Our recent post, Environmental Sustainability Inside the Kitchen, outlined tried and true techniques for reducing your carbon footprint inside the fast-paced commercial kitchen environment. This post seeks to further elaborate on practices restaurants can readily embrace to continue sustainable efforts outside of the kitchen.
Sustainable practices are not only necessary for the well-being of the planet, but they’re also in demand. Nielsen reports that 75% of the millennial generation, and more than 50% of Baby Boomers, are willing to pay more for products and services that make a positive impact on the environment. From the dining room to the restroom and beyond, these options are easy to incorporate into day-to-day operations.
Sustainability in the Dining Room
Here are just a few ways your foodservice can enhance its environmental preservation efforts in the dining room.
Use recyclable or reusable cutlery and utensils.
Say no to single-use products such as plastic dinnerware, flatware or to-go containers. If your restaurant currently relies on single-use items, switch to products that can be recycled or composted. Most plastics won’t decompose in a landfill. Fortunately, some manufacturers, like Packnwood, have started making eco-friendly single-use items that are biodegradable.
Phase out straws.
It’s estimated that every day in America, consumers plow through more than 500 million straws! Most plastic straws are not heavy enough to make it through the mechanical recycling sorter, and too many end up polluting the ocean and harming marine life. Instead of offering every customer a straw, implement a new policy that only grants straws upon request. You may be surprised by how fewer straws you hand out.
PackNWood Eco Straws, Central Model #18M-441, are made out of paper instead of plastic and are biodegradable and compostable!
Opt for cloth over paper.
Paper napkins are another popular single-use item that can be avoided, especially in sit-down establishments. Cloth napkins are washable and can be reused for years!
Replace old incandescent lights with more efficient ones.
Incandescent lights are not energy efficient by any stretch of the imagination. They operate based on heat, a piece of wire shielded by a glass enclosure that passes along an electrical current that gets so hot that light radiates. What does this mean in terms of energy efficiency? Less than 5% of the energy used is converted into visible light.
LED lights (an acronym for Light Emitting Diodes), on the other hand, are a much better, sustainability-promoting solution. Instead of operating on heat, LED bulbs use diodes, a semiconductor device, to pass on the electrical current to produce the same lumens as incandescent bulbs while using a mere 10-20% of the energy. A lot of science talk, we know. Bottom line, they save energy, lowering utility costs and are a much more sustainable alternative. Another pro – they can last for years without needing to be replaced!
Print menus on recycled paper.
This is a very simple, yet effective way to make use of what would otherwise be trash while showcasing your commitment to helping the planet.
Sustainability in the Restrooms
In addition to the dining room setting, restrooms are another common area in restaurants where efficiencies can be implemented to reduce your carbon footprint.
Replace paper towels with energy efficient hand dryers.
It’s estimated that we use 13 billion pounds of paper towels every year in the United States alone! Replacing paper towels with an energy efficient hand dryer is a sure-fire way to enhance sustainability. Many hand dryer manufacturers – such as Excel Dryer, manufacturer of the popular Excel Xlerator dryers – make both a standard and eco-friendly line of dryers, so it’s in your best interest to do a little research on each model’s energy consumption first. For more information on hand dryers, check out ourbuying guide here.
This video illustrates the difference between standard and eco-friendly hand dryers:
Offer hand towels.
If you’re looking for another alternative besides installing hand dryers, change out the trash can for a laundry hamper and replace disposable paper towels with hand towels.
Install motion-sensors for lights and fans.
This will ensure energy is only being used when people are in the restroom. Lights and fans left on all day substantially increase energy consumption and utility costs.
Additional Sustainable Enhancements
Add some plants!
Not only do they add some extra aesthetic appeal, but plants absorb carbon dioxide, keeping the air clean. Certain plants are better for indoor spaces, such as the areca plant, snake plant (also referred to as mother-in-law’s tongue) or money plant. Whether you decide to add some in the corner of your restaurant or as a centerpiece on the table, they will purify the air and detoxify the space.
This relatively new term implies the reuse of a product for a different purpose. Some creative examples include:
Repurposing empty bottles to make tabletop vases or decor
Creating pet toys out of branded items – like old employee t-shirts – to donate to shelters instead of just throwing away
If your business caters and uses a company vehicle to do so, invest in an eco-friendly car! Look for features like a lightweight design, high gas mileage, hybrid or electric mode, efficient air filtration systems, etc.
When it comes to implementing environmental sustainability within your restaurant, there are no limits. The more creative you allow yourself to be, the more options you’ll find. Don’t forget to share your efforts with your community to let your valued guests know you’re committed to reducing your carbon footprint! Change doesn’t happen overnight, but with increased awareness and continual small changes, we can all make a difference!
Deciding which type of dinnerware to feature in your food service operation can be daunting. There’s just so many options to choose from and several questions to ask. Will it coordinate with the current setup? Can it enhance the dining room ambiance? Will it withstand heavy use, or will it need replaced frequently?
At Central Restaurant Products, we offer hundreds of different types, styles, designs, and patterns from some of the most popular manufacturers of commercial dinnerware in the world. When shopping for dinnerware, you’re likely to come across the construction material in the features, but what does this really mean?
Not all plates, platters or bowls are created equal. Even though ceramic and plasticware are the two primary umbrella categories, not all plastic dinnerware will guarantee the same degree of durability. How will the construction of your dinnerware impact your overall bottom line? What’s the benefit of opting for a melamine collection, say, than traditional china? What’s the difference between all the different types of plastic materials? Shopping for new dinnerware can be loads of fun, but it can also be stressful if you’re not fully aware of the quality you may be receiving. Here, we seek to shed some light.
Ceramic and Fine Chinaware
Traditional chinaware is made of a durable ceramic material that is biscuit-fired at high temperatures and then glazed fired at a lower temperature. There are two common types of china dinnerware that you’re likely to come across in your search.
Porcelain china is constructed out of combination of rock minerals and clay including feldspar, quartz, and kaolin. Porcelain chinaware is usually the less expensive china solution and has a noticeably heavier weight than bone china; however, the brittle composition usually results in more frequent chipping, thus needing replaced more often.
Central Model #474-483
Bone china dinnerware is constructed out of a more finely grated composition, still including the same minerals as porcelain china, but with added ox bone ash which enhances its durability. Fine bone china is often considered to create a more upscale, fine dining appearance. It’s thinner and lighter than its porcelain sibling, but runs at a higher price point. However, with its stronger durability, it will need replaced far less frequently. A classic case of you get what you pay for.
Central Model #60K-806
A good test to see if your existing chinaware is porcelain or bone is to hold it up to a light fixture. If there is no trace of light shining through, you are most likely holding a piece of everyday porcelain ceramic dinnerware. Chinaware with the added ox bone ash element will allow some light to shine through.
High end chinaware is often ideal for upscale, fine dining establishments. Nice china can set the mood of the dining room, enhancing the theme, presentation, and creating personality. It holds many benefits for the front and back of the house, acting as a canvas ready for the chef’s masterpiece.
China that’s 100% vitrified works to prevent crazing and cracking that lead to bacterial growth over time, thus enhancing sanitation and food safety efforts. Fully vitrified china means that the dinnerware was fired at a lower temperature, coming out stronger and thinner than non-vitrified china. Vitrified dinnerware does not absorb water so there’s less risk of expanding and contracting, working to prevent accidental breakage and ensuring longevity of the product life.
Earthenware and Stoneware are two other types of porcelain dinnerware in the same family as china. Stoneware is durable and often trendier, featuring a stone exterior. Its unique, trendier presentation makes it ideal for restaurants serving Asian cuisine, bistros, farm to table, etc. It’s either semi or fully vitrified and safe for microwave or dishwasher use. Earthenware, on the other hand, is much less durable, a result of a quick and simple firing process. It is made of non-vitrified clay and less expensive than stoneware. It also offers excellent heat induction while adding a rustic feel to the ambiance. It is recommended to be handwashed only.
Central Model #479-279
As we’ve discussed, some china is more durable than others. When shopping for your next china pattern, pay attention to whether or not the china can be used in the microwave or oven. A good determinant on the durability is whether it comes with a manufacturer warranty. Many top brands offer a one year no-chip warranty. International Tableware offers a Five-Year no-chip warranty exclusively at Central! A manufacturer warranty is typically a good determinant of durability, as it can be read that the manufacturer themselves have strong faith in their work.
It’s important to note, however, that no piece of china is break-resistant. Most, but not all, chinaware is dishwasher safe. This is something you will want to verify in your research. Some china feature with glazed patterns that are not recommended for use in a dishwasher. Read on to learn more about dinnerware solutions that are virtually unbreakable.
Melamine dinnerware rose in popularity in the 1940s for use during dinner parties. Melamine is a chemical that is used to make hard plastics and is therefore extremely durable and typically offered at a much lower price point than traditional chinaware. Some high-end melamine dinnerware even replicates the look and feel of chinaware, thus offering the best of both worlds. Given its notable durability, many melamine manufacturers will boast that their products are “virtually unbreakable!”
Melamine is a great solution in many different types of commercial foodservice operations. Because it can withstand the rigors of day to day use, commercial melamine dinnerware is often seen in school cafeterias, hospitals, or other types of institutions with hectic, fast-paced rushes. Like china, melamine dinnerware also comes in quite the array of styles and patterns, with top brands working around the clock to define new trends.
Though melamine is difficult to break, instances of chipping have occurred if not properly cared for or maintained. However, melamine dinnerware won’t shatter if accidentally dropped, like most types of china. Most melamine will also be able to withstand high heat, many types up to 212°F. It’s an insulator, not a conductor, meaning it can maintain temperatures longer than other types of plastic dinnerware. It also stays cool to the touch when serving hot foods.
Generally speaking, melamine dinnerware is dishwasher safe and dries quickly, so users won’t wait long before they’re able to re-enter the dinnerware back into the food serving assembly. In addition to their durable “break-resistant” advertisements, melamine is also considered to be scratch and stain resistant.
Though dishwasher safe, melamine is not recommended for use in the microwave or oven, as opposed to some of their ceramic counterparts. Even though it’s capable of withstanding high heats, it should never be heated while in contact with food. Proper cleaning and care of melamine dinnerware ensures longevity. This video from our friends at G.E.T. Enterprises offers tried and true techniques for proper melamine maintenance.
It’s easy to talk in general terms, but like all types of dinnerware, not all melamine is the same. It’s best to fully research all the features of a specific style before committing. At Central, you can request a free sample of many of our dinnerware selections to see for yourself prior to purchasing.
But wait… is plastic safe?
A common concern with melamine and other plasticware are the chemicals used to create hard, durable plastic. These chemicals are extensively researched and tested to assure their fit and safe for dining. BPA is one of the most common chemicals used in plastic construction.
What is BPA?
A concern many have when it comes to melamine products is the amount of BPA they may contain. BPA, which is an acronym for Bisphenol A, is a chemical that manufacturers started using to construct certain plastics and resins starting in the 1950s. In the 1990s, consumers began questioning whether BPA was safe with many studies trying to link it to health problems. The FDA has since concluded that low levels are not harmful to humans. However, many products containing BPA, such as baby bottles, have been banned in the United States. Some melamine products on the market do still contain small traces of BPA in their construction, while others proudly exclaim they are 100% BPA free.
If BPA is a concern for you, you can check to see if the piece of dinnerware is NSF certified. NSF is a stamp of approval given from NSF International, an independent public health and safety organization that develop standards for public health regulation. NSF approved dinnerware is always recommended over dinnerware that isn’t, and this isn’t something exclusive to dinnerware.
NSF Approved Logo
All sorts of commercial food service equipment and supplies are NSF listed. NSF International reviews construction material and the manufacturing process to confirm that all their standards are met. Therefore, opting for an NSF approved product gives peace of mind that the brand is complying with national regulations and safety standards. Many NSF listed items also feature added sanitary protections. The benefits of choosing products that have NSF International’s seal of approval reduce the risk of foodborne illness, are often easier to clean, and may help boost overall health inspection scores.
Other Plastic Dinnerware Constructions
Ceramic and melamine are arguably the two most popular types of commercial dinnerware constructions on the market. However, throughout your shopping adventures, you’re likely to see a few other types of plastic materials. Here’s a brief breakdown of what they mean.
Polycarbonate is a lightweight plastic material that, like melamine, is commonly considered to be shatter resistant. Unlike melamine, traditional polycarbonate dinnerware is also heat resistant and safe for microwave use. A lot of polycarbonate dinnerware can withstand temperatures between -40°F through 212°F. This makes the dinnerware ideal for use in both freezers and high temperature environments.
Central Model #250-564
BPA (see above) is a common chemical used to make polycarbonate plastics. BPA is one of the most extensively tested chemicals today, and, again, the FDA has concluded that small traces are not harmful for humans.
Polycarbonate dinnerware is typically inexpensive, which can be a big plus. However, though it’s thought to be break-resistant, some polycarbonate dinnerware may scratch and stain easily.
Both polypropylene and polyethylene are similar, and many pieces of dinnerware are made using a blend of the two. Though a more affordable alternative to other types of dinnerware, by and large, dinnerware constructed out of polypropylene and polyethylene plastics are considered to have moderate scratch and break-resistance, not holding up quite to the same standards of melamine. They are, however, highly stain resistant and safe for both dishwasher and microwave use. They have a fairly decent drying time but may require additional wiping. It can typically withstand temperatures between 32°F through 180°F.
An additional blended hybrid of polypropylene is co-polymer. This material is often observed in the construction of cafeteria trays, and has a high resistance to breakage, scratching or staining. It’s also microwave and dishwasher safe, and considered to have a faster drying time than traditional polypropylene plasticware. It can handle temperatures between 40°F and 210°F, not ideal for use in freezers.
Acrylic is a hard plastic that is manufactured to replicate the look and feel of glass and high-end crystal. Acrylic is a common construction material of servingware, enhancing the presentation of buffet areas while extremely durable. Throughout your search, you’re likely to come across serving bowls, utensils, display stands, and bakery cases made of acrylic. Acrylic products are traditionally more affordable than their glass counterparts, with added shatter-proof durability.
Central Model #989-019
ABS and SAN Plastic
ABS is the same type of plastic material used to make the popular LEGO® building blocks! It stands for Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, a thermoplastic (a resin that becomes a plastic on heating and hardening) resin that’s largely considered to be middle of the road. Plastic dinnerware made with this type of material is typically considered to be medium strength with a good resistance to impact, breaking, and chemicals. It absorbs shock, resistant to high heat and scratches, and affordable. It can withstand temperatures between 0°F to 180°F.
Some limitations of ABS plastic include poor weatherability and not resistant to solvents that may weaken and corrode ABS plasticware over time. It also generates a lot of smoke if burned. Because of this, dinnerware made of ABS is not recommended for use in the microwave. It is, however, dishwasher safe with an average dry time. Due to the lack of solvent-resistance, it is recommended that you wipe down your ABS-constructed ware soon after the cleaning cycle finishes.
ABS is not considered to be the most environmentally-friendly plastic material on the market. It is not biodegradable or a renewable resource.
SAN plastic, also known as styrene acrylonitrile resin, is another co-polymer plastic blend and shares a lot in common with ABS in terms of its chemical structure. SAN is often used by manufacturers to create durable plasticware that mimics the look and feel of ceramic china.
Additional Dinnerware Material
In commercial dining facilities, china and plastic dinnerware are certainly the two most common. However, dinnerware made of metal and glass are occasionally used to create unique, one of a kind environments.
Metal dinnerware is sleek and affordable, but should only ever be used for serving, and never for cooking or reheating. Common types of metal dinnerware include stainless steel and copper, which offer a trendier presentation for appetizers, entrees and side dishes. Check out American Metalcraft’s selection of dinnerware for trendy, affordable serving inspiration.
Central Model #16Y-037
Glass is ideal for upscale dining establishments. Quality glass dinnerware runs at a higher price point than their plastic counterparts that have been strategically designed to mimic the look and feel of glass (see acrylic section above). However, authentic glass adds a touch of class to every dining room.
Central Model #186-087
In addition to higher upfront costs, there is also a higher risk of breakage. Glassware will need replaced down the road, so your glass dinnerware purchase more than likely won’t be a one and done experience.
The three most common types of glass dinnerware include Annealed, Fully Tempered, and Rim Tempered.
Annealed glass is your standard glassware and the most cost effective (up front). It’s slowly cooled to reduce internal stress, making it capable of withstanding temperature changes. However, when it breaks, it shatters into a hundred shards, creating a cleaning nightmare and safety concerns.
Fully-Tempered glass has been more processed than annealed glass, increasing its strength and making it less prone to breakage. When it does break, it breaks in chunks instead of shattering into dangerously miniscule and sharp shards.
Rim-Tempered glass runs middle of the road. A part of the piece has been tempered for added protection, but not the entirety of the product. This is usually the rim, because it’s the most likely to tip over and take the blunt force of the impact. This is a nice option if you’re on a budget but want to ensure some sort of durability.
Libbey is one of our top glassware manufacturers, boasting a comprehensive selection of glass drinkware and dining solutions.
All in all, your final decision should be made around which piece of dinnerware can enhance the experience you wish to give your guests, based on your established environment, ambiance, and menu. Central offers a complete selection of all different types of dinner and servingware to help you find the right piece you’re looking for. If you have any additional questions about which material will work the best given your unique needs, give us a call us at 800.215.9293.
Oneida has been enhancing tabletop presentation for well over a century. They have long been a stable of the dining room, designing a plethora of different styled dinnerware, flatware and glassware to appease any type of foodservice environment. Their products can readily be spotted in fine dining establishment or casual diners alike because their assortment is so massive and dynamic. At Central, we feature more than 3,000 Oneida products and regularly adding more as Oneida continues to release stylish designs that define dining trends year after year.
Oneida’s Plate Envy™
With such an assortment to choose from, it can almost be overwhelming to decide which style is best for your establishment’s theme and ambiance. Oneida acknowledges this and have recently unveiled a brand-new resource to help buyers decide which pattern will best fit their dining room. Plate Envy™ takes users on a journey, using questions and visual aids to highlight the desired place setting, thus ending with a pattern that’ll match. This new tool takes the hassle out of tireless research to determine where, in the sea of options, you should land.
Oneida has spent the last century building their brand by earning trust. Respected throughout the world for their quality, Oneida stands behind all their products so you can feel confident using them. At Central, we offer free samples on hundreds of Oneida items to allow you to try before you buy, including on their popular Lumos line. Constructed on heavy weight, 18/0 stainless steel, Lumos flatware offers durability and pleasing aesthetics to create a perfect dining experience.
When shopping for commercial flatware…
When shopping for flatware, there are two characteristics to note: flatware weight and stainless steel composition. Flatware either comes with a medium weight or a heavy weight. Medium weight is usually the most economical option, but heavy weight offers more durability as it’s more difficult to bend. We recommend heavy weight flatware for most commercial facilities.
You’re also likely to observe 18/0 or 18/10 stainless steel composition. These numbers represent the percentage of chromium and nickel included in the stainless steel. 18/0 stainless steel is composed of 18% chromium and 0% nickel. It’s often characterized by a higher shine and can be used magnetic tableware retrievers and scrap blocks. 18/10, on the other hand, is stainless steel composed with 10% nickel for more protection against corrosion. It’s more durable with a softer shine and polish usually considered to be higher end.
Simply put, a caterer is a company that prepares and provides meals for special events. These events can vary greatly, but it is important for all events to have the right equipment to keep food save and to be prepared for all circumstances.
What Events Need Caterers?
Caterers are needed for all kinds of events from weddings, galas, business lunches, birthday parties, award banquets, and everything in between! The needs of each event will vary, but keep your mind open to the potential opportunities as a caterer.
Chafing dishes are crucial for buffet style catering. These will keep the foods at safe temperatures and tasting good through the whole event. Styles and shapes can range, so be sure to know what your targeted market is looking for!
While not an exhaustive list, the above will cover most needs a caterer will run into. Looking for something specific? Browse today on our website! Or, do you want a friendly product consultant to help walk you through the process of making sure you hit everything on the list? Give us a call at 800.215.9293!
This month, we’ve added more than 1,500 new products to the website from multiple popular brands. These new products are perfect for enhancing dining areas, establishing an ambiance unique to your space, and giving your guests an experience they’re sure to enjoy!
Review some of these new additions below, and be sure to click on the vendor name to view their assortment in its entirety on our website!
“This investment-quality dinnerware and serveware is the best of both worlds, blending impeccable, distinctive style with proven performance.”
We added more than 1,100 new Syracuse China items to the website – providing customers a huge array of styles for their chinaware needs. Be you in the market for upscale designs or a farm-to-table flare, Syracuse China has chinaware sure to match any environment.
Central is excited to welcome The Amazing Flameless Candle to the family! A brand-new vendor, they produce tabletop lighting supplies to really set the mood. The cool part? As their name suggests, they’re completely flameless! We added 100 LED candles and holders in all sorts of sizes and styles.
What is your customer’s first impression when they sit at one of your tables? Is it welcoming, clean place settings with modern touches? Or is it worn out glassware? Plates that were once a beautiful white turning brown from years of memories? It is time to update and upgrade! From Farmhouse to Industrial to Modern and Bright, it seems as though the current style “trends” are not going away anytime soon, so time to jump in on these comforting styles to give your dining room a face lift to make your customers feel like they’re right at home!
Also searching for the perfect farmhouse display ware? Stick with metals, wood and chalkboards for a consistent look throughout your dining room.
The industrial look is all about sleek and simple! Start with bright white dinnerware with no rim pattern to emphasize the simple setting, then pair with clear glass drinkware with smooth sides and flatware that is long and sleek. For a serious wow factor, try matte black flatware! Also important to an industrial style is metals, dark stained wood, and concrete. Add these elements through unique tables and chairs, as well as light fixtures!
For whatever style of dining room, start your shopping with Central Restaurant’s helpful product consultants at 800.215.9293 or browse online!
The importance of your bar/restaurant’s ambiance cannot be overstated. Consumers leave their humble abodes not only in search of good food, but also fun experiences. New York Times journalist Moira Hodgson once questioned, “Considering the diversity of setting, one might ask, just how much does ambiance affect the enjoyment of food? Does the atmosphere of an elegant restaurant enhance the pleasure of what is eaten there?” We argue yes. Without the experience staged by ambiance, food is just food. Bleh.
Styles and themes vary far and wide, but profitable establishments know how to make a lasting impression. Here are some tips.
Don’t just rush to set up tables and chairs. Spend some time thinking up the right theme. How do you want your guests to feel while dining in-house? Does the mood you create complement what’s on the menu? When in doubt, Feng Shui! Rearrange and play around with the seating. Hang up artwork. Light some candles. Experiment until you find the right fit.
Make your marketing efforts consistent. Your menus should match the environment. Your social media posts should show off what potential customers gain by stopping by your place instead of another’s. Is your establishment not active on social media? Get active on social media.
Lighting is important. It underscores the tone and pulls the entire space together. Dimmer lighting creates a cozier, more intimate feel. Brighter lighting illuminates what you want your guests to focus on. Degree of lighting aside, make sure it’s evenly distributed. You don’t want your guests to feel like they’re under a spotlight (unless your theme is Disco Night). Shop candles and lighting options now.
The music you play also ties in. Don’t just put on the most popular radio station. Think about your mood, and play what fits. Cozier establishment, try an acoustic or jazz station. If you’re not already, consider investing in a satellite radio subscription. There are hundreds of commercial-free stations that serve up a genre for every mood.
During the cold winter months, coffee sales skyrocket (and for good reason)! To ensure you have the best brewer for your restaurant, we’ve created an infographic to help you decide. For more information on coffee brewers, go to our Coffee Brewer Buying Guide. There, you’ll find more tips on what brewer suits you. As always, if you have any questions or need help, give one of our superstar Product Consultants a call at 800-215-9293 or chat with them live now!