Layout and Design for Small Space Restaurants

In many cities, restaurant space comes at a premium.  So much so, in fact, that many owners have to start with a little less room than they might like. For example, in New York City purchase prices range from $99 a square foot in Queens up to $2,521.00 per square foot in Central Park South. That is a huge difference and has a major effect on how much space an owner can afford.

But, tight spaces aren’t necessarily a bad thing. They can create a sense of intimacy and make a business seem more desirable and look busy even with fewer patrons.  They also generally keep overhead costs like rent and electricity down, requiring fewer sales to turn a profit.

Keep in mind, however, that there is a difference between intimate and uncomfortably cramped.  The trick is to take a tight space and make it feel comfortable instead of just jam-packed?  We have a few expert tips that can help.


Optimizing restaurant space starts from the very beginning. With the very first step of planning the layout it is important to get the ideal front of house/back of house (ie. Kitchen to dining room) ratio.

Often owners are tempted to create a large kitchen to service their restaurant. It’s easy to think that you need to allocate plenty of space to the kitchen since it is such a hub of activity. Every bit of extra space that you give to the kitchen is that much less space you have for diners, tables, and the opportunity to turn a profit.

Line cook in the kitchen.The Evans Group, an award winning design firm based out of Orlando, Florida, recommends saving 1/3 of the space for the kitchen and 2/3 for the dining area. Fast-service or banquet service establishments can have smaller kitchens and dining rooms, helping to increase profit from higher sales volumes. These kitchens can occupy as little as 25 percent of the total floor space, for a 4 to 1 dining area to kitchen ratio.

Organization is key for a small kitchen; everything should have its place. Shelves and hanging racks are great for conserving counter space by utilizing all available surfaces.

Divide the room into stations, so each employee has a designated work space. This will help to cut down on unnecessary kitchen traffic.

To make a small kitchen work consider paring down your menu offerings; limiting the amount of items, will reduce the space needed for prep and cooking. There will also be less need for storing different types of ingredients. Also having as much prep done before the rush will making working out of a small commercial kitchen a lot easier. Don’t sacrifice food quality but try to prep beforehand.

Owners will have to get creative to save space and work out a system but ultimately the hard work and innovative thinking will be rewarded with added efficiency throughout the business.

Design & Decor

There are some tricks that you can use to make your restaurant appear larger; the first of which is the color of your walls. Light colors make your walls recede in appearance. This small adjustment can help to make your room seem bigger and having your customer’s feel a bit less claustrophobic.

Another way you can use your walls to create space is by putting wallpaper on the ceiling; this creates interest that directs eyes upwards and encourages guests to perceive the ceiling to be taller than it actually is. Try to select wallpaper that matches your overall design. Don’t just put any design on your ceiling in hopes of making the room appear larger but consider the overall atmosphere of the room and choose a paper that ads to it.

If you have room on your walls, consider using mirrors to give the appearance of larger room. Use a focal point and angle your mirrors toward it to give the illusion of depth. If you are feeling a bit adventurous try a strip or two of mirrors. Using a mirror across an entire wall can feel confusing. Try to break it down by having strips of mirrors that do the work of expanding the room without reflecting every detail and confusing the eye. Mirrors can also be used to make an asymmetrical room into a symmetrical space which not only creates the illusion of space, but is more pleasing visually.

As far as lighting goes, try to keep your light sources off of the tables. It can crowd the space and make it difficult for patrons to comfortably eat. Instead hang the lights over the tables to create an intimate ambiance. If that doesn’t work using wall mounted lights is also a great space saver.

Another creative trend the industry is currently seeing is many businesses using rolling garage doors to add usable space to their design. During poor weather they remain shut while letting in some light. When Mother Nature is a bit kinder, the doors can be lifted to open the space to an outdoor area set up for outdoor dining or just general mingling.12-1024x537


With limited space chances are your waiting area will get plenty of use, so try to make it as comfortable as possible. Creating a good flow in this area will help your guests who are leaving the dining room to do so easily, and leave availability for those currently waiting for a table. Creating a comfortable waiting area also helps in terms of customer’s overall experience; you want them happy when they arrive at their tables and not frustrated and looking for a reason to complain.

Avoid big couches that will make our space seem smaller in favor of benches or chairs. Try to avoid a bottleneck by having a small bar area where patrons can order drinks and chat while waiting for an available table.

high-five-pizza-inv-16833-san-jose-ca-2Dining Room

The dining room is a restaurant’s stage. A place where all the hard work and preparation comes together to create a master piece created for the customer to enjoy. Don’t let poor furniture choices detract from the overall experience. Just because the dining area isn’t the largest, that doesn’t mean its effect on the customer will be any less inspiring. A few rules of thumb can help you to use your furniture to help and not hinder.

Smaller square tables is a good place to start when creating a layout for a restaurant that is short on space. 24”x 24” or 30”x 30” is a good size to start looking at. They offer flexibility in your layout. If most of your customer base is couples on a romantic night out, a smaller table is perfect for that intimate feel. On the opposite end if you have a party of 12 coming in for a birthday celebration, smaller tables can be moved together to create the banquet table you need for that party.

Tables should be at least 24-30 inches apart. This allows for not only guests but servers to maneuver comfortably. Cramming furniture together can lead to poor service, which can lead to a poor yelp reviews and decreased traffic.


To go along with those smaller tables you will need chairs. Consider chairs that don’t have arms. At the time of purchase it may only seem like a couple extra inches of space to get the chairs with arms but eventually those inches add up. Chairs without arms help to increase flexibility in your overall layout. If you are looking to add space at your bar, look into backless bar stools. Don’t have a bar? Bar stools can be paired with bar height tables to save on space. They can be placed closer together without feeling like you are packing your customers in like sardines.


Investing in booths can also be a great space saver. You’re thinking, “Those big bulky seats will save me on space?” Yes, yes they will. A booth that seats 4 people will actually take less space than a comparable table and chairs.  Plus, depending on the number in their party it can give patrons the opportunity to spread out during a business lunch or allow for more relaxation. It also allocates more room for servers. People tend to stay in the area of the booth instead of leaning into aisle ways where busy servers could be rushing to their other customers. Custom booths can be created to fit the look and layout of your restaurant so that the style flows naturally.

dsc_0001As an added bonus, studies show that the average patron spends more while sitting in a booth than at a table. Each customer spends an average of $2.00 more when seated at a booth.

Another piece of furniture to consider when designing your layout is the hostess station or a POS system. Do your best not to place it in your dining area. It adds to the look of being over crowded as well as being visually displeasing to patrons. Those stations are often very large and can take up space that could be used for additional tables and seating.

One of the most important things to do, but often overlooked, is leave enough space for your servers to easily navigate. It sounds obvious but nothing makes a space seem even smaller quite like having staff that are running in to tables and surroundings all the time. Heaven forbid your staff run into each other and drop their trays or worse. Drop it on a customer.


If you have a restaurant in a small space and are having problems, take a look at your layout and design. You may have too bulky of furniture for your area, or not utilizing your space well. Through planning, preparation, and some creative thinking, a small space can be adjusted to be not only pleasing to the eye, but also allow for great work flow.


What is Melamine? Frequently Asked Questions from the Files of East Coast Chair & Barstool

Detail of industrial machinery used for the production of panels and sheets of melamine.

If you’ve ever ordered a piece of furniture with a wood veneer, chances are you were working with Melamine, the ubiquitous plastic with myriad uses from Mr. Clean Magic Erasers to floor tiles.

Melamine was first invented in the 1830s by Justus von Liebig, a German chemist who is considered the founder of organic chemistry.  It is created by mixing urea, a waste product, with formaldehyde to create a liquid resin that can be molded under high pressure to create virtually any shape.

Melamine gained prominence in the early 1900’s when it was developed into molded dinnerware called Melmac.  Though Melmac is no longer in existence, melamine tableware is still popular and widely available.  In recent years however, melamine has gained a bad reputation due to several unscrupulous overseas companies using it as filler in consumable products like pet foods and baby formula.  Even though the resin is considered safe for most uses, when ingested, melamine can lead to severe kidney problems and, possibly, even kidney failure.

When used to make furniture, melamine is typically applied as a laminate to particle board or plywood (See the sheets of melamine in the photo above).  The melamine resin is applied to decorative paper to form a laminate that has superior material properties to the cheaper wood materials underneath it.  For example, the laminated material is heat resistant, water resistant, and easily cleanable – all characteristics that are lacking from plywood and particle board.  For these reasons, in addition to its low cost of production, melamine is a great choice for commercial furniture like restaurant tables and office desks; it is also great for cabinetry and bedroom coffee tables.


Melamine table tops in an arcade and bar



Columbus Day Facts

Columbus Day FactsHappy Columbus Day! Whether you’re enjoying a sales event or a day off, the time period of Columbus is certainly a defining, historical series of events that many people don’t know a lot about. We’ve rounded up some fun facts for you (or your next go at being on Jeopardy) about the holiday and the furniture of the time.

Did you know?

Christopher Columbus:

Christopher Columbus was not the famed explorer’s real name; it was closer to Cristoforo Colombo.

Columbus’ trip coordinated with what is said to be the beginning of the Spanish Renaissance that lasted until the early 18th century.

Many paintings of Columbus were not actually of him; most were painted after his passing in 1506.

Christopher Columbus landed in the Bahamas (not the East Indies, oops!) on October 12, 1492.

Most people at the time of Columbus knew that the Earth was not flat, but weren’t aware of the other continents “in the way” of the East Indies.

Spain was not Columbus’ first choice for sponsorship; England, France, and Portugal all said no.

After his primary voyage to the New World, Columbus made 3 trips back to his colonies there.

Columbus Day is not celebrated in 22 states because of its controversial history.

Columbus Day was proclaimed a national US holiday by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937.

The Furniture of the Spanish Renaissance:

Spain was in its political prime, controlling southern Italy, Portugal, the Netherlands, and now, New World colonies as well.

Renaissance furniture design was inspired by Greek and Roman antiquities, especially in Italy.

The cassone chest became one of the most recognizable furniture pieces of this time period with its intricate carvings or gilded decorations.


Photo by the Metropolitan Museum

Much of what is depicted on Renaissance furniture comes from mythology or history, separating it from the Gothic styles that pulled from the lives of saints.

Cabinet and furniture makers of the time began to use more lustrous woods like walnut.

Walnut Chair

Photo by the Metropolitan Museum

High back chairs were all the rage throughout European countries because of their throne-like appearance.

Moorish High Back

Photo by

Columbus Day is celebrated in many ways around the country including food festivals, retail sales, or the replacement of Indigenous People’s Day. Regardless of what you’re celebrating on this brisk October day, have a safe holiday!

Let us know in the comments below how you plan on spending the day.

Why We Love the Rustic Industrial Trend (And You Should, Too!)

Rustic TrendWant a look for your restaurant’s interior that has an organic, elegant style with an effortless je ne sais quoi? A timeless style that’s easy to pair with other décor items? Then the rustic industrial trend is the right theme for you.

Seen in home design, wedding themes, and splashed across Pinterest, the rustic industrial trend is still going strong in late 2016. But what inspired the Mason jar fervor?

As a culture, we are obsessed with authenticity. We crave a sense of legitimacy and timelessness. We love seeing genuine, honest to goodness labor turned into beauty. Showcasing cracks, daily wear and tear, and distressed accents embody this trend.

So what does this mean for your restaurant and the industry?

Within the last 10 years, restaurant-goers have seen a rise in sustainability and local allocation of food in the businesses that they frequent, playing upon authenticity and individualism to set themselves apart from the competition. Customers are more likely to trust these singular operations that are original in the way they do things. This trust is key to differentiate your restaurant. If you can get customers to believe in your mission and purpose, it will set you apart from your competition.
The desire for authenticity has birthed the rustic industrial trend. The interior originality of the restaurant is just as important as the food selection to consumers.

One characteristic that ties restaurant interiors into this look is showing evidence of craftsmanship. The raw aesthetic of these restaurants remind us of the physical labor that went into creating them with their visible markings. Some common features of rustic industrial interiors include natural materials, high ceilings, and unfinished wood for accents. It’s these nitty-gritty details that can transform your space into the charming eatery of your dreams.

We’ve made a list of our awesome customers that rock the rustic industrial trend.

11th and Bay

11th and Bay (Columbus, GA)

Built in an old cotton warehouse, 11th and Bay fits right into the rustic industrial theme. This restaurant pulls rustic inspiration with the exposed white brick, distressed rafters, pendant lights, reclaimed wood seats, and sliding barn door. The cool metal of the bar stools and chairs add an engineered look to this otherwise very warm-toned atmosphere. This balance looks great together and prevents the room from looking too antiquated. The interior of 11th and Bay reflects the business’ passion for southern hospitality and quality ingredients.

The Feed + Co.

The FEED Co. Table and Tavern (Chattanooga, TN)

A feed warehouse in the early 1900’s, the Chattanooga Craftworks building is now home to The FEED Co. Table and Tavern. The rustic industrial style was a no-brainer in a building with this kind of history. This restaurant is split into a table area and a tavern area based on where the warehouse was sectioned off. Exposed brick, factory swing doors, and wood floors use the building’s origin and make it work with the theme. To tie the individual rooms in together, the reclaimed tables and seats add a unifying element.  Harmonizing with the manufacturing atmosphere of the building, chairs, bar stools, and fixtures add a metallic contrast and create the balance between rustic and modern.

Hell n' Blazes

Hell’n Blazes Brewing Company (Melbourne, FL)

The building that now houses Hell’n Blazes Brewing Company has come a long way since its hardware store roots. The brewery still proudly displays its history with the adorned ceiling, hardwood floors, stone accents around the bar area, and other rustic décor. Visible duct work and drop lighting also add metallic tones, matching the chairs and bar stools. Hell’n Blazes holds onto the original feel of the building while introducing industrial design elements, an ideal setting for their combination of craft beer and historic structure.

Grain Craft Bar + Kitchen

Grain Craft Bar + Kitchen (Newark, DE)

Grain Craft Bar + Kitchen uses the rustic industrial theme to set the atmosphere and complement its combination of craft beer and live music. A casual setting for Newark restaurant-goers, this restaurant and bar is decorated with a unique machinery collection assembled on the wall, chalkboard details, and use of deep wood tones, contrasting with the exposed lightbulb fixtures. This type of lighting casts a soft glow on customers, reflecting off the metal chairs and bar stools. Grain Craft Bar + Kitchen brings together the rustic and industrial styles with the help of décor and furniture.

Distinguishing Rustic Features

The rustic industrial trend is a combination of varying materials and textures. If you are building or designing your restaurant with this trend in mind, here are some materials to consider using. To meet in the middle of rustic and industrial, you need pieces from both ends of the spectrum. Remember to soften hard metal elements with wood tones and vice versa, the blending of supplies makes this trend truly unique.

  • Exposed beams, brick, and stone
  • Unfinished, raw wood
  • Galvanized metal
  • Unrefined edges on furniture
  • Limited color palette of neutral, warm, and subtle tones
  • Concrete or wood floors
  • High ceilings (reminiscent of a barn or warehouse setting)
  • Open floor plan
  • Visible, bare light fixtures
  • Items repurposed to serve a function such as a pallet furniture, barrel sink

Ready to try the rustic industrial look in your restaurant or bar? Here are some of our must-have items to get your upgrade started.

Reclaimed Reclaimed Wood

Each reclaimed table top is made of solid oak wood salvaged from Pennsylvania or Ohio barns by our Amish craftsmen and come with a story of their own. Unique knots and grain patterns are combined to create an individual look every time with these tops. Repurposing items to use them as something else is what the rustic industrial trend is all about.

Urban Distressed

Urban Distressed Wood

The urban distressed table tops are a great option if you want the reclaimed wood look, but at a lower price point. These tops are handed sanded and distressed to add the rustic charm that’s perfect for your restaurant. Available in a provincial and dark walnut finishes to accommodate whatever color wood tone you would like.


The Simon

Our Simon bar stool and chair is the ideal complement to the wood of the tables. The Simon contemporary silhouette makes it the perfect match with its clean, smooth lines. To mimic the other wood tones, there is an option available to add a vinyl, urban distressed, or reclaimed wood seat. Or leave it metal for a completely modern feel.


The Viktor

Complement your rustic restaurant or bar with the industrial Viktor bar stool or chair. The supportive, laid back structure of the Viktor adds a comfortable alternative to a wooden chair. Choose from rust, brushed transparent, or matte black to pair with your tables. This stylish choice will be a favorite with your tables and warm tones.

Gladiator 101

The GLADIATOR Collection

One of our most popular collections, the GLADIATOR line is sure to please in your rustic restaurant or bar. Contrast against your warm tones with the 101 GLADIATOR style in a clear coat finish. This type of finish accentuates the crafted weld markings. Be sure to add a reclaimed seat to your chairs and bar stools for the perfect mix of rustic and industrial.

Let us know in the comments below if your restaurant uses a rustic design or if you’re ready to take the leap and give this trend a try.

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What Your Restaurant Booth Style Says About You

What Your Restaurant Booth Style Says About Your

It is opening night of your new steak restaurant and everything is ready to go. Your entrees are savory and your deserts are delectable. Every piece of furniture is in its place. Staff is fully trained and prepared to take on their first shift at what they hope is the new hot spot in town. The clock strikes and you are officially open for business. A man approaches the door and moves to pull it open, you hold your breath in anticipation of your first customer. That is when you spot them. The flip-flops.

As your eyes begin to take in the whole picture you notice not only is this man wearing flip-flops but swim trunks, a t-shirt, and his hair looks like he just came out of the water. He grabs a menu, takes one look at your prices and heads right for the door. You can hear his flip-flops echo down the sidewalk as he heads to the hot dog shop next door.

As customers begin to trickle in for the dinner rush you start to notice a pattern. Many customers dressed like your first arrival gaze at your pricing and promptly leave. You can’t figure out what is getting lost in translation. Why are people arriving fresh from the beach to dine at your restaurant? Your menu isn’t the problem, but your furniture just might be.

The way a restaurant looks helps to let its potential customers know what to expect when entering. It helps them to determine what kind of food they will be eating, atmosphere, pricing, and even if there is a dress code or not. Sending the wrong message can leave your customers with unfulfilled expectations, and you with bad reviews. Let’s take a moment to consider what your booths are saying about your restaurant and if it is the right message for you.


Retro Booth DesignColor plays a major role in what type of experience potential customers expect from your business. Bright colors paired together communicate a fun vibrant atmosphere perfect for a night out or a casual get together with friends. Darker colors speak of an intimate setting such as a date night or maybe a business meeting. Deeper/darker hues often give a feeling of a more formal establishment that is going to have a higher price point than that of a dollar a slice pizza place.

Consider the clientele that you are hoping to cater to when looking at colors. Opening up a Mexican restaurant looking to specialize in fast service at great prices? Bright colors would be a great way to attract customers trying to grab a quick and affordable lunch before heading back to the office. Blacks, browns, and deep hues work well in upscale bars and restaurants because they feel more traditional of a sit down dinner venue. This lets your customers know that the food might not be best for a quick lunch but better suited for a business lunch.

The only exception to the idea of bright colors communicating a lower price point is a business that serves exclusively breakfast. Touches of bright color to a brunch spot helps to let customers know that you cater exclusively to early morning meals that help start their day off right. It brings to mind the idea of fresh fruits and bright starts. Darker colors in a breakfast establishment communicate more of a budget friendly diner atmosphere.

It goes hand in hand that the higher the quality of the materials used to cover the booth, the higher class your establishment will look. The more upscale the appearance, the greater expectation for the quality of the meal, and the more willing customers are to pay higher prices.

Reclaimed Restaurant Booth

Vinyl is the most common material used for restaurant booths. It comes in many colors, is durable and easy to clean, making it a go to option for many owners. The design of your vinyl can be a great indicator to customers what to expect of an establishment. A simple black or red vinyl booth with no piping or pillow top clues customers in to the idea that establishment might be more concerned with quick service at good prices than making it a total dining experience from start to finish. While a booth with a custom fabric pattern with a pillow top and a coat hanger speaks to additional comfort and a business that invested in their appearance, overall atmosphere and comfort level of patrons.

An option other than vinyl is wood. Restaurant booths made of wood are a more expensive option than vinyl but adds a level of durability to the booth, as well as adding a feeling of warmth that wood brings to a design. Stain options run the gambit from very light to black, allowing you to choose the message that you send customers as soon as they walk in the door.

A unique yet popular wood choice is reclaimed wood. This is wood that has been taken from barns and re-purposed to create something new. The look is very popular right now, but especially for booths. It has an earthy feel while still managing a look of sophistication and finesse. The reclaimed look is particularly prominent in craft breweries and bars looking to make a statement about being unique. It lets customers know that that the owners have a lot of pride in their business and have a mind of their own. Their menu offerings and ambiance are going to reflect that individualistic intention.

One way to achieve that upscale design is by integrating texture into your booth materials. Whether it is a physical texture of wood, reclaimed wood, or fabric, that small difference can make a big change in how your business is perceived. Even patterned vinyl can help get the look of adding texture while keeping the comfort and easy cleaning of vinyl.


The size of your booth can speak volumes to a customer without ever saying a word. A booth with a 36” back (the shortest available) does not afford the same amount of privacy and intimacy as the same exact booth but with a 54” back (the tallest available). The higher back prevents kids from peeking at other dinners, and helps to dim the conversation from a nearby table, something that dinners who are seeking a special night out appreciate.

The lower back height might be a perfect fit for the local diner looking to provide food that sticks to your ribs at a good price with a decent turnover rate. A higher back booth might be a good fit in a high-end steak restaurant looking to cater to guests looking to dine out for a special occasion and spend some time enjoying the meal and good conversation before leaving. Currently higher backs are trendy. So any business wishing to communicate that to their potential customers might want to consider booths with taller backs.

While booths are only one part of a restaurants design, they are an anchor point visually. It is easy to forget about their importance when building a restaurant’s atmosphere but if done wrong they can ruin the perception that has been so carefully curated throughout the rest of the business.

Appearances aren’t everything, but they do say a lot about your business to first time customers. Color, materials and back height are all clues to lead your customers to a certain conclusion as to what they can expect from your restaurant in terms of food style, pricing, and atmosphere. Be sure to use your booths to project the messages that you wish to say to your customers about what to expect.


How to Make Your Restaurant Successful on Yelp

Find Us on YelpFaced with large amounts of competition, businesses are constantly fighting for their customers’ attention. Word-of-mouth marketing is a powerful driving force in today’s society and has the ability to sway decisions like what to buy and where to eat. This type of marketing may seem difficult to harness, but with programs like Yelp, businesses have a way to engage with customers and help mold their opinions.

Yelp is a great way for small businesses to compete with larger chains by showcasing what they have to offer. In Q2 of 2016, Yelp had a monthly average of 23 million unique visitors who went through Yelp’s mobile app and another 69 million unique visitors who visited Yelp via the web. A Nielsen study reports that 78 % of users rely on Yelp to find restaurants (out of all categories), capturing the highest percentage of the categories. Needless to say, Yelp is a well-used resource for restaurant-goers whose importance is often under-estimated by restaurant owners.

How It Works

Imagine you’re on vacation and it’s your first time at a destination. Up and down your hotel’s strip, there is dinner option after dinner option. As a consumer, the choices are overwhelming. How do you even begin to choose? You could just waltz into the first place you come to and take your chances.  Or, you could leverage the experience of thousands of Yelpers that have visited before you and have left reviews of just about every restaurant in town.  Without the uncertainty and risk of visiting an untested spot, you and your family can get down to the business of enjoying your vacation.

According to their website, Yelp’s purpose is to “connect people with great local businesses”. Their automated software program scours the top reviews that are written by users (“Yelpers”) based on quality and helpfulness, and it ranks businesses according to a proprietary algorithm. So how does your restaurant get the highest ranking? Typically, a larger number of reviews lead to a higher ranking in Yelp search and many other search engines.  The strategy then with Yelp is to get your restaurant as many good reviews as possible.  In this article, we are going to show you how to get started.

Yelp Ads
Claim Your Business

Claiming your business is the starting point for all businesses on Yelp. To be proactive with a Yelp strategy, you must claim your business to have control of that page. After you claim your page, you can then personalize it to help distinguish it among other pages. The goal of this page is to drive traffic to your own site. Optimizing this page will help your restaurant appear, not only in yelp searches, but also in search engine queries like Google.

It is interesting to note that according to a Boston Consulting Group study, businesses that simply claimed their Yelp profile generated incremental revenues of $8,000 annually just from being on Yelp.  Wouldn’t it be nice if your business could bring in an additional $8,000 per year by spending a small amount of time setting up you page and managing your reviews?  By the way, according to the same study, those who claimed their profile AND advertised on Yelp through PPC campaigns (more on that later) generated additional revenue of $23,000.

Rack Up the Reviews

Although it is the core function of Yelp, many businesses may wonder how customers will know to leave a review. Be cautious of how you approach this topic.  Yelp prefers “organic” review, which means reviews that have not been solicited or, worse, paid for.  It’s understandable if you think about it.  Most businesses only ask for reviews from their happiest customers, not those who have had a bad experience.  That might be great for the restaurant, but it damages the overall credibility of the review system. Yelp wants your restaurant to earn great reviews through exemplary business practices, not through solicitation and/or reward.

Even though Yelp discourages direct solicitation, they do leave the door open for more subtle ways of generating reviews.  The first, and most obvious, is to make sure that your customers know you actually have a Yelp account. You may have a customer that comes to your restaurant every single day for their morning coffee, but if they don’t know you’re on Yelp, how will the world know that you have nurtured and cared for this customer, so much so they visit your business every day? Make customers aware that you use Yelp by using this form to receive a window cling for your business. Also, remind customers to visit your Yelp page with a link in your email signature and/or a badge on your website.

To attract customers that are in the decision stage, use a Check-In Offer to entice them. A Check-In Offer is a reward a customer receives when they check into a business on Yelp. This reward is redeemed by mobile device at the place of business. After a checking in from a mobile device at a restaurant, the user is later asked to write a review of where they checked in at. Be careful not to offer incentives to customers who give better reviews, which is against Yelp’s policiesCheck In Offer

While the tactics above are handy with a new restaurant or during a slow time to jazz up reviews, you should always try and go above and beyond for customers. Have the mindset of what kind of experience you want your customers to walk away with, and then double it. What sets your business apart from the competition? Is your atmosphere, food, staff, or price point? Find what makes your restaurant original and makes for a memorable experience for your guests. Inspire people to choose your restaurant, enjoy themselves, and then right a smashing review because their experience was just that good.

Take a look at this improvement calculator to see how many reviews it will take to attain a certain rating for your restaurant.

Interact with Customers

You’ve put the work into claiming your business, spruced up your Yelp page, and the reviews are pouring in. All of a sudden, your first bad review comes in: a piece of coal in your carefully cultivated glittering diamond mine of positive reviews. Your first instinct might be to ignore the review, hoping it gets lost in the sea positive reviews. Maybe no one will see it?  That is a big mistake.  You should always respond to a negative review, even if the response is private.  The last thing that you want is an already upset customer feeling like you’re ignoring them.  You’ll definitely want to reach out to that Yelper in a way that lets them know that their concerns have been heard and you will take their input into consideration when shaping future decisions.

Whether you handle bad reviews publicly or privately is up to you, but maintain consistency – don’t respond publicly to the reviews where you feel like a customer is wrong, and privately to the reviews where you know you messed up. The flow chart below outlines Yelps best practices for responding to reviews publicly or privately.

Review Flow ChartFinally, remember that your public responses will be seen by existing and potential customers so always be courteous and understanding. Practice up on your PR skills and don’t isolate customers. You don’t want jeopardize your future business with a poorly worded response.

Free Assets for Business Owners

Yelp has many free resources for business owners to use, making it effective and easy on a budget.

Yelp for Business Owners app is the most comprehensive of these resources. With the app (available in the App Store for iOS and Google Play Store for Android), businesses track engagement, leads, and clicks to their site from Yelp. The app also has the capability to track the number of check-ins to a business, calls (from clicking the phone number), and the reservations made off of Yelp. Not only do these factors help you gauge your success on Yelp, but could justify an increase of foot traffic in your restaurant. Through the app you also have the capability to respond (publicly or privately) to messages, upload photos, and report reviews or messages. For a busy, on-the-go restaurant owner, the Yelp app is extremely valuable in managing your presence on the site.

Again, you don’t want to come right out and ask for reviews. But if you want another, more discrete way to remind customers about giving you a review, place a Yelp review badge on your website. By placing a review badge on your site, your customers can see that people have a reviewed your restaurant and prompt them to check out your Yelp page. Potential customers will be more inclined to visit a restaurant with many positive reviews, which the badge helps them see at a glance. Every time your business is reviewed, the counter clicks up and/or reflects in the stars. Per Yelp’s brand guidelines, there are only two badges allowed on a business’ site that shows their association with Yelp.

Web Review Badges

It is important for business owners to stay up to date on ways to effectively use Yelp. Yelp offers free 30 minute webinars that improve upon your existing Yelp knowledge. Topics range from how to respond to reviews to becoming a 5-star brand. These webinars help clarify how your restaurant can use Yelp as a sustainable, effective strategy for the long term.

Yelp Ads

While Yelp has plenty of free resources for businesses, there are also advertising packages to enhance your profile even further.

Yelp’s advertising packages operate on a cost per click (CPC) basis and could be beneficial for your particular niche. There is no pre-determined set cost because the cost depends on the competition and relevance of your advertisement to the user’s search. Yelp Ads can help your business with targeted local advertising and a more prominent placement on search and competitor pages.

If you want to upgrade your Yelp experience by paying for advertising, the Call to Action button may be one you want to take advantage of.

Whenever potential customers have searched and found your business on Yelp, what is the next steps you want them to take? The best way to provide a specific direction for these customers is to have a Call to Action button. When set up, this button appears towards to the top of your business’ page, underneath the location and uploaded photos.
When narrowing down what your Call to Action should be, think of what your desired end goal is. The button will take customers to more information in the form of a specific page of your website or coupon.

Call to Action
In the example above, Olive or Twist’s Call to Action button promotes their happy hour and links to their specials section on their website. Make sure your button is labeled with a broad, but relevant statement. You don’t want to give away all the information on your Yelp page, because then there is no need to click. This button provides a next-steps for potential customers to take part in.

Compare the different products that Yelp Ads has to offer with this chart.

Please note that just because a business advertises on Yelp does not mean they automatically get better ratings. A business could be rated two stars and advertise, leading to more people seeing that rating. On the other hand, a business that does not pay to advertise can have a five-star rating. For more information on Yelp’s advertising policy, feel free to check out their FAQ page.

If you own a restaurant that has never used Yelp or only as a consumer, go claim your business. Doing a simple Google search will leave you with endless results on how to optimize Yelp and best practices. But the best way to use Yelp is to jump right in! There are so many free resources and options for a business getting started on Yelp. Don’t think the only way to be successful on Yelp is to shell out a portion of your advertising budget. Let your customers know that you have a Yelp presence, respond thoughtfully to their reviews, and keep providing excellent experiences to make Yelp work for your business.

Does your restaurant or business currently use Yelp as a strategy? If so, what’s your experience with having a page? If not, what are your reservations about it? Let us know!

What is Werzalit? – Frequently Asked Questions from the Files of East Coast Chair & Barstool


Werzalit tables at an outdoor cafe

At East Coast Chair & Barstool, we answer questions about restaurant furniture all day, every day.  Some of the questions are unique to a particular situation, but many are relevant to all of our customers and are asked quite frequently.  In those cases, we are going to start answering them here on our blog so that all readers can take advantage of the information.

One of the common questions that we get asked is about table tops.  Most people know what a wood, resin, or laminate top is, but many ask, “What is Werzalit?”

The answer is:

Werzalit is a company – Founded in 1923 by Jakob Friedrich Werz, Werzalit is a family run company headquartered in Oberstenfeld Germany, with representation all over the world.  The company was originally started as a small glue factory until, in 1941, Werz took over a manufacturer of molded plywood materials.  Eventually, Werzalit became the inventor of a patented process in which fine grains of wood are mixed together with synthetic resin and molded into tabletops, surfaces, and other products.

Werzalit is a process – The patented process founded by the company in the 1950’s is also called Werzalit.  It uses specialized machines that generate immense pressure to mold wood grains and resin into usable shapes.  The company licenses the process and technology to manufacturers around the world.

Werzalit is a material – When most people think of Werzalit, they think of the actual material, as in a Werzalit table, a Werzalit counter top, and so on.  As a material, Werzalit is a strong, dense composite that is resistant to scratches, temperature fluctuations, and staining.  Werzalit is a popular commercial material thanks to its durability, low maintenance, and steady performance under even the harshest indoor and outdoor conditions.

While the name Werzalit has become synonymous with wood-polymer composite tables in many consumers’ minds, there are alternatives on the market that offer the same material composition under different names and price points.  For example, Topalit is a popular table top brand that is similar to Werzalit in performance, but is manufactured by a different company in Austria.  Similarly, the IsoTop wood-polymer composite tables that we carry utilizes the same manufacturing process as Werzalit, but is available at a lower price point.



End of Summer Sale

End of Summer Sale

The outdoor furniture on your patio area is the first glimpse of your restaurant a customer gets when casually passing by. The atmosphere that you’ve worked so hard to create in your restaurant or bar should also translate to that glimpse. It could be the deciding factor of whether a customer decides to give your establishment a try.

So if your patio leaves something to be desired, check out our End of Summer sale! We’ve put your favorite outdoor furniture items on sale at our biggest discounts yet!

If you’re looking to furnish your restaurant or bar’s outdoor area, now is the time to buy. The beginning of fall is the perfect season to upgrade the outdoor space you already have and be ready for the new year.

Enjoy products from our Atlantic, New England (pictured below), Sydney, Cayman, Shipyard, and many more collections at prices you won’t see anywhere else in the industry.


Whether you’re improving your patio layout or buying outdoor furniture for the first time, you can’t beat these high quality pieces at clearance rates. Choose from a wide selection of table tops, bar stools, and chairs.

All sale items are only available for a limited time while in-stock.  They won’t last long, so act now to make your restaurant dreams a reality with this summer sale.

Back to School Promotions To Boost Your Restaurant’s Bottom Line

School zone signs are flashing, commutes are taking longer, and the yellow buses are hitting the road. It is hard not to notice that school will soon be back in session, if it hasn’t already started. You’ve probably received flyers in the mail promoting the latest back to school sales on clothes and office supplies. If you are wondering how to bring these back to school promotions into your restaurant we have some ideas for you; thoughts on how to reach out not only to students but parents and teachers as well.

Getting the Family Involved

Back to School Promotions to Boost Your Restaurant's Bottom Line;Back to school is a busy time for most families; they are getting back into the swing of things and creating their routine for the year. Why not make your restaurant part of that weekly routine? By offering families a quick take out meal option, you can cut out the stress of dining-in for families with younger children. This small step makes your restaurant an option for families on those busy days of running from school, to activities and trying to cram dinner somewhere in-between.

Another promotional idea that helps get the whole family into your establishment is running an “apps for backpacks” special. Families receive a free or discounted appetizer when they bring in a receipt proving the purchase of school supplies. Not only does this show your customers that you support education but encourages patrons to order an appetizer they might not have previously considered. Who knows maybe it will become a new family favorite they simply can’t pass up, even after the special has ended.

We have compiled a list of things that you can do to reach parents, students, and teachers, the main groups that hold the keys to increasing your business during back to school season.




      1.When thinking of back to school promotions it is important to focus on parents. One way to reach out to parents is by offering Parent’s Day Out lunch specials. Market it as being able to enjoy quiet time away from the hustle and bustle of family life.

2. Additionally, a great way to market to parents is with buy one get one parent meals. Perfect for any date night, this deal will encourage parents to call up their baby-sitter and spend a night out taking advantage of your restaurant’s back to school promotion.

3. Back to school season involves a lot of shopping but it also involves quite a few meetings. A good way to keep your business on parent’s radar is by sponsoring some of the back to school meeting. You can have a coupon or promotional flyer be part of their welcome packet or offer to cater in exchange for some ad space in the schools yearbook or other bulletins.

4. Once school is in full swing, if you have the space, consider setting up a student super star area. A section of your restaurant decorated specifically for patrons to take pictures of their star student. You might even want to have a signature hashtag that parents can use when bragging about their superstar on social media. This would be a great way to have customers promoting your business by word of mouth.


Student Studying

1. A great way to get your promotions to students is by utilizing social media. Social media is one of the

tops ways to market to millennials. Pictures of food are one of the most searched for subjects in social media, so go ahead and take a nicely arranged snapshot of your weekly special and post it. The best part is that it is free unless you make the decision to boost your posts for a few extra dollars.

2. Another way to reach students is by offering coupons to students with perfect attendance. Many schools give out certificates each semester to students who haven’t missed a day. So why not get them in the door with a perfect attendance promotion. Consider offering half off of dessert with validation. Restaurants like Noodles & Company and Red Robin are already getting students in their doors by offering free meals for those students with perfect attendance.

3. An often forgotten about group of marketing to students is college students. Yes some students have meal plans but that doesn’t mean they don’t get tired of the food, or are looking to treat themselves every now and then. And a large percentage of college students live off campus and don’t have a meal plan. A great way to reach these students is by offering lunch combos. Perfect for grabbing between classes this special will garner the attention of any test stressed college student.

Startup Stock Photos

      1. Are you concerned with how to get your name out to college students? Consider sponsoring orientation. You can provide food or simply provide cups with your logo on it. Good for one free refill. Sounds simple enough but students will keep those cups long after the free refill and be reminded of your restaurant every time they use it. Make sure that the cup is branded and decent quality. You wouldn’t want your logo to wash off in the dishwasher.

2. If you are still concerned about getting your name out there to students there is always the old standby. Flyers with coupons. It is a tried and true method. 96% of students would be more likely to make a repeat purchase from a brand that offers student discounts. A lot of times college students are trying to stick to a budget and offering them a coupon or student discount increases chances of them picking up the phone or walking through your door.

3. Do you have a design major as part of your staff? Why not utilize their skills to create a snapchat geofilter. For a few dollars you can create a fun filter just for your building. Students using the app, about 100 million people use it every month, will see your filter and possibly use it when sending pictures to their friends. It is a great way to get the word out about your business or any promotions you are running. Taco Bell was one of the first restaurants to jump on the Snapchat ban wagon and have been benefiting ever since.

Teacher’s Pet

Teacher asking her students a question at the elementary school

1. Who can forget about teachers! Back to school is an exciting yet hectic time for them as well. Consider having some promotions geared directly for them, like a free dessert with a valid teacher I.D. Most schools require teachers to have badges, simply ask them to show it and voila a free dessert. Pizza Hut offers 10-20% off your order with a valid teacher I.D.

Chipotle Teacher Deal
2. Or you can run an “Apps for Teacher” promotion. Say that instead of giving the teacher an apple give them a free appetizer. Students or parents can come in and purchase a coupon set at certain price that they can then give to their teacher to redeem for a free appetizer next time they stop in. Teachers will appreciate the change of pace from the usual apple themed gifts. Fast casual giant Chipotle has offered teachers a BOGO deal on burritos.

3. Before students return to school, teachers often have to spend a few days preparing for their arrival. Why not cater a lunch for them? That way next time they are too busy to pack a lunch they will remember your delicious food and give your restaurant a call.

Back to school is a big time of year for not only students, but parents and teachers as well, making it a great opportunity for your business to reach out to the community at large. By reaching out to these three groups through different promotions and marketing techniques, you have the potential to greatly increase sales. Ultimately, you know your business best. Choose a promotion works for you and run with it. Whether it is free apps for teachers or sponsoring a school event, don’t miss out this back to school season.

How to Market Your Restaurant to Millennials: Getting Social


United States millennials span the ages of 18-35 and are a force to be reckoned with. This generation, also known as Generation Y, has surpassed the baby boomers (1946-1965) and now number 75.4 million.

Even with millennial numbers increasing, they don’t have control of the market at this point. Baby boomers still hold the buying power in today’s market; almost 50% of retail sales can be traced back to this group. But, millennials’ spending power will only continue to increase as they begin to earn more.

The true difference lies in how these generations communicate with businesses and brands. Generation Y is made up of extremely vocal consumers that are inter-connected and are not afraid to let others know what kind of experience they had at a business.

The millennial generation is often described negatively by their predecessors, but millennials are socially conscious and creative individuals that are becoming an increasing power in the market. This group’s craving for their peers’ opinions can often dictate many buying decisions, including where they choose to eat or drink.

Learning how to market to this rising group should be a priority for restaurant owners. By understanding the mind of a millennial, restaurateurs can uniquely tailor their marketing communications for this generation. Some call them self-oriented or naive, but millennials are changing best practices of the restaurant industry.

Social Media

Social media is an essential tool for restaurant owners to use when marketing to millennials. Restaurants that don’t use some form of technology platform to reach out and interact with customers seem out of date in today’s constantly changing society. Social media can give your business validity to those searching on the internet.

Celebrate what your business has to offer with your social media. Food is a visual commodity. Those who love to eat don’t only want flavorful bites; they want an aesthetically-pleasing experience they can share with others. Tailoring social media to your restaurant, guests, and mission can further brand your restaurant among many. For example, the “food and drink” category on Pinterest is the most pinned and browsed of all the categories and 90% of pinners are saving food and drink recipes on their mobile devices. This is a great indicator that these are items that people have interest in, so cater to it and get guests inspired by your selection.

You can promote events, menu additions, and even new staff on social media to give your business a face. Encourage your guests to check-in, tweet, post, and pin about your restaurant. Restaurants and bars that take the time to create quality content in their social media interactions can increase top of mind awareness and brand recognition. According to the State of Inbound Marketing, social media has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than traditional outbound marketing. Use that to your advantage!

Although it is on a larger scale, Chipotle does this very well and it is a brand that millennials want to follow on social media to see what they will post next.


Think of your business as a lifestyle brand that you need to promote. Consumers want to learn more about you and your company’s background and be able to relate on a personal level. Whether it’s about the latest rules on food safety or what your lunch specials will be, creative content about your business and its industry makes you an authority on the topic. Millennials appreciate the diverse but relevant subject matter and your business becomes a reliable resource your niche.

Do's and Don'ts of Social Media

Social Experience

Millennials are constantly branding themselves. By sharing their organic mango and black bean salad on social media, this generation expresses more than just what they’re having for dinner. When looked at closely, these actions say this consumer supports the story behind their food and that this is the type of restaurant they frequent.  Millennials brands themselves to coincide with the identity of the business. They are proud of their decision to eat out, and they want to share their experience with others. Of course, an Instagram feed is often a very skewed perception of reality but still presents a rose-colored lens for the rest of the world to take a peek.

Because of this show-all, tell-all way of thinking, millennials are buying experiences at restaurants instead of just food. Restaurants and bars take on a form of escapism where they can get away and have a gastronomic adventure. Going out to eat is seen as an event by millennials, so always try and exceed their expectations with your restaurant practices. For example, Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville has risen far above the standards of just being a restaurant chain; it’s now a lifestyle choice. This may seem like an overwhelming feat for a small business but it is possible! Rosarito’s Fish Shack (Williamsburg, New York) does a great job as a single location restaurant that brands themselves as a lifestyle. From its tasty Instagram pictures to the nautical exterior, Rosarito’s Fish Shack transports guests straight to the New England coast for a seaworthy experience.

Be proactive with your customer’s experience by training and communicating with your staff appropriately. A restaurant’s staff can make or break whether customers enjoy their stay. Take the time to show them the over-arching goal of the restaurant and your expectations of the team. How you train and communicate with your staff can be the difference between a good and bad experience for your customers. It is these little things that seem insignificant that truly add up in a consumer’s decision to visit a restaurant again.

Do's and Don'ts of Social Experience

Social Responsibility

Consumers can evoke change in the way that restaurants do business, especially consumers that are as vocal as the millennial generation. This generation is extremely cause-driven and wants to see their patronage to a restaurant have a deeper meaning.

Generation Y customers feel the need for a greater value proposition in purchases; they want to know they are making a difference in the world. As science and communication have improved, sustainable movements have been center on the world’s stage for the lifetime of millennials.

Eco-friendly activities strike a chord with this generation quicker than their predecessors. Millennials want the food and restaurant industry to share these same values.

To narrow down what works the best for your restaurant, you have to know your situation. What’s best for your theme, customer, and price point could be completely different than the restaurant next door to yours. This being said there are lots of ways to improve sustainable practices in your establishment. Use local meat sources, beef up recycling efforts, take steps to reduce food waste, find ways to reduce energy output, and visit farmer’s markets for produce.

Millennials are willing to spend more to support businesses that have these values in mind. Whether this way of thinking is selfish or not, Generation Y makes decisions that will increase self-esteem, which, in this case, works to the benefit of the environment. There are multiple ways for you to get involved in your community while also using it as an edge to market it to millennials. It’s not only social responsible for you to consider local and organic options for your restaurant, it could be lucrative as well.

Do's and Don'ts of Social Responsibility

Social Cause

The millennial generation is a melting pot of beliefs and cultural traditions. The widespread effects of social media have made them more aware of the world around them. This drives millennials to search for a greater purpose of community, which restaurants can get in on as well.

More and more restaurants and businesses are using cause marketing as a strategy instead of just an added bonus when you buy that certain product. This technique is attractive for both business owners to increase patronage and also millennial consumers that have deep interests in bettering the community around them. Cause marketing can inspire people to eat at your restaurant because you stand for something, especially if it is a cause already near and dear to that particular community.

For example, Rosa’s Fresh Pizza in Philadelphia started a movement where for a $1 you can prepay for a pizza slice for a homeless person. Rosa’s has championed single location cause marketing that has reached national recognition, with over 10,000 slices pre-purchased for others. This helped grow and aid the Philadelphia community to be more aware of others.

Another example of restaurants doing good (and through pizza) is the mission behind Malawi’s Pizza. This pizzeria’s “Pizza with a Purpose” tagline promotes the restaurant’s buy one, give one strategy. For each meal purchased here, another is given to a child in Malawi.


Both of the restaurants are great cases for the success of what combining cause marketing and community can do. Championing a cause is a great way to actively earn free advertising but also allows customers to feel good about eating or drinking at your place of business.

Cause marketing campaigns can help your restaurant differentiate from your competition and do good deeds at the same time.

Do's and Don'ts of Social Cause

As they grow older and acquire more disposable income, millennials are becoming more of an influence in the restaurant industry. Restaurants need to know how to incorporate this demographic when making decisions. The connection that Generation Y feels for the world around them is unique, and it presents a great opportunity for restaurants to appeal to them. As these millennials become bigger consumers, it will be crucial for restaurateurs to craft their businesses to what is important to this generation.