Budget for it
The first and most important question is ‘what’s your budget?’.
Operators starting a new restaurant, or re-designing an existing one often forget to budget for tableware at the beginning of a project and at the end, when it’s time to choose tableware, they realise they’ve overspent on the big ticket items.
If you are doing a project, set your tableware budget at the start, along with everything else and don’t scrimp at the end.
Think about the setting
The majority of people who buy tableware are chefs and with good reason: They need to be sure the tableware matches the style and content of their food.
However, diners are increasingly looking for an overall experience when they come to your restaurant, which includes how a dish is presented.
Ambience, lighting and décor set the scene before the food arrives, so if you want to impress your diners, select your tableware within this broader context, not just based on how a dish looks on the pass.
It’s a good idea to take dishes out into the restaurant and see how they work from a diner’s perspective. Put the dishes on the table with items already in situ and see if they look good.
How will it look on camera?
Social media has become a huge part of our daily lives. Today, everyone has an opinion and a camera to hand, enabling them to share their views and images with the world.
Even if your aim isn’t to click with the rest of the planet, at least you should be aware of whether your tableware is worthy of a close-up or not and is showing your dishes off in their best light to potential diners, not just those visiting your restaurant.
Chefs like Daniel Watkins of The Anchor of Hullbridge have harnessed this power using Instagram where he posts his images to his 164,000 followers. Tableware should be a consideration, especially if your dishes will be shown off to an audience of this size.
Combine durability and innovation
We know that durability is important but do you really want plates that are older than your chef?
Whilst we aren’t advocating a ‘disposable’ approach to tableware there is a happy medium between making your investment work hard and maintaining a ‘fresh’ looking presentation, especially for restaurants with lots of regular diners.
To achieve this, choose a number of core items which are great performers in terms of durability (and style), then select some items that add more interest but might not be as highly durable. Be realistic about what your kitchen regime can handle.
Tableware is high fashion, but who determines the fashions and set styles for others to follow?
We have been living through the 'Noma' effect for many years now and everyone loved the handmade plates with earthy qualities and tones. However, as this look filters down to the high street, the industry's leaders have moved on. This is great if you are setting the trend, but not so good if you've just tapped into it believing you're 'in vogue'.
To avoid getting caught in this trap, be individual. We ask our clients what their food style is and find out about the character of the restaurant and the chef so we can help them create a look that fits with their business.
When shopping for tableware, take images or a design brief along. This will keep you focused on your overall look and stop you buying that bright yellow plate!