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Café Furniture: How to Create a Profitable Layout

Aug 13, 2008
When it comes to café furniture you want to make every effort to insure that you choose furniture that maximizes the use of your space for profit. This is often a difficult decision to make, particularly for those operating a café type of environment for the first time but it is a vital choice for the sake of your business. Every choice you make when designing a café needs to be about some sort of economics. The furniture layout is about the economics of space.

Know Your Space and its Limitations

The problem with space in any business is that there is only so much of it. You need to be very aware of not only how much space your café has but also how that space is arranged. You need to know that things that cannot be moved (the fixed structures), where the doors are, the layout of the room, and what space is available for café tables and chairs, booths, stools, or a café counter (if you are going to include one). You must know though, how much space you have, and what space among that is going to be available for furniture before you can even consider going about the often difficult task of selecting the furniture to fill that space.

What you will want to do is create a scaled floor plan (and protect this plan by laminating the paper it is on) that you can carry with you whenever you are looking at furniture. You will need to have measurements listed on this paper as well as doorways, walkways (to and from the kitchen, restroom facilities, and emergency exits), and any code requirements that limit the number of guests you can host at capacity. This floor plan needs to go with you each and every time you look at café furniture to help you make proper choices.

Measure Everything Twice

A common rule among carpenters is to measure twice so that you will only need to cut once. You may want to give it an extra go if you aren't in the business of carpentry to double check. It is vital that you are exact. An extra eighth of an inch per table or chair when selecting multiple pieces of furniture can spell disaster for a profitable layout. You want your layout to be profitable above all else and that is not going to be the case if you must get rid of seating opportunities for the sake of space. You also do not want to force your customers to feel cramped and uncomfortable.

Chances are that customers who feel cramped will feel as though their business is unappreciated and will not be back. Make sure that you keep this in mind when planning your seating and create a little 'breathing room' between tables that allow space for customers to spread out and feel as though they have some privacy.

Utilize all Available Space

So many cafes fail to properly utilize the space they have available to them while others do it beautifully. Corners are notoriously difficult for café owners to utilize well. Some have discovered that by placing larger tables with wrap around seating in the corners they are able to place large groups in this seating area rather than pulling tables together. Others place tables as normal in this area and fail to maximize the extra space that is provided in corners. It is up to you how to best utilize this area. Cafes do well with the larger tables or booths in the corner though buffet type restaurants in general do not.

Many cafes have also addressed the issue of dining alone by providing counters with single seating. This allows customers dining alone a place to sit that doesn't take up the seating for four that would be available to a larger family dining in. Most lone diners will take this option, which allows you to maximize your space. If you do not want a counter for your café you may want to consider adding several smaller tables that offer seating for two rather than four in order to make the most of limited space.

Choose Furniture Wisely

This is often easier said than done but you must choose furniture that will allow the most possible seating option in the limited space you have. If you plan to have large groups dining in on occasion you also need tables that can easily pulled together or enlarged somehow to accommodate these larger groups. You will need to measure and double check to make sure that the furniture you are considering fits well within your space and that it isn't robbing you of space. Remember different furniture styles have a different profile and some take up more space than others.

You want furniture that will be comfortable, that will further the atmosphere you are attempting to create, and that will provide the most seating possible within your space. Your money as a café owner is going to be made by serving customers. The more you can handle at once, the greater your profit potential.

Have a Purpose for Every Space

In order to truly maximize the efficiency of your café furniture selections you need to insure that space that isn't being filled with furniture has a defined purpose. For example there are walkways that need to be maintained for safety and to insure better service. You may need a place for a hostess stand, a place to keep menus, a place to hold condiments, trays, or roll silverware during spare moments. Every space in a café needs to be accounted for when selecting the furniture so that you can be certain your café will run at maximum efficiency.

Café furniture is an important decision for the sake of your business. The right furniture can make your business where the wrong furniture can prevent your business from enjoying its fullest potential. Take great care when selecting the furniture for your café and help your business take off on the right foot.
About the Author
Tony has written several books on cafe chairs, cafe tables and cafe furniture. He also enjoys to write about hotel furniture and gardening.
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