Choosing Bar Tables for Your Bar or Pub

Bar and pub table sets are one of the first things you should consider once you have decided on a theme and found a location for your bar. Bar tables and pub chairs will have a lot to do with how much space you have in your bar and can largely determine what you are capable (and incapable) of doing at your venue. A well thought out space that is both flexible and intuitive is one of the keys to making sure that your bar or pub is a success.

When deciding which bar tables to choose for your bar you want to think about three criteria first: space, practicality, and theme. Each of these should hold somewhat equal weight—and ideally, you bar and pub table sets should fulfill requirements for all three.

Fixed Versus Movable Bar Tables

One of the first choices you should make about your bar is whether your bar or pub tables will be fixed or movable. When it is purely a toss up, you will want to make sure that your bar and pub table sets are movable, since this will give you the most flexibility. A movable pub table set allows you to easily change the seating arrangement of your venue so that you can, for example, open up a dance floor on weekends or group tables together for larger parties. This ability to rearrange things on a need to basis makes your venue adaptable to new requirements as they arise—a huge advantage for your night spot as it tries to find itself in the first year or two.

There are some drawbacks to a movable pub table set, however. Clients may, for example, move the tables themselves to fit their needs. This can block aisles, make it more difficult for servers to get through and add to the wear and tear on the tables themselves. In addition, movable pub tables are more likely to increase the frequency of spillage and breakage since movable tables are, by their nature, less stable.

A fixed pub table set has its benefits as well. Fixed bar and pub tables tend to last longer and be more stable, since they are an integral part of the bar. Although you lose your flexibility with fixed tables, you may be able to make better use of some spaces. For example, if you have a space that has poles interspersed through the area, one way to work this to your advantage is to install tall wrap around tables so that you can turn this drawback into an advantage. Similarly, although booth tables don’t make efficient use of space, they are a favorite for couples and small groups, so they can make up for it by breeding regular customers.

Types of Bar Tables

Typically bar and pub tables are divided into three groups, according to height: dining tables, counter tables and bar tables.

Dining Tables: Your average dining table is around 29’ in height. This height allows your average sized chair to fit perfectly at about 18’ in height, and also allows an adequate amount of leg room.

Counter High Table: The average counter height table is three feet high (36’). These give a slightly more formal feeling than dining tables, but are still good for sitting and eating. Perfect for an establishment looking for a diner kind of a feel.

Courtesy of Saloca

Bar High Tales: Bar high pub tables are typically about 42’ high, although they can be as high as 4 feet (coming roughly up to the average persons chests). These kinds of “high tables” as they are sometimes called are usually attached to pub or bar fixtures like poles or walls, to create a place where customers can set their drinks down while standing. They are usually fairly narrow, and are rarely for having meals. They typically take high bar stools, although the stools are optional. (See our article on bar stools for more information about the types of stools and their uses.)

Space Requirements for Bar and Pub Tables

One of the questions that you should consider is the question of how much space is necessary between tables.

If you have a long counter, the standard for figuring out capacity is to allow two feet per person. Most people will find this a comfortable fit, although those who are on the portly side should be given another option if possible since this may be a bit of a tight squeeze for them.

In between pub tables, you need to allow enough space for your customers and wait staff to squeeze through. The absolute minimum space from the edge of one bar table to the beginning of another bar table is one foot, though anyone who has tried to maneuver this will tell you that it is an uncomfortably tight fit. Really, you should allow a good two feet as a minimum for any space where you expect traffic of even a minor variety. If it is a heavy traffic area—like at the entrance to the kitchen—you really need at least three feet if you want avoid problems. (Usually, you want to avoid placing bar or pub tables right at such a choke point.)

The Size and Shape of Bar Tables

Another important space requirement we might consider is the size and shape of the bar or pub tabletop. Typically, movable bar and pub tables range from two to four foot tables, with various sizes in between. This is not to say that you can’t have other types of tables that are larger, such as the kinds of picnic tables you might find on an outdoor seating area or fixed counters along a wall. Here however, we are just discussing your most basic kind of bar table and bar table set.

A two-foot pub table (24’ inches) is a very common type of table for any kind of drinking establishment. They create an intimate feel when used separately and are perfect for date spots expecting to have lots couples (like an Romantic wine bar, for example).

The shape of these tables can make a big difference for the flexibility of your venue. Square tables offer you the greatest amount of flexibility because they can be placed flush with one another to create group spaces when you get parties of four or six or even larger. Round pub tables are less efficient when if comes to this flexibility. Although they too can be placed together, the arrangement is usually more awkward and leaves an empty space in the middle of the tables. Round bar tables do, however, make passing space easier to negotiate and can fit more customer into smaller spaces if arranged correctly.

Outdoor versus Indoor Pub Table Sets

If you have an outdoor area, you will definitely want to make use of it during nice weather—especially in the summer when the weather is conducive to outdoor drinking and eating. In fact, in some kinds of establishments, like German Biergartens, the outdoor area is expected.

Outdoor pub table sets bring a whole new set of requirement and opportunities. First, you must be sure to purchase outdoor bar table sets that are made for the outdoors. Indoor pub table sets are simply not properly made to handle the elements. The sun is a major issue, since nice weather is when your furniture will mostly be used. Even if you have a well-shaded area, the sunlight will tend to fade certain kinds of woods. Be sure you buy pub tables that have been properly treated—if you are buying wood.

You should also look for the kinds of pub table sets that are easy to wash—especially if you don’t want the hassle of having to store your bar tables in a shelter overnight. Carrying pub tables can be an especially onerous task if staff has to do it every night. If you will need to do so, try to make sure that the pub table set is both sturdy and preferably stackable. Plastic is an option in this regard if it fits your theme.

These kinds of pub tables also offer an opportunity. With some nice parasols or picnic type tables, a space can really be transformed. Keep in mind, that you want to create a pleasant experience for your customers. If the space has too much stone or is too sunny, plants and shade coverings may need to be added as well as tables.

Purchasing Bar and Pub Table Sets

If you are looking to cut down on the expense of buying bar and pub tables, there are a few different things that you can do. One of the main ways that you can save money is to buy your bar tables and bar stools in sets from wholesalers. Wholesalers will sometimes offer you discounts for buying the entire pub table set (bar stools, pub tables, and other bar equipment) all from the same vendor. If you can find one source for all of your furniture—or even a large set of your furniture—you can often get these at a discount. Always ask about special deals.

Another way to help yourself out in terms of cost is to get your pub tables sets locally and to pick them up yourself. This will save you on shipping fees.

Finally, if you have the time and patience, you might try going to used furniture stores to find your pub table sets. This is often the cheapest method and could work for a dive bar or a pub going for the flea market chic aesthetic, but will, of course, be a long shot if you want to give a hyper-classy modern feel.

Other types of Bar Tables
In addition to your basic bar tables, here are some other kinds of tables and counter surfaces to consider:

Glass Bar Table Set: In general, you want to avoid having surfaces made of glass. However, if you want a really sleek modern or postmodern look, you might try a glass bar table set. These work best when they are part of a fixed counter and are extra thick. You can place lighting beneath them for effect. Generally, however, a glass bar table is more trouble than it is worth.

Formica Tables: If you are going for a 1950’s style diner feel, Formica tables are great match. They are a little harder to find locally, but with the help of the internet, you should be able to find these with only a little bit of effort.

Booths: Booths work really well for creating semi-intimate spaces for friends or couples and can add to the look of a place. Unfortunately, they both take up extra space and are not at all flexible since they can’t be moved or used for a secondary purpose. Nevertheless these can be good additions to your pub space even in small quantities.

Counters: Actual counters, either along walls or set in islands can also make for compelling uses of space. Along walls and around poles they actually save space and can work well for a variety of themes.

Low Lounge Tables: If you are going for a lounge setting, then squat sleek looking table might be the way to go. Check out the picture opposite.

Courtesy of Mattes

Of course, your decisions will have a great deal to do with your overall concept. Determining that, and making the best of your space limitations, will go a long way to determining you table choices.

Filed Under: Bar / Nightclub BusinessBar / Nightclub DesignBar BusinessStarting a BarStarting Your Bar/Nightclub BusinessUncategorized


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  1. […] Stools and Tables: Bar stools and tables, obviously, go together. A counter high bar stool is just not going to work with squat diner or pub […]

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