Product Knowledge Guide: Furniture

Choosing furniture for commercial foodservice operations is dependent not only on the type of restaurant but also its scale and menu. While a quick-service restaurant would go with simple and sturdy designs, a white-tablecloth establishment is more likely to provide more comfortable seating for longer stays.

The amount of seating necessary depends on the space, the layout, the expected volume and how much elbow room is necessary. Typical furniture packages include dining chairs, tables, barstools, booths and/or banquettes. Typical table sizes are 32 inches by 48 inches, 32 inches square, or 24 inches by 32 inches. Tables often are put together or connect to create longer tables with more seating. Square tables are used more often than round ones, which can be 36, 42 or 48 inches in diameter.

Chair heights and widths are standard and average 16 inches high and 35 inches wide, although medium and larger sizes have become more common to accommodate larger customers. Restaurants may have a mix of armchairs and side chairs or just armchairs.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the aisles between fixed seats must be at least 36 inches wide, and restaurants should provide wheelchair-accessible seats throughout the dining room with tabletops and counters measuring 28 to 34 inches in height.

Furniture used in commercial foodservice applications generally includes wood, steel or aluminum frames. Each type of material has its own advantages and disadvantages. For example, aluminum and steel are more durable for a longer service life, but if the operator plans to change or update the interior with new furniture, the more economical wood may be the better choice. Mixed materials combining wood and metal also are available. Seats are usually vinyl, leather or polyurethane for easy cleaning. However, upscale eateries may choose to go with fabric that has a stain treatment or Crypton material. Patio furniture also may be constructed with aluminum, steel or natural wood. These designs tend to be stackable for easy storage.

Replacement parts and touch-up paint also should be considered. Foodservice operations typically utilize furniture for three to five years before replacing or updating the decor. In terms of furniture care, manufacturers recommend using soap and water rather than bleach-based or ammonia-based cleaners.