East Coast Chair and Barstool Blog

What is Tavern-Style Furniture?

Although the tavern was once a mainstay of American social life, it gave way over time to the cocktail bar, the restaurant, and for a while, the speakeasy.

But there are still some watering holes throughout the country that stick to the traditional tavern style. Some have been in business since the 1780s like Massachusetts’ Warren Tavern, while some are brand new! 

If you want to bring the tavern vibe to your town, here’s what you need to know.

A little history

Although the terms are used somewhat loosely these days, a tavern is not the same as a bar. A bar traditionally sells alcohol only, but a tavern sells both alcohol and food. 

Of course, we may think that sounds a lot like a restaurant. But the classic tavern was more of a waystation — a place for weary travelers to get some rest. In fact, they often had rooms to let as well. The food was not generally the reason that people went to taverns.

Taverns were often the social hub of rural America in the 1700s and 1800s. It was where neighbors met to share news, conduct business, and unwind after a day on the farm or in the office. So the American “tavern-style” has become connected with the furniture of the time. 

Although electricity and central heating are now commonplace, the modern tavern still emulates the taverns of the Colonial days. Lots of dark wood, low lighting, and heavy furniture make for a cozy gathering place!

Tavern-style tables

Since taverns were the local meeting place, tables were generally long and rectangular, with room for groups to congregate and dine together. 

American settlers and farmers had little time for delicate wood carving. So the furniture in the local tavern was generally simple, sturdy, and practical. And it was made with the most abundant resource of the time — wood.

For the modern tavern, rough sawn or distressed wood can create the appearance of age, or reclaimed barn wood can be used for an authentic patina. Pine and oak are common wood species for tavern-style furniture, although you could use a wide variety of hardwoods. 

Tavern-style tables have a simple rectangular plank top, usually sitting on four individual legs. Legs may be connected by two braces, which are then attached to a “stretcher” that runs the length of the table. 

While the more high-end taverns may have had turned table legs, the rural taverns would often be more rustic. Square post legs, like those on this hardwood table, would have been more common out on the frontier. 

Tables may also sit on an X-shaped base connected by a stretcher where the “x” crosses. This provides extra stability for those raucous tavern nights! 

Tavern-style seating

To add to the cozy feel of the tavern, look no further than the wood booth. Sliding into a booth, customers can settle in for a long evening of cold beer, hearty food, and good stories. 

The tavern booth, like the table, is usually made of simple wood planks. The seat may rest on four legs, like our single tavern wood booth. Or, it could have a rectangular box as the base, like our urban distressed wood booth.

Booths can be made of rich hardwoods, polished to a high shine. Or for a rustic tavern, they can be made of distressed or reclaimed wood. 

One common feature of just about all tavern-style booths is their high back. This creates an enclosure where guests can have some privacy while they’re enjoying their meal or drink. After all, important events can occur in taverns. The Boston Tea Party was planned at the Green Dragon Tavern in 1773!

The tavern bar

In most taverns, if the proprietor was going to splurge somewhere, it would be on the bar itself. Tavern back bars can be works of art, made of gleaming hardwood and carved with intricate designs.  Shelves need to be robust in order to hold heavy liquor bottles. And some are backed by mirrors, to make small spaces feel bigger.

Of course, not all tavern bars are so complex. A sturdy wood shelving unit, loaded up with whisky and spirits is all a tavern really needs.

To sit at that bar, you’d have to pull up a stool. Tavern-style bar stools would traditionally be backless — a simple square seat atop four legs. For a little more comfort, you could get a stool with a cushioned and upholstered seat, like this version from Regal Seating.

The tavern is all about the community. It’s a place for people to gather, whether they live down the road, or are just passing through. So keep it snug and intimate. You never know when someone will need to plan their next rebellion against those redcoats.

How to Turn Upset Customers Into Friends

It’s a typical Wednesday night at your restaurant, and everything is chugging along smoothly. Ticket times are good, there’s a small wait at the host stand, and that new busser is working out really well.

Then, a server comes to you and says, “The guy at 403 is really mad.”

Oh dear.

There is no company in the world that has happy customers 100% of the time. It’s impossible. But what separates the good from the great is how they deal with unhappy guests when problems arise.

Making it right isn’t just a good PR move — it makes sense financially too. Word-of-mouth is a big factor in your sales. 81% of consumers trust their friends’ and families’ recommendations over anything else. 

Plus, it costs up to 25x more to get a new customer than to retain an existing one. So it’s important to know how to turn an unhappy customer into an advocate instead of an enemy. Here are some tips you can use to do just that!

Introduce Yourself by Name

When you first walk up to the table of an unhappy customer, all they know is that you represent the place that messed up.

So start off by humanizing yourself with a proper introduction.

“Hi, I’m Jim, the manager. I heard there was some trouble, and I wanted to see what I can do to help.”

When we know someone’s name, it makes them more of an individual and less of a cog in a machine. Instead of seeing you as a representative of the business, they’ll see you as a person who may be able to help.

It’s amazing how often managers forget this step! 

It’s also a good idea to ask the customer’s name. As Dale Carnegie famously said, “A person’s name is to that person, the sweetest, most important sound in any language.” 

But don’t overuse it. Maybe address them by name once during your initial conversation, and once more when they’re leaving. Overusing someone’s name can come across as insincere and patronizing — the opposite of what we’re trying to achieve!

Really Listen

When an upset customer tells you their story, don’t be thinking about how you’re going to respond. Just listen. 

You may think the main issue is that their steak was cold. But the issue may actually be that they told their server about it, and she didn’t seem to care. One is a simple matter of reheating or firing a new steak, while the other is an issue of bad customer service. Those are two very different problems.

So let the customer tell their story, and really listen so you can get to the root of the issue. 

Occasionally, it happens that the meal went wrong from the very beginning. The host was rude. Then the menu was dirty. Then the drinks took forever to come out. You can’t go back and fix all these things, but you can listen with sympathy. 

Sometimes, people just need to vent. So let them get it all out before you start offering solutions.

See Things Through Their Eyes

Your POS system went down, and no one realized it for 15 minutes. Now you have missing tickets and a seriously angry mom whose hungry toddler is having a meltdown. Plus, now she’s going to be late picking up her older child from ballet practice.

Put yourself in her shoes, and try to empathize. She’s not upset because she has to wait. She’s upset because the delay is causing a chain reaction that is going to affect her whole day. 

The POS system going down is obviously not your fault. But try explaining that to an 8-year-old who has been waiting by herself in ballet shoes after all the other parents have come and gone.

What would you want in that situation? Probably anything edible and portable that you could give the toddler, so he would calm down and they could get going. What you certainly wouldn’t want is to hear a bunch of excuses as to why the wait would be another 15 minutes.

Everyone is fighting their own battles, and we only see a little piece of it. So keep that in mind next time someone seems to be overreacting to a problem at your restaurant. A little empathy goes a long way!

Project Confidence

Throughout your interaction with the upset customer, you want them to feel like you have things under control. You are the person who can solve their problem and make everything right. So take control of the situation and assure them that they’re in good hands.

This means taking decisive, quick action. If something came out cold, you snap up that dish and get it to the kitchen lickety-split. If the server was rude, you go chat with them right away. 

Take control! Instead of asking what they would like you to do to fix the problem, offer solutions. If something was too salty, tell them you’d be happy to have it re-made, or you can get them a different dish right away. Don’t put the onus on the customer to come up with a fix. 

Get on Their Side

It can be tempting to see an angry customer as the enemy. Is an undercooked burger really something to fly off the handle about? This lady is being totally unreasonable!

That may be true, but it’s also the wrong attitude to take. Remember, we’re trying to see things through their eyes! 

Once you understand the problem, get on their side. Help the customer to see you as their advocate. This undercooked burger affects them, but it also affects you. While you may not appreciate being shouted at, you should appreciate an opportunity to improve. 

You don’t want to throw your kitchen or their server under the bus, but you can still create a little team of two. Try something like, “Thank you so much for bringing this to my attention! I’m going to go get a new burger started for you, and chat with the kitchen about keeping an eye on temperatures. I really appreciate you letting me know, so I can make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

Now you’re a dynamic duo. You have a mutual understanding about the unpleasantness of undercooked burgers, and together, you’re solving the problem.

Always Apologize

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the goal of “making it right” that we miss a crucial step — apologizing. 

It’s a simple acknowledgement that something went wrong and the company fell short. Even if it wasn’t really your fault, apologize anyway. 

If Appropriate, Take Something Off the Bill

Some restaurant owners and managers discourage comping food. They may be afraid that customers will abuse the policy. Or they may worry that managers won’t be able to judge when a comp is appropriate.

But look at it this way — what’s worth more to you? The cost of that appetizer, or not getting reamed on Yelp? 

Losing one star on Yelp or Google can result in a 5% reduction in revenue. So it may be worth the expense to take something off the bill if that’s the best way to make someone happy. 

In general, you’ll have a good idea of when someone is genuinely unhappy, and when someone is just trying to score free stuff. If they eat the whole meal before complaining, raise a fuss but don’t allow you to bring out a replacement dish, or show you a hair on the plate (which looks suspiciously similar to the customer’s own hair), you’ll know their game.

But in a normal circumstance where the restaurant really did make a mistake, a simple comp can be enough to show a customer that you take their complaint seriously and want to make it right.

Follow Up

Once you’ve listened, taken quick action, and given them a discount if appropriate, circle around one more time.

Thank the customer again for giving you the chance to fix the problem. And if they seem happy, ask if they’d be willing to share their email address. A nice note from the owner the next day, again apologizing for the error and welcoming them back to the restaurant, will leave a great impression. That “above and beyond” attention is the kind of care that people remember.

Conclusion

Your customers are your greatest marketing tool. They tend to remember either really good or really bad experiences, and share them in person or on review sites. So it’s up to you to turn each mistake into an opportunity. 

Make sure when your restaurant’s name comes up, the story isn’t about the error, but about  how you went to extraordinary lengths to make it right. That’s the kind of service that will earn you a customer’s loyalty and friendship.

What is the Best Color for your Restaurant?

Grey.

The end.

Just kidding!

If only it were that simple! In fact, the best color for your restaurant will probably not be the best color for the restaurant down the road. Different light levels, cuisines, restaurant size, and even service styles should all be considered when choosing colors. 

It’s no secret that color has an effect on people. It can influence emotions, blood pressure, and even hunger levels! So choosing your restaurant color can be a big deal! Here is some guidance to help you decide the perfect hue for you.

Red

Red is an energetic, passionate color. It can increase heart rate and blood pressure, and is great for grabbing attention. So should you use it for your restaurant?

When you may want to use it

Red has been said to stimulate appetite, which makes it a strong choice for restaurants. And red tablecloths have been shown to make people eat more.

It can also stimulate impulse eating. So if your restaurant is the type of place that benefits from lots of small food decisions, red may be good for you. Think fast food, small plates, or dim sum.

If you don’t want to cover your walls in red, consider using it as an accent color. Napkins, wall art, or even the back bar could be good candidates for red.

When to avoid it

That increase in heart rate may encourage people to eat more, but it also encourages them to keep moving. A high-turnover restaurant could benefit from bright red, but if you want your guests to linger, keep looking.

An exception is deep, dark reds like garnet or wine. The darker hue is cozier and warmer, and encourages diners to hunker down in their booths for the evening.

Blue

Blue is a conservative color, connoting stability and safety. There’s a reason why so many corporate logos feature blue. 

It’s the most popular color in the world, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best choice for your restaurant. 

When you may want to use it

A lovely clear blue can evoke the sea, which makes it a good option for seafood restaurants. For example, Legal Sea Foods on the East Coast uses blue as an accent color in wall tile and on their menus. 

It also does well in coffee shops and bars, as there’s a theory that blue makes people thirsty.

When to avoid it

Blue is considered to be an appetite suppressant. The exact reason why is not clear, but one explanation is that there is very little blue food that occurs in nature, so we don’t associate it with eating. Another theory is that food tends to turn blue (moldy) when it spoils.

This is why, like Legal Sea Foods, using blue as an accent rather than a primary color may be your best bet.

Orange

Bright, peppy orange means energy and optimism. It’s a great attention-grabber, although some people can find it overwhelming. 

When you may want to use it

Orange will encourage people to keep things lively. It can work really well in a sunny cafe or coffee shop. Guests will stay and chat longer in an orange space. 

When to avoid it

Orange can feel immature and unprofessional to some, so it’s probably not a great choice for a fine-dining restaurant. But, like red, a deeper hue like pumpkin or terra cotta could work. This may be another color that would do well as an accent, instead of a feature color.

Green

Green is the color of nature. It promotes harmony, relaxation, and peace. It can reduce stress and encourage tranquility. 

When you may want to use it

Earthy, muted greens make people think of freshness. So it’s a great choice for a juice bar or restaurant with a focus on light, healthy food. 

Bright, vibrant greens can also work, but a little lime green goes a long way. So consider reserving bright green for an accent color, like fresh greenery on the tables or green tile behind the bar.

When to avoid it

Since green is associated with freshness, it’s not the best choice for a meat-heavy restaurant, like a steakhouse. Plus, green walls can reflect on your food, and no one wants to eat a green-toned steak. 

Black

Black is the color of power, strength, and sophistication. It is chic and timeless. 

When you may want to use it

Black is a great accent color. It looks incredibly smart against white, in tile or textiles. Legendary ad man David Ogilvy always said that black type on a white background was easiest to read, so  it’s a good choice for menus as well.

When to avoid it

It probably doesn’t need to be said, but an all-black room is not very inviting. However, if it was done in a variety of different textures, it could be done. Not for the faint of heart!

Purple

Purple is the color of royalty. It can bring to mind dignity, wisdom, and power. But like blue, it isn’t usually associated with hunger or food. 

When you may want to use it

Purple is a bit exotic in the realm of restaurant colors, so you could consider it if you want to stand out. It’s also associated with Mardi Gras and New Orleans, so it could be an option for a cajun restaurant. 

When to avoid it

With its similarities to blue, purple is a dangerous color to use for a restaurant. It can cast an unappealing hue on both people and food.

But a dusty mauve or amethyst color could create a nice backdrop to an otherwise neutral space. Just avoid bright purple, or your dining room could look like a circus.

Yellow

Yellow is a cheerful, uplifting color. It’s sunny and warm. However, it can also be overwhelming. It can make people uneasy and more likely to lose their tempers.

When you may want to use it

If you want to turn tables, yellow may be a good option. Like red, it grabs your attention, but discourages lingering. 

Consider yellow for fast food, cafes, and yogurt or ice cream shops — places that your guests won’t be spending several hours.

When to avoid it

If you want your guests to feel comfortable and relaxed, yellow is not the color for you. Also, make sure to look at swatches of yellow in all different light levels before committing. What can appear bright and sunny in the morning could have nasty green undertones in the afternoon!

Pink

Light pink can be a calming color, making you think of sensitivity or romance. But a shocking fuchsia or hot pink can act more like red — stimulating and energetic. 

When you may want to use it

Most people consider pink a playful color, so it’s great for a fun, laid back restaurant. A bakery or cafe could be a good candidate for pink.

When to avoid it

“Millennial pink” was incredibly trendy in the past few years, with restaurants all over the country dousing themselves in the color. While they are very lovely (and look great on Instagram), the trend is on the way back down. So to avoid looking dated, it may be a better idea to use splashes of pink instead of pink walls, pink tables, pink chairs…

Grey, Beige, or Greige

Grey and beige are solid and dependable. These earthy, natural colors are sophisticated and mature. They’re also incredibly popular in home decor, so guests will feel comfortable with the colors.

When you may want to use them

Grey, beige, and greige make people feel relaxed and unhurried. So they’re good choices if you want people to linger. 

They’re also versatile. You can dress them up or down, and change out curtains, furniture, and fixtures without having to change the wall color. Plus, they generally look good in both bright and dim light. 

When to avoid them

If you want to churn and burn, pick something flashier. Also, grey can be very cool. Warm it up with wood tones and warm accent colors to prevent it from getting too clinical.

Brown

Brown is the color of wholesome sincerity. It is grounded and safe. brown makes a great earthy backdrop to other vibrant colors like yellow and turquoise.

When you may want to use it

Brown is associated with nature and the outdoors. It can be a great compliment to green.

It’s also a warming color, associated with chocolate, coffee, and baked bread. A coffee shop, deli, or bakery would be cozy in tan or light brown.

When to avoid it

If the rest of the space is very neutral, brown may not be the best choice. Too much of a good thing, in this instance, can become very boring. 

White

White represents innocence, peace, and hope. It is often associated with cleanliness, which may be why a lot of health food restaurants are mainly white. Choosing a white can be surprisingly difficult, as many have blue, yellow, pink, or green undertones. 

When you may want to use it

If you have a small space, white can make it look larger. It can also help to brighten up a dim room. It’s a simple backdrop color that you can then decorate with pops of color and art, without it looking too busy.

White is also great with texture. For example, white subway tile or penny tile are classic choices, Grey or black grout can add some interest. And white curtains in gauze or a rustic linen can warm up a room.

When to avoid it

If your restaurant is already large, painting it white can make it look cavernous. You may be better off with a darker hue to make your space feel cozier. 

Final notes

Clearly, there is no one color that you should always (or never) use. 

But a few things to remember — never rely on that tiny little paint chip from the hardware store when making your choice. Always get a sample and paint a big square on the wall. See how it looks at all times of day and night before making a decision. 

Also, the pros say it’s easier to start with a textile, like a curtain or a cushion color, before selecting paint colors. That way you’ll have something to coordinate your wall color with, instead of staring at the hundreds of paint color options with no guidance.

And if you really can’t decide — it may be time to call in a professional.

5 Experiences to Add to Your Restaurant and Shake Up Your Customer Traffic

Experiences are key to engaging customers. Sure, sometimes customers will want to just sit down and have a meal, have a tasting, eat dessert, or whatever your specialty is. But in other instances, they want to be entertained. By hosting different experiences throughout the year at your restaurant, you can bring excitement to their week. Offering these events can shake up your customer traffic and show your offerings in a new light. For example, going out for tacos just doesn’t have the same ring as heading to a Tex-Mex Taco Tuesday Fiesta. It’s all how you market it!

With any experience, there are a few must-do’s that come with planning a successful event at your restaurant.

  • Plan in advance! There’s a sweet spot between giving customers too much notice and not enough. Have your events scheduled at least a month in advance.
  • You have to advertise! No matter what kind of event you’re hosting for your restaurant, be sure to publicize it. Fliers, Facebook events, and staff advertising to customers are all great ways to let the public know about your big plans. If they don’t know, they can’t come! 

Let’s take a look at some ideas you can put into action at your business:

Throw a Theme Party

This is a great way to show off the versatility and skills of your kitchen! There are so many themes out there, you may want to try and incorporate one into your regular monthly (or weekly) agenda. Themes could be food-based, TV show-inspired, sport-centered, and decade-focused- the options are endless! Having a theme in place can help dictate the menu, decor, music, and overall ambiance for the event. This is a great event to use sparingly to intrigue new customers and bring regulars through the door that might have been coming anyway.

Craft an Art Class

There are many different ways you can incorporate an arts and crafts night for your establishment. From crafting wood signs to painting a masterpiece, let your customers’ creativity run wild, all at your restaurant. This kind of experience works particularly well if you are a tasting room or winery where you serve alcohol (versus patrons spending their dollars elsewhere BYOB-style). 

Not crafty yourself? No problem! Get in contact with a local crafter to supervise the project. Discuss how many they can oversee and the space you’re willing to dedicate. For this event, we recommend creating a limited number of tickets to not only pay for the crafter, but also have a “deposit” on the event. Include light appetizers and refreshments as part of the ticket, while also offering a special drink menu made for the event. Touches like this really elevates the event from an art class to a full experience, leading up to when your customer walks away with their latest craft creation. 

Create a Contest

Bring out a little healthy competition between your customers with a fun contest! Contests can be as simple as karaoke, darts, or trivia. Show off your outdoor space with contests like cornhole, canjam, darts, or any other yard games that encourage customers to pal around and imbibe in the evening’s offerings. 

Host a Yappy Hour

Dog-friendly patios may be the regular at your restaurant or bar, so why not make an event out of it! Many dog owners jump at the chance to have their dogs socializing while enjoying a night out for themselves. Host food or drink specials for the owners but don’t forget to have water and dog-friendly treats for the pups of honor. 

Before you get too far in the planning process, check your local jurisdiction and codes to make sure you can comply with the laws surrounding dogs in restaurants or food-areas

Help a Local Cause

Get old and new customers alike to rally around a cause at your restaurant. Having a fundraiser can be spectacular for business, employee morale, and most importantly, the cause! Working with a local school, team, or group promotes local partnerships and bring many new customers into your establishment. You may even gain a new crop of regulars!

If there’s not a specific event or cause you want to host at your restaurant, take a poll of your employees’ favorite causes. This can spark some ideas and even create a calendar of giving to get everyone on board. 

What kind of experiences does your restaurant have to engage customers throughout the year? Let us know here or on Facebook. We’d love to hear your thoughts!

What are the Different Kinds of Wood Restaurant Tables?

There’s a lot more to selecting wood restaurant tables than choosing a wood type. There are finishes and styles to consider, the atmosphere of your restaurant, where the tables will be located, and how durable they need to be. 

That variety is what makes wood such an attractive tabletop material. There is a wood style for every need, from the upscale steakhouse to the casual beer garden. Their rich, natural feel will warm up any restaurant!

Here is a breakdown of the different kinds of wood restaurant tables to help you understand your options.

Indoor Options

Most wood restaurant tables are best for indoor use only. Wood naturally swells and contracts when it’s exposed to large shifts in temperature and humidity. So keeping wood furniture in a climate-controlled environment is the best way to prevent warping or checking, and extend the life of your furniture. 

Solid Plank 

Solid plank table tops consist of planks of wood tightly glued together into a flat surface. They can come in a wide variety of hardwoods, including pine, oak, maple, cherry, walnut, mahogany, and more. 

Solid plank tables are durable and hold up well to regular restaurant use. And since they’re built with simple techniques, they can be more affordable than some other wood restaurant table options.

Butcher Block 

Butcher block tables are made of thin strips of wood glued together and planed flat. Unlike the solid plank tables which show the face grain of the wood, butcher block exposes the edge grain. 

The tight fit of the strips makes butcher block less susceptible to warping or checking, and makes it incredibly durable. It’s also resistant to bacteria! That’s why so many chefs and butchers use butcher block as a prep or cutting surface. 

Quarter Sawn

Quarter-sawing is a method of ripping boards from the tree trunk that highlights the beautiful natural ring patterns of the wood. Each restaurant table made from quarter sawn wood will be completely unique, since no two pieces of lumber will be the same. 

Quarter sawn wood is resistant to warping and can be stained to a variety of different finishes. It will also have a smooth surface that will age even over time.

Reclaimed Barn Wood 

Reclaimed barn wood is exactly what it sounds like — wood that has been removed from old barns and re-purposed into something else. Using reclaimed material is environmentally friendly.  It keeps the old material out of the landfill, and reduces the number of new trees cut down.

Reclaimed barn wood brings natural variations to restaurant tables. The planks will all be aged and weathered a little differently. But they are generally planed to consistent thickness before use, so you’ll still get a nice flat table.

Restaurant tables made from reclaimed barn wood will have a warm, rustic appeal. They would be great for any restaurant looking for an old-world atmosphere.

Distressed Wood 

Distressed wood gives you the look of reclaimed barn wood, but at a lower cost. It is deliberately damaged to give it the appearance of age and use. Some methods of distressing can include hitting the wood with hammers or chains, using a wire brush, or even burning scorch marks into the wood.

Wood Slabs

A wood slab table is a statement piece. Made from one solid piece of wood, this type of table is meant to be impressive. Wood slab tables often have live edges, meaning the wood follows the contours of the tree rather than being cut into a perfect rectangle.

Due to their high cost and large size, a wood slab table is generally something you wouldn’t use throughout your whole restaurant. But they make a great addition to a private dining room or special occasion space. 

Outdoor Wood Tables 

Wood tables inside are great, but what are the different kinds of wood restaurant tables that you can use outdoors? 

You’ll want to look for materials that are weather resistant, so they will last longer than one or two seasons. And you may also want to consider the weight of the furniture, so it won’t blow around in the wind.

Fortunately, there are a couple wood restaurant table options that will work.

Teak 

Teak has a dense wood grain and natural oils that help to protect it from the elements. This innate weather-resistance makes it an ideal material for outdoor use.

Without maintenance, teak will patina into a silvery-grey. If you want it to stay brown, it will require some regular sanding and oiling. While teak can hold up to the elements, it will fare best over the years in a covered area where it doesn’t get rained on or bake in the sun. 

When well-maintained, teak furniture can last 60 or 70 years!

Resin-Coated

Resin keeps out moisture and will prevent wear or cracking of your wood furniture.

With its versatility and durability, wood is a great material for table tops. This natural, renewable resource will bring warmth and elegance to your dining room for years to come!

If you’re looking for wood restaurant tables for your restaurant, check out our wide selection at East Coast Chair & Barstool!

Promoting Nutrition on Your Restaurant’s Menu

The average American eats out between 4 and 5 times per week. That is a lot of food consumed in restaurants. And most of that food is probably not low-cal. 

As restauranteurs, what is your obligation to provide healthier menu options? None at all, really. You’re in the business of providing delicious food and a good time, not babysitting other people’s food choices. 

Still, promoting more balanced nutrition may be a good move. More people are concerned about their health than ever before. Providing some healthier choices and more dietary information could make it easier for them to fit your food into a balanced diet. 

If this sounds like something you’d like to explore, here are some tips for promoting nutrition on your restaurant’s menu.

Provide Nutrition Information

Providing calorie counts for menu items has been a requirement for chain restaurants with 20 or more locations since mid-2018. But for the small chains and independent restaurants, there is no such requirement. 

Still, some restaurants may choose to add calorie counts to their menus. Research shows that when calories are listed, diners order meals with about 3% fewer calories. While that’s not a massive decrease, that reduction could show positive benefits over time. 

If you’d like to add nutrition information, you can send food items to a lab for analysis. Be prepared to spend between $200 and $800 per sample for high-tech testing! 

A much more affordable option would be to use online databases to estimate calories for your dishes. Resources like the USDA Food Composition Database or apps like My Fitness Pal can help you to easily calculate calories as well as carbs, protein, and fiber content.

In the wake of the new calorie-disclosure regulation for chain restaurants, there has been some concern expressed by doctors and therapists who treat disordered eating. People who are preoccupied with calories can take a step backward on their road to recovery if they’re unable to avoid calorie counts on menus.  It discourages them from making intuitive choices about their food intake and instead encourages a focus on the numbers — a behavior that treatment tries to curb.

A solution to this problem could be to have nutrition information available, but not immediately present. Add a note at the bottom of the menu stating “Nutrition information available upon request”. This would inform those concerned with calories and macronutrients that they can access the information without potentially derailing the recovery efforts of someone battling an eating disorder.

Highlight Healthy Options

Drawing attention to a high-profit menu item with a decorative frame is an old (but effective) menu trick. Why not try it for your healthier menu options as well?

You could use a frame, contrasting color, or extra white space to feature lighter menu options, positioning them as special and desirable choices. Use the same approach with a healthy seasonal special. Create a limited-time dish using in-season local produce. Display it on a table tent or menu insert to create buzz.

You’ll get the opportunity to be creative in the kitchen while also encouraging your customers to choose this healthy option.

Have A “Lighter” Menu Section

Rather than sprinkling your healthier offerings throughout the menu, consider gathering them all together in a “lighter” section. By dedicating menu real estate to some healthy options, you’ll position your restaurant as a place that caters to the health-conscious. 

A good example: Maudie’s Tex-Mex. Tex-Mex food is notoriously heavy, with cheese, sour cream, beans, and rice galore. So Maudie’s has a “Skinny Tex-Mex” section on their menu, where all options are below 500 calories. 

People looking for a healthy entree will know exactly where to look, and people looking for a high-cal extravaganza will know what to avoid!

Make “Healthy” the Default

There is no rule that says cheeseburgers have to come with fries. No requirement that pasta must come with a side of bread. No law decreeing that steak should be served with mashed potatoes.

By making healthy sides the default instead, diners will have to actively select the less healthy option, instead of receiving it automatically. Of course, if a customer wants fries with their burger, they can have them. But what if the burger came with a side salad instead, and the customer had to request the fries? 

The Blue Zones Project, a non-profit dedicated to making healthy choices easier, advocates making the healthy choice the convenient choice. And there’s some science to back them up on the efficacy of such a policy. A study of nearly 1,200 children aged 8 to 18 indicated that two-thirds would not object to receiving fruit and vegetable sides instead of french fries. 

Some fast food restaurants have started to move in this direction. For example, McDonald’s now offers a choice of side with their Happy Meals — apple slices, fries, or yogurt. But it’s still a choice, and some locations still default to french fries. A better move would be to serve all Happy Meals with apple slices and only provide french fries by request.

Add Symbols to Identify Safe Foods

Make your menu easy to navigate for people with certain dietary restrictions. A simple V (vegan), VG (vegetarian) or GF (gluten-free) can help people to quickly find the menu options that they can eat.

If those symbols will clutter your menu too much, consider having supplemental menus by request. A Gluten Free, Dairy Free, or Nut Free menu will be much appreciated by people with potentially dangerous allergies. And it will take some of the pressure off of your service staff who may not have memorized every ingredient in every dish.

Of course, they should still communicate allergies to the kitchen so the cooks can be sure to prevent any cross-contamination! But customers with allergies will be happy to avoid the minefield of hidden ingredients that they face every time they dine out.

Support your Neighborhood

Your restaurant is part of a larger community, so consider that community’s interests when adding healthy menu options. For example, the largest percentage of Weight Watchers users are over the age of 65. So if you live in an area with a lot of retirees, you could consider adding Weight Watchers point values to your menu.

If the keto craze has caught on like wildfire in your area, you may want to consider some high-fat menu items with very limited carbs. Do you have a big Crossfit gym just down the road? Make sure you have some high-protein options on the menu!

And once you’ve updated your menu, let people know! Online message boards or physical bulletin boards at gyms and fitness centers can be great places to get the word out. 

Consider the Kids

Far too many kid’s menus look like this:

  • Chicken Fingers
  • Macaroni & Cheese
  • Spaghetti
  • The End

Nary a vegetable in sight! Kid’s menus are treated as an afterthought. And it’s a shame because this is such an easy fix! You probably have the making of a healthy and tasty kid’s menu in your restaurant kitchen right now. 

Chicken doesn’t have to be fried. Lightly breaded and baked chicken will make most kids happy. Serve it with a side of steamed carrots or broccoli. Mom and Dad will know if their little ones won’t eat the veggies, and they’ll make a substitution if necessary.

A peanut butter and banana sandwich on wheat bread provides fiber, protein, and natural carbohydrates. And it could not be easier to make. Fresh fruit, yogurt, and applesauce are simple sides that are low in fat and sodium.

Providing healthy options for the kids makes sense. The parents will feel good about feeding them at your restaurant, and you’ll be high on the list of places to visit again.

Not every restaurant needs to be a monument to health and wellness. After all, no one wants to live in a world without pizza! But keeping nutrition in mind makes good sense. You’ll increase the likelihood of the health-conscious considering your restaurant as an option. And you may be able to help some customers to live a healthier, longer life at the same time. 

If it’s good for your business and good for your patrons! 

How Restaurants Can Use Pinterest Effectively

Pinterest may not have the eye-watering user numbers as Facebook (2.4 billion/month) or Instagram (1 billion/month).

But at 250 million monthly users, there is still a robust (and growing) base of dedicated Pinners out there.

And the people who do use Pinterest are the people you want to reach! Half of millennials use Pinterest — the generation that eats out more than any other. And a full 7 in 10 moms report using it as well. When you consider that 90% of women control their household spending, it becomes clear that your customers are on Pinterest!

If you’re not familiar with the platform, here’s how it works:

Pinterest is a way to save images from across the internet in one place. Users create “boards” with whatever themes they want and then save and organize “pins” to each board. Just about any image on the internet can be saved to Pinterest. And each pin links back to the original source. For you, that could be your restaurant website or Facebook page.

So how can you, a restauranteur, use Pinterest as a helpful marketing tool?

Set up a Business Account

The first thing you’ll need is a business account. A business account (rather than a personal account) will provide analytics and allow you to use Pinterest’s advertising features.

After you’ve created your account, you can complete your business profile. Add your website, logo, and some information about your restaurant. 

You’ll also want to follow the instructions to confirm your website. By using this feature, you’ll get additional helpful analytics. It will also add your logo to any pins that come from your website. There’s a tutorial here to help link your Pinterest account to several different types of websites.

Create Boards

Once your account is set up and linked to your website, you can start posting your own content to Pinterest. 

To start, create a Board. A Board is simply a place to organize pins with a similar theme.

You can create as many boards as you like. For example, Chipotle has 21 different boards on Pinterest. Some examples: 

  • Grow — A board focused on gardening. This makes sense for Chipotle, since one of their core values is a focus on fresh ingredients and responsible farming.
  • Cook — Inspiring recipes that they’ve saved from other blogs and websites.
  • Build — Highlights new stores going up around the world.
  • Wear — Dedicated to Chipotle merchandise.

You could do one focused on your menu and recipes. Another could be pictures of charitable events that your staff participates in. 

You could also have a board highlighting interesting things to do in your city. Or if your restaurant is in a historic area, you could set up a board to share pictures of the neighborhood as it’s changed through the years. 

One helpful feature of Pinterest — you can add collaborators to your board. If you have a photographer or marketing person on staff, you may want to add them as collaborators so they can make their own pins.

Start Pinning

After you have your first board set up, you can start adding pins. A pin is simply an image card (along with a caption and website link) that you will save to your board. Pins can be added from other sites across the web, or you can upload images directly to Pinterest. 

Keep in mind that Pinterest is a tool of discovery. You want your images to be interesting and helpful. People look to Pinterest for inspiration and recommendations. So pins like recipes, table layouts, cooking tips, or wine pairings could all do well. 

Also, think beyond the food. Pin pictures of picturesque areas of your restaurant. Not only will this attract potential diners, but your pins may get re-pinned by interior designers or branding firms. The result will be more exposure for your restaurant.

Don’t think you have to create 100% unique content to add to Pinterest. Different social platforms have different users. So it’s okay to re-purpose some of your Instagram posts for your Pinterest audience!

After you’ve been pinning for a while, look at your analytics to see which pins get the most engagement and which drive the most traffic to your website. Repeat their success by adding more pins with similar themes.

Encourage Other Pinners

Many Pinterest fans download the “Pin It” button to their browsers. This lets them easily capture images from other websites as they’re exploring the web. 

But you should also add a Pinterest button to your own website, just like a Facebook or Twitter button. This will encourage users to share your content on their own Pinterest boards for free, user-generated promotion of your restaurant.

Just like any other social media site, one of the goals is engagement. But Pinterest users don’t do as much commenting as users on some other social sites. Re-pins and likes are more common than comments. 

So encourage re-pins of your content. Maggiano’s Little Italy did a “Pin it to Win It” promotion with huge success. Each week, they would award a $100 gift card to a Pinterest user who had re-pinned one of their images. The result was a huge increase in Pinterest engagement.

Remember, the door swings both ways. So when a user shares one of your pins, leave them a comment to say thank you. 

Also, search Pinterest for content that is relevant to your restaurant. If you serve Italian food, search for pins related to home-made pasta, popular Continental classics, or even images of the Italian countryside. Give this relevant content a like or re-pin it to one of your own boards.

By engaging with other users, you’ll encourage them to engage back.

When to Pin

Pin regularly. Spread out your pins across the week, rather than saving them up and pinning them all at once.

Some stats say that you should be pinning at least 5 times per day. While more pins will maximize your engagement, don’t get too caught up in the numbers when you’re just starting out. Commit to pinning a few times per week, and increase your frequency from there.

Research indicates that the best times to pin on Pinterest are:

  • 2 pm — 4 pm
  • 8 pm — 11 pm
  • 2 am — 4 am 

Pinterest makes it easy for you to post during these peak times. After you create your pin, you can schedule it to post anytime in the next two weeks. You can create and schedule up to 30 posts at a time through your Pinterest business account.

Request Rich Pins

Rich Pins provide a little more oomph to your posts. The purpose of Rich Pins is to add extra information to your pin without requiring the user to click through to the source site. And the information stays with the pin, even if it’s re-pinned and the caption is changed. One study suggests they can increase website traffic by 36%!  

Rich Pins are limited to four specific types: Recipe, Article, Product, and App.

Product Pins include pricing and where to buy. You could use this type of Rich Pin if you sell merchandise or pre-packaged food items online. 

Recipe Pins list ingredients, cook time, and serving sizes. You can use this pin to share a popular restaurant recipe with your followers.

Article Pins include a headline, author, and article description. Post an Article Pin to share your good press with the world.

And App Pins allow users to install an app directly from the pin, without visiting an app store. You can use this type of pin if your restaurant has its own app.

You’ll have to request Rich Pins be added to your account before you can use them on Pinterest. Make sure your website is confirmed (see Set up Your Business Account above) before you request Rich Pins. But it’s worth the extra step to gain access to this valuable tool.

Consider Paid Advertising

The low cost of social media is one of its great selling points. But if you want to boost your reach, consider using Pinterest’s Promoted Pins. 

Pinterest estimates that it provides a $4.30 gross return for every advertising dollar spent. That’s a pretty good ROI! 

And unlike Instagram or Facebook ads, where there is no way to save the ad for future use, Pinterest ads are all pinnable! So if a bride-to-be sees your Promoted Pin for catering, she can easily save it to her wedding board as a reminder to inquire about pricing!

And when someone saves your Promoted Pin, their followers can see it as well. Even after the paid promotion ends, that pin will still be on the users’ boards.

Wrapping Up

55% of Pinterest’s users say they log on to find products, vs. only 12% for Facebook and Instagram! So it’s clear that Pinterest is where the buyers are.

While the platform isn’t quite as straightforward as Facebook or Instagram as a marketing tool, users are still highly engaged and represent a large portion of restaurant customers. Adding it to your roster of social media platforms can expand your reach, earn more brand awareness, and bring bodies through the door! 

With such a powerful tool at your disposal, it’s time to start pinning!


IsoTops: A Low Maintenance Alternative for Indoor or Outdoor Tables

From finishing the schedule to dealing with a dinner rush to covering shifts yourself, you don’t want to be worrying about the durability of your table tops each time you open up your patio. As a restaurant owner, you have enough to worry about!

IsoTop Sliq tables provide a modern, stylish table option that are still subtle enough to coordinate with any theme or concept. True to the “Sliq” name, these IsoTops have a thin European ½” edge profile that look great in any of the finishes.

Add character to your patio with these five matte finish options by scrolling through this slideshow:

  • East Coast Chair & Barstool's Gray Oak IsoTop Sliq Table Top
    Gray Oak IsoTop Sliq Table Top: A great alternative to putting real wood outside with its wood grain pattern!
  • Gray Oak- A great alternative to putting real wood outside with its wood grain pattern!
  • Cement- This pattern has the appearance of a poured cement, without the roughness!  
  • Dark Mica- If you like the look of stone, Dark Mica has the color and fine details that make it look like a stone table top!
  • Metal Line- This table is distressed with variations in color and even looks like it has a texture, all with a matte finish!
  • Black Steel- A darker, weathered look, this metal-looking table gives a lot of character to your outdoor space!

Not only do these table tops look good, they’re versatile too! IsoTops are a great option because they can be used indoors or outdoors at your restaurant.

These tables are made extremely durable through their manufacturing process. A combination of blended resins, wax, and wood pulp mixed with high heat and pressure create the characteristically dense core of these tables. Each IsoTop is fully laminated with several layers for extra durability and is pre-stressed to avoid warping.

Give your outdoor dining the smooth finish and look of durable IsoTop Sliq tables.

Which IsoTop pattern would you want to integrate into your outdoor design?

4 Up and Coming Food Cities of 2019

Once upon a time, the established wisdom declared that great food in this country was the domain of New York City. Of course, this was never actually true. There was and is great food across the nation, from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine.

Still, sometimes a surge occurs in a particular city that makes the rest of us sit up and take notice. A place that was never known for its food is suddenly attracting attention from critics and foodies alike.

This seems to be happening more and more these days. Creative young chefs with dreams of starting their own restaurant are flocking to smaller cities where rents are reasonable and competition is less fierce.

A newly vibrant restaurant scene often accompanies a town’s revitalization. Old warehouse spaces in a defunct downtown become hip new eateries, attracting more shops, residents, and eventually, public transit.

So it’s always exciting when a new (to us) food hotspot makes waves. Here are four up-and-coming food cities that we think you’ll want to visit!

Sacramento

When the land surrounding your city grows 40% of the country’s fruit and a third of its produce, the phrase “farm-to-table” takes on a whole new meaning.

California’s Central Valley provides produce for restaurants across the nation. But Sacramento’s proximity means those carrots weren’t picked two weeks ago — they were picked two days ago.

Long overshadowed by Los Angeles to the south and San Francisco to the southwest, Sacramento is becoming a food destination of its own. The city provides a respite from the outrageous pricing in San Francisco — one of the most expensive rental markets in the country.

More affordable restaurant space for chefs equals more affordable menu prices for patrons.

One of the hallmarks of a burgeoning food scene seems to be at least one upscale food hall. And wouldn’t you know, Sacramento got their very own in November 2018. The Bank, located in a 100-year-old bank building, currently has four operating restaurants, with more to come.

Where to Eat in Sacramento

So many delicious options. Try Beast and Bounty. The “Beast” section of the menu provides a range of meat and seafood dishes, while the “Bounty” section focuses on imaginative vegetarian options.

If you like to let the chef take the lead, try The Kitchen. This award-winning restaurant only has one option — their seasonal five-course prix fixe menu. Past courses have included morel and crème fraiche tortelloni and rose beef loin poached in truffle butter.

Tampa

Across the country, the good people of Tampa, Florida are experiencing a food revolution of their own.

After an economic decline in the 70s and 80s, the city is undergoing a revitalization. Upgrades to the Tampa Riverwalk, new downtown mixed-use development, and museum improvements are all part of the area’s resurgence.

Native Floridians will tell you that there has always had a strong food culture here, thanks in part to the culinary traditions brought by Cuban, German, Italian, and Spanish immigrants.

But that has all become more visible lately. A few recent James Beard nominations and the renewal of neighborhoods like Seminole Heights has put Tampa on the food map.

A walkable neighborhood of historic homes, Seminole Heights has become a mecca for vintage shops, craft cocktails, and tasty eats. Local favorite Rooster & the Till serves upscale creative small plates. A few minutes away, Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe keeps the area funky with comfort food, eclectic art, and local live music.

Ybor City is another foodie destination. Just north of Downtown Tampa, this neighborhood is like a love letter to the history, art, and food of the region. Visit in April to experience Ybor Aficionado Days — a walking tour through Ybor’s “tapas trail” with bites at every stop.

Where to Eat in Tampa

Tampa is home to not one, but two new food halls. First to open was the Hall on Franklin. It has a seafood and raw bar, poke, dessert, coffee, and cocktails.

Newer on the scene is Heights Public Market with contemporary ramen, modern Cuban, sushi, pizza, specialty sandwiches, and more. It’s all inside the Armature Works Building — the former storage facility for Tampa’s streetcars.

Indianapolis

Outside of Chicago, the midwest doesn’t get a lot of love from the culinary set. And that’s a real shame, because cities like St. Louis, Missouri; Lincoln, Nebraska; and Madison, Wisconsin all have some amazing restaurants.

But today, we’re going to talk about Indianapolis. Once you get away from the mega-sports complexes downtown, you’ll find international flavors, new American cuisine, and cocktails from traditional to tiki.

The International Marketplace is a haven of tastes from around the world. You’ll find food from countries as varied as Ethiopia, Nigeria, Guinea, Japan, China, India, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Mexico — too many to list. There are 80 different ethnic restaurants here!

Not far away is the Broad Ripple neighborhood, one of Indianapolis’ seven cultural districts. The area features unique spots like Locally Grown Gardens. Part restaurant, part farmer’s market, the stars of the show are the hog roast and sugar cream pie.  

To learn a little while you’re there, visit Chef JJ’s Back Yard. They offer classes ranging from pizza to seafood to kamado-style steak to smoking in a Big Green Egg.

And of course, there is a food hall taking over a once-defunct historical property. The Garage Food Hall in the Bottleworks District is coming to Indianapolis’ old Coca-Cola bottling plant. Expected to open in spring 2020, the area will hold more than 25 food and drink concepts.

Where to Eat in Indianapolis

Located in a renovated 1924 factory warehouse, James Beard semifinalist Bluebeard regularly tops the local “best of” lists. Menu items range from small plates of modern oysters Rockefeller to full-sized ribeyes and pork chops.

For a more laid-back meal, try Tinker Street near downtown. Korean chicken & waffles, summer rolls filled with poached shrimp and mango, and pad thai with squash noodles are all on the eclectic menu. They even serve “corn dogs” — but foie gras bratwurst and pepper jelly make them decidedly grown-up.

Las Vegas

To those of us who have only visited the City of Lights for the strip, it could be surprising to consider it a dining destination. While there is good food at the casinos, it doesn’t have the reputation of being terribly imaginative.

But an interesting thing happened when big name chefs started bringing their concepts to the area in the 1990s and 2000s.

Once their restaurants were established, the celebrity chefs went back to their homes in fashionable New York or LA. But someone had to run the kitchens in their absence. So they hired great young talent.

And when it came time for those young chefs to make their next move, some found the low cost of living and great weather enough reason to stay in Vegas.

The result is an exciting food scene to supplement some of the great food that was already here, hidden in plain site.

The hip Arts District has experienced a rebirth, full of galleries, antique shops, condos, and of course, restaurants.

Executive Chef James Trees of Esther’s Kitchen cut his teeth at the Bellagio and Caesar’s Palace before opening Esther’s in 2016. It’s now a local favorite serving “Italian soul food” like bucatini carbonara and brunch pizza with quail eggs and bacon.

In Spring Mountain, a less trendy part of town, a huge commercial Chinatown has sprung up. There are an estimated 150 restaurants here!

In fact, “Chinatown” is a bit of a misnomer — cuisine ranges from regional Chinese to sushi, udon, ramen, pho, Thai, and more. It’s a cultural melting pot with a massive following from the locals. Popular joints can have lines day and night.

Where to Eat in Las Vegas

Forte Tapas looks unassuming at first glance. Located in a strip mall, it may not be where you’d expect to find Bulgarian tapas or cocktails like a Smoked Vanilla Chai Old Fashioned. But they’re celebrating their 10-year anniversary, so clearly they’re doing something right.

Back in Chinatown, visit Lamaii for outstanding Thai food in an upscale setting. They have all the standards like Pad Thai and Pad See Aew. But try the Mun Pu Fried Rice — rice cooked in crab fat with lump crab meat.

So many delicious places to eat, and so little time to get to them all!

What do you think of our list? Are there any up-and-coming food cities that you’re excited about? Let us know below!

What is the Cost of Shipping for Restaurant Furniture?

FAQ's From the Files of East Coast Chair & Barstool

We live in a world where we’ve become accustomed to free or cheap shipping: free two-day shipping on that new laptop that you bought from Amazon Prime, or a flat $5.99 shipping on that silver charm bracelet that you got your wife for mother’s day. Those items ship via small package carriers like the US Postal Service, UPS Ground, or FedEx. They’re limited in size, weighing only a couple of pounds on average, and arrive at your front door in days.

Not all goods are as easy, or as cheap, to ship, however. Take restaurant furniture, for example. It’s big, bulky, heavy, and often ordered in multiple pieces (think 40 chairs, 10 bar stools, and 10 tables). For that reason, furniture is put on pallets and ships via a different method called less-than-truckload (LTL) carrier. LTL carriers take large palletized freight, and deliver it to your business on large semi-trucks.

There are many factors that determine the cost of shipping restaurant furniture via LTL carrier, some are obvious, and others, while not immediately apparent, make sense when you think about them. Here is a short list of the most important variables in the shipping calculation, along with a brief explanation.

Distance Between Shipper & Customer

The distance between the shipper and the customer (receiver) is one of the more obvious factors in the cost of shipping; we naturally expect that shipping from Boston to California will be more expensive than, say, shipping from Pennsylvania to Ohio. More distance means higher fuel costs and more driver time (wages). In addition, long trips often require a team of drivers that can alternate driving time in order to get the shipment to its destination in a timely manner.

Location

Shippers have what are called “good lanes” and “bad lanes”. A good lane is one that sees a lot of daily freight traffic, so the carrier knows that if they send a truck to that location, the odds are good that they will be able to fill the truck on the return trip. A bad lane is one in which there isn’t a lot of freight coming out, which means that the carrier may have to return empty, or only partially full. If a carrier can’t fill the truck, then they are making less money, or even losing money, on that trip. If a lane is bad for a carrier, then they will often charge more per piece to compensate themselves for the fact that they may not be able to fill the truck on the return. One prime example of a “bad lane” is Florida. There is a lot of freight going in to Florida, but not much coming out (for various reasons), so carriers will often charge a premium to deliver there.

Destination Type (Residential, Commercial, or Limited Access)

Customers often ask why it costs more to send a shipment to their home than it does to send the same shipment to their business. There are actually many reasons, but we’ll just list a few. First, businesses tend to be located in areas where large trucks can easily get in and out (if not, then they’re called limited access locations and are subject to the same fees as residential locations). Residential streets, on the other hand, are often too narrow for large semis to maneuver, so carriers have to send in a smaller truck, which means more handling of your freight. Second, businesses generally have somebody (or multiple people) and equipment on hand during business hours to unload the truck quickly and efficiently. Carriers know that they can just show up, open their doors, and the employees of the business will take care of the rest. With residential delivery, carriers have to call ahead to coordinate delivery, work around the homeowner’s schedule, and wait there until they unload the truck – often by hand.

Size of the Shipment

To simplify this point, let’s say you’re an LTL carrier that delivers from New York City to Orlando, FL. You know that to cover your costs and make a profit, you need to charge $3000 per truck for the trip. Now, a customer comes along and wants to ship 100 barstools to Orlando, which will take up about ⅓ of the truck. How much do you need to charge them? Of course, $1000! Now this is an over-simplification of the complex algorithms that carriers use to determine freight rates, but it does illustrate the point that the more of the truck you take up with your shipment, the more you pay.

Weight of the Shipment

You might be tempted to think that weight is the biggest factor in determining your freight costs, but that would be wrong. Weight does play a role, but it’s a smaller role than other variables. For example, according to one freight carrier website, you can ship a 48” x 48” x 60” pallet that weighs 200 pounds from Mercer, PA to Beverly Hills, CA (thank you Beverly Hills 90210 for being perpetually stuck in my brain and giving me a test zip code for life) for around $300. If we double the weight to 400 pounds, the rate only goes up around $50. Triple the weight, and you only increase another $20. How is this possible? Freight shippers use something called freight class, which is based on the density of your shipment: large, light materials have a high freight class, while smaller, denser materials have a lower freight class. As we raise the weight of the shipment, our density calculations go up, and our freight class goes down, which means that our overall rate only goes up a little bit for each additional pound that we ship.

Additional Services (Accessorials)

Accessorials are small additional services carriers provide that add up in a big way. Need a phone call before delivery? That’ll be up to $25, please. Want a lift gate to lower your pallets to the ground? They can range between $50 up to $200 depending on the carrier. Want the driver to bring your freight into the building? Don’t even ask! The point is that accessorial charges can be expensive, and should be avoided when possible.

As you’ve probably noticed, LTL freight is different from small package shipping in many ways. It can sound expensive at first, but there are two important things to remember.

  1. If you put 20 chairs on a pallet and it costs $200 to ship them, then that is only $10 per chair. If you were to ship the same number of chairs individually via small package delivery, the cost would be much higher.
  2. Truly free shipping is pretty much non-existent. You are almost always paying the freight, even if it doesn’t seem like it. It might come in the form of higher prices or reduced service levels, but shipping is always part of the cost of ordering restaurant furniture.

We hope this guide shed some light on the often confusing world of LTL freight and the true cost of shipping restaurant furniture.

If you have any additional questions, our shipping department is always happy to help. Just give us a call 800-986-5352.