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Setting the table

The tabletop category includes glassware, dinnerware and flatware or silverware—all of which represent a major investment and an ongoing expense for replacement.

The role of tabletop supplies varies by type of restaurant. For QSR and fast casual, it’s all about speed and cost, with disposables the logical choice. For family dinning and buffet service, simplicity and durability rule. When you move into casual dining, theme restaurants and fine dining, tableware is key in enhancing the experience and showcasing the kitchen’s creative efforts.

The tabletop category includes glassware, dinnerware and flatware or silverware—all of which represent a major investment and an ongoing expense for replacement. In addition to first cost and style, restaurant buyers should evaluate durability, ease of stacking, storage, cleanability and availability of replacements in the months or years to come.

As decorative elements, dinnerware, glassware and, to a lesser extent, flatware follow the latest design trends. Manufacturers change patterns, materials and shapes to stay current and satisfy both form and function. Here are some of the category trendsetters.

Innovative glassware boosts wine and bar sales

Looking for “elegance with attitude” as well as less breakage? Libbey Glassware has expanded its Stemless Collection to include martini and champagne flutes. These contemporary yet classic glasses eliminate the fragile stem, while providing a stylish look for beverage service. The sleek glasses can also double as serving ware for desserts and appetizers. For a more classic look, Libbey offers its Aficionado line with a rimless design, improved wall construction and slender stems. This easy-on-the-budget collection includes seven of the most popular bowl shapes and sizes for an upscale wine presentation.

Dinnerware that breaks the mold 

Remember when all plates were round? Today’s cutting-edge dishes are just as likely to be square, rectangular, triangular, scalloped or kidney-shaped. As chefs have embraced global cuisines and are experimenting with more artistic presentations, they are looking for dinnerware to make a bold statement.

G.E.T. Enterprises, Inc., has introduced a series of melamine serving and buffet service patterns with bold shapes, patterns and colors. Its Venetian Series has a classic look in yellow and ocher, is dishwasher safe, durable and affordable.

Its new Brew & Bake Collection is classic black and white, suitable for dessert, coffee or cappuccino service.

For tabletop pieces that are fun, funky and eclectic, Impulse Enterprises features several vibrantly colored selections in acrylics and other unusual materials. Want a bamboo tray or bright lacquer bowl to complement your menu or milieu? You can search their site, www.impulseenterprises.com, by product category, material, color or theme to find just the right accent and table setting.

Some operators want dinnerware that doesn’t compete with the food but provides an elegant backdrop. Mikasa by Cardinal has three lines—Grands Chefs, Grandes Tables and Spirit New Design—each of which focuses on classic white. With names such as Divinity, Sublime, Purity and Moon, you can almost feel the cool serenity of the pieces. Cardinal/ Mikasa is also one of the largest U.S.-based tabletop suppliers, providing one-stop shopping for glassware, flatware and decorative accessories that mix or match perfectly.

Flatware figures

The description of stainless steel flatware often includes a number: 18/10, 18/0, etc. This refers to the percentage of chrome (first number) and nickel (second number) in the stainless steel alloy. Chrome provides the luster and shine; the nickel offers corrosion resistance. To meet the U.S. minimum standard to be called “stainless,” flatware must be 13/0 or 13 percent chrome stainless. For longer-lasting pieces, however, specify flatware that is 18/10 or 18/8.

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