Restaurants and cafes make use of their outdoor areas year round even in northern states. It’s a great way to increase your seating capacity and provide seating outdoors for those who doesn’t like indoors. Outdoor seating in a commercial environment requires furniture to be of superior quality. As you can easily notice these restaurants and cafes have different furniture inside and outside.
South Florida offers year round outdoor use for commercial settings. If you walk around in major spots you will see a large variety of outdoor chairs and tables being used. Let’s take Ocean Drive and Lincoln Road for example. First you’ll notice metal tables and chairs. Metal tables are usually stainless steel or aluminum structures usually made in China. They are somehow durable and cheap. Then you’ll notice marble looking table tops with a variety of pedestal legs. These stone looking tops are a manufactured product called Werzalit. It’s a synthetic stone like material that’s very durable. Werzalit is made in the U.S.A. and widely available in various sizes and colors. Then you’ll see wood tops or plastic tables. Wood tables are not very durable for outdoors since they require maintenance. Plastic is plastic or resin and I don’t have to say much about it.
Let me explain a little about the cafe chairs I see on Lincoln Road. Lots of metal chairs made in China. The cheap alternative to any other chair. These metal chairs can be aluminum, steel or just regular metal. Then we have wood chairs which are hard to maintain. There are resin plastic chairs and resin with aluminum legs. These chairs are usually modern designs and you can spot them easily because of the vibrant colors. You’ll see red, orange, green, black and white resin chairs in the cafes along Ocean Drive and Lincoln Road. The one that strikes me is the wicker chairs that are in very bad shape. Most woven chairs the weave breaks and looks like the chair is very very old. There is really nothing you can do once the weave breaks. The chair structure will remain intact but the looks of the chair will be altered. Lincoln Road is like a cemetery of woven chairs. These chairs start about $100.00 and up so you can imagine the sunk cost of restaurants buying these chairs and getting disappointed. These chairs are sold as outdoor restaurant chairs but the customer is never warned about the durability of the weave. There are a few cafes that use indoor furniture outdoors which looks strange. Upholstered chairs made for indoor use shouldn’t be used outdoors. But hey this is Miami. Anything goes. You’ll see very dirty and beat up upholstery on chairs and sofas. When the fabric and cushions get wet they stink and get easily damaged. Darker upholsterers don’t show stains that much but you can imagine the state of that cushion being outdoors for a long time under heavy use. I suspect these chairs need to be re-upholstered every 6 months. That should be a huge cost.
I think I didn’t miss any major category of cafe furniture but I think I need to make a visit with my notepad to major restaurant spots and do a thorough investigation on what’s in use. I will do that in a later time.