeping with the times: today’s wine bars are brighter, cleaner-looking and, in style terms, cooler than the dark Victorian places of yesteryear. Remember that furniture does not have to match; a mix of chairs such as Trent Furniture’s Loopback side chair and its pyramid tables alongside low armchairs and low tables would create an eclectic look.

If you are looking to start up a wine bar, this bar furniture guide will give you an outline of what lies ahead and what you will need. Cheers!

Over the past few months, our team here at Trent Furniture have been working on opening our new, extended furniture showroom.

We are pleased to announce that this is now open to the general public, and businesses who can pop into our location at:

Trent Furniture
Regent Street Ind Est
Narborough
Leicestershire
LE19 2DS

If you would like to chat with our team, find out which of our extensive furniture ranges can be seen, or have any other questions regarding the new furniture showroom in Leicester, you can always give us a call on 0116 4735 938. 

To take a sneak peek at the current ranges on display, have a look at some of the photos taken this week.

American Diner Furniture Range

American diner furnitureAmerican diner furniture sets

Soft Seating and Sofas

soft seating and sofas

Commercial and Contract Furniture

commercial and contract furniture

Pub and Bar Tables and Chairs

pub and bar tables and chairs

Wooden and Metal Stacking Chairs

Various Design Stacking ChairsMetal Stacking ChairsWooden Stacking Chairs

Tables and Chairs Finishes and Options

Tables and chairs finishestable base options

 

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