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The Restaurant Furniture Buying Guide

You’ve written your business plan, chosen your location, written up your menu, you’re thinking about staff and you’re keen to get out there and run a successful restaurant. You’ve got all your bases covered, right?

Setting up your new venue or giving your restaurant a facelift involves a lot of moving parts with a lot of options to consider. Often restaurant furniture is overlooked or put on the back burner despite being a huge contributor to the restaurant’s overall vibe and atmosphere. It transforms your spot from just another place to grab a bite into somewhere genuinely special. 

When it comes to buying cafe, bar or restaurant furniture, you’ve committed to a balancing act. You’re juggling comfort, cost, durability, how well everything fits with the theme and atmosphere you’re going for, and unfortunately unless your budget is unlimited you may be trading these attributes off against each other. To make life easy, we’ve put together this comprehensive restaurant furniture buying guide.

Things to keep in mind while shopping:

  • Your environment and concept
  • Make sure everything purchased is commercial grade
  • Consider maintenance requirements
  • Dual purpose furniture (i.e. an article that looks in place both outdoors and indoors)

With our range of NARDI furniture ready to take on the NZ weather and a bunch of handy tips, you’re all set to pick out furniture that not only looks amazing but also gives your restaurant its own unique flair. Let’s jump into how picking the right furniture can make your restaurant, cafe or bar the place to be.

Restaurant cafe furniture nz background

Setting the Scene: Understanding Your Space and Vision

What’s your vibe and the type of environment are you going for? Your furniture should reflect this theme. Will your restaurant cater mostly to large formal parties and meetings? Then you should consider buying longer dining tables or large banquet tables. Is your theme more of an intimate, romantic setting? Then smaller tables are a must. Or is your venue more formal? Restaurants that are going with a formal dining theme might want to consider going for classic, timeless designs.

When it comes to buying cafe, bar or restaurant furniture, there are a number of things to take into consideration. For bars and cafes, there is often more variety in the types of furniture you will need, from tall stools at counters to lounge furniture for the garden bar. Having a clear vision and well thought out plan is essential. Furniture is as important as any other measure of a good restaurant experience. So when you’re searching for furniture for a cafe or restaurant, it’s always better to have a concept or theme in mind as to what style will best suit your venue. 

Modular outdoor couch sofa - komodo 8-piece in olive green

Start With Your Story

Every great dining experience begins with a story. What’s yours? Your furniture isn’t just about functionality; it’s the silent storyteller of your restaurant. It sets the scene and invites your guests into the experience you are creating for them. So, when you’re picking out those pieces, think about what you want them to say. 

Each piece of furniture should not only match your theme but also enhance it. It’s about creating a backdrop that complements the flavours on the plate and the ambiance you aim to evoke. Whether it’s the cosy corner booth that becomes a place for whispered conversations or the long, communal table that hosts gatherings and shared laughter, every choice contributes to the overall experience. 

So, as you select your furniture, think beyond just aesthetics or trends, that add to the dining experience and make every visit unforgettable.

Planning the Space for Flow and Functionality

Efficient use of space isn’t just about maximising capacity; it’s about guest comfort and ensuring your restaurant operates as smoothly as possible. A thoughtful layout goes beyond arranging furniture; it involves creating an inclusive, versatile environment that accommodates various group sizes and dining preferences.

Nardi stack stools + combo tables - sustainable table & bar leaner sets

Here’s a few things to consider to ensure your space is as functional as it is welcoming:

  • Accessibility: Make your restaurant welcoming to everyone by designing for inclusivity. This means choosing tables and creating paths that are accessible to all guests including those with disabilities, ensuring that everyone can enjoy the dining experience you offer without barriers.
  • Zoning: Divide your restaurant into zones to cater to different dining experiences — from quiet corners for those seeking intimacy to livelier areas near the bar for guests looking to socialise. Zoning helps manage the atmosphere, ensuring all guests can find a spot that suits their mood and preferences.
  • Outdoor Seating: For restaurants offering al fresco dining, select furniture durable enough to withstand the local weather while ensuring guest comfort. Include elements like umbrellas for sunny days or heaters for cooler evenings to extend the outdoor dining season to create a comfortable and enjoyable experience regardless of the weather.
  • Event Flexibility: Plan your space with flexibility in mind to easily accommodate private events or special occasions. Consider choosing furniture that is on the lighter side and easily movable (your staff will thank you). Beyond that, consider adding partitions that allow you to quickly adapt the layout, catering to groups and events of various sizes without disrupting the overall flow of your restaurant.
  • Visual Balance and Pathways: A visually balanced layout not only adds to the aesthetic appeal but also guides guests through your space intuitively. Arrange furniture to create a clear, inviting path from the entrance, and carefully consider the placement of larger pieces to ensure the space feels open and welcoming.
  • Personal Space Considerations: Aim to be respectful of your guests personal space by ensuring tables and chairs are spaced comfortably apart. Guests should be able to move freely without intruding on the space of others, creating a sense of privacy and comfort.
  • Seating Configurations: Incorporate a mix of seating options to cater to different groups and occasions. From extendable tables that can be adjusted to accommodate larger parties to versatile seating that can quickly adapt from indoor to outdoor settings, flexibility is key. This also includes considering the flow of movement within the restaurant, ensuring there are clear paths for both guests and staff to navigate the space efficiently.

Space isn’t just physical; it’s psychological. The layout of your furniture can dramatically affect how your guests feel in your space. By planning for a mix of seating configurations to accommodate different group sizes and preferences you can create a space that’s not only functional but comfortable, inviting, and adaptable. It’s about crafting an environment where every visit is seamless, enjoyable, and leaves guests looking forward to their next experience with you.

Choosing the Right Furniture: Important Considerations

Don’t make the mistake of buying residential quality furniture for a commercial environment such as a restaurant or cafe. Residential quality furniture will often not stand up to the hard wearing bar and restaurant environments. Commercial quality will ensure the joinery, hardware and other potential problem areas are of a sufficient standard for heavy use.

When choosing furniture for your restaurant, bar or cafe three of the top considerations should be materials, upkeep and quality. Some materials require more maintenance and care than others, and if you don’t have the time to spare this could affect your other operations. Think about the types of materials that require less maintenance while still delivering on style and comfort.

Our range of NARDI furniture is a hard one to pass up when you are considering your options for durable commercial-grade furniture. From UV-resistant materials that prevent fading in the harsh New Zealand sun to designs that can handle the intensity of daily use, NARDI furniture is the tried and tested choice. Making sure that the furniture you choose remains as functional and visually appealing as the day it arrived, even after years of service.

Materials and Styles

The choice of material is more important than most might think. New Zealand’s climate calls for materials that can handle a bit of everything – sun, wind, rain, frost, and the occasional spill. Some good options would be materials like aluminium which is very hard-wearing, while high-quality plastics and resins can give you more flexibility and weather resistance without sacrificing style. Wood on the other hand has that natural warmth and beauty which can be perfect for creating a cosy feel, but needs a fair bit more care to keep it looking great, especially in outdoor settings.

Warwick fabrics background

Wood –

Wood brings timeless elegance and versatility, its ability to compliment many decors, making it a popular choice for restaurant chairs. In more luxurious settings, higher-backed chairs are often required, offering sophistication and comfort. Adding upholstered cushions or seat covers can provide greater comfort for guests, while chairs with bare seats are useful in busier venues to encourage quicker table turnover.

Solid Wood

Atmosphere and warmth are delivered with solid wood, making them a popular choice for fine dining restaurants, exclusive clubs and other upscale venues. However, the maintenance requirements and care that solid wood demands will require serious thought as to whether or not it is a necessity. Be sure that any imported wood is cured and sealed to withstand the correct temperatures and humidity conditions of your area, and avoid placing it in direct sunlight. For more detailed information, check out our full post on caring for wooden furniture.

Veneer

Veneer can solve many problems associated with its solid wood counterpart. It’s cheaper, more durable and requires less maintenance and care than solid wood. Unlike solid wood, veneer isn’t prone to splitting or warping, giving you the look and feel of solid wood without the high upkeep. Veneer is also a more environmentally friendly option, making it an excellent choice for those looking to minimise their footprint.

Metal –

The retro feel of metal chairs makes them ideal for establishments toting raw brick, steel beams and pursuing the industrial look. The throwback retro feel also makes them perfect for dessert spots or theme restaurants. The typically harder surfaces of metal furniture are less inviting for long sits, making them good choices for places where quick table turnover is desired. 

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel furniture is robust and outdoor-friendly, ideal for heavy-duty use. While it can cost two to four times as much as aluminium, its durability and similar properties make it a valuable investment for some settings. However, its higher price point means it’s often passed over for the more cost-effective aluminium.

Cast Iron

Heavy but sturdy. Cast iron offers a classic look that matches well with most types of décor. Although it will be tough to move, its durability makes it a very popular choice for indoor settings, especially as they are typically quite easy on the wallet.

Aluminium

Practicality in all regards. Perfect for outdoor areas such as patio settings. Popular with fast food restaurants and frozen yoghurt shops as they are cold in both temperature and atmosphere encouraging a quick table turnover. Easy clean up and lightweight.

Plastic –

In the plastic chair arsenal you have quality ranging from cheap and cheerful hardware store finds to upmarket European engineered solutions. Plastic (especially high-quality polymers) is often underutilised in restaurant settings despite its advantages. It’s cost-effective, highly durable, and a breeze to clean, making it a practical choice for any busy venue.

Laminate 

Durable and cost effective alternative to wooden tables. Laminate table tops have flame retardant and antibacterial properties, making these ideal for restaurants. Incredibly easy to maintain and clean, great for environments that will get a lot of wear. When weighing up whether to spend on low pressure laminate or high pressure laminate (HPL) consider how the furniture will be used and whether you need the extra protection HPL offers. In the long run, a few extra dollars up front could be worth it if it means reducing damage during daily use.

Resin

Resin furniture, particularly polypropylene and its fibreglass-enhanced versions, give you more durability and simpler maintenance. This material is lightweight, long-lasting, non-toxic, and antistatic, and has weatherproof qualities. It’s also treated with anti-UV agents and uniformly coloured with non-toxic pigments, making it a great option for both indoor and outdoor settings.

Care and Maintenance

NARDI is well known for their durability and ease of maintenance, making them the stand out choice. We have created a detailed guide on care and maintenance that can help you narrow down your options, helping you to decide on the colours and materials that would best suit your location and setting. We cover everything from the materials and fabrics to cleaning and general care and maintenance recommendations. 

If you do have any questions though, our team is happy to help so don’t hesitate to reach out.

Restaurant Chairs

Selecting the perfect chairs for your restaurant is about much more than just aesthetics. Chairs are one of the first touchpoints your customers experience, setting the tone for the style and comfort level they can expect. Whether you’re outfitting a cosy diner, a chic café, or an upscale dining room, the right chairs can significantly influence the dining experience. 

Types of Chairs

Parsons – Characterised by their fully upholstered tall backs and seats, Parsons chairs give an elegant look and feel, encouraging diners to settle in for more extended, three-course type meals. These are perfect for fine dining establishments, though be mindful that light colours may show dirt and stains more easily.

Bistro Chairs Often made from metal or wood, bistro chairs are lightweight and stylish, perfect for casual dining and coffee shops. Their compact size and versatility make them ideal for small spaces or outdoor patios.

Slat-back chairs – Vertical or horizontal slat supports on the back characterise this style of back, reasonably comfortable and great airflow. These chairs are especially practical outdoors as they don’t catch the wind as easily.

Bar Stools – Essential for any venue with a bar area, bar stools come in various heights and styles, from tall commercial height to kitchen and breakfast bar to the smaller stools. They can be fixed or swivel, with or without backs, to suit the dynamics of your bar area.

Stacking Chairs – These chairs are a practical choice for venues that host events or need to change their layout frequently. Easy to store and set up, stacking chairs come in various materials and designs to suit both casual and more formal settings.

Armchairs Armchairs can add a touch of luxury and comfort to your restaurant’s seating, but for typical dining setups, unless your environment and theme require them, armchairs should be disregarded as an option. They often don’t fit completely under tables and require further pulling out than their armless counterparts. Armless chairs are generally more accommodating to a wider range of body sizes and are the more practical choice. However, you do have your heart set on armchairs, they can still be a good option for lounges or waiting areas where comfort is a priority and space is less constrained.

Chairs nz - costa chairs in taupe

Our chairs and tables are designed with both ergonomics and aesthetics in mind, ensuring they are as pleasing to sit in as they are to look at. Never underestimate the power of a comfortable chair! Chairs should support a relaxed posture and encourage guests to stick around longer and order that extra round of drinks or treat themselves to dessert.

Hospitality is face-paced and demanding so your furniture needs to work as hard as you do. Consider pieces that are not only beautiful but also multifunctional. Foldable or stackable options can be a lifesaver for quick layout changes and compact storage.

Nardi stack maxi tall stool - terra (stacked together)

Restaurant Tables

Choosing the right tables for your restaurant requires careful consideration of both functionality and aesthetics. Here’s how to select table tops and bases that meet your needs and complement the dining experience you want to create.

Table Tops

Sizing – 

The size of your table tops is a very important thing to get right. It’s important to remember table tops factor into defining the feel and atmosphere of your restaurant. Smaller tables are great for creating a more intimate, romantic setting, and maximising floor space, but what size is best?

  • 600mm square or round: Often considered too small for full meals, these are better suited for coffee shops or cafés where you expect customers to have a coffee and food served on not much more than a small plate.
  • 700mm square or diameter: Comfortably accommodates two diners with full-sized plates, ideal for casual dining.
  • 800mm square or diameter: Can seat four with full-sized plates and cutlery, but for optimal comfort, upgrading to a large size.
  • 900mm square or diameter: Is recommended, providing ample space and enhancing the dining experience.

Below is an image of a 600x600mm restaurant table top with plates for scale.

600x600 restaurant table top with plates for scale

Material and Maintenance – 

Choosing naked table tops, or those without tablecloths, can save on laundering and labour costs. The material of your tabletop also contributes significantly to the ambiance of your space. Choose materials that match with the aesthetic and practical needs of your establishment.

Table Bases

Style and material are your chief concerns when choosing table bases. Heavier table bases may be sturdier and look better, but are much harder to move when catering to larger parties. 

Helpful Tip: Four leg table bases are far sturdier and less likely to tip than three leg bases.

  • Disc Style Base – Often chosen to match a round table top. Appropriate sized table tops are important as chairs may not be able to be pushed in fully and your customers may lose out on floor space. They are, however, easier to sweep and vacuum around.
  • X-Style Base – A versatile choice that accommodates various table top choices, though often preferred for square tops. Not as obstructive to chairs as the disc style, however they are not as easy to clean around.
  • Extended Style Base –  Required for larger rectangular tables (1200mm x 800mm or greater). These bases support longer tops without being obstructive to chairs, making them an excellent choice for family-style seating or group settings. They are usually quite easy to clean around as well.
Styles and Materials  
Disc style base – Often chosen to match a round table top. Appropriate sized table tops are important as chairs may not be able to be pushed in fully and your customers may lose out on floor space. Easy to sweep and vacuum around. Disc-style-table-base-nz
X-style base – Robust in table top choice, though often preferred for square tops. Not as obstructive to chairs as the disc style, however they are not as easy to clean around. Crucifix cafe table base
Extended style base – Rectangular tables (1200mm x 800mm or greater) require an extended style table base. Usually easy to clean around and not obstructive to chairs. Extended & double table bases nz - calice by nardi
Cast Iron – Heavy but sturdy. Will be tough to move but match well with most types of décor. Very popular choice for indoor environments as they are typically quite easy on the wallet. Bistro cafe table base
Aluminium – Cost effective and lightweight. Easy to move, a popular choice among establishments that require outdoor tables brought in at night. Aluminium bases can be located outside in all-weather as rust is not an issue. Nardi break table base - charcoal
Stainless Steel – Outdoor friendly, heavy duty. Can commonly run at 2 – 4 times the price of aluminium while providing similar properties and is thus often overlooked. Disc-style-table-base-nz

 

Considerations for Outdoor Settings – If your tables will be placed outdoors, choose materials that can withstand local weather conditions. Aluminium and stainless steel are excellent choices for their durability and resistance to the elements.

Dual Purpose Furniture: Seamless Transitions

In a country that loves its outdoor dining as much as indoor, furniture that performs in both settings is a big win. Our range of furniture has solutions that look and function perfectly under the sun or the roof. Choosing dual purpose furniture makes it easy to maintain the style throughout your venue, consider furniture that functions and looks as good indoors as they do outdoors. Materials such as high quality resin (polypropylene) or aluminium are great hard-wearing options that work well in either setting.

Nardi bora bistro chairs in charcoal in restaurant overlooking pier and beach

Investment in Quality: The Long-Term Payoff

Choosing high-quality furniture is a solid investment in your restaurant’s future. Our range of NARDI products, known for their quality control, testing and innovative design, stand the test of time, offering big savings on maintenance and replacement costs compared to cheaper furniture which just never seems to last. 

3rd party strength tests and quality assurance catas iso 9001

Their commitment to quality doesn’t just translate to durability but also to environmental sustainability through their Regeneration programme that takes old, obsolete plastic furniture, recycles it, and gives it a new life.

While budget constraints are real, investing in high-quality furniture does pay off in the long run. Commercial-grade furniture designed for heavy use not only stands up to the daily grind but also maintains its appearance over time, reducing the need for frequent and costly replacements. This is where the real value lies, in the longevity and lasting appeal of your furniture.

Consider the lifetime cost – Good chairs aren’t cheap. Buying commercial quality is an absolute must. Take the warranties for example, a commercial warranty of 2 years will see more action than a domestic chair of 20 years. A sturdy chair can be reupholstered many times, keeping it looking great at a fraction of the cost of replacing it – decisions like these may involve spending a few extra dollars up front but are the cheaper long term option.

Choosing the right furniture plays a big role in shaping your restaurant’s atmosphere. When customers settle into a cosy chair and enjoy the surroundings, they tend to stick around longer and may even start to plan their next visit before the first one ends. Happy customers typically lead to great reviews and repeat visits, all of which can boost your business’s reputation and bottom line.

When it comes to furniture, the upfront cost is only part of the picture. The true value is realised over time, making it important to choose brands that focus on the durability of their products. 

Final Touches: Lighting and Accessories

Setting the Mood with Lighting

Lighting and furniture go hand in hand in setting the mood. Consider how the colours and textures of your furniture will look under different lighting conditions throughout the day. The right combination can elevate the ambiance, making your space feel more inviting.

Bydezign retro school chair in vintage green + nardi fiore tables in noodle restaurant

Accessories and Accents to Add Personality

Sprucing up your restaurant with the right accessories can make all the difference. Accessories like cushions, tablecloths, and planters  add layers of texture and splashes of colour to a space, bringing warmth and character. These finishing touches can be easily updated so you can give your decor a new look for a seasonal refresh or  just to keep things feeling fresh, without having a major overhaul.

Inspiration Gallery

Need a little inspiration? Dive into our gallery showcasing previous clients who’ve transformed their spaces with our furniture. From urban cafes to seaside eateries, see how our pieces can elevate any setting.

Ready to Transform Your Space?

ByDezign Furniture is dedicated to helping you create a dining space that delights your guests and stands the test of time. With our extensive range, including the durable and stylish NARDI collection, you’re sure to find the perfect fit for your restaurant.

Contact Us Today

Feeling inspired to give your restaurant or café a little love? Our team’s here to help you pick the perfect pieces that match your style, needs, and budget. With NARDI, you’re choosing furniture that’s as durable as it is stylish. 

Drop us a line for advice or to place a big order. Let’s bring your vision to life, creating a space where every meal is an experience, and every piece of furniture tells a part of your story.

FAQs: Making Informed Choices

To help you make the most informed decision, we’ve put together a list of common questions and answers about selecting restaurant furniture:

What Size Tables Are Suitable For Restaurants?

Table size depends on the layout of your space and the type of dining experience you want to offer. For intimate dining, smaller tables (2-4 seats) work well. Larger tables (6-8 seats) are great for groups and family settings. If you need versatility, consider using modular and extendable tables that can be adjusted according to your needs.

Which Shape Or Design Of Chairs Should Be Chosen?

Chairs should complement your restaurant’s aesthetic and theme. For a modern look, sleek designs and clean lines are a good bet. For cosier vibes, chairs with more organic shapes and warm materials are a popular choice. Regardless of what you choose, ergonomics should be considered, choose chairs that provide your customers with comfort for the duration of a meal.

What Are The Best Cushions To Choose For Restaurant Seating?

Go for cushions that are durable, easy to clean, and match your decor. Removable covers made from high-grade fabrics that are long lasting and simple to maintain. Comfort is important as well, so look for high-resilience foam that retains its shape and support over time.

What Colour Palette Should You Choose For Your Restaurant?

Your colour palette should reflect your brand and the vibe you want to create. Neutral colours offer flexibility and a backdrop for seasonal decor changes. Bold or thematic colours can help establish your brand identity and enhance the dining experience. At the end of the day this is entirely up to you.

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