The materials used for restaurant furniture are dependent on their eventual environment. Although leather and wood are by far the most popular for restaurants of all kinds you can also get quality metal and plastic items.
Although cheaper materials such as faux leather and rubber wood may be okay for a domestic setting they won't hold up to the battering they will get in a commercial environment like a restaurant or bistro. Major brands may charge a higher price for their restaurant chairs and tables but because they have a brand image to uphold they produce products to a much higher standard.
Some of the most classic designs are by Italian furniture manufacturers who have a long history in the design and production of high quality commercial furniture for all industries but especially the catering industry. Some of the big names include Incanto, Montbel and Pedrali all of which have dedicated design teams producing restaurant furniture with clean lines, elegant styling but above all practicality and comfort. Many cheaper products have appeared that directly copy or are 'inspired' by these classic designs.
As the competition for restaurant business grows the major Italian chair and table producers have begun heavy investment into research and development. Turning a once traditional industry into a high tech world that wouldn't be out of place in silicon valley. One of the first producers to make a big step in this regard is Pedrali who set up PedraliLab in 2006 to research materials, mechanics and engineering of restaurant chairs and tables. This has resulted in some incredible advances in technology that has seen space-age materials find their way into high end restaurant furniture.
Although it is tempting to choose cheaper alternatives for a new restaurant or a refit this is one product where you get what you pay for. So when out looking for quality restaurant chairs and tables be sure to pick form a well established brand that honours quality and customer happiness above all else.