What is Communal Dining?

Over the past few years, you may have noticed an increase in large dining tables in restaurants. In the past tables of this size were usually relegated to the family dining room, but now these communal tables are popping up in restaurants all over the country.

These tables are used to facilitate communal dining, which is the practice of dining with others, usually accommodating more than one party. While they might be reminiscent of cafeterias and beer halls, they have gotten a facelift in recent years. With both indoor and outdoor options designed to work with current trends, these tables help to complete the look of a restaurant, instead of just being a way to save space.

The concept is centered on food and people coming together to share a meal. The sharing of a table helps to break down the barriers of the restaurant and promotes conversation flow among patrons.

Most restaurants never dreamed their patrons would tolerate dining with strangers, but it makes good business sense. The large tables allow restaurants to accommodate large groups more easily. Even when the table is split into several parties, it adds seats, creating a good use of space.

Many cities with a large “foodie” market have seen great success with communal dining tables. Cities like Boston, Chicago, and New York see small groups come in, sit down, and interact with each other. Then they end up discussing the food and end up buying each other drinks and making new friends.

If you have the right space, and think it will work with your concept, there are many options to choose from to fit your look. It is recommended that the tables be large enough to seat from 8 to 12 guests and be at least 30 inches wide to ensure that everyone has enough space for food and electronic devices.

Do you think a communal dining experience would enhance your restaurant? Let us know in the comments below!

Introducing the Toledo Backless Bar Stool

Toledo Backless Bar Stool

Design is cyclical, and this draftsman-esque bar stool has made its way back around. You’ve probably even seen a similar backless style pushed up against a kitchen island in the current issue of your favorite home magazine. While Toledo stools all over are bringing vintage metal work back into kitchens and dining rooms, it’s also finding its place in restaurant design. Using a 16-gauge steel frame and industrial-era finish, the Toledo Backless Bar Stool can bring the same mid-century look to your restaurant with commercial-grade strength.

Toledo Backless Bar Stool Finishes

This bar stool has a stylized metal seat, a 360° swivel, and an ornate foot metal foot ring that completes the vintage feel. The Toledo Bar Stool sits fixed at commercial bar height; it has a height adjustment lever that is purely intended to complete the vintage look and is not functional.

Backless bar stool designs are great for smaller bar areas because they take up less space by being backless. The ornate foot ring at the bottom of the Toledo gives it a larger footprint, letting your customers still have wiggle room.

The Toledo Backless Bar Stool has a niche look that you get to customize! First, choose between an antique gray and rustic brown finish, then, choose your seat. You can either leave the seat as the standard metal or upgrade to a vinyl, urban distressed wood, or reclaimed wood seat. With so many options to choose from, you can be sure that the Toledo bar stool will match your bar space or table tops.

See the Toledo Backless Bar Stool and other restaurant furniture with the industrial look here.

Summer Heat Sale

Summer is in full swing and your patio is being enjoyed by customers. As one of the first things customers notice about your business, your patio is your calling card to everyone that walks by. You want to send the right message to customers; One that says ‘Hey, come on in and enjoy a cool drink or great appetizer.’ It could be what propels them through your front door, instead of walking on by.

So if your outdoor area needs a little facelift, why not upgrade it for amazing prices by checking out our Summer Sale on outdoor furniture. We are offering incredible discounts on classic styles and new favorites. We have a variety of items: aluminum synthetic wicker, and poly lumber have all been discounted.

Worried about making sure that your outdoor space doesn’t look like it was put together with discount items? We have put entire collections on sale so that you can achieve the total look that you are going for.

All items are only available for a limited time and while in-stock. These items sell quickly, so act now to make your outdoor design dreams a come true all while staying in your budget.

The Complete Guide to Buying a Booth

Most restaurants and bars have at least some booth in their dining area, which is no coincidence because booths offer many benefits like comfort, privacy, and more space for customers. With their soft padded seats and backs, booths enable customers to sit back, relax, and fully enjoy their meal. The additional padding, paired with a high back, also helps to block sound and keep conversations confined to the booth, giving more privacy to patrons.

Booths are a favorite of customers, and the average customer spends more while sitting in a booth than at a table and chairs. According to a study by Cornell University on The Impact of Restaurant Table Characteristics on Meal Duration and Spending, booths received the highest spending per minute compared to other types of table and seating arrangements. On average diners spend $2.00 more per person.

With all the benefits booths have to offer, they are an important element of your restaurant. But, with so many options to choose from, it is hard to know where to start when deciding which booth is right for you. In this booth buying guide, we will walk you through the process: picking a design, selecting the materials, and placing your order.

Sizing

The most important dimension in the sizing of a booth is its length. The standard booth length is 48”, but larger sizes are common as well; a good rule of thumb is to allow at least 24” per person. From there you have the option of how tall you want the back. Back heights usually start at 36” and go up to 43”, which is the most commonly chosen height. Heights can be customized as well.  If you want additional privacy, you could choose a booth that is 60” or even taller.

Do you have an area of your establishment that doesn’t fit perfectly with the booth sizing we currently offer?

That’s Okay. We can make a custom size booth for you. All we need are measurements and a diagram

of what you want it to look like. If you want a large booth, for example, to cover an entire back wall of a

restaurant, then it will be made in 8-foot sections that then can be put together to create one long

section. We can customize any booth to fit your needs.

Shapes

To achieve the perfect fit you’ll need to consider what shape you want your booth to be. There are three traditional shapes for booths. The most common is the straight booth, which is exactly what it sounds like. The majority of restaurant booths are straight. It can be backed up against a wall or positioned with its side against a wall or window. It can also be double sided, so that you can use 1 booth to seat customers at 2 tables.

The second shape is the L-shaped booth, which is two straight booths pushed together to form an L shape.  L-shaped booths work well in corners and in areas where you want to create private little dining nooks.

The third shape is a U shape. It is three straight booths arranged to look like a large U.  It is commonly used to create small private areas that can seat entire families.

The fourth and only booth shape that we do not currently make, is a circle booth. We do this so our booths can be made in a timely fashion and can be sent to our customer as quickly as possible.

Materials

Once you determine the size and shape of your booth, you can now choose your materials and options. A few materials come standard in every one of our booths, including 2.5 pound density foam and high quality no-sag springs. Many other booth manufacturers use 1 or 1.5 pound density foam, a much thinner material that won’t be as comfortable, nor hold up as long. The higher density allows for more use without losing any integrity. We chose to use this foam to give our customers the best quality and value possible.

Our foam also meets the California fire code requirements.

An integral part of determining a booth’s durability and comfort is the springs. We use no-sag Leggett and Platt springs. These springs have a unique coil design that is responsible for the no-sag feature. In addition to these high quality springs we use paper covered wires that string from one end of the seat to the other. We do this for an added layer of stability and protection. If by chance one of the heavy duty springs does break (which is unlikely), the extra wire will hold it in place so that the user doesn’t feel a broken coil.  It also reduces the chance that the coil could poke through the vinyl.

 

Frame

All of our booths are made using wood, not particle board, which provides additional support and a longer lasting product.  Be wary of purchasing a booth that is framed with particle board, as it won’t be as strong.

The industry standard life of a booth is between 3-5 years.We warranty our booths for 10 years against structural problems because we are so confident in their construction.

The insides of our booths are constructed from solid beech and beech plywood. Any wood that can be seen on the outside of the booth is made of either solid beech or solid red oak, stained in the finish of your choice. The difference between these two wood types is the grain. Beech has a less pronounced grain giving it a more modern look while oak has a more noticeable open grain, achieving a more traditional wood look. Both woods are comparable in hardness and durability, so quality is not a factor in the decision-making process; it’s more about personal preference.

 

Cover

Next, you have to choose how you want to cover your booth. Most restaurants choose to cover booths in vinyl because it is a durable and easy to clean material that works well in a commercial setting. When selecting vinyl there are a few basics to guide you in your search. The thicker the vinyl (which is measured in ounces) the more durable.  The durability of a vinyl can also be expressed in a measurement called a double rub, which are a

measurement of a fabric’s abrasion resistance.

Double rubs are found through a mechanized test called the Wyzenbeek test, where a piece of cotton is stretched over a mechanical arm and passed back and forth over the fabric in each direction. Each back and forth motion is considered one double rub. The cotton duck passing over the fabric simulates the wear of a fabric being used as a seat cushion. The test is run in sets of 5,000 double rubs until the fabric shows “noticeable wear.” Anything between 15,000-30,000 double rubs is considered heavy duty and suitable for commercial use.  We use Naugahyde vinyl, which is made in the US and is certified for 250,000 double rubs.

We have many color options available to our customers.  We don’t stock every color, but if you would like to see a sample, you can contact the company that makes the vinyl and they will send you samples free of charge.

Perhaps vinyl isn’t your taste and you would like to have your booth covered in fabric instead.  If so, we can accommodate you. If you source your own fabric, you can send it to our production facility in Mercer, PA, and we can upholster your booth with it.  Be aware, however, that not all fabric is suitable for commercial use, so it’s important to check the fabric for its recommended use. Fabric is also tested in double rubs, you can check this number to see if it can be used commercially. Please note we do not offer a warranty on cloth fabrics because they are less durable than vinyl.

Finishes & Stains

Once you decide on the type of wood you would like, you need to choose what color wood finish would fit the style of your business best. We offer five different wood finishes for our standard, solid wood booths: walnut, cherry, natural, mahogany and black. If you have your heart set on an Urban Distressed or reclaimed wood booth, you have additional finish options available.

Extras

Finally, after you’ve selected all of your materials, you still have a few additional customization options available. Would you like to add some texture to you booth? Consider 3-channel seaming, two strips of piping that divide the back of your booth into three sections and add a linear visual to your overall aesthetic. You can use the same color vinyl or select an accent color for the piping to really make your booth pop. Another option is a pillow top. Similar to the look of a pillow on a bed, a pillow top is additional cushioning at the top of the back that provides additional comfort and texture. Finally, some booth designs can be fitted with a coat hook. This can be a useful addition to hold not only coats but women’s purses. Or perhaps, some vintage style tufting. All of these options are available for an additional upcharge.

We have compiled a few tips and tricks to help you make the ordering process even smoother.

Tips

Start Early

It is best to get the ball rolling as soon as possible. For a custom order, plan on a 4-6 week production time, plus the time it takes to ship to your location.  We often see restaurant owners who are so busy with the other tasks of opening/renovating a restaurant, that they wait to order their furniture until a week or two before the grand opening and end up having to sacrifice the look they want so they have seating for customers.  You’ll want to be sure to allow yourself plenty of time to have your establishment looking perfect before the inspection or grand opening, so factor this timing into your calculations.

Production for a custom order does not begin until you approve the invoice in writing, so that you know exactly what you’re getting. Once that signature is completed, the 4-6 week production time starts. Please note that custom orders cannot be returned.

Do Your Research

It sounds like common sense, but search for something that you like, and don’t settle. The internet is full of examples of beautiful booths; gather a few and present them to your customer service specialist to help them better understand what you are looking for. We do have an album that displays our previous custom booth orders on our Facebook Page to help you get inspiration. Pinterest is another useful place to search for ideas. Another low-tech option is to go to restaurants near you to take a look at their furniture. If you find something you like, take pictures, and share them with your Customer Care Specialist.

Know Your Space

Knowing where you want to place your booth is a great start when getting ready to order. Where do you want the top of your booth? It is important to measure for yourself so you can get a visual on the height and width of the booth. What is 36 in. in your head might not be what an actual 36 in. booth looks like, so take the time to measure it out for a clearer understanding. Most windows are about 36 in. in height from the ground, something you’ll want to think about when choosing your booth area. If you want to put your booth under a window, this height could work for you. If not, you might want to consider something taller. These are all things to consider when looking at sizing.

If you have a particular area in mind for your booth it is always good to measure that area. You can then give this information to your customer care specialist and they can make sure to note that for our Amish craftsmen to consider while designing/building your booth. Something to consider is if you have a 40 in. space your booth needs to be a little smaller to allow for the padding and the vinyl that covers it. Please speak to your Customer Care Specialist about this matter. If you are concerned about sizing, a drawing with measurements could be helpful in making sure your booth is as precise as possible.

Do not forget to account for “wiggle room.” It is important to allow enough space for your customers to enter and exit the booth.

Booths have a variety of benefits for both customers and restaurant owners.  Customers enjoy the comfort and privacy that a booth provides, while owners take advantage of the fact that booth customers tend to spend more money…it’s a win-win.  East Coast Chair & Barstool booths are made of highly durable yet comfortable materials and are handmade by our Amish craftsmen to your specifications. We are confident that you will be pleased once your booth(s) arrives at your door.

Once you have thoughtfully considered all of your options and are looking to order a booth give us a call at 800-986-5352! You will be connected with one of our customer care specialists who can help guide you through the ordering process.

 

Custom Upholstery Options at East Coast Chair & Barstool

A great way to communicate your restaurant’s unique approach is by considering custom upholstery for your booths, seating, and one of a kind items. You might be thinking to yourself that custom usually means expensive. Fortunately, because of our in-house team of craftsmen, we can offer our customers one-of-a-kind looks at affordable prices.

Booth Options

While we do offer a selection of quick ship booths, where our Amish craftsmen really shine, is in our custom upholstery options. Whether it is on a booth, seat, or a completely custom product, our custom upholstery options can take your design to the next level. Whether you are envisioning a funky vinyl color or a reclaimed wood booth with fabric backing and a coat hanger, we can make it happen.

Fabric and Vinyl

On our restaurant booths, you can choose from a wide variety of colorful vinyl options to find the perfect fit for your look.  Our vinyl starts at 26-ounce weight and can vary depending on your vinyl choice. All vinyl comes with a 1-year warranty.

 

An Amish-craftsman creating custom vinyl buttons for a tufted booth.

Perhaps vinyl isn’t your taste and you would like to have your booth covered in fabric instead of vinyl; we can accommodate you. You can also send us your own fabric, which we can use to upholster your seating as long as it is commercial grade. Not all fabric is suitable for commercial use, so please be sure to check the fabric you select for its recommended purpose.

 

Piping

Adding piping to your booth gives it just that little bit extra to tie your look together. Piping is extra vinyl that is put over the booth seams to create almost an outline of the booth. The sky is the limit when selecting colors. Matching piping to the booth color looks great and so does choosing a different color. It mostly depends on what you’d like your booths to say about your restaurant.

Tufted

One of our newest custom offerings is our tufted backs. Our many vinyl options can be used to cover buttons which are then each individually placed on the back of a booth to create a beautiful tufting pattern. This tufting not only creates a unique texture but gives the booth an upscale aesthetic that will take your design to the next level.

Seating

Seats

Booths aren’t the only products that can get custom upholstery. Many of our metal seating options can be customized as well. Any furniture with a vinyl seat can be customized. Love our signature Viktor, Gladiator, and Simon chairs and bar stools but want to offer your customers something comfier than a hard metal seat? Vinyl cushions can be added to your furniture to accommodate your clientele.

Totally Custom

With our in-house team of skilled Amish craftsmen, East Coast Chair & Barstool is able to create some totally custom products. For example, a customer recently requested an ottoman with a tufted top made of fabric. Their burlap style fabric with tufting not only looks great but can be used as storage too. The sides of the ottoman also are engraved with the customer’s logo.

Custom upholstery can add about 2-3 weeks to production time, but if you are willing to wait you’ll have a totally unique item to help your restaurant stand out from the rest. To guarantee your order arrives with time to spare, give our sales team a call at 800-986-5352 to explore all of your options.

How Do I Maintain my Outdoor Restaurant Furniture?

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

The sun is starting to shine, more and more of your customers want to eat outdoors. Before you say yes, you need to take a moment to consider the condition of your outdoor furniture. After an off-season spent in storage, there is a good chance they are going to need a little bit of maintenance.

Materials such as aluminum, poly lumber, and teak are commonly used outside because of their durability in outdoor conditions.  By taking a look at each of these materials, and more, we will examine the best ways to maintain and clean your outdoor furniture to not only keep it looking its best but to make sure it lasts for years to come.

Hardware:

Every year before placing your furniture outdoors, you should tighten any loose screws and double check for any missing hardware. As the season continues, be sure to check them intermittently and tighten as needed.

Glides:

This is also a great time to check glides. Replace any that are missing or broken to help protect your flooring and keep your furniture level.

Umbrellas: Umbrellas are a great way to make your outdoor areas more appealing to customers. To keep them looking their best, regularly wipe off loose dirt to avoid it becoming embedded into the fabric. For larger spots, clean with a soft bristle brush, soap and cold water as soon as possible to prevent staining.

Most umbrella poles can be easily wiped down with soap and water. If your umbrella pole has metal joints, then using a spray lubricant will help to increase the life of the pole. For a wooden pole, a paste wax applied with a soft cloth, will restore its shine and create a finish to help protect against scratches.

Wrought Iron/Cast Iron: As with all furniture items, it is good to regularly check for dirt. This can be sprayed off with a garden hose, but it is important to dry it completely with a towel to avoid future rust. To help extend the life of your wrought iron furniture, applying an automotive spray wax once a year can help to create an extra barrier against rust.

If rust does occur, sandpaper can be used to lightly sand the rust and then touchup paint can be used for coverage.

Poly Lumber: For light dirt, some soap and water should do the trick for poly lumber. For more persistent stains, you can use a power washer. If you don’t have easy access to a power washer, a magic eraser also works very well.

One of the biggest benefits of poly lumber is just how easy it is to maintain. Simply check to make sure that no screws have worked themselves loose and you should be good to go.

Aluminum/Stainless Steel: When pulling out your aluminum furniture for the season make sure you check all of the welds. It is important to check these pressure points to ensure safety. While looking at the welds you can look for any nicks or scratches on the coating. If you find some, they can be touched up with a damp cloth and a nonabrasive product, such as Soft Scrub.

Much of the aluminum/stainless steel items on the market today are powder coated and rust proof but be sure to check with the manufacturer before you make assumptions. If the furniture isn’t, you can use a paste wax to help protect the surfaces. When the furniture is in need of a good cleaning, some mild soap and water should do the trick.

Teak: Teak can be a bit of a temperamental wood when it comes to cleaning. To clean it and maintain the color, mix a solution of one cup of vinegar with one gallon of warm water. Apply the cleaning mixture to the teak using a soft plastic brush and gently scrub into the wood. Allow the mixture to sit for about 15 minutes. Rinse thoroughly with clean water.

All teak furniture needs to be oiled once a year to prevent it from losing that beautiful teak color. If you see some water marks appear, they can be sanded with a light sandpaper.

IsoTop and Werzalit Table Tops: A big draw of these table tops is that they can be used both indoors and out. When used outdoors, these table tops are super easy to clean and can be hosed down on your patio using soap and water.

While cleaning, take some time to confirm that your table tops and bases are firmly connected. Flipping the table over and viewing it from underneath is a great way to check the screws and clean any of those hard to reach spots.

Finally, if you don’t use your outdoor furniture year-round it is best to store it over the winter months; it will increase the lifespan of your furniture exponentially.

How to Make Your Restaurant More Gluten-Free Friendly

If there is one trend that has come to the forefront of the restaurant industry in the past few years it is that consumers are more aware of the health effects of food on their bodies. They what to know where their food is being sourced from, if it is organic, and how is it being prepared. There is a whole market of people that struggle to find places to eat out that coincide with their food restrictions. Those who for health reasons or personal reasons have chosen to go gluten-free.

There are two types of gluten sensitivities. Those caused by Celiac disease and those caused by non-celiac gluten sensitivity. These people don’t experience the same kind of injury and irritation to the small intestine as those with celiac disease, but gluten intolerance can still cause physical and mental problems. Celiac disease itself presents with four different types of varying severity.

Gluten is a substance that is present in cereal grains, especially wheat, that is responsible for the elastic texture of the dough and is a mixture of two proteins. Currently, about 3.1 million people across the U.S.A. follow a gluten-free diet.

It is an entire market of people that you can open your doors to by making some changes to your current systems.  Expectations are higher than ever, and your restaurant might be missing out on profits that you aren’t even aware of.

Changes in Your Kitchen

If you are going to offer gluten-free options on your menu, you need to have the appropriate configuration in your kitchen. Your biggest hurdle will be cutting out cross contamination. Gluten-free products cannot come in to contact with items that have touched gluten-containing foods. For example, a gluten-free pizza cannot be cooked in the same oven as a pizza prepared with gluten ingredients.

Now, this may seem like a chore but there are some easy ways to separate your foods and tools.

  • Dedicate a section of your line to only gluten-free food prep
  • Keep items separate in storage and walk-ins to avoid cross-contamination
  • Use color-coded equipment to avoid contamination

Offering gluten-free options is not as hard as it may originally seem, as long as you keep up with your systems of avoiding cross contamination.

Educate Your Staff

The second most important thing you can do, after making changes in your kitchen, is to educate your staff. Many have heard of the gluten-free “trend” but don’t really know what it is, or how it can affect their customers.  Take some time during a staff meeting to discuss your new menu options and their importance. If you know someone with a gluten intolerance, you could invite them to speak to your staff of their struggles. Knowledge is everything in getting your staff to buy into your new program.

Make sure to encourage them to not judge their customers when they discuss a gluten intolerance. 72% of people leading a gluten-free diet are classified as “PWAGs” – people without celiac disease avoiding gluten. It is important for staff not to roll their eyes or make comments if they feel that a customer might not truly need gluten-free food. Customers with dietary restrictions want to have their concerns heard just like any other customer. It is not their place to judge and ultimately having a good attitude will lead to better tips.

Adjusting Your Menu

There are several ways that your menu can become more gluten-free friendly. Offer gluten-free substitutes to some of your meals. Cornstarch can be a great substitute for flour in certain circumstances.  Order more gluten-free ingredients to have in your kitchen. That way if a customer asks if you have pasta noodles, you can accommodate them. They’ll certainly be appreciative of your forethought.

How much of your menu that you decide to make gluten-free is up to you but having several options would most likely be beneficial. You need to evaluate on a case by case basis how much your current restaurant lends itself to gluten-free options. For example, if you are a Mexican restaurant you might consider offering taco salads or ordering gluten-free wraps. It is not necessary to completely rework your menu if you don’t have the funds or your food doesn’t lend itself well to gluten-free alternatives. Even a few adjustments will help to keep your restaurant relevant and communicate to customers that you are making an effort.

 

To help customers easily identify your gluten-free foods, you can create a menu ledger. Having clearly marked symbols to inform customers of your dishes that are completely gluten-free or have substitutes available can help to make the ordering process simpler. The easier that your menu is to understand for those that are gluten-free, the more comfortable they can feel.

Offering these options will take some adjustment for you and your team. But ultimately, you’ll see the benefits of increased profits and staying competitive in the market. Bethany Jarmul was diagnosed with a gluten intolerance in 2014 and has been searching for dining out options ever since. “As someone who has a gluten intolerance, the first thing I look for in a restaurant is whether or not they provide gluten-free options. If I find a place that offers a lot of gluten-free dishes, I’m likely to make that one of my go-to spots.”

Bethany represents an entire market of customers searching for their next go-to gluten-free spot. Why not make it your restaurant?

How to Promote

You’ve made the changes to your menu, added new ingredients to your kitchen, and educated your staff. Now it is time to get the word out about your new options. Traditional methods are great options Flyers, radio, and social media, are all perfect ways to talk about the benefits of your new food.

One area, in particular, you might like to consider is in Facebook groups that are focused on the gluten-free lifestyle. These groups can have thousands of members all looking for options that make their lives a little bit easier. Simply search gluten free on the Facebook search bar and then narrow your search to groups and you should find plenty of options.

Providing gluten-free options is the fastest growing trend in the restaurant industry and with good reason. Industry powerhouses like Arby’s, Burger King, and Domino’s Pizza are offering gluten-free items. More and more Americans are choosing to go gluten-free for health reasons and the need for innovative food options is greater than ever. Establishing your restaurant as gluten-free friendly is a great way to bring in new customers and establish loyal ones for years to come. Nothing creates loyal customers like the ability to have an honest discussion about their food. It will take some organizing, but your efforts will be well worth it to keep your restaurant relevant and once the profits start rolling in.

 

 

Our Newest Outdoor Collections for Spring 2018

With the temperatures slowly but surely starting to rise, it is time to start thinking about throwing open the doors to your outdoor areas and take advantage of the boost to your restaurant’s profits that comes with additional seating. Before you get too excited, however check on the condition of your outdoor furniture. Does it need repairs? Replacement?

Now is a great time to buy to ensure that you have new outdoor furniture by the time you plan to start serving outdoors. If you are on the search for new furniture, you will be excited to hear that at East Coast Chair & Barstool we have brought in several new lines of outdoor restaurant furniture. With all of these additions, we are sure to have something perfect for your patio. Let’s discover the best fit for your restaurant or bar.

The Palmetto Collection

Island style doesn’t have to be “all tiki all the time”, as shown by our Palmetto collection. A black and white wire reinforced polyethylene weave is wrapped around a non-rusting aluminum frame to give off an upscale beach vibe. With its neutral color palette, this collection looks great in almost any setting.

The frame is hand painted to give it a very realistic bamboo look, but with the added benefit of durability for commercial use that comes with an aluminum frame. Aluminum does not rust, making it ideal for outdoor use in areas with salty air. This collection features a bistro style chair and bar stool perfect for enjoying a night outdoors.

Fiji Collection

The Fiji collection is a modern take on outdoor furniture that makes a statement. All Fiji chair options were designed with comfort and style in mind. Available in two different back styles, your customers won’t mind sitting back and relaxing for hours on end. The Fiji collection features the traditional arm chair style or a club chair. All club chairs come with a tie-on cushion for maximum comfort.

Created using two different materials that are equally sturdy, your toughest decision will be determining which design you like better! This first is a textile rope in a rich espresso brown color that fits right in with any color scheme. The rope features a beautiful weave pattern using several strands.

The second option, is a polypropylene wicker that is more durable than traditional wicker. It is also available in two beautiful colors, an espresso and ash gray. Some give is afforded by the material to provide your customers additional comfort. Even your staff will love this material as it is easy to wipe down at the end of a busy night.

Havana Collection

Reminiscent of our New England and Atlantic collections, the Havana is the latest addition to a series of faux wood outdoor furniture. Who would have thought textured driftwood poly lumber paired with black metal would look so good? Well, we did, and we are so pleased to offer this to our customers.

The Havana collection is the ultimate in outdoor durability. The frame is a matte black powder coated aluminum frame that is rust resistant. While the poly lumber inserts are much more durable than traditional wood. It is waterproof and resistant to mold and insects, as well as being easy to clean. They are easily stackable, making them convenient to store during the winter months.

This collection is the whole package with two bar stool styles, two chair styles, and table tops in a variety of shapes and sizes. You’ll certainly be able to find something that works for your restaurant.

Palazzo Collection

The visual appeal of wicker with the durability of metal. The Palazzo Collection, with its streamlined and squared off design, offers a distinguished look for your outdoor area. The seat and back of this collection uses a tightly woven wicker weave in a stunning espresso that has just enough give to offer your customers some additional comfort. The rust resistant aluminum frame is powder coated in matte black achieving just enough contrast from the espresso wicker.

This collection is easy to store when not in use because it is stackable. With multiple chairs and bar stools to choose from we are confident you’ll find something you’ll love.

 

You really can’t go wrong when you select any of our new outdoor furniture collections. Still have questions? You can contact one of our Customer Care Representatives at 800-986-5352 for expert advice or to start your order!

Valentine’s Day Promo Ideas For Restaurants

One of the busiest days in the restaurant industry is fast approaching, and you don’t want to be caught off guard. Valentine’s Day is the second biggest day for dining out, second only to Mother’s Day. A quarter of Americans eat out to celebrate the holiday with their special someone. That totals about 8 billion dollars spent in restaurants across the United States. What restaurant doesn’t want a piece of that? As a restaurant owner, you want to make the very most of this opportunity.

What can you do to make your restaurant stand out among the competition? We’ve gathered together some Valentine’s Day best practices and brainstormed some fresh ideas to help you create a memorable and lucrative night.

Menu

First things first, you need to think about your menu. To make it easier for you and your staff consider offering a preset prix fixe menu, otherwise known as a fixed price menu. It will cut down on wait times for guests and give you a better understanding of what needs to be ordered for the night, helping to increase your profits by lessening waste.

Having a prix fixe menu can also be beneficial for customers. They know exactly what they are getting and at what cost. No unexpected surprises for either of you.

As part of your prix fixe menu, consider including a starter, main course, dessert, and a recommended wine pairing. If you want to go the traditional route, try to incorporate pink or red foods into your menu and a chocolate dessert.

Valentine’s Day can be a great time to incorporate some current food trends into your meals. A little bit of fun experimentation can help to set your restaurant apart from others who might be offering more traditional entrees. Perhaps offering a dessert sampler instead of a complete dessert would appeal to an audience looking for that extra special experience.

Beverages

Altering your beverage service can also be beneficial for the busy day. Make sure to have suggested wine pairings available for guests who might not be very knowledgeable. Also, make sure your staff is well educated on the different wines and specialty cocktails you are offering. Fruit flavored red and pink cocktails are a favorite, but taking a risk could pay off too.  Consider adding a chocolate martini with chili pepper for an added zest.

 

 

Atmosphere

Having the right atmosphere is crucial. Everything other detail can be perfect, but if the atmosphere is off, it’ll still feel like something just wasn’t quite right. Make sure to give your patrons the whole package. Dim your lights a little extra. Take a look at your music for the night and make sure it fits with the rest of your ambiance. Consider reusing those string lights you brought out for Christmas time to create a romantic lighting for your guests, or perhaps some candlelight to dine by.

Reservations

To help the day run smoothly, encourage guests to make reservations early. To encourage reservations, you can offer promotions, such as a free dessert, to those who book ahead. As tempting as it may be, do your best not to overbook. Consider that guests might want to take their time and linger over dinner to fully enjoy the experience. You don’t want a bad review showing up on Feb. 15th saying that guests had to wait hours, even with a reservation.

 

 

Staffing- Call In the A-team

Make sure that you have your A-team working. Your most experienced workers should be present in both the front and back of house. Valentine’s Day is not the time to try training a new host or waitress. Leave that for the 15th when the rest of your staff has earned a day off.

Valentine’s Day is all about the specialness. Going above and beyond for the people you love. The restaurant industry is no different. You want your customers to leave feeling that they had the best food, drinks, and service. Take a moment to speak to your staff about the importance of offering an extra special experience. Try to have your most experienced servers working that night. You can trust them to give the kind of service you expect, and more experienced servers tend to be better at up selling a customer.

You can also offer take home gifts for customers. A custom wine glass or even something as simple as a flower can set you up as going above and beyond in the mind of a customer.

 

 

Marketing

Make your Valentine’s Day specials and hours as easily accessible as possible. If customers can’t find the information, chances are they will move on to someone else who already has theirs readily available. Create a graphic and post it on your social media accounts and start a Facebook event. It also never hurts to print out some flyers and hang them around your restaurant or hand them out with receipts during January and February. The easier it is to access your important information, the better the chances you will have a full venue for Valentine’s day.

Thinking Outside of the Heart Shaped Box

If you are looking to try something new this year, we’ve got a few ideas for you that are a twist on the classic Valentine’s day meal that we all know.

Wine Tasting or Beer Tasting – For those who love the beverages more than the food. Local breweries and wineries are popping up all over the United States and consumers are responding positively. Join up with some wineries or breweries in your area to offer a tasting night.

Offer Valentines Meals the Weekend Before and After– Some people just can’t make it out on a weeknight to celebrate. Offer them the same meal the weekend before and after with a discount or a promotion. You can bring in even more business and will be able to offer it as an option to anyone who asks for a reservation for the 14th after you are booked up.

Galentine’s Day Brunch – Galentine’s Day is a day where women across the world celebrate their female friends. And what do gal pals love? Mimosas. Galentine’s Day is February 13th but you would probably do best on the Sunday before or after Valentine’s Day.

DIY Dinner – DIY is all the rage and that extends to the restaurant industry. Talk to your chef and see if they would be willing to offer a class to customers on how to make their own Valentine’s dinner. What could be better than having customers pay you to make their own meal?

Takeout Meals – We all have one in our lives that we know and love. An introvert, someone who works odd hours, or even moms whose only chance at a peaceful dinner is after the kids have gone to bed. You can still market to the person who wants to eat in but doesn’t want to spend hours cooking the perfect meal? That is where you come in. Offering takeout meals are a great way to continue to offer food, even after your reservations are full. Consider asking customers to order a few days in advance to give your team plenty of time to order and prepare the extra meals.

Whether you stick with the traditional candlelight dinner or do something a little different, a few ideas will remain the same. Good marketing, great food, perfect atmosphere, and a staff that goes above and beyond for the customer, will make your Valentine’s day a success.

Do you do something for Valentine’s day that your customer’s fall in love with every year? Let us know in the comments below.

Tipping: A Thing of the Past or a Continued Tradition

Tipping to express your gratitude for good service from a restaurant’s wait staff has been a long-standing tradition in the United States. So, whenever you receive your bill at a restaurant and you find the gratuity line nowhere to be found, it can be a bit out of the ordinary. But, in some restaurants, this has become the norm.

Some restaurants have taken it upon themselves to ensure their front of house workers and kitchen staff are receiving equitable wages by instituting no-tipping policies and raising their prices by 15-20% instead.  They claim that these higher prices enable them to pay all of their employees a higher wage. Advocates for the no-tipping movement also insist that not giving customers the chance to tip poorly can give the service industry a more professional appearance and shrink the income gap between the wait staff and cooks.

Americans have become accustomed to rewarding wait staff with a tip but in other areas of the world, the service industry is handled differently. For example, many restaurants in France operate service compris, or “service is included”. With this model, prices have absorbed the cost of service. If you receive extraordinary service, leaving an additional 1 to 2 percent tip can be appreciated. In contrast, if you are at a restaurant in Japan, tipping is not a typical part of the culture. Leaving a tip can be seen as rude and will often be refused by the staff.

Originally, tipping came about “to insure promptitude” in the service industry. Mid-19th century Americans began using tips as a show of wealth and knowledge of European gentility rules, and by the 1900’s, tipping was a common practice.

But isn’t that what minimum wage is for? Not exactly. The only employers required to pay tipped employees the full state minimum wage before tips are in Alaska, California, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. The other 43 states require employers to pay tipped employees a minimum cash wage at or above $2.13. In other words, if your wages are set at $2.13, a regular 8-hour shift will earn you $17.04 pre-taxes. Even with their subjective nature, tips can help those in the service industry have a livable wage. For more information on your state’s tipping law, please refer to the standards set by the United States Department of Labor.

No-tipping policies have been a hard change for both customers and servers to get used to. Tipping has become so ingrained in the American dining experience and can keep restaurant prices low. But because tipping is very subjective, it’s easy to see that it may not always be a fair practice. While some customers may over tip their server, others may have a mission to only tip 10 percent anywhere they go, regardless of actual service quality. It’s not easy getting customers to relinquish their control over how much their server is rewarded, especially in a post-recession world. So instead of trying to change a single way of thinking, restauranteurs have the challenge of altering two ideologies.

In late 2015, Joe’s Crab Shack became the first casual-dining chain to try using a no-tipping policy in 18 of its nationwide restaurants. After the first six months of implementation, there were only four that continued to use the policy. To make up for the difference, the restaurant raised wages by increasing menu pricing. As a result, Joe’s Crab Shack saw less customer traffic and a large turnover in staff who couldn’t/wouldn’t conform with the wage change. At least in chain establishments, gratuity-included dining hasn’t quite caught on.

While Joe’s Crab Shack customers didn’t take to the no-tipping policy, there are numerous restaurants in San Francisco, Pittsburgh, New York City, and more that are getting along just fine with the added policy.   Most of them are operated by “celebrity” chefs that have pricing power that the rest of the market doesn’t enjoy.

What’s your view on implementing a no-tipping policy? Tell us in the comments below.