Selecting Restaurant Furniture - Picket&Rail Singapore's Premium Furniture Retailer

Selecting Restaurant Furniture

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The other day a friend who runs a small cafe called me up and said that he wanted to refurnish his cafe. He did not want anything that was too high end in quality. He did not want "beautiful home furniture". Just something that would not give him a heartache whenever it gets bashed around by his customers. This thinking is absolutely off the mark. Restaurant furniture is quite different from home furniture. Furniture for food & beverage (F&B) outlets must be sturdy above all else. The delicate finish of certain premium home furniture is definitely not always appropriate for a F&B environment. F&B customers need to set their expectations right in order not to disappoint themselves. Expensive does not equal sturdy. Beautiful does not equal functionality. Sophisticated does equate to ease of use. F&B does not mean cheaper. This is especially so for new F&B entrepreneurs. Here is a 10 point checklist of factors that you need to think about before making a chair purchase for your cafe. The checklist for a home chair is quite different.

1. Stackability -

Hygiene is critical to a F&B operation. Mopping the floor is a basic day to day necessity. Stacking up the chairs to leave the floor clear maybe one of your most important requirements. Stackable chairs are also suitable for temporary locations (functions). Many stackable chairs are designed with holes and looping armrests. This allows stacked chairs to be chained and secured to a fixed structure to minimise theft. Many establishments leave their furniture in their veranda or porch overnight after closing. 


2. Comfort (Fast turnaround or long stay)

Comfort can help determine how long your customers hang around. If you want your customer to hang around longer and continue to make more orders, comfort becomes important. If you are a Shenton Way cafe that wants a quick turnaround, a basic chair or stool would suffice.

Choose Seat Cushions/Type carefully. Factors such as foam stiffness, upholstered material, rub cycles, fire retardant, scratch resistance, edge curvature or solid seat type. These factors determine not only comfort but safety, ease of maintenance, lifespan,  and design integration.

The angle of back rest differs from chair to chair. Lounging chairs should have more angle and allow for a more lazy posture. Dining chairs have a more upright back. Stools are good for a more casual environment and where the moving of seats by customers is not an issue (kopitiams).



3. Rocking on two legs test

Home chairs seldom suffer such abuse. Bars and informal F&B places need very sturdy chairs. Plastic, acrylic and parson chairs usually do not pass this test. The more formal the restaurant the less critical this test is. 


4. Stretchers

Stretchers are pieces of wood that join the legs of chairs. This stiffens the entire chair structure. Chairs with U shaped stretchers are popular with coffee chains because it make the chair much stronger.

Stretcher heights at the right levels for bar stools are important. This allows for the feet to rest comfortably. Such stretchers have dual functionality; for strengthening as well as for ergonomics.


5. Armrests or no armrest.

You will often see a  chair stacked upside down on the table during closing time. This is done to allow easy cleaning of the floor. If the chair has an armrest or a hard smooth seat or is too big, then this is not possible. Is this one of your key requirements to meet hygiene standards? 


6. Height of Chair

There are three basic heights; Dining, Counter and Bar; 45cm, 60cm and 75cm respectively. Counter height chairs are more appropriate for home use. 

The height of the backrest will determine comfort and overall look of your cafe. 


7. Strength and Structure

To test a chair's strength, sit on it and then try to move your butt in a circular motion. This tests the lateral strength of a chair. The downward strength of most chairs are quite sufficient. As you rock around the clock or chair, feel for instability, noise, sway and leg bending. Get a second person to observe when you do this test. A stable chair makes for a happy diner. 


8. Material (indoor)

Wood is good for most establishments. Ages well and easy to repair.

Metal is cold but rugged

Acrylic is cool but hopeless

Plastic Chairs are excellent

Composite Chairs look good and are very functional. This is the trend for the future. 


9. Maintenance

Maintenance can be time consuming if you choose a wrong chair. Don't take this concern too lightly. You may regret this more than you know.

Don't choose a hard brush to clean fabric. It won't last. PVC is the best upholstered material for a food and beverage environment.

Hard seats are good for cleaning but may not be the most comfortable to sit on.

Seats with weaving are not advisable. Food articles and dirt can get trapped easily. Often an cord end gets undone and the entire weaving comes loose.

Chairs with bolts and nuts need to be tightened regularly. Best to chose chairs with the least amount of small parts. Welded steel structures and glued wooden joints are easy to maintain. This engineering approach also makes for a stronger chair.


10. Weight and Size

Size is important. This can determine the seating capacity of the restaurant. It also determines the table type and size. It also affects the ambience as well.

A restaurant chair should never be too heavy. It should be easy to pull out and pull in. This improves service to your customers. Customers can easily adjust the seat position to their own comfort. This also reduces damage to the floor and the chair itself.

Choosing a chair is tough enough. Choosing a table is just as tough. Furnishing an entire establishment gets even tougher. All we have provided you is just a simple list for an indoor chair. Real life is always more complicated. So if you have a cafe you would like to set up and are new to F&B furniture email us at or leave a blog comment. Our in house experts would be happy to help you out.