Improve your business with Elegant Dinnerware

Tableware plays an important role in a dining experience. For an F&B outlet to succeed it is important to set the mood for an exhilarating dining experience, which can be ensured by an attractive and presentable table setting. For a hotel or restaurant, the right selection of tableware and dinnerware are as important as the food and ambience of the establishment. For the hotel or restaurant the right election and display of tableware is as important as the fare that is served. But purchasing restaurant cutlery and crockery can be a daunting task as one has to envision the table setting in the total environmental décor of the outlet. Trying to figure out everything – f r o m how much tableware to buy to what style will serve best in the establishment can seem to be an insurmountable job. Ashok Malkani tries to make the task of the restaurateur a little less problematic by highlighting the range of tableware available and the pros and cons of different types of cutlery and crockery.  

Quite often, in online media review, one reads, “The food was good but the ambience was way below par.” With so many eating out options available, the F&B outlets have to pay heed not only to the menu but also the décor and overall ambience which plays an important role in the success of the outlet. Setting can make a huge difference to the dining experience. The guests not only want tasty food cooked in a hygienic manner but are equally choosy about a place where the table is set up in an efficient manner. Clean napkins, impressive looking cutlery and tableware are important aspects towards a guest’s satisfied experience.  

Setting a nice table is often overlooked but its importance should not be minimised. Having a nice table setting affects the guests’ enjoyment of the meal which can even affect how well the food is digested. After putting in the effort involved in thoughtful menu planning and healthy cooking, don’t tarnish the meal by having a disorganised presentation. 

Customers like tables that are set correctly and neatly and therefore it is necessary for restaurateurs to ensure this in order to increase their business. Many factors play a role in ensuring a great customer experience. While we always focus on the food and the service, we often forget about the table setting. 

Table Setting 

According to experts the essentials for table setting are: Table Mats, Napkins, Plates, Cutlery, Glasses and Centerpiece. Before placing down any table mats, make sure they are all clean and wiped down. They should be positioned straight and parallel to the edge of the table.

Folded napkins are normally placed on the right side of table mat. They are folded in a triangular shape. If it is a small napkin one can fold it in half to get the required shape. If it is a large one, then you can fold it in half and then again fold it.  

Plates should be placed in the middle of the table mat and the cutlery set around it

Thumb rule for flatware placement is as follows: 

  • Place items 1" f r o m the table edge.
  • Place forks, tines up, to the left of the plate.
  • Knives (sharp edges towards plate), spoons (bowls up) to the right of the plate.

Centrepieces are a great way to add a little extra care and attention to your table. They are usually placed at the centre of the table. A small vase of flowers is a popular choice for centrepieces.

Choosing Cutlery 

It is necessary to choose the right cutlery. For a novice, flowing suggestions would help: 

Knives: There are different knives for specific tasks. Dull blades are used for cutting soft or cooked foods. Pointed knives help in cutting or paring fruits. Knife with a broad flat blade is suitable for eating fish while knife with blunt ends is used to spread butter, cheese spreads, etc.
Spoons: There are various types of spoons. Teaspoon, tablespoon, dessert spoon and soup spoon are some of them.   

Forks: There are two tined (used to cut meat) and four tined (for other uses) forks. You have dinner fork (measuring about 7 inches is meant for main course meals), salad fork (six inches long, its outer tines are notched, wider and longer than inner tines). Beside this there are dessert forks, fish forks and seafood forks.    

Navin Ladha, CEO and Founder of RanceLab believe that, for a first timer, choosing the right cutlery could be problematic. Some tips that could ease the dilemma of a new restaurateur are: 

Avoid Limited Edition Cutlery: Though it may look tempting, it advisable to stay away f r o m it because a limited edition could be just that, Limited. When the knives become blunt and the spoons look scratched and you go to the store to get replacements you may find the true meaning of the Limited status! This will result in you having to replace your entire cutlery. 

Necessary items: Apart f r o m the standard fork, knife and spoon set, decide what else is necessary based on what you serve. For example, if you serve sea food, do buy seafood forks.
Maintenance: Buy cutlery that is durable. Don’t be stingy when you are selecting cutlery because cheap quality cutlery will have to be replaced time and again. Stainless steel is the preferred choice because it is stain and scratch resistant and easy to clean in a dishwasher.  

Restaurant theme: You have to find cutlery that matches the ethos of your place. Does your restaurant have a vintage appeal or is it contemporary? The cutlery must also be in sync with the dinnerware and furniture.  Don’t go overboard with something that is too ornate. It will be difficult to clean.

Easy and comfortable: One has to choose whether the cutlery is heavy or light. Fine dining restaurants sometimes have European style heavy cutlery which is durable. The light cutlery is cheaper but not durable. Heavy duty cutlery, which is lighter than European style but heavier than the light ones, is the ideal choice as it is hard, durable and not very heavy on the pocket.

Comfortable to handle: Even though cutlery is shaped similarly throughout, some forks and spoons have slender necks than others. Before ordering in bulk, try it yourself and buy the ones that you feel is comfortable to handle.  

Many restaurateurs feel that it is not necessary to go beyond using standard knife, spoon and fork cutlery. However, you’ll be surprised to know how wrong cutlery can turn out to be a disaster for your business. Depending on what food you serve, there are several types of cutlery available in the market.

A well set table reflects the professionalism of the restaurant. If a customer appreciates your efforts of creating a clean and tidy dining area he is sure to become a returning customer.  

Crockery 

But setting your table does not involve only cutlery. It also involves crockery. 

Your choice of tableware – rustic or sophisticated, eclectic or minimalist – can communicate your restaurant’s brand in seconds.

Crockery is an important part of embellishing the dining table. A mismatch of plates is sure to cause embarrassment to the restaurateur. Proper cutlery helps you create an awesome dining experience and can add five stars to your food items. 

With the wide range of patterns, shapes and sizes available in the market, choosing the right crockery can be a daunting task. Care has to be taken to ensure that the crockery reflects the style and atmosphere that you, as a restaurateur, want to create in the place. But besides this there are also a few other things that one has to take into consideration. 

The durability of the crockery is one of them. While cheaper range of crockery may seem like a good value for money at the time of purchasing one has to realise that if it chips easily or is susceptible to scratch marks it will turn out to be an expensive proposition in the long run.   

Size and versatility are other considerations that need a serious thought. The size would depend on the size of portions that you intend to serve in the place.  It should also be versatile because the same crockery would be used for serving several dishes – f r o m pizza to desserts.  

Design is another aspect that one has to take into consideration. With constant emergence of new patterns and trends, choosing the best pattern of crockery for your restaurant should not be a hastily made decision. An important thing to consider is that it must reflect the restaurant’s theme and complement its overall design. For example, if your restaurant is a Mexican or Italian then it would be advisable to have plates with bold colours and designs.

The right dinnerware

A number of factors go into the choice of restaurant dinnerware, including the ambiance you wish to project, your budget, and the intended use.

When your restaurant is still in the planning stages, it’s important that you consider what it is that you want to portray in your restaurant. Is it a fine dining or casual establishment? Are you aiming to project the establishment as refined and sophisticated or fun and trendy? Is the atmosphere you’re seeking posh and sophisticated or warm and colourful? For a fine dining atmosphere, opt for porcelain or china plates, while for casual atmospheres, choose melamine or plastic dishes.

For every type of restaurant you have to take into consideration the material of the dinnerware which would be suitable for your restaurant. Major dinnerware materials are Bone China, Porcelain and Melamine. Bone China, which is suitable for everyday needs is weightless, stylish and microwave-safe. Porcelain is non-permeable and durable. It is dishwasher and oven-safe. Melamine crockery will not break if dropped. It is more durable than other traditional dinnerware. 

Several big brands have also started customisation with the name of the restaurant on the crockery and cutlery. Sunil Agrawal, Director of Vinod Cookware is of the opinion that crockery market has evolved over the last decade and is exploding with innovation. The market is huge and niche and regional marketing is the mantra for the success of tableware manufacturers. Tableware’s role, which was functional till some time ago, has currently reached the haute cuisine stage.  

Tableware – both cutlery and crockery – incites different types of feelings in the foodies. One has to be careful when dealing with tradition. There are equal number of takers for and against white plates. Fans of white crockery say that food looks and even tastes better on these large, plain dishes. Apparently, against the blank canvas of the plate, the food’s colour and texture pop making it look more appetizing. And if food looks good, it’s more likely to taste good.

With so many options for crockery one may feel confused. Here are some tips f r o m experts which may ease this burden. 
As far as colour is concerned, white should be the preferred choice. There are very few foods and props that don’t work with white. 

Most of the restaurants use white porcelain but there is a tendency now to use dishes of different colours and shapes and materials. This is mainly because, as the saying goes, “The first bite is with the eye.” It must be realised that just as lighting can be used to create an ambience, the tableware can be used to set the mood.

For the design the suggestion is to have plain plates, without any ridges. When a plate has a lip, the food needs to be plated so that it fits within the ridge.

It is a known fact that the moment the customers sit down for food they evaluate every single detail including the shape of your tiniest coasters. Every colour, design, size and shape of the dinnerware is judged.  So you must choose the ones that will complement the overall aesthetics of the restaurant.  

Recently there has been a trend of serving in various objects like slides, frying pans, etc. But this is something that has not been approved by the diners. The twitter account @WeWantPlates has gained over 136,000 followers in its ‘global crusade’ against the practice. A study of diners in the UK by YouGuv Omnibus has revealed that they overwhelmingly prefer to be served food off a plate

Conclusion  

Tableware plays a crucial role in dining experience so while selecting your dinnerware you have to keep in mind the restaurant’s concept. You have to keep in mind that the customer’s first impression – which encompasses the entire environs of the restaurant – is the lasting impression. If it is good then it not only makes him a loyal customer but also one to spread the good word. On the other hand a poor first impression will create a bad image of the restaurant.  

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