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Casual dining quality grows

HIGH POINT - Casual dining suppliers are finding there's room for better goods in their lines.
The hot and growing style continues to be contemporary at companies including Canadel and Gat Creek. That category encompasses a breadth of looks - among them architectural modern, urban and loft, Art Deco, Asian, industrial, mid-century modern, retro and postmodern.
And, while nobody's giving up on bread and butter promotional groups, better quality goods are getting more action in the $599 to $999 range at companies such as Steve Silver and Cramco.
Dave Shock, Cramco's national sales manager, said the company has started to see more movement in the $599 to $799 price range and up to $999 for some groups. That has meant putting more look into the product and creating more interesting bases.
"We've been in the contemporary chrome business for years but now we've added a lot of design to it to give the consumer a reason to get into it," Shock said.
The company reports a good response here to contemporary sets with surfboard shapes, intricate steel bases and chrome accents, spring-loaded butterfly leaf storage and polyester tops - which resemble lacquered looks.
Contemporary looks have also made their way into the company's American-made castered dining - sometimes called motion dining - with blacks paint and neutral color seats proving popular this market, he said.
Also hugely popular set this market is Octave, with a black layered table top consisting of mirrored bottom, circular wood center and tempered glass top, Shock said. Gray chairs feature suede seats. A five-piece set retails for $799.
Steve Silver also reports that it has added significantly to its dining offerings in the $799 to $999 range, and is getting a good response to those products here.
The company has 25 new dining groups this market. Among the styles retailers are responding to are pieces with rustic pine looks, pieces with planing and light distressing, chunky Mission looks, tabletops with band-saw cut accents, wire-brushed looks, and blue stone and marble wrap tops.
"We want items that retailers can make margin on," said Steve Silver, president. "We're not moving up. We're adding price points."
Custom dining manufacturer Canadel continues to see a move toward contemporary, said Howard Cohen, director of sales.
He said the company's curvy Euro-contemporary, and mid-century inspired looks are doing well, and a new thick box leg option also has been well received by dealers.
Canadel is also getting good response to its new weathered gray finish with some chalky hangup. Retailers are also seeking out Canadel more as the strong trend toward colorful designs gains steam, Cohen said.
Norwalk says it's getting a good response to its Benton Collection, made with reclaimed wood from barns built over a century ago by German immigrants in Holmes County, Ohio. Tables are made with thick, lightly finished planked wood tops that still have original rotary saw cuts, using oak and other woods. The table retails for about $1,999, according to Reyna Moore, vice president of merchandising and marketing.
Moore said retailers like how the table is merchandised in the showroom, a blend of the old and the new. Norwalk is showing the set with its Moxie stool seats, which have storage options and velvet animal print fabric.
"People are looking for pieces that you can scoot up to the dining table to use as a chair, put your feet up on or use it as a cocktail," said Moore.
Gat Creek president Gat Caperton said his company is getting good response to its new Samuel dining table with architectural design influences.
At retail, Caperton said, lighter and pure browns and grays are getting more action, while browns with a reddish hue are slowing.
Dining source John Thomas is doing well with its solid rubberwood Old World two-tone, traditionally styled group with an onyx and chestnut finish, said Bryan Sprinkles, national sales manager.
The group will be added into the company's Select custom color program, he added.
The company is also extending upholstered seat options to any seat in its line.
Sprinkles said dealers also like the company's move to add metal table glides, which it now has on about 70% of its line.

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