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Coffee Shop Ambiance Part I: Furniture

At your restaurant or café, the quality of your food and beverages are obvious selling points. But when customers open the door and looks around, your ambience—or design and decor—can determine if they stay or go.

Here are some quick tips on furnishing your café that will keep your guests comfortable, and coming back:

1. Tables tell the truth.

Tables can easily look cheap and tacky. Unless you're running a small shop, a square table on a single pole with four flimsy chairs around it will not invite people to spend much time at your establishment. (But maybe that’s the point, if you’re a quick-serve lunch spot). If you would like customers to stick around awhile, there are relatively inexpensive seating options that will look great, and won't spill a macchiato if you rest your elbow next to it.

2. Offer a variety of seating.

A bar works great for business people dashing in for a quick bite, tables are a draw for for families with children, and booths attract the leisure crowd and intimate couples. Sit down at every seating area for a few minutes, and notice how comfortable it is (or not).

3. Maintain your furniture.

Rips, tears and stains in fabric need to be repaired or the piece needs to be replaced. Major scuffs need to be sanded, repainted, etc. Instead of grumbling at the expense, be glad it’s come to this. Restaurants that go out of business aren’t around long enough to see their furniture wear out. Duct-tape repairs are fit for truck stops, but nowhere else.

4. Divide and conquer.

A private room for events will give you a boost in income, as families, social clubs and business groups are always looking for places to book their parties. Even a partition or two or planter boxes can create a neat division of seating space, helping to drown out noise and give guests some extra visual stimulation. Even when there’s no party on the books, these sectioned-off areas let guests choose their own section, and a chance to separate themselves from cell-phone talkers, cackling laughter, etc.

Related Post: Coffee Shop Ambiance Part II: Lighting, Flooring, Music and More

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