November 17, 2022

6 Tips for Selecting Commercial Restaurant Furniture

When you’re design­ing or refresh­ing a restau­rant space, there’s no ques­tion that fur­ni­ture is one of the foun­da­tion­al com­po­nents of a suc­cess­ful final prod­uct. And with a vir­tu­al­ly unlim­it­ed range of options acces­si­ble for pur­chase online and in-stores, it is now pos­si­ble to find an array of styl­ish pieces to suit any bud­get, aes­thet­ic, or need.

How­ev­er, it is impor­tant to be aware that not all fur­ni­ture is cre­at­ed equal. In fact, there are a num­ber of fur­ni­ture designs that would be a beau­ti­ful addi­tion in a res­i­den­tial set­ting, but com­plete­ly unsuit­able for restau­rant use.

In this guide, we’re delving into the topic of commercial restaurant furniture, explaining:
  • What com­mer­cial fur­ni­ture is and how it dif­fers from stan­dard fur­ni­ture
  • The ben­e­fits of com­mer­cial-grade fur­ni­ture
  • How to find the best com­mer­cial hos­pi­tal­i­ty fur­ni­ture for your unique space
  • What to look for in a com­mer­cial restau­rant retailer/supplier

What is Commercial Restaurant Furniture?

Com­mer­cial fur­ni­ture (also referred to as com­mer­cial-grade fur­ni­ture) is specif­i­cal­ly designed and built to with­stand the demands of heavy use, includ­ing the var­i­ous fac­tors asso­ci­at­ed with the wear and tear of every­day restau­rant oper­a­tions. Fur­ni­ture for com­mer­cial use is gen­er­al­ly inten­tion­al­ly made to a stan­dard that will help pro­vide the best-pos­si­ble val­ue and longevi­ty. 

That being said, with­in the broad cat­e­go­ry of com­mer­cial fur­ni­ture, there is an exten­sive amount of vari­a­tion in aes­thet­ic design, mate­ri­als, crafts­man­ship, and pric­ing. There are also man­u­fac­tur­ers that offer cus­tom restau­rant fur­ni­ture designs, fea­tur­ing options that include var­i­ous col­ors, fin­ish­es, uphol­stery styles, sizes, and more. So, design­ers and busi­ness own­ers can have excel­lent flex­i­bil­i­ty in select­ing the options that align with their project require­ments.

What makes commercial restaurant furniture different from other furniture?

Even though opt­ing for stan­dard (res­i­den­tial) fur­ni­ture might seem like an attrac­tive and less-expen­sive alter­na­tive for a restau­rant space, there are crit­i­cal dif­fer­ences that would make this deci­sion a cost­ly mis­take.

When you compare commercial vs. standard furniture, they differ in several crucial ways, including:
  • From its join­ery to its over­all design, stan­dard fur­ni­ture can­not com­pare to the inten­tion­al­ly-engi­neered endurance of com­mer­cial prod­ucts. As a result, scratch­es, dings, loose joints, worn uphol­stery, and oth­er issues can quick­ly accu­mu­late.
  • The mate­ri­als and fin­ish­es used for res­i­den­tial fur­ni­ture can be eas­i­ly dam­aged by the com­mer­cial-grade dis­in­fec­tants and clean­ers required for prop­er health and safe­ty pro­ce­dures.
  • Unlike com­mer­cial restau­rant chairs, tables, and oth­er pieces, res­i­den­tial fur­ni­ture is unlike­ly to have under­gone the rig­or­ous test­ing need­ed to ensure safe­ty and dura­bil­i­ty at a stan­dard accept­able for use by the pub­lic.

Stan­dard fur­ni­ture may come with a low­er ini­tial cost, but it is inevitable that you will find your­self replac­ing it far more quick­ly than you would com­mer­cial-grade designs. So, not only will you end up spend­ing more in the long run, but you will also be deal­ing with the has­sle of bro­ken or dam­aged pieces — which can neg­a­tive­ly impact the effi­cien­cy, safe­ty, and rep­u­ta­tion of your restau­rant.

What are the Benefits of Purchasing Commercial Restaurant Furniture?

With a clear under­stand­ing of the dif­fer­ences between com­mer­cial and stan­dard fur­ni­ture, it is much eas­i­er to see the ben­e­fits com­mer­cial-grade fur­ni­ture has to offer.

  • Com­mer­cial fur­ni­ture is designed to pro­vide a high­er stan­dard of dura­bil­i­ty, reduc­ing replace­ment costs and the need for repairs.
  • Com­mer­cial-qual­i­ty restau­rant tables, chairs, and oth­er pieces are able to bet­ter main­tain a pro­fes­sion­al appear­ance, because their supe­ri­or con­struc­tion and mate­ri­als are bet­ter suit­ed to resist­ing scratch­es, dents, chips, and oth­er dam­age.
  • In many cas­es, the wear-resis­tant, non-cor­ro­sive, and/or UV-resis­tant sur­faces used for com­mer­cial-lev­el fur­ni­ture min­i­mizes required main­te­nance in both the short- and long-term.
  • Fur­ni­ture made for restau­rant use often comes in sizes and styles that can accom­mo­date the needs of a hos­pi­tal­i­ty space, includ­ing chal­lenges such as unusu­al­ly-shaped floor plans, lim­it­ed square footage, and the like.
  • Com­mer­cial restau­rant fur­ni­ture meets com­pli­ance require­ments and stan­dards for safe­ty, adher­ing to impor­tant indus­try reg­u­la­tions.
  • Hav­ing the option to cus­tomize restau­rant fur­ni­ture allows the buy­er to tai­lor both the form and func­tion of dif­fer­ent pieces, so it is not nec­es­sary to set­tle for some­thing that is only “good enough.”

How to Choose Commercial Restaurant Furniture

Because each restau­rant — and its intend­ed cus­tomer niche, desired expe­ri­ence, and brand­ing — is unique, select­ing com­mer­cial fur­ni­ture is a process that is large­ly shaped by your spe­cif­ic needs and goals.

This makes it very impor­tant that you begin by estab­lish­ing a clear­ly defined con­cept of what you want, as well as what you don’t. With a detailed under­stand­ing of your “big pic­ture” vision, you will be far bet­ter pre­pared to make con­fi­dent and informed deci­sions.

Decide which type of commercial restaurant furniture is right for you.

As you browse your options for restau­rant fur­ni­ture, there are sev­er­al fac­tors to keep in mind, such as:

Available space:
  • Con­sid­er the phys­i­cal foot­print of the restau­rant, and how that may dic­tate require­ments for restau­rant fur­ni­ture. Ask your­self key ques­tions such as:
    • How much square footage do you have to work with? 
    • Are there any spe­cif­ic areas that present design chal­lenges (e.g. an awk­ward­ly-shaped por­tion of the din­ing room, a very nar­row bar area, etc.)?
    • What is the lay­out planned for the space?
Customer demographics:
  • What are the wants and needs of the guests that will be vis­it­ing your restau­rant? And how can you ensure that the fur­ni­ture sup­ports their desired expe­ri­ence, rather than detracts from it?
    • Will your guests be pri­mar­i­ly made up of fam­i­lies with chil­dren?
    • Do you expect large parties/special events to be a reg­u­lar occur­rence?
    • Are guests expect­ing an inti­mate set­ting or a more social one?
    • Are your guests there for a lux­u­ri­ous, five-star din­ing expe­ri­ence or some­thing that is quick and casu­al?
  • Think about the “vibe” you want to achieve in your restau­rant, and the ways in which fur­ni­ture plays a part in the look and feel of the space. It can be help­ful to come up with three to four adjec­tives to describe the per­son­al­i­ty, or brand, of the restau­rant, then use those as guid­ance in the shop­ping process. For exam­ple, you might be aim­ing to cre­ate a space that is chic and upscale, or one that is con­ve­nient and wel­com­ing.
  • Of course, your bud­get will be one of the major fac­tors to set para­me­ters for your fur­ni­ture search. The good news is that, with the right man­u­fac­tur­er, you can find well-made pieces at a rel­a­tive­ly afford­able price. Also, be aware that cus­tom com­mer­cial restau­rant fur­ni­ture is often less expen­sive than expect­ed, and can be a smart way to max­i­mize the longevi­ty of your invest­ment.

Choosing a Quality Commercial Restaurant Furniture Store

The man­u­fac­tur­er of your fur­ni­ture should be con­sid­ered just as care­ful­ly as the pieces them­selves. Build­ing a part­ner­ship with a retail­er with integri­ty will make a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence in both the design process and the final out­come of your project, so the impor­tance of choos­ing wise­ly can­not be under­es­ti­mat­ed. 

Research commercial restaurant furniture retailers before making a purchase.

Before you com­mit to sub­mit­ting an order, make it a pri­or­i­ty to learn as much as pos­si­ble about the retail­er and/or man­u­fac­tur­er them­selves. Pur­chas­ing fur­ni­ture is a large invest­ment for any restau­rant own­er or design­er, and select­ing the right provider is essen­tial. 

Here are a few guide­lines to help you nar­row down your options to the best com­mer­cial restau­rant man­u­fac­tur­ers in the busi­ness:

Browse the portfolio of each manufacturer/retailer to see their products in real-world settings.

This can be a won­der­ful way to not only gauge the ver­sa­til­i­ty of their design options, but also to find inspi­ra­tion for your own project. For exam­ple, we take pride in shar­ing a diverse port­fo­lio with prospec­tive clients, mak­ing it easy for them to see a fas­ci­nat­ing mix of pieces that rep­re­sent our unmatched stan­dard of qual­i­ty crafts­man­ship.

Look into product warranties, as well as specific rules for shipping and returns.

That way, you can avoid any unpleas­ant sur­pris­es and know that you are choos­ing a provider that is ful­ly com­mit­ted to cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion at every stage. Clients of Old Domin­ion Fur­ni­ture Co. can have the peace of mind of a war­ran­ty that cov­ers both mate­ri­als and work­man­ship, because we are ful­ly con­fi­dent that our prod­ucts will not dis­ap­point.

Connect with the customer service and/or sales team to get answers to any questions you may have.

A tru­ly cred­itable cus­tom fur­ni­ture sell­er will be eas­i­ly avail­able for ques­tions and con­cerns, facil­i­tat­ing first-rate cus­tomer rela­tions through open and respon­sive com­mu­ni­ca­tion. You should be able to receive sup­port both dur­ing the design and order­ing process, as well as after instal­la­tion — a promise that we make to every one of our clients.

Look for a company that has a proven track record of excellence.

There’s no short­age of online stores for restau­rant fur­ni­ture, and new brands are emerg­ing every day. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, it is not unusu­al for trendy fur­ni­ture retail­ers to sell pieces of sub­par qual­i­ty, sim­ply rela­bel­ing mass-mar­ket prod­ucts at a marked-up price. There are also those that out­source man­u­fac­tur­ing, mak­ing lit­tle to no effort to enforce strict qual­i­ty con­trol. But when you choose a well-estab­lished com­pa­ny with a long his­to­ry of supe­ri­or ser­vice, you can elim­i­nate these con­cerns. Old Domin­ion Fur­ni­ture Co. has been a leader in the com­mer­cial fur­ni­ture indus­try for near­ly half a cen­tu­ry, amass­ing unpar­al­leled expe­ri­ence and knowl­edge that ben­e­fits our clients in the long run.

Tips for Successful Commercial Restaurant Furniture Shopping

Now that you have a wealth of infor­ma­tion to begin shop­ping for com­mer­cial fur­ni­ture, here are our top six tips for an easy and suc­cess­ful buy­ing expe­ri­ence.

1) Familiarize yourself with the different types of restaurant furniture.

There are so many dif­fer­ent types of fur­ni­ture for restau­rants, and know­ing all of your options makes it much eas­i­er to get every­thing you want and need. And if you can find a man­u­fac­tur­er that checks all the box­es, you’ll end up sav­ing your­self time and effort.

As you’re plan­ning for the shop­ping process, deter­mine which fur­ni­ture types you may need, such as:

  • Tables
  • Chairs
  • Bar stools
  • Child seat­ing (high chairs and boost­er seats)
  • Tray stands
  • Orga­ni­za­tion (shelv­ing, etc.)

2) Create a detailed design plan.

It is impor­tant to make sure that all of your indi­vid­ual fur­ni­ture selec­tions fit into an over­all cohe­sive design. Oth­er­wise, you run the risk of a final prod­uct that looks dis­joint­ed, weak­en­ing your brand as a whole. Spend time devel­op­ing a design plan that address­es even the small­est details, and refer to it reg­u­lar­ly as you shop. Each time you select a new piece, con­firm that it aligns with the over­all vision.

3) Always be open to going the custom route.

It’s a com­mon mis­con­cep­tion that cus­tom com­mer­cial fur­ni­ture is extreme­ly expen­sive, when actu­al­ly, it can be pur­chased at a rea­son­able price — and is often a far wis­er invest­ment. And because cus­tom fur­ni­ture comes with its own fan­tas­tic ben­e­fits, a slight dif­fer­ence in cost is usu­al­ly more than worth it.

4) Prioritize both form and function.

Even the most beau­ti­ful­ly-designed fur­ni­ture won’t impress your guests if it is not prop­er­ly func­tion­al, but even flaw­less­ly func­tion­al pieces will fall short if they don’t take aes­thet­ics into con­sid­er­a­tion.

Try to avoid being wooed by restau­rant fur­ni­ture that is gor­geous but imprac­ti­cal; and on the flip side, don’t make func­tion­al­i­ty your only focus. The best pieces will offer a bal­ance of both.

5) Never sacrifice quality for affordability — because both are within reach.

It can seem dif­fi­cult to find well-con­struct­ed fur­ni­ture that doesn’t come with an exor­bi­tant price tag, but it’s not impos­si­ble. The key is to work with a man­u­fac­tur­er that holds their team to a high­er stan­dard of excel­lence, while still striv­ing to main­tain fair prices. 

Old Domin­ion Fur­ni­ture Co. firm­ly believes in mak­ing styl­ish, impec­ca­bly-made com­mer­cial fur­ni­ture acces­si­ble on a bud­get. And because we make it pos­si­ble to cus­tomize every detail of your order, there is always flex­i­bil­i­ty.

6) Leverage the knowledge of a skilled customer care/sales team.

Often­times, your best resource will be the sales pro­fes­sion­als that work for the fur­ni­ture man­u­fac­tur­er — after all, they know all of the prod­ucts and options inside out. Don’t hes­i­tate to ask for assis­tance if need­ed, whether you are unsure about cer­tain uphol­stery col­ors or need help choos­ing the ide­al table shape. 

The team at Old Domin­ion Fur­ni­ture Co. is always hap­py to spend time col­lab­o­rat­ing with our clients, because our ulti­mate goal is your suc­cess.

Find the Best Commercial Restaurant Furniture Options for Your Project

When it comes to select­ing com­mer­cial fur­ni­ture for restau­rants and hos­pi­tal­i­ty spaces, bal­anc­ing qual­i­ty and aes­thet­ics is key — but so is choos­ing a rep­utable retail­er with a com­mit­ment to out­stand­ing cus­tomer ser­vice. 

Old Domin­ion Fur­ni­ture Co. has been a trust­ed provider of com­mer­cial-grade fur­ni­ture for years, mak­ing it sim­ple for our clients to fur­nish their spaces with Amer­i­can-made pieces that are specif­i­cal­ly designed to stand the test of time. With an exten­sive selec­tion of design-for­ward options that are far from gener­ic, we’ve curat­ed a diverse range of fur­ni­ture styles to help bring your vision to life.

If you’re ready to explore your choic­es for cus­tom and com­mer­cial fur­ni­ture for restau­rant and hos­pi­tal­i­ty venues, we invite you to con­nect with our team today.