outdoor restaurant furniture

How to Choose Outdoor Furniture for Restaurants

Picture your favorite outdoor dining experience and ask yourself why that experience was so memorable. It may have been because you were sharing the moment with a trusted friend or loved one. It may have been because the food you were served was so delicious. But there may be another reason why you had such a good time, and comfort likely played a big role. Outdoor restaurant furniture that’s sturdy, dry, and allows room for movement is always an attraction. When you’re searching for a dining set or pub table for your outdoor dining area, be sure to keep the comfort of your patrons at the top of your list of must-haves. There are many styles and materials of commercial patio furniture available, and California Dining & Barstools happily stocks a beautiful variety. We invite you to visit us in Sunnyvale or Pleasant Hill to see and experience our inventory for yourself. 

Types of Outdoor Restaurant Furniture


Once you’ve decided what type of tables and seating best suit the needs of your loyal patrons, you must choose a material. Common ones include wood, steel, aluminum, wrought iron, and plastic or resin. All can be made weather-resistant, and all can be designed with comfort in mind. However, each material has its own distinct benefits and limitations. To aid in your decision, we’ve compiled a list of the pros and cons associated with each one. You can find them all at California Dining & Barstools at affordable prices. 

1. Wood

Wood is classic. It’s timeless. And it’s lovely to look at. An outdoor patio featuring all wood furniture will lend your restaurant a definite mood. Whether you’re looking to create a space reminiscent of a ski chalet, a rustic cabin, or a cozy den, wood is a wonderful choice. You can even use unusual woods, such as bamboo, teak, or acacia, to create a lighter, airier atmosphere if your restaurant is located near the beach. According to This Old House guru, Bob Vila, some of the best woods for outdoor furniture include:

  • Acacia — Acacia is naturally scratch- and dent-resistant but requires occasional re-sealing to protect it from sun and weather.  
  • Black Locust — Black locust is extremely resistant to weather, but it’s also heavier than other woods. 
  • Redwood — Redwood is gorgeous, but it’s pricey. It’s also a less sustainable choice than woods such as bamboo or acacia.
  • Cypress — Cypress is pretty. It’s highly resistant to pests and weather. But it also requires regular re-sealing to keep it safe from the sun. 
  • Cedar — Cedar is a soft, lightweight wood that’s easily portable. However, it’s vulnerable to dents, dings, and scratches. 

Finding the right furniture pieces is simply a process of weighing the advantages with the opportunities and seeing for yourself which material is the best one for your establishment. 

2. Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is mostly impervious to extremes of weather. As a result, it’s highly resistant to rust. Stainless steel is also relatively lightweight, so your patrons can easily pull up an extra chair if needed. And the addition of a stainless-steel pub table or dining set can lend your outdoor dining space an attractive industrial appeal. Steel is minimalist. It’s sleek and simple, and you won’t have to worry about it soaking up water on even the wettest days. This material easily wipes dry with a cloth.

At the other end of the spectrum, steel is not typically considered a cozy material. But you can warm up this commercial restaurant furniture by topping tables with flower vases, candles, or tablecloths. And in covered patio areas, simple seat cushions add comfort, too.  

3. Aluminum

If it’s portability you desire, you can’t go wrong with restaurant patio furniture crafted from aluminum. This material is one of the most lightweight on the market. It’s also rust-resistant and cleans easily with the spray from a garden hose. Commercial restaurant furniture made of aluminum can be powder-coated in colors to complement every decor. Aluminum is also malleable, so you can find furniture that features different shapes and decorative designs. Maybe best of all, this material is easily recycled, which makes it a solid, sustainable choice. 

Still, though aluminum furniture is highly affordable, it lends itself more to casual dining. So, keep this in mind if your restaurant features a more formal dining experience. 

4. Wrought Iron

rought iron is another intriguing choice of material for patio furniture for restaurants. Wrought iron is heavy. It’s durable, and it lends an upscale feel. You can use it with or without cushions, and it will look nice either way. This material is ultimately more durable than wood, aluminum, plastic, or resin, and will require less care throughout the years. Eventually, it will rust if left out in the elements, but it’s easily sanded clean. 

In commercial restaurant furniture, wrought iron is popular because of its ability to hold weight. Wrought iron tables can handle even the heaviest of buffet settings, and chairs make it easy for larger patrons to dine in comfort. This material also often features ornate details that add charm and personality to a space. It’s perfect for cafes and coffee shops, and a wrought iron bistro table is a perfect choice wherever dainty desserts are a given. 

5. Plastic or Resin

Restaurant patio furniture crafted from plastic or resin is ideal for outdoor spaces that offer a casual dining experience. So, if your restaurant is located next to the boardwalk or inside the city park, plastic or resin is a good choice. Highly affordable and easily replaced, plastic or resin is a good fit for families with small children. It’s easy to wipe or spray clean, and you won’t have to worry about rust or deterioration. These materials are also very lightweight and portable, and they come in every color imaginable. 

However, these furniture pieces may fade over time when placed in bright sunlight, so a shaded patio is best. They’ll need to be replaced every few years, as well because they may eventually become brittle with age. Still, for the price, it’s hard to beat commercial patio furniture that’s made from plastic or resin. And if your outdoor patio caters to the casual crowd, we heartily recommend it. 

How to Choose Restaurant Outdoor Furniture

While the comfort of your guests should always be utmost in your mind when choosing commercial restaurant furniture, you’ll have other considerations, too. There’s the return you can expect on your investment, whether the furniture you choose complements your restaurant’s theme and mood, and how everything fits in the space you have available. We recommend keeping the following factors in mind as you’re actively shopping:



Does your outdoor restaurant furniture leave enough room for your wait staff, servers, and clean-up crew to move freely about? Stuffing too many furniture pieces, or pieces that are too large, into your space can cut down on your staff’s efficiency. Wait times may be longer, and guest satisfaction could be impacted. Fewer is usually better. And you might consider buying pieces that serve a dual purpose, such as pub tables that can accommodate either cocktails or dinner. And opting for benches instead of individual chairs may help you comfortably seat more patrons in less space.



And everyone must be able to navigate your dining room easily. This means not placing large, immovable pieces too close to doorways, stairways, or areas where guests need to walk, or where they may want to gather and converse. This includes check-out stands, entrances, exits, and near the restrooms. 



Your new furniture should add to the attractiveness of your outdoor space. Essentially, you’ll want to ensure it matches the theme you’re trying to convey. Remember to leave room for accessories, such as umbrellas, awnings, potted plants, statuary, water features, or whatever else fits with the mood you’re trying to evoke. Have these items firmly located in your space before you begin bringing in tables and seating. 

And if your outdoor space features rugs or floor mats, be careful to purchase furniture with legs that won’t grip or catch on the corners. This will help you avoid creating a slip, trip, or fall hazard. 

Shop Commercial Restaurant Furniture at California Dining & Barstools


When you’ve considered all the scenarios, and you’re ready to choose the best commercial restaurant furniture for your needs, come see us at California Dining & Barstools. Since 1977, we’ve been helping restaurant owners beautify their dine-in eating spaces, both indoors and out. When you visit one of our on-site locations in Sunnyvale or Pleasant Hill, you’ll find a friendly, knowledgeable sales team that’s ready to assist. Even better, both locations feature showrooms where you can see, touch, and try out an impressive variety of pieces, including barstools, dinette sets, pub tables, and dining sets. Seeing is believing, and at California Dining & Barstools, we know you’ll find it easier to decide if you can see our furniture in person. Stop by today and sample the California Dining & Barstools difference. We’re happy to answer all furniture-related questions, and we’ll help you find the best, affordable options to suit your needs.