Category Archives: Layout and Design

Clean up on Spring Dining with Central!

Spring is almost upon us and with the warmer weather it’s time to start thinking about outdoor dining. Stumped on what you might need or just searching for ideas on what works best?  Whether you’re looking to begin seating outdoor or renovating the furniture in your current area, Central has tips and great deals on all the products you need to create the ideal outdoor setting for your guests!

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The first step in choosing the right furniture (indoor or outdoor) is to analyze the available space and what you want to convey to your customers.  To make the most of what’s available, one option would be to use bar height products like the line from Grosfillex.   These tables and stools allow for smaller parties and groups looking to enjoy a nice cocktail on the patio.


Bar Height Table Bases          
Melamine Table Tops           
Havana Bar Stool 

Another major detail in picking out outdoor furniture is the material it’s made from.   The best choice will be durable and visually pleasing and require little to no maintenance.  Central offers three options that fit perfectly into these categories: wrought iron, aluminum and teak.

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Wrought iron furniture is great because it lasts years with little maintenance and because it is constructed of such heavy duty material, it also stands up great to those spring days when the wind picks up a bit.  Create a classy look for a great price with Central’s Value series wrought iron furniture.

Value Series – Wrought Iron Outdoor Furniture
Side and Arm Chairs
Bar Stools


Aluminum offers a lighter, rust-proof construction.   This option even has a sleek enough look to be used as indoor or outdoor pieces.  Central makes aluminum furniture even more affordable with our Central Value series.

Value Series – Aluminum Indoor/Outdoor Furniture
Aluminum and Aluminum/Wicker Arm Chairs 

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Finally, there is teak, an extremely durable hardwood that requires little care and no preservatives or treatment of any kind to protect it from the elements.   The unique color changes of teak can also be a draw.  If weathered it can turn a silver gray, if used inside it will become a darker shade of brown and when teak oil is used the wood maintains the original tawny color.  Each color allows for its own unique look and adds to the charm of the item that requires little maintenance for years of service.  Central offers several different choices in teak tables and seating that allow for a layout that will fit any patio.

Florida Seating Teakwood
Bar Stools
Inlay Tables 
Standard & Bar Height Table Sets 

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Once you’ve picked out the perfect items created from just the right material for your space, the final step is to create a specific space for your outdoor dining area.   Although some open-air dining spaces have a boundary of some sort (possibly a sidewalk), it’s always more inviting to create a defined section to make it seem more inviting.  Central even has this covered with Grosfillex portable patio fencing !  The fencing is easy to assemble, weather resistant and can be filled with water or sand for extra stability.

With all of these great products to get you ready for the big spring/summer outdoor dining rush, Central has everything you need to make the season a success and keep your customers lining up to sit on your patio.  

Don’t hesitate to contact Central with any questions about any of the offers listed at 800-222-5107.  And if you’ve purchased any of these wonderful outdoor products from us, please share what you think below, through a product review on our site or on our Facebook or Twitter pages!

Changing the American Lunch Room

Schools are back in session and while the classroom is very important, the lunch room plays a very significant role to students. Whether it is revising layout and design or implementing healthier foods, any change to your lunch room can be beneficial to students.  Schools across the United States are implementing these different changes to better their cafeterias.

In a recent article by School Nutrition Magazine, they featured “Color Your Cafeteria Beautiful” which explains the benefits of adding color and vibrance to the cafeteria as opposed to the all too familiar “fluorescent lighting and cinderblock walls.”  They discovered adding color can actually build participation, encourage students towards different menu items, and promote a positive attitude for everyone.

file000826359266Children have been introduced to (and are enjoying) healthier foods such as bean soup, turkey sandwiches and salads with a light dressing. They also are providing a variety of low fat milks as well as plain skim. They do acknowledge different flavors have almost twice the amount of sugar in them, however, have listened to experts who say the benefits of calcium outweigh the amount of sugar.

Instead of serving lunch, schools in the Roanoke district have an “offer” model which allows students to take only what they are planning to eat and in return decreases waste. And now during the few days where menu items like sloppy joes are available, students are going for the turkey sandwich instead!

So if you are trying to decide whether or not to make changes to your lunch room, consider the short and long term benefits it will have for your students and your school by making it a better and healthier environment.

More Spring Cleaning! Today’s Topic: Renovation!

Spring is a time for renewal. The rain moves in and the flowers start to  bloom. If this has you feeling like you need to make some changes to your restaurant consider new outdoor furniture.

An easy way to update your outdoor furniture is aluminum furniture. Aluminum furniture is lightweight, easy to maintain and easy to store. It is also weather-resistant and will not rust if properly maintained.

Central Restaurant Products offers many styles of aluminum chairs and tables. See below for a list of popular items.

The aluminum side chair has an 18″ seat height and is stackable for easy storage.

model # 407-003

The aluminum arm chair is also stackable with a 17″ seat height.

model # 407-044

The aluminum bar stool has a seat height of 29 3/4 but is not stackable.

model # 407-005

If you are interested in coordinating tables consider some of our outdoor tables. Aluminum chairs coordinate well with wood, metal or granite table tops.

For more information on aluminum furniture visit our knowledge base or contact your Product Consultant at 800-222-5107.


FOH (Front of House) Layout and Design

Obviously, this is just a crash course and not meant to be a complete guide to restaurant design—just some helpful hints on getting started…Your customers might think a dining room consists simply of tables and chairs, but you know there are a number of key issues that help ensure not only an aesthetically pleasing dining area for your guests, but also an efficient one.In addition to basic space requirements and limitations, consider how lighting and color come into play, what to look for when selecting your furniture, and the relationship between flatware, dinnerware and table linens.Where food meets customerAccording to NAFEM, the dining room is the “stage,” where food, service and atmosphere come together to deliver a memorable dining experience. 

Naturally, every consideration of space and construction has a corresponding operating cost. While smaller space allocations may result in reduced building costs, insufficient space can increase operating costs and lead to inefficient operation and lower profits.Consider the number of patrons you will be serving and over what period of time; what kind of preparation methods that will be used in the dining area, what type of storage space is required, what kind of space is needed for checking, waiting areas, coatrooms and service areas.

Lighting and DécorNAFEM identifies five basic principles of lighting, which are space relationships, perspective, contour, special details of intrinsic beauty and imaginative and subtle qualities.According to NAFEM, guests in your restaurant will subconsciously feel the impact of light and color, associating it with their overall dining experience. A small room could benefit from brighter colors and lighter shades. Conversely, dim lighting and warm, dark colors could make a large dining room seem less overwhelming, and more cozy.Studies show that bright lights and primary colors –blue, red and yellow- actually encourage a faster turnover in busy establishments. Often, you’ll see these combinations in fast food restaurants, commercial cafeterias and employee dining areas. Likewise, subtle colors can create a more peaceful, leisurely atmosphere.Furniture and seating arrangementsIf you have already developed a concept and central theme in your restaurant’s business plan, selecting your furniture should be fairly straightforward. It is important to pay close attention to the quality and durability of your furniture to prevent heavy replacement costs down the road. Before purchasing any furniture, ask questions about how the material will reflect your restaurant’s theme, if the furniture you’re considering is an appropriate height, and if replacement parts are readily available.Also consider how difficult your upholstery is to clean and if it will hold up under frequent and constant use. Some states even have fire safety codes that may affect your upholstery considerations. Check with your state’s restaurant association for more information about requirements in your area.Also, as mentioned, your seating arrangements must be compliant with ADA standards. Regulations require that wheelchair users should have easy access to the bar area as well as the dining area. The result is that most bars are being lowered to a 36-inch height. Check with your product consultant or local restaurant association for more information on these requirements.A design consultant or foodservice industry expert can help you identify your options, and whether you should use chairs, stools, booths, or all three. According to NAFEM, booths offer the ability to maximize seating, but they are also large and rather permanent. Will booth seating enhance or detract from your décor? How formal will your restaurant be? Are you going to offer take-out service or seating in the bar? A detailed seating plan will help answer these questions.Flatware 411Your restaurant’s seating arrangements will help you determine what goes on your table too. Consider again the theme of your establishment. Not every restaurant requires a demitasse spoon, shrimp fork and steak knife. Make sure anything you put on the table serves a purpose. The appearance of clutter will leave a negative impression with your guests, so any piece of flatware or glassware should be absolutely essential to the meal.Your flatware should be durable enough to withstand the level of use you anticipate. Some patterns naturally hide scratches and wear, while other styles can accentuate them.GlasswareWhen you are selecting glassware, considering the following tips NAFEM offers to reduce your future replacement costs:

  • Glasses that have a heavy bead or roll on the lip are less likely to chip.
  • The thicker the glass, the more durable it will be.
  • A straight-sided glass is more durable than a curved or bulged glass.
  • Glasses that are flared (like a martini glass) are more likely to chip, crack and break.

Handle your glassware with care!Remember to let your glasses cool after removing them from the dish machine. Thermal shock, which is basically rapid temperature change, is one of the most common causes of glass breakage in a restaurant and normally happens when you fill a glass fresh from the dishwasher with ice. The last thing you want is an ice bin full of glass shards! Last, store your glassware properly—in a rack with dividers, to prevent glass-to-glass contact.That being said, glasses are going to break. Experts recommend setting aside one glass from each collection and writing the model number on it for easy reordering.Make sure to order enough glassware so as not to have to rush them through the washing system, which can stress china and glassware. Maintain a simple ratio of three times as many glasses to seats to ensure a glass on every table and a complete supply of replacements even when the dishwasher is full.Dinnerware and accessoriesTable accessories like shakers, napkin rings, lamps and vases should have some visual appeal, but not at the expense of comfort or space. Again, consider whether your table accessories reflect the image of your establishment. Will your customers expect condiments and flatware to be on the table? Will a white linen table cloth create the impression of higher menu prices? Who is going to launder and iron them?Table lamps and candles have become increasingly popular with the advent of flameless and electric lamps. A table setting can appear more cozy and intimate in the absence of overhead lighting—consider overall functionality as well as aesthetics. Also consider how often you’ll need to replace candle fuel, wax or batteries and make sure to include those costs in your budget.

BOH (Back of House) Layout and Design

Here’s Part 1 of a blog about facility layout and design– next time I’ll talk about FOH. :-)Facility layout and design is a complex and dynamic process. Installation will be one of the biggest expenses for a restaurant getting ready to open. That’s why it’s critical to get the job done right—the first time!

Six principles of proper design

the North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers (NAFEM) identifies six principles crucial to the proper flow of your establishment. Every foodservice project design should:

  1. Have flexibility and modularity built into it;
  2. Be designed for simplicity;
  3. Be designed so that there is an efficient flow of material and personnel;
  4. Facilitate ease of sanitation;
  5. Make it easy to supervise the employees and facility; and
  6. Make efficient use of the available space.

Adapt or perish

This principle is based on the idea that your equipment and materials can help you adapt to changing conditions in your facility. Can you easily make rearrangements to accommodate new operating styles, trends and menu items? The idea that if we don’t adapt, we perish, can definitely be applied to the foodservice industry. For example, a quick disconnect, in addition to being a safety precaution, also allows inexpensive changes and easy movement of equipment.

Ensuring proper flow

The following figure demonstrates the proper flow of material and personnel through the restaurant, from receiving to waste disposal. According to NAFEM, proper flow will prevent backtracking by personnel, decreased productivity and inefficient use of labor. Your design consultant can help you determine the proper flow of material and personnel when drafting your restaurant’s layout. Take into consideration the movement of employees from one area of the kitchen to another, the flow of dishes through the system and back into the service area, and the flow of various food ingredients through the main traffic aisles of a kitchen into the preparation areas.

Proper planning and design is key. Make sure the person designing the store has restaurant operation background. Too often an architect has never worked in a commercial kitchen and the flow is bad.

Things to look for are the receiving of the product into the store, how the wait staff is crossing into the kitchen and how customers are being directed through the store. A proper layout and design will address these issues.

Design with sanitation in mind

Studies show more labor hours are spent cleaning than actually preparing food in virtually every type of foodservice facility. That’s why it is so important to be mindful of sanitation considerations when designing your restaurant. For instance, what supplies will be hung on the wall as opposed to stored on the floor or on a shelf? Will your equipment have casters on it, so that it can easily be pulled forward for cleaning? Will the location of your hand sinks promote proper and frequent handwashing by your employees?