The hospitality industry in all UK nations has now welcomed back diners to indoor spaces, though still with social distancing protocols in place. Operators are pulling out all the stops to attract custom and start to make up for the lost revenue, so choosing the right tableware and barware will be vital elements of creating that essential allure.
So for catering equipment dealers looking to assist end users in picking the most suitable non-mechanical light products, what do they need to know? We asked leading lightware suppliers the requirements for creating front of house appeal.
Jestic Foodservice Solutions’ wide portfolio includes the Carlisle Foodservice Products brand, incorporating melamine tableware. Steve Morris, sales director at Jestic, analysed: “Many pubs, bars and casual dining restaurants are investing in stylish and practical contemporary melamine tableware which combines form and function to showcase their food offering, promote their front of house presentation and enhance the dining experience for customers.
“The range of shapes, colours and styles available in melamine tableware is huge and so there will certainly be a range to blend and complement the front of house design. Take for example the Carlisle Foodservice Products’ Acacia Wood Grain displayware collection, which incorporates the on-trend organic wood grain look in an incredibly realistic finish, without the need to handwash or season. Similarly, the new Ridge collection is inspired by Earth’s natural elements and suggests the look and texture of stone with the benefits and durability of melamine and includes modern minimalist shapes from bullion bowls to platters to give operators a variety of plating options.
“Alternatively the Stadia range offers a refreshing take on conventional white tableware, blending clean lines with subtle organic shapes and incorporates stadium-shaped bowls and coupe plates which will blend with any front of house design and colour scheme.”
Morris believes: “As hospitality businesses look to reopen their outdoor spaces as a first step out of lockdown, many operators are choosing melamine tableware as it is shatterproof, stain resistant and importantly it is dishwasher safe up to 100°C – so can be hygienically cleaned without affecting it’s appearance.”
He advised dealers: “With competition for out of home dining likely to be fierce as lockdown restrictions are lifted, dealers should look to specify stylish, eye-catching tableware that can enhance the customer’s experience and the presentation of a wide variety of foods. In addition, controlling costs will be important for operators as they look to rebuild from the huge economic impact of the pandemic, so tableware also needs to be durable and cost effective over its lifespan.
“High end ceramic tableware remains a popular choice, but the fragility of ceramics means costs can mount when items inevitably get damaged or broken. Good quality, modern melamine tableware can have the look and feel of china without the replacement cost and is also available in a huge variety of other styles, shapes, colours and textures.
“Dealers should therefore consider specifying top quality, contemporary melamine tableware like the Carlisle Foodservice Products ranges which are available to UK customers through Jestic Foodservice Solutions and come with a 1 year warranty against breakage.”
Elsewhere, FEM commercial director Mark Hogan recommended: “Eating out is about more than what arrives on the plate and how efficiently and courteously it gets to the table. Creating an inviting, interesting and comfortable space is becoming a major consideration for operators.
“When it comes to tableware and barware displaying your front of house beautifully will stimulate customers’ appetites, add to their dining experience and encourage return visits.
“For buffets, banqueting, hotels, bars and restaurants, presentation is everything. It is key to consider the equipment that is not only fit for purpose but that is great on the eye.”
He feels that FEM has a suitable solution for these requirements, commenting: “The Pujadas range of melamine dinnerware is elegant yet affordable and perfect for both indoor and outdoor service. There are three styles available including dishes, serving plates and tapas dishes, all designed to create eye-catching tableware displays.”
And on the subject of tableware trends, he reported: “A major trend that we foresee being here to stay is the increase in the use of sanitation products in hospitality businesses, and stricter and more visible cleaning practices. We expect operators will look for equipment that is easy to clean and can be used with high heat commercial dishwashers.”
For Pro Foodservice Reps (PFR), sales director Ross Gibson urged: “While interior design shouldn’t be ignored when choosing bar or tableware, you should be careful not to let it entirely rule the selection. In many cases, quality tableware can outlast the interior design or theme. Try not to get fixated on one particular material or finish for example, try to add layers of colour and texture.”
Reporting that the rep group has seen an increase in demand for lids for buffet, table and room service, Gibson detailed: “Operators are also more sensitive to how easy tableware is to clean; we have been reinforcing the message that all of our tableware is non-porous, so bacteria cannot penetrate.
“High quality barware for rooms is another trend we are seeing; in the short term operators are predicting a drop in visits to hotel bars, and want to offer guests an in-room service.”
He recommended to dealers: “Invest in multi-functional tableware that can go oven to table, it gives the operator ultimate flexibility when redesigning menus. Consider heat retention – tableware and cookware can have a major effect on how long a product stays hot or cold traveling from kitchen to the table or room, or on the buffet.
“In the bar, pick the highest quality tools for your customer’s budget. It’s a cliché, but they will notice the difference in the cocktails they serve.”
At tableware specialist Grunwerg, marketing executive Katie Hall revealed: “Grunwerg continues to design and choose products with specific current and future trends in mind. We have an extensive range of products, many of which are designed as a set or collection to enable our partners and customers to maintain consistency throughout their settings, as well as meet all the needs and wants of their customers.”
However, she noted: “We find that one of the most crucial design elements that restaurants often don’t prioritise is cutlery. No matter how sophisticated or appealing front of house is, if this aesthetic isn’t followed through to the cutlery then customers will be disappointed. Whether it be Michelin star or a cosy bistro, we have silverware designs that are guaranteed to add those all-important finishing touches to the overall restaurant appeal.”
Additionally, export sales manager William Field recommended to dealers: “While we produce selections for varying markets across the sector, including retail/e-commerce ranges as well as HoReCa articles, we always encourage our catering partners to follow the innovations of the category. Certain trends will always be associated with a particular setting, but we have seen many others prove to be more dynamic. Feedback from a catering environment allows us in turn to continue to tailor our offerings for our partners’ ever-evolving requirements.”
According to Utopia Tableware’s marketing director Kathryn Oldershaw, diversity is the major current trend in tableware design. She underlined: “We recently unveiled our product launches for 2021, covering hundreds of new lines with everything from classic tableware to funky night lights, and ‘barely there’ glassware to art deco-inspired cutlery. It’s arguably our most diverse portfolio ever. The demand for tableware and barware that’s different, that makes a statement, is just getting stronger and stronger. The variety of our new lines is designed to help operators find their own distinctive style.”
She further explained: “One of the key design elements for 2021 is nature – with earthy, pastoral tableware designs that will be equally suited to presenting comfort foods, such as a rich beef bourguignon, and colourful ‘eye candy’ recipes such as deconstructed sweet and sour pork. Typical of this trend is the new Umbria Briar collection, a vitrified porcelain that’s hand finished and features a wash of subtle colour. The new Pistachio design, on the other hand, features rich colours that bring depth and substance to the table.”
In terms of how front of house ware can help to create an appealing restaurant, Oldershaw commented: “Tableware and barware can be used to enhance, contrast or blend with the decor. From shapes and colours that cut through to others that just ‘fit’ with the theme, they can make a statement that underlines the ambiance the restaurant is trying to create.
“First impressions are vital and a well-dressed table is likely to be the first thing customers really take in when they enter, so making it an extension of the interior design is becoming more and more important to operators looking to create a point of difference.”
She detailed: “We have created themes across our tableware collections so that customers can more easily match or contrast their interior designs with them. For example, our ‘On the Dark Side’ theme focuses on moody, darker tones that set the stage for bright colours and big flavours in the food itself. It concentrates on black, brown and darker hues, across a variety of bold shapes. Other themes include ‘All that Glitters’, ‘Back to Nature’, ‘On the Bright Side’, and ‘Beyond the Pale’.”
And her essential advice to dealers? “Once operators have decided on the style, colours and so forth, a critical factor will be the longevity of the items – that’s why we offer a 5-year chip guarantee on many of our lines. Another key criteria should be ensuring that the supplier will keep a good supply of the chosen design in stock over the years, so that broken items can easily be replaced.”
Oldershaw concluded: “Dealers will need to consider essentials such as ease of ordering, speed of delivery and the variety of products available. In 2019 we moved to a new 168,000ft2 warehousing and office facility at Langham Park near Chesterfield. Here we hold in excess of 30,000 pallets under one roof, preventing the double handling of goods and giving constant visibility of all stock. The advanced warehousing and logistics systems have allowed us to improve customer service, increasing speed of response, packaging integrity and accuracy of pick.
“Dealers also need to look for suppliers who will give them support. We recently upgraded our website with a new feature that gives our dealers the option to create their own bespoke catalogues, pricelists and quotes, easily and quickly.”
Pans for performance
Quality cookware could prove key in creating and sometimes even presenting the dishes that will get the tills ringing at foodservice venues again.
So what should catering equipment dealers consider when helping operators to specify new pans? FEM’s commercial director Mark Hogan analysed: “In terms of operation, every type of cookware has pros and cons, and certain cooking methods work better with certain materials and types. For example, the ideal pan for sautéing will be very sensitive to temperature changes, whereas the best pot for braising will hold and regulate heat despite temperature changes. We work closely with our manufacturing partners in supplying a wide variety of high-quality cookware so, no matter the use, we will have the cookware range to suit.”
The supplier has brought to the UK professional cookware market the latest innovation from Pujadas, the Century Aluminium range. It is made from 100% recyclable pure aluminium sheets which are said to offer great performance in thermal conductivity, maximising energy efficiency. Hogan explained: “Its greater thickness means greater impact and deformation resistance, thus extending professional life.”
The range is fitted with heat-insulating, tubular stainless steel handles designed to facilitate handling and minimise the risk of burns from contact with the body of the container.
He underlined: “Professional chefs need tools that will perform time and time again in the busiest of environments. FEM selects quality cookware that lasts and functions well, ultimately making life easier. Each item is suited to its specific purpose, heats evenly, is non-reactive to taste and colour, is easy to clean and ideal for gas, electric and induction.”
For Pro Foodservice Reps, sales director Ross Gibson advised dealers: “Space is always at a premium in the kitchen, and operators need multi-functional cook and bakeware, where possible. The ability to either stack or hang, is something operators are always keen to see.
And over at Chesterfield-based Grunwerg, marketing executive Katie Hall detailed: “Grunwerg has a large selection of cookware ranges to cover a broad spectrum of all requirements and customer trends. All our ranges have been specially designed for both the hospitality industry, who are likely to be cooking on a large scale.
“For the hospitality industry we have a vast array of economic and robust stockpots, sauté pans, frying pans, maslin pans and casserole pans, all designed to withstand the harshness of the hospitality operations and processes. Many pans and woks we sell are extremely versatile, and ideal for every cooking environment or dish.”