What is a Patio Umbrella?

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

When you own a business, restaurant, or hotel, purchasing strong outdoor furniture is key. Buying well-made restaurant furniture can save you from buying replacements after every outdoor season. And buying a patio umbrella is no different.

A patio umbrella is an umbrella made to be used heavily in commercial environments with higher grade materials. These umbrellas are made to be more durable and resilient to wind, rain, sun damage, or salt spray.

A big difference between commercial patio umbrellas and their residential counterparts is the materials that are used. If you analyze what an umbrella is made of, you’ll have a better understanding if it will give you peace of mind (or not) as a part of your business’s patio.

To give your customers a shaded space on your patio year after year, buying lasting umbrellas for your patio is an important investment. This is not a scenario where it’s safe to grab the first umbrella you see at your hardware store. We’ve put together criteria to remember when it comes to purchasing commercial-grade patio umbrellas. How does your umbrella stack up?

Patio Umbrellas in Sidewalk Cafe

Sturdy frame- A patio umbrella frame should be made of wood, aluminum, or fiberglass. A traditional plastic is not going to have the same strength as these frames. Wood frames, commonly teak, are often chosen for their classic look but require the most care to retain their original integrity. Aluminum frames offer a lightweight structure that are low maintenance and affordable, which could be a good option for you if you’re buying a high volume. Fiberglass frames rely on strong glass fibers embedded in resin to create a pliable material that thrives in windy areas. Fiberglass frames can be pricier but can hold their worth in the long run when it comes to durability.

Canopy fabric quality- Think about it this way. The only thing between your customers and the sun’s rays is the umbrella’s canopy. The fabric quality of your patio umbrella’s canopy, like the frame, should be made with tougher materials for extended use. Canopies should be made from heavy gauge vinyl or marine-grade fabrics like Sunbrella, polyester, or olefin. Materials like these can help better prevent color fading and the breakdown of the fabric.

Strong foundation- The wrong base or stand for your patio umbrella can be a liability for your patio. Not only will your umbrella have trouble providing shade, but a weak base can send your umbrella flying. Take note of your patio umbrella’s recommended base weight to accurately choose your base’s material. Consider bases that are steel-plated or aluminum options that use a gravel filler to add weight.

The details- Be sure to inspect functional parts that help the umbrella tilt, move, and open. These parts need to be made from a hardy material like a powder coated steel to prevent rusting or breaking off, making it impossible to use the functions of the umbrella safely.

If you have any questions about choosing the right umbrella for your patio or pairing a base, please call our customer care team at 800-986-5352 for further assistance.

What is a patio umbrella?

What’s the Difference between Outdoor and Indoor Furniture?

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

What makes a piece of furniture better suited for outdoor use versus indoor?

The easy answer is the material, but why does it matter from one material to another what goes outside? It’s all about how that material holds up against weather conditions and how often it is used.

Of course, you can technically place any outdoor chair inside your restaurant and it’s usable. But should you? The answer is no. Much of outdoor furniture is made from aluminum, a softer metal, that is not up to the heavy traffic of being inside a restaurant. Using an outdoor chair inside will lead to replacing your seating way sooner than you would like.

Outdoor furniture is made specifically to hold up to the weather. For example, aluminum is a popular choice for commercial outdoor furniture because it is rust-resistant. Untreated steel does not typically fare as well on patios and will rust when exposed to moisture. Another common example is wood furniture on a patio. It can be tempting to put a reclaimed table top outside, but it is sure to absorb moisture and warp, leaving you out of luck on your investment.

You should always pay attention to these warranties to get the most out of your product when you properly use it. Not adhering to a product’s intended use can void the warranty completely, making it very difficult for you to protect yourself as the buyer if something goes wrong.

Outdoor and Indoor Furniture

When you invest in restaurant furniture, you want it to be reliable and hold up for your customers. This requires action from you as a business owner to use the product for its intended use. By placing furniture where it doesn’t belong, you can damage the integrity of the furniture without realizing and cause injury to your customers. Protect yourself and your customers by knowing the difference between indoor and outdoor furniture and using them properly.

When Is a Good Time to Order Furniture For Your Restaurant?

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

Something even the most knowledgeable restaurant owners seem to be unsure of is when they should order furniture for their new restaurant. In the world of express shipping and Amazon Prime, consumers tend to think that they don’t need to order things very far in advance. This is not the case with commercial furniture. When asking yourself “when should I order my furniture?” The answer is: the sooner the better.

Ideally, you should begin your search at around 10 weeks before you want the furniture to arrive. It seems like a lot of time, but it will go by faster than you think.  Starting earlier gives you time to research, place the order, and receive the furniture before your opening.

The time it takes for your furniture to arrive on your doorstep is dependent upon a couple different factors. This first of which is the type of furniture you order. Items that are custom built such as reclaimed booths, or custom vinyl seats, have a production time, where other items might not.

By calling in advance, you can also check the stock of the item you have your eye on. Popular items sell out quickly. Stock fluctuates daily and can affect your expected arrival date. Even if an item says out of stock it is good to call and see when the next shipment is arriving. The earlier you call the better to either reserve your items, or get your name on the preorder list.

Transit time is another factor in your furniture’s arrival. Most large furniture items ship LTL. You’ll want to take into account the location of the place you are ordering from in relation to where you are located. Items traveling from across the United States are going to take longer than items coming from across the state.

Purchasing outdoor furniture can be a little different than purchasing indoor items. If you are looking to get outdoor furniture for the spring/summer season, February is a good time to order. You want to have your furniture before the weather breaks and customers start asking to sit on your patio. Waiting too long to call could put you in the danger zone of not being able to receive your furniture until part way through the season.

It is best to order your restaurant furniture well before your open date, about 10 weeks, to make sure that you can get the items you want, in the time frame that works for you. If you have your eye on some pieces that we offer at East Coast Chair & Barstool, you can get your order started today by calling our Customer Care Team at 800-986-5352.

What types of finishes can be used on restaurant table tops? FAQ’s from the Files of East Coast Chair & Barstool

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

Restaurant table tops can be finished with any finish available on the market, the question becomes more which should they be finished with. We’ve broken down the ins and outs of the three most popular finishes for solid wood tables to help you figure out what is the best finish to select for your restaurant tables.

Varnish is commonly used in the residential and commercial furniture sectors. Varnish is an oil-based wood finish that has been in use for centuries, while it has been around for some time, it can be a process to use. Before application can begin, all bubbles need to be stirred out of the varnish to avoid being transferred to the table top. When applying, end users should take care not to overbrush. Too many brushstrokes can be visible on the finished product. The varnish also has a slower drying time (ideally 10-15 hours between coats) than that of lacquer, running the risk of dust settling and corrupting the finishing process. Therefore, it has become a common practice to thin the varnish before use. After dry time, varnish is an extremely durable finish for highly used furniture pieces such as bar counters and restaurant table tops. But this lengthy wait time is a drawback for mass production, leading varnish to mostly be used by DIY-er’s and custom residential projects.

Lacquer is a popular commercial finish that comes in a variety of transparent sheens on many restaurant table tops. Lacquer uses resin-based liquid solutions that quickly dry into a hard film when exposed to oxygen by way of a catalytic agent. In the restaurant industry, most lacquer formulations include a catalytic agent. When the lacquer is dried, the catalytic agent allows the finish to form a more protective and durable coating. To apply, lacquer is typically sprayed on with its quick dry time of 5 to 10 minutes making it time efficient for manufacturers. A lacquer finish can easily be repaired with a trip to the hardware store by the end user since the table top normally does not need stripped down. On our table tops, we typically finish them using a three-part application of catalyzed lacquer sealer and top coat.

Polyurethane finish is one of the most durable restaurant table top finishes because of its similar characteristics to plastic. Polyurethane finish takes on many of the positives of varnish and less of its drawbacks. This finish can be oil or acrylic based, depending on the blend, making it chemical resistant and waterproof. This finish is applied with a brush and involves waiting four to six hours between coats. After applied, the polyurethane is harder and more durable than lacquer. You can often find polyurethane finish as an upgraded option because of the detailed processes it takes to apply. While there are different formulations of polyurethane, on our products, we use a commercial-grade formula as a premium on option on all our solid wood table tops.

Finish Comparisons

Which finish should you use on your table tops?

The answer is not so cut and dry. It all depends on what your intended use is for your table tops.

  • If you’ve been collecting antique tables to give your restaurant a certain look, it’s likely they will have a varnish finish because this method has been around for many years. Unfortunately, there’s a good chance that these tables are not commercial-grade, which could present structural issues with the table itself in the future.
  • If you’re a restaurant owner in need of basic solid wood tables for a swiftly approaching open date, then a lacquer finish will do just fine. Lacquer-finished tops are easy to repair should something happen to them.
  • If you’re putting quite a bit of money down on specialty tables and want to increase their resistance to water, chemicals, and body oils, a polyurethane finish would be your best option. This modern finish is formulated to resist standing liquids caused by spills and cleaning.

There are pros and cons of all finishes, but in the end what will determine the ideal finish for your table tops is how you plan on using them.

How Do You Attach a Seat to a Chair or Bar Stool? FAQ’s from the Files of East Coast Chair & Barstool

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

When your furniture arrives, you’ll need to attach the seats of your chairs and bar stools. But don’t worry- attaching your metal or vinyl seats safely and securely is a simple process.

These steps work with any of our standard GLADIATOR chairs or bar stools. Check out this instructional video to walk you through the steps or read the directions below.

To attach your seats to your chairs or bar stools, you will need a powder drill with a Philips head bit, four ¾” all-purpose screws, and safety glasses. The screws are provided in a hardware bag in your furniture box.

Attach Your Seat to Your Chair or Bar Stool:

  • Place your seat on a flat, sturdy surface (like a table top) with the U-shape facing you.
  • Flip the frame onto the seat and line it up. To align the chair and frame as much as possible, you can use the straight, front edge of the seat as a guide.
  • With your drill and screw in hand, you’ll want to begin with the top-right corner of the seat and then work your way to the back-left corner of the seat in a diagonal path. As you make this path, grip where the frame meets the seat to hold the two pieces together and steady them. This helps to keep the seat secure as you’re attaching.
  • Flip the newly attached seat and frame over for use.

If you have any further questions about attaching your seats to your chair or bar stools, please contact our service department at 800-986-5352.

What is the Weight Limit for Restaurant Chairs?  FAQ’s from the Files of East Coast Chair & Barstool

When looking at purchasing restaurant chairs, weight limit might not be the first qualification that comes to your mind but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important. Your customers will also appreciate your research as they will be the ones using the chairs.

Technically, commercial furniture manufacturers can advertise whatever weight limit they want.  As a consumer, you have to be careful not to be taken in by large weight limits that don’t really mean what you think.  For example, there are chairs on the market that have a weight limit of 1,000 pounds, but they are tested using “static” weight, which means a load that is placed onto the chair and does not move.  Think of gently placing 100 pound bags of concrete on the chair one by one until the chair fails.  If the chair fails after 100-pound then the manufacturer can say that the chair is weight rated up to 1000 pounds.

In a real life, weight is not static.  When is the last time that you saw a customer gently sit on a chair and not move?  It just doesn’t happen.  Customers adjust, reposition, rock back on the legs of the chair, and worse; in other words, their weight is constantly moving or dynamic.  A chair that will support a 1,000 pound static load will only support a much lower dynamic load: probably even less than half as much.

So, what is the weight limit of most commercial furniture?  The short and sweet answer to this question is that the industry standard for most commercial chairs is 250 pounds. That doesn’t mean that is the highest weight that they can support, but it is what they are tested for.

One standardized way of testing a commercial chair is to get it tested by the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturer’s Association, known as BIFMA.  BIFMA creates the industry standards for commercial furniture.  They offer a series of standard tests to rate the weight of a chair. Most BIFMA tests are designed to measure dynamic weight.  For example, the seating impact test consists of dropping a 125 pound weight onto the seat from a height of 2 inches for 100,000 cycles.  The chair must maintain its integrity and serviceability throughout the test in order to pass.

The series of BIFMA tests are meant to mimic a weight load of around 250 pounds, which is why that has become the industry standard. Most manufacturer’s choose to go with the 250 pound weight limit whether they have actually had their chairs tested according to BIFMA standards or not.  Chairs that have been BIFMA tested could have the potential to hold more than the 250 pounds; BIFMA explains this further in their memo on chair weight limits and load ratings. They actually recommend not purchasing strictly based upon load-rating claims as they are not indicative of the life or strength of the chair.

You likely have patrons of all shapes and sizes, so it is important to find chairs that can support them.  Next time you’re in the market for restaurant chairs, you’ll now know what the weight rating is, and how manufacturers arrive at that number.

How Do You Attach a Table Base and a Table Top? FAQ’s from the files of East Coast Chair & Barstool

A column attached to an X-style base.

It’s time. You have received all your furniture, unwrapped it all, and made sure that you have everything that you need. Now it is time to tackle the assembly. One of the most daunting tasks can be assembling table tops and table bases. Don’t worry, attaching a table base and a table top is easier than you might think.

The first step, whether you are assembling an indoor or an outdoor table base, is to take the bottom of the base and attach it to the column. To do this, simply place the column on top of the center of the base and screw the bolt in until it is completely tightened. Next, turn your table top upside down on a flat surface. If you have a single base you will then center the spider. The spider is the smaller, usually square, flat part of the base. Once you have the spider centered onto the table, begin screwing in your eight screws until the top is secure. Each base comes with eight screws per spider. To install this you will need a Philips head screw driver or drill bit.

Purchasing a larger table top might require the use of multiple bases or a double base. You will repeat the process but instead of centering the spider, the bases need to be between 6 to 12 inches from the edge of the table top. This process works for table tops on both table height and bar height bases.

A table top placed on the floor with a base centered over the table top ready to be securely screwed in.

If you are assembling an outdoor table top and base, there are a few adjustments you’ll need to make. First off, most spiders for outdoor tops are an x-shape.(insert picture) Once the column is assembled, place the spider onto a table top that has been turned upside down on a flat surface. With our New England collection, the table is attached using an Alan wrench is provided in your shipment.

The table might have pre-drilled holes that your base lines up with and that you can use to attach the base. Some bases may not line up with the holes depending on your top and base combo. If this is the case, you will have been provided self-tapping screws to allow you to create your own holes. Make sure the base and table top are completely secure before use.

These instructions are based upon the furniture produced by East Coast Chair & Barstool. If you have purchased your commercial furniture elsewhere instructions may vary.

If you are still experiencing issues with attaching your bases and table tops purchased from East Coast Chair & Barstool please contact our service department at 800-986-5352 for help.

What is a Bar Stool Swivel and Why Do We Need Them? FAQ’s from the files of East Coast Chair & Barstool

What are bar stool swivels? FAQ's from the files of East Coast Chair & Barstool

Have you ever wondered how that swivel in your Lazy Susan works?  Did you know that it’s the same mechanism that makes your bar stool swivel around when you’re saddled up to the bar?  Or, how about the swivels that turn your washing machine or the wheels on your car?  Does your kid have a fidget spinner?  Guess what?  That’s a swivel too.  Swivels are just couplings that allow two parts to rotate around one another, but they are everywhere you look.

But why does a bar stool need to swivel?  After all, all your customers have to do is sit on it and enjoy their microbrews right?  Well, it turns out that swivels on bar stools come in handy for a number of reasons.  First, they make it easier to get on and off of the bar stool without having to back away from the bar, which can wear out your glides and scratch your floors.  Second, imagine that you have a great band playing on a Friday night and the joint is packed.  If you don’t have swivel bar stools, then every customer at the bar who wants to watch the band has to pick up their chair and turn it around; this leads to blocked aisles, potential injuries, and an increased workload for staff members that have to move the bar stools back into place.  It also makes it difficult to order more drinks from the bartender, which can hurt your bottom line.

Now that you know why swivels on bar stools are great, let’s take a look at the two different types of swivels that come in bar stools.

Ball Bearing Bar Stool Swivels

The first, and most common, type of swivel is called a ball bearing swivel.  Ball bearing swivels are metal plates with metal balls running in channels between the plates.  One plate rotates on top of the other, and the metal balls reduce friction.

Ball bearing swivels have been around for ages and they are used in just about every rotary application that you can think of.  They are economical, reliable, and easy to find.  The main problem with ball bearing swivels in bar stools is inconsistent weight distribution.  Consider the customer who always sits on the end of the bar stool; his/her weight is distributed toward the front of the stool.  Over time, the plates that hold the metal ball bearings become loose, and the balls start to spill out of the back.  If you’ve ever wondered where those little metal balls on your floor are coming from, they’re from your bar stool.  In general, ball bearing swivels last between 60,000 and 100,000 rotations; much less than the second type of swivels that we’re going to discuss.

Nylon Race Bar Stool Swivels

Nylon race (and other polymer) swivels are specifically designed for furniture use.  Instead of ball bearings, nylon race swivels are made from two nylon disks that fit together so that they turn around each other.  The nylon plates do create more friction than ball bearing swivels, but the durability of the smooth nylon is unaffected.  In fact, nylon race swivels have been tested up to 1 million rotations without noticeable losses in serviceability; that’s a lot of turns on a bar stool.

Most commercial swivel bar stools, including the ones that we sell at East Coast Chair & Barstool,  come standard with ball bearing swivels.  Nylon race swivels are considered an upgrade, and are available for an additional fee.  If your barstools get a lot of use, it might be worth the additional charge to upgrade to a American-made nylon race swivel due to the increased durability and longevity.  Nylon swivels also come with a 10 year warranty, whereas ball bearing swivels typically come with no warranty.

How Tall Are Restaurant Tables, Chairs, & Bar Stools?

Ever wondered how tall the tables, chairs, and bar stools in your restaurant are?  If so, you’re not alone.  One of the most frequently asked questions that we receive is “is there a standard height for restaurant furniture”.  The answer is yes.

Restaurant furniture dimensions are an industry standard, but not one that is designed and administered by any governing body.  Nevertheless, most manufacturers adhere to the standards, at least loosely.  The reason for standardization is simple: having a standard ensures that the chairs that you buy from one manufacturer will fit under the tables that you buy from another manufacturer.  Without standardization, you would need to measure every table and chair before you bought them to be sure they would fit.

What are the standard furniture heights?

Even though there is an informal standard, manufacturers are not bound the exact height, so tables and chairs can vary by as much as an inch or two, depending on the style and thickness of materials used.

Table height chairs, counter height stools, and bar height stools

Table Height

Standard table height tables are 30” tall, a comfortable height that is easy for patrons to reach, while allowing them to rest their feet on the ground.  It also fits wheelchairs well, so it is perfect for ADA compliance.

Standard table height chairs are 18” from the top of the seat to the ground, which leaves a 10”-12” to the bottom of the table for your customer’s legs.

Counter Height

Standard counters and counter height tables are 36” tall.  You won’t find too many commercial quality restaurant counter height tables or bases on the market.  The reason is that most restaurants stick with either table or bar height.

Standard Counter Height Stools are 24”, which again leaves 10-12” of leg room for customers.  Counter height stools are more popular for residences because they fit perfectly under a 36” kitchen counter.  Commercial quality stools are more difficult to find due to the fact that most restaurants don’t have counters anymore.

Bar Height

Standard bar height tables are 42” tall.  Bar height tables and bases are very common, and many different materials and styles are available.   Often, restaurant designers will use bar height tables to create different height levels and lines of site.  For example, if you have a dance floor or a performance stage, adding bar height tables makes it easier for the people in the back to see the performance.  An addition reason that

Standard bar height stools are 30” from the top of the seat to the ground; they fit well under both bars and bar height tables.  Bar stools are available in a wide range of styles and materials because they are so common in restaurants, bars, casinos, and resorts.

 

 

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How to fix wobbly tables – FAQ’s from the Files of East Coast Chair & Barstool

We’ve all been there.  It’s date night and you’re out eating dinner at your favorite restaurant; the food is great, the ambiance is perfect, and the company is lovely, but…this darn table won’t stop wobbling.  It’s maddening.  Like a mosquito near your ear, it’s all you can think about.  You carefully put your drinks toward the center of the table and pray that you’re not wearing your wife’s cabernet before the nights over.

If you’re a restaurant owner or manager, the scenario above is the last thing that you want to happen.  You want your customers to leave dreaming about your food, or the great time they had, not complaining about your tables.  Fortunately, a wobbly table is usually easily fixed, either for free, or for a minimal cost.  So, it’s worth it in terms of customer satisfaction to fix them.

What makes a table wobble?

Most of the time a table is wobbly because the floor that it rests on is not perfectly level or flat.  In fact, any good contractor will tell you that there is no such thing as a perfectly level floor.  If you don’t believe us, put a laser level on your floor and you will most likely find that it isn’t perfectly level.

Another reason that tables become wobbly is because they are moved frequently from spot to spot.  Many table bases have adjustable levelers at the bottom of the base that are used to level the base on a particular section of floor.  If the base was leveled for one area of the floor and then moved, it may need re-adjusted.  This is an easy, free fix that many employees are not trained properly on.

In rarer instances, you might find that one of the base legs is damaged, screws are loose or missing, or a glide is missing on your table base.   If the table is damaged, then you should take it out of service until it is either fixed or replaced.

So how can you fix wobbly tables?

  • If you have a 4 leg table, try the ¼ turn test. Start rotating the table slowly until you find the spot where the table is level and stops wobbling – it’s mathematically proven that somewhere between 0 and 25 degrees, you will find a spot.
  • If your base has table levelers, adjust the leveler that is off of the ground by screwing it counter clockwise. This is usually sufficient when there is only a small gap under the base leg.
  • Check your base and table joints and make sure all screws are tight. If a screw is loose, tighten it.
  • Put a rubber wedge under the table leg that has a gap underneath it. Do not use coasters or napkins, as they slide out easily and are a tripping hazard.
  • Move the table to another area of the restaurant with a more level floor

Wobbly tables are an age-old problem; one that can cause a lot of discomfort for your guests and generate bad reviews for your restaurant.  Fortunately, the problem is usually easily solved with the proper know-how.  Now that you are aware of the solutions, train your employees to be on the lookout for wobbly tables, and how to fix them.