A Q&A On Choosing Outdoor Hospitality Furniture For Your Restaurant Or Club
Furniture may not be the most prominent thing on your mind when opening a restaurant or club even though it should be. A restaurant’s furniture is one of the first things your customer will see, before the menu, sometimes even before they see the name of your establishment.
If they are driving by and see comfortable outdoor seating it provides a certain level of intrigue and excitement for your customer. We sat down with Paul Weintraub of American Trading Company to learn some more on the importance of outdoor hospitality furniture.
What are some important factors to consider in purchasing outdoor furniture?
There are many, but it is critical to remember that we ask outdoor furniture to do much more than indoor furniture.
They have to be durable of course, and comfortable, but also lightweight since they often must be stacked and moved inside or chained up, and they have to resist the weather, exhaust fumes, bird droppings, freezing temperatures and broiling sun.
I hadn’t really thought about that. What about using patio furniture from Sam’s, or Lowes, or a patio store? They are good for outside, aren’t they?
Not really the same thing. For home use, you might actually use the furniture a couple of times a week. But in your restaurant, you will have someone sitting in a chair several times a day, every day. Also, the size and scale of home furniture is usually much too large for a restaurant. And don’t forget the warranty …it won’t be valid for commercial use if you buy residential furniture.
Good points, I hadn’t thought about that either. But what is the best material to use? I want it to look nice for a long time.
The location has a role to play. If you are near salt water, even anodized aluminum and stainless steel will need to be rinsed frequently in fresh water. Cast aluminum is a good choice, and reinforced resin or woven polyethylenes are good choices. Stainless steel works well, but all need to be maintained.
What about Teak?
Teak won’t corrode of course but it will need to be oiled or varnished to protect it. It is good for seating, but not so good for tables as alcohol, sugar, salad dressings, will stain it and make it sticky. Better use for seating or trim.
I am in a seasonal location so I don’t want to spend a lot of money. What do you suggest?
There are good values available, but you get what you pay for. Remember, you want to be able to store the furniture in the “off” season and have it look good for many seasons of use. Cheap furniture is made of lighter weight materials that will break or corrode. It often won’t be as comfortable, and it won’t reflect well on you.
So how do I judge the quality?
Sit in it. Buy from a reputable dealer. Ask for references. Use good judgment…think about the life cost, not just the first cost. Be sure it will stack well without damage. Remember, in pictures you can’t see how thick the metal is, or really judge how comfortable it is. Get samples, go to trade shows. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Get at least a two-year warranty.
What about umbrellas?
What you are really buying is shade. Don’t get caught up in details. Again, look for good quality in the basics. You want reinforced pockets for the ribs, not screws. You want awning weight acrylic fabric, not upholstery weight. You need a good base.
I nearly forgot about tables.
Tables are key. Mesh tables let drinks spill on the patrons…not good. Granite and marble can chip and are heavy. Solid surfaces can fade and are expensive. Molded laminate like Werzalit is a good choice and a good value.