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How to Choose Furniture for a Restaurant or Bar
Before you begin to think about how to furnish a new bar -- or refurnish your old one -- you should ask yourself one very important question: What are people going to do here?
It's not as obvious as it seems. Sure, they're going to buy drinks, schmooze, and hopefully keep coming back to invest in your kids' college fund one mojito at a time. But what is the unique character of your bar? Are you a sports bar with a half a dozen flat screen televisions? Are you a traditional pub serving lunch and dinner? Or, are you in an urban arts district catering to a crowd stopping in for a drink before a night at the theater? Each of these is a very different business -- and each has a different way of making money. Itís important to keep all of these factors in mind when thinking about how to furnish your establishment.
Letís start with your barís entrance. If you are in an urban area or a college town, you're probably going to need some kind of door control. You'll likely employ a bouncer or two to check drivers' licenses at the door. A great bar table and stool set at the establishmentís entrance not only reminds your employees that you care about their comfort, but it serves as a preview of whatís to come for potential patrons. Consider a simple bar table such as the Olympia Stainless Steel Bar Table. Combined with an appropriate bar-height stool, you offer your greeters and door managers a compact station from which to do business. The table offers a surface for managing door supplies -- wristbands or hand-stamps, for instance, tickets, or a small cashbox for making change -- and this particular model has a clever rack under the tabletop for hanging a bag or purse.
For seating, consider something along the lines of the Aluminum Bar Stool with Arms, appropriate for both indoor and outdoor use, or an adjustable-height stool. Door-management is an essential operational factor for many bars, and doing it wrong can cost you money -- even your liquor license. It's also how your customers will first interact with your business, so it's worth doing right. An elegant pub table and matching stool sends the correct message.
Inside the bar, the furniture will be determined, in part, by what you are serving up with the drinks. Whether it is a hot plate of fish-n-chips, buffalo wings, potato skins or something a bit more high-class, the dťcor needs to match what is featured on the menu for a truly complete experience.
Unless you're operating a ultra-traditional bar with limited space, chances are you'll have at least two seating areas: one at the bar itself and the in a dining area with tables and dining chairs. If you're a sports bar -- or a corner pub where neighbors congregate to watch the big game -- then you'll want to make sure your seats are comfortable enough so your guests aren't squirming at half-time. As much as we love the elegant lines of the Wave Back Barstool, a better choice for the sports-oriented venue might be a traditional, comfortable piece such as the Oak Frame Swivel Stool with Leather Seat and Back. Or, for a truly swanky touch, the cushy Overstuffed Arm Stool with Black Metal Base and Foot Ring adds the perfect touch. Upholstered seating surfaces in durable, professional-grade fabrics, leather, or leather-look vinyl invite your guests to have another round in comfort, while swivel stools invite conversation among the armchair quarterbacks.
Bridging the gap between upholstered seating and elegant modern furnishings are design classics such as that of the Double Chrome Ring Retro Style Frame Counter Stool. Both fresh and classic, it's a comfortable combination of the traditional and the contemporary. And although it' i a counter stool, there's no reason to limit these stylish, versatile pieces to bar seating. Counter-height tables, from classics like the Poplar Pub Table with Cherry Finish and Walnut Inlay, to sophisticated modern expressions such as the Chrome Frame Bar Table with Glass Top offer seating alternatives that are comfortable for guests, easy on servers, and flexible enough to accommodate dozens of different decors. Whether your aesthetic is influenced by Studio 51 or NASCAR, there's a bar stool that is exactly right for your business.
If your establishment is more food-oriented -- or if you simply prefer the look of a traditional dining-room -- then you might want to consider table-height seating away from the bar, rather than bar-height or counter-height seats. Nevertheless, there's a good deal of flexibility here as well. From traditional workhorses such as the Solid Oak Pub Table Top with Iron Base to beautiful, formal options such as the Antique Appearance Dining/Game Table, thereís plenty to choose from.
Remember, it's only in part a matter of style. Style matters, to be sure, but so does function and economy. If you're a high-volume business selling pitchers of beer, you probably don't want a barroom full of antiqued Queen Anne tables. You might, however, seriously consider a mix-and-match approach, mating solid, reliable table tops with an assortment of complementary bases. Separate tops and bases are easier to ship and store and provide an economical alternative for venues that need sturdy surfaces at great prices.
The secret is to shop around. From formal dining rooms to folding banquet tables, to solid oak or outdoor options in wicker and rattan, you'll likely find great pieces designed for the rigors of commercial use that matches elegant style, for the host in you, with affordable prices, for the businessman in you.
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