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A beginner's guide to banquette seating and booth seating

I'm 99% certain you've sat on a banquette or booth seat in a restaurant, café or bar, or any type of hospitality business for that matter. And fixed seating remains ever popular in restaurant and bar design with customers and business owners alike.


Banquette and booth seating is usually made to order by a contract furniture supplier, meaning that the world is your oyster in terms of size, style and colour! But this can also make it feel a little daunting or overwhelming when ordering a design for your independent business, and are they really necessary to have in your hospitality space?


So for any small business owners wanting to use bespoke fixed seating for the first time, here's my beginner's guide to help get you started.


What's the difference between banquette seating, booth seating and fixed seating?

The terms banquette seating, booth seating and fixed seating are essentially interchangeable. They're sections of, usually, upholstered seating units that stay put in one position in a restaurant, café or bar (ergo, fixed seating) and are often built against a wall.


Banquette seating

Banquette seating is typically built as a straight run with the back of the seating placed against a wall or in a niche, with loose tables and chairs placed in front of it. They can be made into an L-shape to suit a specific corner space and they can also be built, free standing, in the middle of a space, creating a focal feature or helping to divide up a large open interior.


Booth seating

Booth seating is essentially using two sections of banquette seating facing each other, with a table between, to create the feel a more intimate dining experience in a restaurant, café or bar. You can also use additional seating units to form a U-shape booth or even design a curved booth for a real feature in your interior. The most common arrangement of multiple booths in a hospitality space is having them back to back, usually along a wall.


What's the benefit of using banquette or booth seating in a hospitality space?

They can be a great space saving opportunity

Unlike loose dining chairs which need walking space around them in order to pull them out from under a table, banquette seating can be built right up against a wall. This can help small businesses where their interior is a bit of an awkward shape or generally a small floor area. Several booths can be placed back to back and save on floor space that is usually required between different dining groups.


Maximise and optimise covers in your restaurant, café or bar

Being great at space saving also gives you the opportunity to maximise on the total number of covers in your hospitality interior. Back to back booths normally fit 4-6 people (depending on the overall size of the booth), so you can quickly build up covers along the length of a wall.


Banquette seating is a great way to allow for flexible dining group numbers if you've got a decent stretch of seating. Loose tables and chairs along the banquette seating can either be pushed together for larger size groups or placed apart if you have a lot of couples visit your small business on a particular day. That way you're not having to turn away any customers or make them wait a long time for an available table.


Break up large floor areas by create seating zones

Banquette and booth seating doesn't have to be exclusively kept along a wall. They can also be free standing in the middle of an interior, helping you to divide up an expansive floor area and create different zones within your hospitality space.


Maybe your independent business is a restaurant and bar: the visual and physical barrier of strategically placed fixed seating can help define the different eating and drinking zones within the space.

Well designed and positioned fixed seating can also help with defining clear walking/circulation routes for customers and staff moving around your space, and minimise unintentional disturbances to other customers.


They add visual interest to your hospitality space

As well as creating different zones, banquette and booth seating can help elevate the overall look and feel of your hospitality interior - especially if your small business is one large open building or located in a space lacking in character.


Make a great positive first impression with customers when they first walk in. Booth and banquette can stop your restaurant, café or bar feeling like a (relatively average) sea of loose tables and chairs - they can help create a welcoming, sociable atmosphere.


Since banquette seating and booth seating is usually made to order, it's a great opportunity to use some lovely patterned or colourful upholstery, or have a unique design to help add character and visual interest in your hospitality space. Maybe you can use your fixed seating as a beautiful backdrop in marketing images for your small business, such as on your website or various social media platforms. (Did somebody say Instagram?)


Banquette seating and booth seating is popular with customers

A lot of restaurant-goers really like banquette and booth seating! The seats look super comfortable when upholstered, they can make the customer's dining experience feel more intimate and special, and they can feel like they give a bit more privacy than a table with just loose chairs.


If it's a celebratory meal/drinks out for a birthday or special occasion, being treated to a snazzy seating area can be the icing on the cake (no pun intended) for that dining experience in your hospitality interior. Giving your customers the choice of different seating options between loose chairs and banquette or booth seating is always a positive for your small business, as everyone always has their own preference.


How an interior designer can help you with the perfect fixed seating for your independent business

An interior designer would be able to develop and form a floor layout showing where fixed seating would go in your space, and the total number of covers provided throughout. This means that nothing has to be ordered or made before you know what seating (and how much of it) fit in your hospitality interior. Saving you time, stress and precious money.


An interior designer can also show you what the bespoke banquette seating or booth seating would look like through detailed drawings and even sketch 3D models if necessary, giving you precise measurements and notes of the style, design and upholstery specifications of your fixed seating.


They'll provide you with upholstery samples for your approval, as well as liaising with contract furniture suppliers to discuss other finishes, such as wood stains, and what design and style would work best in line with your budget and time scale. The detailed drawings and sketches can be used to get accurate quotes from contract furniture suppliers or even for you to work from if you're a small business owner going down the more hands-on, DIY route.


Working with an interior designer will allow you to get the best design, look and feel with your banquette seating or booth seating, and long term will help you to optimise your hospitality space and ultimately (financially) benefit your business.


 

Hopefully this beginner's guide to banquette and booth seating and been insightful for you. If you think you'd benefit from a one-to-one consultation from Studio SK on fixed seating for your independent business, please do check out my interior design consulting service.


(Cover image: Klara Kulikova via Unsplash)

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