10 Worst Chairs and Why

Quality commercial furniture is one of the most important investments you can make in building your restaurant. In particular, selecting just the right seating and avoiding the worst chairs for restaurants can make or break your customers’ experience.


While choosing a chair may not seem as exciting or relevant as planning the menu or decorating your space, your customer’s comfort matters, and could very well be the decisive factor in whether they choose to come back and tell their friends.


It’s absolutely critical to your restaurant’s future success that you make the right decision about what chairs to use.


A common misconception about opening a restaurant is that choosing less comfortable chairs can keep customers from lingering too long and reducing table turnover.


However, there is something to be gained from keeping your customers as comfortable as possible--these patrons will not only order an entree, but perhaps dessert, drinks, and extra food, leading to more profits.


The question of whether a chair is “good” or “bad” really depends on the restaurant owner’s vision. For example, plastic chairs and tables wouldn’t be the best choice for an indoor fine dining experience, but put them on a patio on a warm day and they become the perfect selection for outdoor seating.


However, there are some types of chairs that should be avoided at all costs, no matter what variety of restaurant you want to start. Knowing the worst chairs for restaurants and their traits can help you avoid falling prey to these poor options and instead choose the most comfortable seating for your customers.


1. Residential Chairs


On the surface, using residential chairs might seem like a good idea. They look good in your restaurant. They save you money. Customers seem to be enjoying themselves.


At least until one of them breaks.


The fact is, residential chairs aren’t designed for the daily beating chairs take in restaurants. They wear down easily with repeated use by hundreds of customers who likely won’t treat them with the respect they give their own furniture. This can lead to these chairs silently breaking down until they eventually wear out completely.


Using residential furniture is one of the worst restaurant seating options because it jeopardizes the safety of your patrons, not to mention the health of your business.

Residential Chairs


The best choice you can make is to invest in commercial furniture designed for everyday use by multiple customers. It may cost more and the shipping process may be more involved--but you’ll have the security of knowing your patrons are safely and comfortably accommodated.


2. Chairs That Don’t Accommodate All Customers


Your customers aren’t one-size-fits-all. Choosing a chair that doesn’t take this into consideration could result in a bad experience for people of different heights and weights.


For example, shorter adults might not be comfortable if their feet can’t touch the floor, while someone taller may not have enough legroom. A person who weighs 250 pounds or more may not feel that they have enough support from the chair.


This doesn’t just apply to height and weight. You also have to consider how the design of the chair could interfere with wheelchairs, braces, crutches, and other items used to accommodate disabled customers.


Maybe a chair seems functional on the surface, but for customers who are not of average height or weight or are differently abled, it can be the worst chair they’ve experienced. 


In this circumstance, the best chair you can select is the one that allows for a middle ground that allows everyone to feel some level of comfort.


It’s unlikely that you’ll find something that meets the needs of every customer you encounter, but you can make your selection with different experiences in consideration.


3. Chairs That Don’t Clean Easily


With large amounts of customer traffic coming through your restaurant and handling food every day, chairs that are difficult to clean can cause you to waste valuable time and resources maintaining them.


This is particularly true if you own a restaurant that caters to families. Spills, stains, and messes are inevitable with large groups, particularly those with small children.


If your chairs are made out of fabric that isn’t stain-resistant and doesn’t clean easily, you’ll not only be stuck spending time cleaning it, but also will likely have to repair or replace it sooner.


Some types of upholstery are also more likely to wear out and fray over time, which doesn’t bode well for frequent use by multiple customers, let alone families with young children.


Instead, go with an attractive material that wipes down quickly and easily. Leather and vinyl are both durable materials that can be cleaned with little effort and time. It’s also important to keep in mind that cleaning up spills as soon as they happen can help maintain and prolong the life of your chairs.


4. Chairs with Uncomfortable, Upright Backs


The angle of the backs of chairs can make a big difference in your patrons’ comfort. Chairs with backs that are too upright and rigid will make it hard for them to relax and feel more like they’re on an airplane getting ready to take off than going out to eat.


Instead, the chair you pick should have a slight incline to the back at an optimal angle of 20 degrees, according to Stephani Robson of the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. This will eliminate the stiffness of chairs with upright backs and give patrons more room to relax and move around.


5. Chairs with Flat Seats

Chairs w/ Flat Seats

Chairs with completely flat seats are among the worst restaurant seating options. This is not only because they lead to discomfort after patrons have been sitting for a long time, but also because they are easy to slide off of.


Instead, opt for chairs with curved seats or with indentations in the seat to make it more comfortable and allow for more width when sitting down.


Considering these factors can also help with accommodating different sizes and demographics of customers; eliminating a hard, uncomfortable seat is a big step toward offering seating for all patrons.


6. Chairs You Don’t Have All the Details About


Some chair descriptions might sound too good to be true...and it might be because they are. Fashionable, stylish descriptions can easily cover a mediocre product, and often, manufacturers or salespeople aren’t forthcoming about how accurate the product details are.


If the representative you’re talking with isn’t open about the type and quality of materials used, including the wood, grade of steel, and fabric, it could be a sign that purchasing the chair could lead you to be stuck with poor quality products.


7. Poorly Constructed Chairs


It doesn’t matter how great your chair looks if it’s going to be falling apart within a year. Remember--the fact that hundreds of people will sit in these chairs demands higher standards.


One of the worst restaurant chair decisions you can make is to buy poorly constructed chairs that will wear out quickly.


The telltale sign that you are dealing with this chair is that key materials for joint construction are missing. Well-constructed chairs used a combination of staples, screws, and glue that is not visible to the naked eye. Chairs that are poorly assembled use staples or screws by themselves, or pockets of glue can be clearly seen.

This applies to aluminum or steel chairs as well. If you see imperfect or lumpy welding or the chair wobbles or squeaks when you sit in it, these are signs of sloppy construction.


8. Chairs That Are Too Heavy or Not Easy to Move

chairs that are too heavy or not easy to move


The arrangement of your seating isn’t written in stone. While your floor plan may specify the types of chairs and the amount of space per customer, you’ll still have to move furniture around to clean the restaurant and accommodate different sizes of parties.


Chairs that can’t be moved without significant effort are a poor restaurant seating choice. If they are too heavy to lift, employees may end up dragging them, which could damage not only the floor, but also the chair itself, doing harm to the chair legs and joints and increasing the risk of accidents.


Moreover, most restaurant unions have restrictions about the weight of furniture. If your chairs are too heavy, they may not be able to be moved without getting a union involved, which could end up costing you valuable time and money.


9. Chairs That Don’t Make Good Use of Your Space


Knowing how much space you have to work with is a critical part of designing your restaurant’s floor plan and involves a delicate balance between making the most profits and ensuring your customers’ satisfaction.


Obviously, you want your customers to be comfortable, and you want to account for the variety of demographics you’ll serve. But if your chairs are too big or don’t efficiently use space, they end up being among the worst restaurant chairs for your business.


You’ll be more likely to create a cramped, crowded space, and you’ll also miss out on valuable revenue opportunities.


Not only that, but large chairs are costly to ship. They may look good and feel comfortable, but they aren’t the best option for your budget or floor plan.


10. Chairs That Just Don’t Fit Your Strategy

chairs that don't fit to strategy


Ultimately, one of the worst restaurant chairs you can select for your restaurant is the one that doesn’t align with its theme or style. Just as your floor plan has to reflect the kind of establishment you’re creating, your seating options must also fit this goal.


Therefore, if you’re starting a counter service restaurant, don’t use padded, comfortable seats--they’ll look out of place and go against the quick dining theme. Similarly, you wouldn’t want to use simple, metal furniture in a sit-down establishment. A chair that fits great in one business doesn’t necessarily work for another.


Your seating is one of the most important investments you’ll make for your restaurant in terms of the comfort and wellbeing of your customers. You don’t want to compromise or settle for something just to save money.


Moda Seating’s mission is to help you select the perfect chair...guaranteed. Connect with us at 1-800-275-3266--tell us about your project and we’ll be glad to provide you with a quote and ways to save even more with us.


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