Should your restaurant chairs have arm rests?
Chairs come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, and choosing the right size and shape for your restaurant can have a surprisingly significant impact on the viability of your enterprise in the long run. The differences in structure often have to do with the shape of the backrest, and this also raises the question of whether or not you want these chairs to have arm rests in them as well. There are many pros and cons associated with the presence of arm rests in chairs, so you have to weigh both sides to figure out what type of chair will suit your eatery the most.
The main advantage of restaurant chairs with arm rests is the level of comfort they provide. Chairs of this variety can allow customers to leave their arms loose without forcing them to hang by their sides. It is commonly known that resting your elbows on the table is poor etiquette and a sign of bad manners and upbringing. But restaurant goers might not have a choice if you don’t offer them arm rests and you would therefore be forcing them to break the decorum of polite dining by not giving them chairs that can facilitate proper etiquette.
That said, we would argue that the downsides to armrests in such chairs far outweigh their benefits. One such downside is that armrests take up a lot of space. Hence, you would be able to line up a smaller number of chairs than might have been the case otherwise. This can be detrimental to a restaurant’s ability to stay afloat, as it would reduce the number of customers that you would be able to seat at any given point in time.
The use of armrest chairs is something that is common among restaurant owners that lack experience. After all, they might be basing their restaurant seating area on their home based dining experiences. When you are at home you would ideally want to make the most of things by resting your arms and sitting with ease. However, this is not the type of vibe that you might want when you are at a restaurant. It can make the whole experience distinctly uncomfortable, and the irony here is that your desire to give your customers a homely vibe might be the very thing that results in them feeling out of place.
When people come to a restaurant, they would ideally want to be as close to the people they are there with as possible. Armchairs can create a lot of distance and can serve as barriers between people that are eating together. This distance might be a factor that would prevent diners from wanting to frequent your establishment. Remember, you need to work towards creating repeat customers as these are the people that will drive your cash flow. Consistency is key, and having consistent customers is something that can make it far easier for you to maintain a reliable source of revenue.
What’s more is that there other arguably more effective ways of facilitating a comfortable customer experience if you think about it. Armrests in chairs made for restaurants are often really hard, and they serve more of a decorative purpose rather than anything meaningful. The true comfort that your patrons would seek from the chairs they are sitting on comes from the backrest as well as the seat itself. Since this is the case, it becomes simpler for you to improve customer comfort without resorting to the use of the space hogging monstrosities that are armchairs and the like.
A standard side chair comes with a padded seat. This can go a long way towards making patrons feel at ease, as their backsides won’t start to hurt from being pressed against a hard surface. The padding is usually quite reasonable in that it doesn’t add an excessive amount of weight to the chair. This can prevent injuries in situations where your wait staff might have to move chairs around to accommodate a larger party than they expected. Such chairs often come with a straight back that has a backrest at the very top and an empty space between the backrest and the seat.
There are even more comfortable options available if you want to try them out. For example, a parson’s chair is even more heavily padded than a side chair. The seat padding is thicker and firmer, and the backrest is thoroughly padded to. This adds a lot of weight to the chair but if you usually don’t have to restructure the furniture placement all that regularly it might be worth it to check out this chair type. The lack of armrests does very little to reduce the almost ethereal nature of the comfort that this chair can provide.
If you want a chair that is very sturdy and a bit more comfortable than a side chair without as much weight as a parson’s chair, you might want to look into shaker chairs. These chairs are built far more solidly, and they have vertical wooden slats running up the backrest as well. They are also a fair bit larger than side chairs but in a way that lets patrons sit comfortably without taking up excessive horizontal space.
As you can see, there are plenty of alternatives that you can use instead of armrest chairs. They will help you to fit more chairs into a limited amount of space and would avoid the claustrophobia that many patrons can feel when they are in the cage like structure of a chair with armrests. The shaker chair is our favorite pick, but you can do a lot with the parson’s chair as well if you want to appeal to higher end clientele.