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Restaurant Dining Review – Bar Stools, Why Are They So Uncomfortable

Hey, Restaurant Guy, we’re your customers. That’s right, we pay your bills – so listen up. Why are your bar stools so uncomfortable? Do you really want us to jump ship and go to another bar where we can adjust our attitude in comfort? Before you defend your bar stools, sit in one for thirty minutes without getting up. Do you feel relieved to get up, or do you want to order another toddy and kick back.

There are thousands of attempts at bar stool design – meaning no bar stool designer has yet gotten it right. Bar stool design is a classic case of function forgotten by form. It is obvious to us, just by inspection (even more so by imperiling our posteriors), that bar stools are designed and selected for appearance – not for our comfort. Somewhere there has to be an annual international competition for “The World’s Most Uncomfortable Bar stool.” Judges would sit designers in their own creations and observe their pained expressions to establish each bar stool’s discomfort index. A perennial winner must to be the grape-pattern cast iron bar stool: cast iron legs, cast iron seat, cast iron arms and cast iron back. It takes two people to go one of these horrors, and the discomfort index is just below “The Iron Maiden” used in the Spanish Inquisition.

Some importance has to be attached to the type of bar you operate. All bars can be lumped into three categories: 1) drinking bars, including those that serve some food; 2) holding-tanks for restaurant diners waiting to be seated; 3) body shops whose denizens prowl for companionship.

Body shop bar stools require the least comfort. Sitting too long in a body shop might be construed negatively and be self defeating in our quest for Mr. or Ms. Goodbar. Hence, we must mingle – not stake a bar claim. An uncomfortable bar stool is a reminder to go out into the melee.

Comfortable bar stools offer commercial opportunity for restaurant holding-tank bars. Given a comfy spot to cozy up to your bar, some of us might migrate to and nest in your operation during pleased hour and when there is no restaurant wait. This extra income might pay for comfortable bar stools.

We insist on comfortable bar stools in drinking bars. Without delving into the psychological manifestations, your drinking bar exists so we can escape from whatever is bugging us. We come to you for relief. Whether the relief comes from a bottle, from companionship, or from solitude – escaping reality is impossible when your bar stool keeps hounding our heinies back into real time.

Since designers have yet to produce the perfect bar stool, we will give you a shopping list of features for you as a bar operator to look for when replacing your bar stools.

1) Large, soft padded seat – essential! A real positive for the plentiful posterior.

2) Soft padded back – prevents back pain. Don’t bother with a bar stool back unless it’s comfortable.

3) Swivel seat – prevents neck pain when talking to or ogling the person next to us.

4) Arms – nice, but optional. They take up room and might debilitate another bar patron if we swivel suddenly.

5) Adjustable footrest – prevents leg cramps while dangling in midair.

6) Roller casters – make it simple to pull ourselves up to the bar. Also useful for wheeling overly relaxed patrons out to a cab.

Then of course, there is the one style bar stool as yet not attempted – The Recliner! The first bar with reclining bar stools will become a tourist attraction.

copyright 2006 Bill Stephens

Bill Stephens writes the syndicated column heyrestaurantguy.com heyrestaurantguy.com His 35 year career in food serivce includes restauratuer, caterer, food and wine columnist for Harte-Hanks, Murdoch and Hearst Newspapers, food and wine magazine journalist, and he consults for restaurants with Bill Stephens Associates billstephensassociates.com billstephensassociates.com

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