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How to Buy great Dinnerware for Your Restaurant or hospitality business

Some of the questions you should be asking yourself when purchasing new tabletop product like plates and cups and bowls or flatware like forks and knives and spoons for your restaurant or any other food service business.

  1. How Durable should my dishware, plate ware be?
    • Do they hold heat well, so your meals don’t cool down too quickly?
    • Think about your servers – are the plates too heavy, too wide, or too awkward to hold? Can an average person bring out 4-6 of them in a single run?
  2. How long will your dishes last?
    • Or how long should they last?
  3. Will the designs date quickly?
  4. Where will my dinnerware be stored while not in use?
    • How much storage space do I have to store my plates and cups?
    • Do your fancy plates fit on your existing shelves, or will you need more storage space?
  5. What is my budget and how much of it am I willing to spend on tabletop setting?
  6. How many different patterns / styles will I have?
    • Can my staff distinguish between plates that should be used for dinner and dessert?
    • Is it too many SKUs to keep in mind?
    • When I need to reorder how many different patterns and or styles will I need to order?
    • How will I store all these different styles?

Remember that: Plate ware and dishes /flatware and glassware should reflect your restaurant's style. It is something that your customers will notice as well as your food presentation and yes they will be taking pictures that will end up on social media and personal blogs.

From basic to elegant, the type of tableware you use says a lot about your restaurant.

Commercial dishes and glassware add personality to a restaurant, reflecting its ambiance, design, and theme. Here are the things you need to consider as you choose them.

Durability: Select tableware that's built to last as long as possible. Some restaurateurs like chip-resistant porcelain that usually has a rolled edge (or heavy round edge all over the edge of your plate), which comes in styles and at price points that work for the concept and the budget. These are usually called PRO-LINE (or professional line since its really meant for food service professionals like yourself)

Commercial or what we call Professional line dishes can be more expensive than home versions because they're designed to withstand the constant wear and tear and unfortunately abuse of restaurant use. Even those made by fine China makers are thicker and stronger than their usual products.

Commercial dinnerware can also be customized with your restaurant's name and logo if that appeals to you and works with your concept.

Storage and cleaning: Plan ahead for proper storage both front and back of the house." Review care instructions for washing and sanitizing the items you buy and invest in the appropriate dish racks. "Often times, the wrong dish racks produce a lot of clanging and banging of dishes in the wash cycle." That increases chips and breakage — and decreases profits.

Also definitely consider stackable or partially stackable porcelain. Most Pro-Lines should be stackable for easy storage and use. A well stackable line should have plates and cups and bowl sit/nest well inside each other with a minimum of two dozen being able to stack in a single line.

Know Your Budget: Commercial dishes , just like restaurant seating and tables, can be more expensive than those for personal use. That said, such dishware comes in a wide range of prices. Typically, if you buy in bulk, you'll save money.

If you're buying new, find a commercial dinnerware or restaurant supply store. We suggest working with your local Restaurant supply store or food service dealer to find the best value for your food service use.

Inventory: As a general rule of thumb, you want to have 3 times sitting capacity of your main plate and at least 2 times the restaurant sitting capacity in charger plates, cups and saucers. When starting a food service business money is usually tight, so you can divide that number in half to start and purchase at least 1.5 times the total number of guests for your standard tableware like dinner plates , bread  /  dessert plates and flatware .

Number of patterns to choose: When creating that perfect table setting our intention is always to make it stand out and to be original. And yes, it’s absolutely one of the most important factors to consider when you want to stand out.

But another thing to consider is reducing your number of unique plates, cups, boards, platters, or flatware. Don’t forget that you will need to find a place to store all these unique items, you or your chef will need to teach your wait staff and your sous chef which dishes go on which plate or platter. And you will also need to reorder these at some point which means your reorder quantity will be much higher.

Basically if you have 3 steak choices on your menu, you do not need 3 separate plates and chances are you can use that same plate as your main course plate or possibly a burger plate. Consider using the same bowl for your soup and salad plate. Same goes for cups and mugs , chances are you can use the same cup for your tea and coffee and a smaller espresso cup for both single and double espressos.

Most tabletop product (cups, plates, platters and flatware) you order will have minimum case quantity you would need to order (between 12 and 36 or even 72 pcs) and if you broke 6 coffee cups and 6 tea cups you don’t want to place an order for 12 of each (for the total of 24 cups) but rather a single case of 12 to use in both coffee and tea settings.

Mistakes to Avoid:

Choosing form over function: Flatware that looks good but is hard to handle isn't going to delight diners. And huge plates that take up too much table space or are hard for servers to handle won't make meals more enjoyable, either. Be analytical and remove the emotions from your selection, this is a business that needs to make sense.

Ignoring the concept: Yes, a beautiful and functional tabletop is very important as It sets the stage for the entire experience and what sets you apart from millions of other restaurants. At the end of the day the goal is to choose dinnerware and flatware/cutlery that match your concept (family diner or exclusive boîte, for example) and adds to the visual appeal of your menu items.

Oh and please don’t forget to loop the chef into the discussion, he or she is the one who has to make it work.

Choosing too many patterns: When choosing your line please consider your staff (Your chef and servers and busboys)

Creating an appealing and functional combination of dinnerware and flatware results in a dining experience that pleases your guests and your bottom line.

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