A restaurant's booth seating areas are often the most desirable seats in the house.
The cost of buying restaurant booths comes as a shock to many uninitiated operators.
If the restaurateur acquired booths as a part of purchasing a restaurant business and discovers later that the booth seating
needs to be replaced or repaired he can be frustrated by the choices the market offers.
Your existing booth seating may be a big asset with a lot going for it and some consideration should be given to keeping it.
However, it is not so simple to get existing seating refurbished and recovered. A good upholstery shop is going to advise against patching tears and punctures.
Such repairs are unsightly and temporary at best. A good shop will want to strip the existing upholstery material, re-build your seats and completely recover them.
If the wood booth frames were cheaply constructed
originally there may not be much worth saving by reupholstering them. Look for at least some hardwood construction components in your old booth frames.
If the booth frame is entirely made with plywood it may be a tip off that it will be difficult to salvage the piece as cheaper manufacturing materials were used.
If you know who the original manufacturer of your existing booth seating was you should be able to research that company's
relative quality standing in the restaurant furniture industry. The skill and resources of the firm hired to do the booth recovery work
is also an important aspect of making the repair versus replace decision. Anyone who specializes in this type of work should be able to offer you some local references.
You and your repair contractor also need to determine if the work can be performed at your location during off hours or at the contractor's shop or a combination of both.
Salvaging your existing booths will keep them out of a landfill, you won't have to pay freight charges to get them to your restaurant and you won't have to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars
in sales taxes for a new restaurant booth purchase. The money you pay to get them fixed stays in your local community.
If you are fortunate enough to find a cache of used booths you think you can use in your new restaurant make sure you can really use them.
Many states and localities may have fire codes that changed since your used booths were made and installed. While a fire inspector may give you a pass
because your seating is used, it is just as likely he won't. Plus, you really do want your new place to be fire safe anyway.
Old booths can smell. If your used booths have been recently removed from closed restaurant this probably won't be a problem. If they have been stored
in a basement or unheated warehouse space for any length of time you might want to check them out carefully for musty, cigarette or spoiled food odors. There
professional cleaning services or odor-absorbing techniques you can employ to avoid bringing the odor of your bargain used restaurant booths into your new restaurant.
In addition, be wary of used upholstered booths that have been carelessly stored. The wood frames may be warped. Make sure that used booths placed on a flat surface are still level.
Reusing another restaurant's old booths requires some creativity, imagination and common sense. Be sure you can buy enough single end booths to actually make use of the easier to
find and more plentiful double booths. Ending a row of booths with a double looks poorly planned and will cost you in wasted space and seating capacity. Most upholstered restaurant booths are finished
on the aisle end and not on the end facing the wall. This makes no difference with double booth seats but a single booth finished only on one end is directional that is, finished
right OR finished left. Single booths finished on two ends and finished on the back of the back are a true find and can be used anywhere in your new layout.
Corner booths and circle booths pose the same finished end finished back dilemma. A corner booth that looked great in its original setting may not work in your new
restaurant space if the unfinished backs are exposed to view or can be seen from outside through a window.
Be certain that the seat lengths of the used booths fits your menu and foodservice style. An upholstered booth with a seat length of 42 inches coming out of a snack shop
may be perfectly serviceable and in good condition but inappropriate in a fine dining establishment. Especially if other areas of your restaurant have more spacious, larger
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