The restaurant business is full of questions. Is Pepsi alright? Soup or salad? Cup or bowl? Wheat, white, or rye? Booth or tables? If you’re a restaurant owner, that last question is especially important, since customers’ choice of seating at your restaurant is every bit as important to them as their steak being done medium-rare or having extra napkins on hand when they’ve ordered gyros.
Research and anecdotal evidence suggests that preference for booths or tables for restaurant seating are relatively evenly split. If you don’t have or haven’t considered booths, there are some compelling reasons that you should. Families — especially families with children — tend to like booth seating because it helps to keep their kids corralled. Couples enjoy the sense of intimacy that comes with sitting in a booth. Some folks, especially if they’re the type who like to talk business, read, or write while they eat, appreciate the relative privacy of a booth.
Most restaurants will need a mix of booths and tables. With rare exceptions, tables serve a practical purpose. After all, you can’t just move booths if you have a leaky ceiling, an unexpected party of twelve, or if you’re accommodating a customer with mobility issues. With all their benefits, you’ll still need to take a few things into consideration when deciding how to incorporate booths into your seating.
Consider the size of your establishment: For some establishments like manufactured diners, with their mix of booth and counter seating, tables simply aren’t practical. For most diners and restaurants, from fast casual to formal, a mix is both necessary and desirable, since customers’ seating preferences can change based on the number of people in their party, their relationship to those people, and the purpose of their visit (business versus pleasure). You’ll also want to be mindful of where your seating is situated relative to windows, HVAC vents, baseboards or radiators, and even certain elements of your decor. If lines of sight are important — whether you’re operating a dinner theater, sports bar, or comedy club — be mindful of those as well.