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Restaurant Booths Offer Privacy And Comfort

Aug 17, 2007
For most of us, there are two social needs that come into play when we dine out. We possess the need to have personal space around us and we also like lively and interesting surroundings. Too much open space in a public area makes us feel exposed and too much stimulation isn't conducive to a relaxing meal.

The need for personal space can be met most easily with seating arrangements. Restaurants need to provide the kind of seating that makes guests feel protected and comfortable. Anyone who has ever had a job as a host or hostess in a restaurant can tell you that most people prefer to sit in a booth. Having a wall, column or window next to their table creates personal space. Booths also help create boundaries between tables.

Booths in restaurants not only provide privacy and extra comfort to customers, they also save space and maximize seating capacity. Other benefits include more organized traffic flow and less time spent on cleaning and maintenance. Some studies actually indicate that guests seated at booths actually spend more, but don't stay longer than those seated elsewhere.

Standard booth seating is available in several shapes and arrangements. Standard shapes and sizes are the most economical, however many manufacturers can customize features for your unique situation. The size, shape, capacity and budget of your restaurant will help determine which is best. The most common are rectangular booths, which seat from two to six customers. Other options are the continuous bench (usually along a long wall), half circle and three-quarters circle booths most often used in corners.

Booths can be made of many materials. The least expensive are laminated plastic. While there are hundreds of plastic laminates available, you will get the best price and fastest delivery time if you choose standard solid colors and patterns from such companies as Wilson-Art and Formica brand. Custom back shapes and cutouts are available. Other booth options are wooden booths with upholstered seats, wooden booths with upholstered backs, all wood, steel frame with wood seats and backs and the most comfortable, the all upholstered booth. The upholstery can be fabric or vinyl. It is recommended that restaurant booths use cloth fabric on the booth backs only and not on the seats. Cloth can stain more easily, is harder to clean, and makes sliding in and out of the seat more difficult.

Another option to consider is the crumb rail at the back edge of the seat. The advantage is they are easy to clean. The disadvantage is they need to be cleaned often. They also cost more. Crumb rails in a color coordinated or contrasting vinyl or laminated plastic can add to the look of the booth. Some manufacturers offer removable seats for easy cleaning.

Depending on your supplier, unfinished ends may be available. They will reduce the cost and make it easier to fit a booth flush against a wall. Be sure to specify finished ends if the seat end is exposed to view or may possibly by moved in the future. Booth backs also come finished and unfinished. If the outside of the back is hidden by a divider or wall, you can usually avoid the cost of finishing the back. Be sure to plan ahead. Factory finishing is more practical than on-site finishing at a later time.

Booths are not limited to commercial diners and cafes. Homeowners with a love of nostalgia are installing booths in their own kitchens instead of more traditional furniture. They can be purchased as new or if you don't mind a used booth, check out sales and auctions of restaurants that are remodeling or going out of business. Be aware of the space available, the door openings into your house, and special needs that may be presented due to heating vents, radiators, windowsills and electrical outlets.
About the Author
Terry Gates is a freelance writer with experience onrestaurant furnitureand restaurant supplies.
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