Bar stool sales point to uptick for beleaguered restaurant industry
The pandemic has been brutal for the restaurant industry, as thousands of businesses have closed permanently, and tens of thousands of people have lost their jobs. But for those restaurant operators who have figured out how to survive these unprecedented times, there are signs of hope as more Americans get vaccinated and states begin to ease capacity restrictions.
One of the best signs, says Zuo Modern CEO Luis Ruesga, is a recent uptick in orders for hospitality furniture – particularly items such as barstools and dining chairs.
Such items are often a perfect fit for restaurants and other small businesses that need seating for 100 customers or less, and they have been moving briskly out of Zuo’s warehouses in recent weeks.
“Our hospitality business had been soft for quite a while, but that’s no longer the case,” said Ruesga. “We like the direction where it’s headed.”
Interior designers are getting in on the action, too. Those who focus on the hospitality segment are seeing their business emerge from the doldrums as well.
A big chunk of the hospitality furniture demand is being driven by seating suitable for outdoor use – which makes sense since outdoor capacity restrictions aren’t as severe in most states. However, he’s also encouraged by the spike in demand for indoor seating. That means restaurant owners with sufficient financial resources are already preparing for what could be an onslaught of business by late summer or early fall.
“People are tired of staying at home, and one of the activities they’ve missed the most is going out to eat with family and friends,” Ruesga said. “I think the outlook for restaurant business is very strong for the next several months.”
And if you are considering the purchase of new restaurant seating or related products, our advice is don’t wait. We know this sounds suspiciously like a sales schtick, but demand is truly outstripping supply at Zuo and just about every other furniture manufacturer and distributor. If an item becomes out of stock, it can be weeks or even months before the stock can be replenished. Overseas factories are producing the goods practically at warp speed, but a lack of shipping containers and cargo ships is, shall we say, making life interesting.
In restaurant lingo, it’s best to order your appetizer, entrée and dessert at the same time.