After being in the industry for over 10 years, we’ve come across a fair share of the issues that many café owners experience with their tables. We’ve listened to the problems and we’ve done our best to remedy them where we can. We want to share these issues with you so you can go into your decision-making as knowledgeable as possible and, hopefully, prevent these problems from happening in the first place.

When you’re choosing your new café furniture, your tables are very important. This is where you serve your goodies and where your guests enjoy their chosen coffee and cake. They need to be stylish and good quality to maintain good condition and hygiene throughout their life on the floor. To keep your customers happy, keep your tables smart.

Here’s 5 of the top problems we hear and ways you can prevent or fix them.

1: Damaged or discoloured café table tops

A big problem faced by many café owners is damage to their table tops. This can include warping, fading, scratching, or cracking. This can be a quality control issue, but it can also be misuse, not keeping a tight maintenance schedule or a natural aging process.

Some café owners may find they have trouble with resin tops fading or warping. We find this happens mostly when darker colours are used outdoors. The heat of the Australian sun warms up the darker coloured tops too much and causes the materials within the resin top to expand and cause the top to warp. Similarly, the sun fades the colouring of the darker tops to a certain degree. Again, we would recommend that only light colours are used in outdoor settings.

Timber table tops are made from a natural product and therefore it is common for them to crack or scratch. Timber is constantly moving, expanding and contracting, and it will crack as a natural process. You can expect your timber table tops to crack – this is a part of the charm of timber! A solution to small or medium cracks is to fill it with a putty of similar colour. Scratches can be fixed by sanding down the top and resurfacing. Avoid putting solid timber outdoors and keep up a regular maintenance program.

2: Café tables that move or rock

Another issue we often see across the café industry is rocking tables. Tables that aren’t completely stable often result in food and drink spillages for guests and present an uneven surface for them to eat off. This isn’t a great look for your café and could cause customers to turn away.

To fix this problem, we would suggest adjustable feet or self-levelling table bases. Many bases come with adjustable feet on the bottom (all of Adage’s base range have adjustable feet). These feet can be manually adjusted to bring the table to the right height to keep the surface even.

Alternatively, there are self-levelling bases available, for example NOROCK bases are a great self-levelling table base. self-levelling table bases are engineered to level out the table regardless of the ground they are sitting on. Get yourself table bases that can be adjusted to suit your venue flooring and you won’t need to worry about rocking tables again!

3: Flexibility within your café

When creating the perfect café, you want to ensure you can serve all group sizes. One of the biggest problems many cafés face is not having the flexibility to serve groups of varied sizing. People go out to dine in various groups – by themselves, as a couple, or in larger family/friend groups. Many cafés make the mistake of not catering to this and larger groups may find seating a little more difficult. You don’t want to be sending patrons away simply because you can’t seat them.

You can avoid this by including tables of different sizes. By using different size tables throughout your venue, you automatically have the space to cope with any group sizing. Many table top options come in different sizes, which allows you to continue the same look throughout your venue without compromising on the style.

Alternatively, you could opt to use tables that can be easily and quickly moved to be joined together for bigger groups. Look for lightweight tables with edges that will easily butt up against each other. Lighter tables will allow for easy moving. It goes without saying, but don’t bolt said tables to the floor!

4: Fit for café use

As café furniture enthusiasts, we want to ensure that your tables are exactly what you envisioned. Unfortunately, not all cafés end up with furniture that speaks to their vision as well as providing the practicality that they require. Your café tables should bring the look, feel, comfort and design that you are wanting for your area, but also be of commercial quality to ensure that it stands up to the harsh rigors of the industry. You may find the perfect table that looks exactly the way you wished it to and then be disappointed later to find that the quality just isn’t there.

To ensure that your furniture is going to withstand the harsh treatment it’ll get, you can watch out for a few things.

Firstly, we would recommend you look for or ask about commercial grade furniture. With the belting that hospitality furniture gets, it needs to be commercial grade to stand up to the harsh environment. Often great quality furniture will be backed up with a warranty – the higher the warranty, the better the guarantee that your furniture will last.

Secondly, you may want to watch where your proposed tables are manufactured. Not all manufacturers are the same, however from our experience, furniture of Asian origin usually doesn’t withstand the harsh Australian weather or usage. This is usually due to the materials used to make the furniture or the quality of craftsmanship. This is where you need to do your own quality control checks and assess whether you think the furniture will withstand your venue needs.

The other part of being fit for purpose – style – is entirely up to you! There are no easy solutions here. You need to choose furniture that speaks your style and stays within your budget. For more information on the costs of cafés, check out our other article on the Cost of Cafe Furniture.

5: Incorrect Café layout

We often see cafés with problems in their layout. Getting the correct layout for your venue can be difficult as there are many things to consider. Having an incorrect venue layout can mean that your venue doesn’t run to its full capacity. This can mean you don’t serve as many patrons as you could, or it could mean that your venue becomes overcrowded, and you can’t maintain the customer service that you’d like. Neither of these options are great, so here’s a couple of points to help make sure your venue has the best layout it can.

When you are looking to layout your venue, we would recommend you take measurements of the venue and draw up a plan of where you want everything to be. Draw up the designated areas, table sizes and the flow through your venue. If you haven’t done this before, come and speak to the team at Adage Furniture – it’s a service we offer for free!

Flow through your café is important to keep movement free without accidents. You want a pathway designated from the front of the venue through to the serving area and the amenities. This flow should also accommodate different areas within your venue – such as dining seats, bar areas or lounge/booth zones. These allow for patrons with different preferences and needs. And then to reiterate what point two suggests, include different table sizes to accommodate for varied group sizing.

Drawing up a plan and keeping these tips in mind will allow you to get a better idea of the quantity of seating you need throughout your venue to fill it to capacity without overfilling. If you create a floorplan and remember these simple points, your venue should run like clockwork!