“We’ll take a booth, please.” As a former restaurant hostess, I know it’s a common request, and I’m sure you’ve heard customers use this phrase thousands of time, too. What is so alluring about dining in a restaurant booth, and what are the benefits to you for using them in your design? Here are eight factors to consider:
1. Private, intimate dining. One of the appeals of booths is that they have a knack for creating perceived barriers between a guest and the rest of the diners in the restaurant. Your guests want to be able to carry on private conversations and enjoy their own personal space, even when they’re out in public. A restaurant booth creates the intimacy they want.
2. Comfortable and cushy. Most booth seating includes some form of padded and upholstered seat, although you may opt for an all-wooden booth. If your guests like cozy and comfy, though, a booth that features a soft spot to sit is a welcoming attraction.
3. Kid-friendly dining. Children on the inside, grown-ups on the outside. You’ve either seen or tried this maneuver when dining with your own kids. Not only do booths give parents the opportunity to confine their youngsters; booths also provide ample wiggle room for children, who are often more comfortable in a booth than sitting still in an adult-sized restaurant chair.
4. Flexible capacity. A standard restaurant booth is 48 inches long and sits, on average, four people. But if a family of five comes in with small children, they most likely will be content in that same booth.
5. More guests per square foot. Because restaurant booths go back-to-back, they take up a smaller overall footprint than a table and chair configuration. You don’t have to worry about allowing for the extra space needed to pull out chairs or to walk between the chairs.
6. More revenue per table. There have been studies that show people who sit at anchored tables (against a wall) or in booths spend more. Guests are more likely to order an appetizer, dessert or after-dinner drink when they are not in a busy area or at a freestanding table in the center of the dining room.
7. Creative room layouts. Booths can be laid out in many ways, contrary to what you might be thinking:
• Traditionally, booths are lined up perpendicularly along a wall, and tables and chairs are placed in the center of the room.
• Booths can be used as “floaters” in the center of the room, too, with open ends on both sides.
• Banquette seating involves a booth on one side of the table and chairs on the other, so you could line the backs of the booths along the wall for a more open room style.
• Pull that row of banquettes off the wall, and use the finished backs of the booth to create a wall, room divider or aisle in your restaurant.
8. Custom design options. Restaurant booths can be very basic or upscale. With endless upholstery and stain choices, finishes, trim options and accessories, booths can be customized for every type of eatery. Whether you have fast food, a pizza shop, a casual sit-down or fine dining establishment, there’s a booth look that’s right for you.
Most restaurants offer a mix of seating styles for a balanced look that meets the needs of all their patrons. Consider how booth seating will work for your restaurant. A happy customer is the best kind, so oblige the next time you hear the simple request, “Can we have a booth?” Your host staff will thank you, too!
Emily Fritz writes for East Coast Chair & Barstool, a national hospitality furniture e-commerce retailer. See more restaurant tips at her blog.