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If the footwear fits

We walked a mile in your shoes, literally.

Selecting footwear can be daunting for an operator. There are many factors—comfort, quality, style—that go into picking the right shoe for front- and back-of-house staff, not the least of which is price. You could pay as little as $20 a pair with suppliers’ discounts and coupons or as much as $150 for big-name brands. Are you getting what you pay for? To find out, the staff of Restaurant Business laced up some of the latest models for a minimum of four hours each and trekked up and down the more than 600,000-square-foot exhibition hall at the NRA Show this May. Here’s what we found. 

1. Klogs

Model: Springfield
Comfort: 2
Durability: 4
Slip resistance: 3
The heavy slip-on shoe is not made of a breathable material, which led to a sweaty foot that dug in at the instep.

2. Mozo

Model: Divine Wedge
Comfort: 2
Durability: 4
Slip resistance: 2
This shoe got bonus points for style, but the height led to our tester almost rolling her ankle a few times.

3. Crocs

Model: Mario Batali Edition
Comfort: 3
Durability: 5
Slip resistance: 5
The comfort of this men’s shoe, in Batali’s signature hue, decreased as the day wore on.

4. Shoes for Crews

Model: Vitality 
Comfort: 4
Durability: 4
Slip resistance: 3
The athletic look and feel of these shoes, which ran a bit big, make them well suited for a back-of-house team.

5. Ryka

Model: Intent XT 2 SR
Comfort: 3
Durability: 3
Slip resistance: 4
Described as “mall walker” shoes by our tester, they stayed tied and gripped to the foot well, but caused blisters on the pinky toe.

6. Dansko

Model: Tamara
Comfort: 5
Durability: 5
Slip resistance: 5
These heavy looking, yet surprisingly light, easy-to-walk-in shoes divided boomers who found them cute and millennials who did not.

7. Crocs

Model: Mario Batali Edition
Comfort: 3
Durability: 5
Slip resistance: 5
The comfort of this men’s shoe, in Batali’s signature hue, decreased as the day wore on.

8. Skechers

Model: Eldred
Comfort: 5
Durability: 4
Slip resistance: 4
While the sole was “cushy and comfy,” the style was limiting for women, because it could be worn only with pants (men’s and women’s versions look identical).

9. Skechers

Model: Relaxed Fit Work Sure Track
Comfort: 4
Durability: 4
Slip resistance: 4
Even after 12 hours of wear, the shoes held up and warded off sweating, preventing sliding.

10. Mozo

Model: Sport Flat
Comfort: 4
Durability: 4
Slip resistance: 3
This flat started to rub at the  heel and top of the foot after a few hours, leading to blisters.

11. Skechers

Model:Felton-Altair
Hours worn: 6
Pain started not long after putting them on, but several people complimented me on their appearance. They thought they looked like expensive sneakers.

12. Mozo

Model:Gallant
Hours worn: 4 1/2
Very little arch support; would be difficult to stand all day in a kitchen wearing these shoes. Industrial chic look. 

13. Crocs

Model:Grace Flats
Hours worn: 6
Look and feel like street shoes with a tougher exterior and sole. Comfortable as long as they’re worn with socks—bare feet sweat in them. Cute enough to wear outside a restaurant setting.

14. Crocs

Model: Chelea
Hours worn: 4
Looked better on than expected but were narrow at the toe and not very comfortable from the start. I developed a sharp pain along the side of my foot.

15. Crocs

Model: Neria
Hours worn: 7
Comfortable when walking but feet hurt when standing still. Typically wear a woman’s 10, but these fit in size 9.

16. Crocs

Model: Alice
Hours worn: 5 to 6
Looked good enough to wear with a skirt, but worn without socks, my feet were sweating.

17. Skechers

Model: Trickel
Hours worn: 4
Pretty heavy and bulky, but durable with a good grip. Slid against my heel a bit and caused a slight blister. Others thought they looked like skater shoes. 

18. Klogs

Model:Mirage
Hours worn: 12
Worn while cooking in a professional kitchen. At end of day, many complained of sore feet, but mine were just great. 

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