Tag Archives: dining

Clean up on Spring Dining with Central!

Spring is almost upon us and with the warmer weather it’s time to start thinking about outdoor dining. Stumped on what you might need or just searching for ideas on what works best?  Whether you’re looking to begin seating outdoor or renovating the furniture in your current area, Central has tips and great deals on all the products you need to create the ideal outdoor setting for your guests!

Photo from grosfillexfurniture.com

The first step in choosing the right furniture (indoor or outdoor) is to analyze the available space and what you want to convey to your customers.  To make the most of what’s available, one option would be to use bar height products like the line from Grosfillex.   These tables and stools allow for smaller parties and groups looking to enjoy a nice cocktail on the patio.


Bar Height Table Bases          
Melamine Table Tops           
Havana Bar Stool 

Another major detail in picking out outdoor furniture is the material it’s made from.   The best choice will be durable and visually pleasing and require little to no maintenance.  Central offers three options that fit perfectly into these categories: wrought iron, aluminum and teak.

Photo from centralrestaurant.com

Wrought iron furniture is great because it lasts years with little maintenance and because it is constructed of such heavy duty material, it also stands up great to those spring days when the wind picks up a bit.  Create a classy look for a great price with Central’s Value series wrought iron furniture.

Value Series – Wrought Iron Outdoor Furniture
Side and Arm Chairs
Bar Stools


Aluminum offers a lighter, rust-proof construction.   This option even has a sleek enough look to be used as indoor or outdoor pieces.  Central makes aluminum furniture even more affordable with our Central Value series.

Value Series – Aluminum Indoor/Outdoor Furniture
Aluminum and Aluminum/Wicker Arm Chairs 

Photo from centralrestaurant.com

Finally, there is teak, an extremely durable hardwood that requires little care and no preservatives or treatment of any kind to protect it from the elements.   The unique color changes of teak can also be a draw.  If weathered it can turn a silver gray, if used inside it will become a darker shade of brown and when teak oil is used the wood maintains the original tawny color.  Each color allows for its own unique look and adds to the charm of the item that requires little maintenance for years of service.  Central offers several different choices in teak tables and seating that allow for a layout that will fit any patio.

Florida Seating Teakwood
Bar Stools
Inlay Tables 
Standard & Bar Height Table Sets 

Photo from centralrestaurant.com

Once you’ve picked out the perfect items created from just the right material for your space, the final step is to create a specific space for your outdoor dining area.   Although some open-air dining spaces have a boundary of some sort (possibly a sidewalk), it’s always more inviting to create a defined section to make it seem more inviting.  Central even has this covered with Grosfillex portable patio fencing !  The fencing is easy to assemble, weather resistant and can be filled with water or sand for extra stability.

With all of these great products to get you ready for the big spring/summer outdoor dining rush, Central has everything you need to make the season a success and keep your customers lining up to sit on your patio.  

Don’t hesitate to contact Central with any questions about any of the offers listed at 800-222-5107.  And if you’ve purchased any of these wonderful outdoor products from us, please share what you think below, through a product review on our site or on our Facebook or Twitter pages!

Tips For Enhancing The Dining Experience

Our latest catalog hits the stands next Monday, November 8, and provides tips for upgrading the dining room and maximizing profits. A recent article by PMQ revealed the outlook for the restaurant industry improved in September and owners are optimistic about future sales growth. While things are looking up, there are always ways to make small improvements or be reminded of simple rules of thumb to make a restaurant even better for its customers. Here are a few resources for improving the customer’s experience.

When Is It Okay To Clear Plates?

Sometimes it can be hard to determine if a customer is finished with their plate, or sometimes one person is finished but others at the table aren’t.  The Restaurant Service website addresses this issue as having a variety of solutions. It’s broken down to the restaurants level of service, the situation at hand and what the customer wants. Customers do several things to show they are finished and if a customer hasn’t touched their plate in 20 minutes, it’s time for the server to decide if it’s ready to remove plates.

The situation of one guest being finished but others aren’t can be tricky.  It could make the other guests feel rushed to remove one person’s plate, but waiting to clear may not always be most convenient either. One of the recommendations in this article for servers is to simply ask the obvious question, “May I remove your plate?” But even before asking, the situation should be evaluated beforehand to avoid making guests feel uncomfortable. While this is obvious—common sense and evaluating each customer’s situation is critical.  The article recommends standards to be discussed and set by staff.

Importance of Proper Serving Trays

The serving tray is essential to wait staff. In Richard Saporito’s article on the Artipot website, he breaks it down to asking “what looks best in the dining room” while comparing it to “the logistics of actually getting the job done safely and in a sanitary manner.”

Saporito’s three simple but important rules for servers to remember are:

  1. Carrying too many items on a tray at once is dangerous
  2. Carrying too little items on a tray is wasted effort
  3. Separate the silverware on the tray (off to one side then stack plates)

He also reminds restaurants that a constant supply of trays should be available to wait staff in an easily accessible location. For most cases, Saporito says a restaurant should at least have two different types of trays should be available.

Table Setting Basics

While for most servers, setting the table and serving rules are second nature. But new servers or ones moving to a different environment may not have as much experience. Recipe Hut breaks it down to these three simple rules:

  1. Serve from the left and remove from the right
  2. Serve coffee, tea and fill water from the right
  3. Clear the table (except for the centerpiece) before serving dessert and remove crumbs from the table with a folded napkin and small plate

Eating Healthy While Eating Out


Eating at a restaurant can really be tricky if you are trying to watch your weight or maintain a healthy lifestyle but it is entirely possible to visit a restaurant and not feel guilty (or disgusted) about what you just ate.

The best way to approach going to a restaurant when being conscious about food is to plan. If you have a choice in where to go, make things easier from the get go and choose a healthy restaurant. Health.com listed their picks for America’s healthiest restaurants with some of those being Uno Chicago GrillP.F. Chang’s China Bistro, Ruby Tuesday, Romano’s Macaroni Grill and Olive Garden.

But you can’t go to Olive Garden and eat the heaviest item on the menu just because it’s described as a healthy restaurant. Do your homework. Most restaurants have a website and post nutritional information. And for restaurants who don’t, it can easily be found somewhere on the internet.

Healthy Dining Finder, Diet Facts, Calorie King and Nutritional Information Services are a few of many websites aimed to help you find nutritional information. If all else fails, just type in the restaurant you want followed by the words “nutritional information” in a Google search.

When you are planning (or when you are squirming in your seat at the restaurant glaring at the menu), avoid anything with the words fried, basted, creamy, batter-dipped, scalloped or breaded.

But you want to know what you do want.  An article by the National Restaurant Association (NRA) gives an excellent list of tips for searching through a menu.

The words baked, grilled, dry-sautéed, broiled, poached and steamed are key descriptors for what you want in an entree.

If you have pasta on the brain, while it probably isn’t the healthiest option, chose whole grains and a tomato-based sauce over a cream-based one. Also, cream-based soups are another item you have to avoid and NRA recommends a broth based soup instead.


When ordering a salad, you can order the healthiest looking salad on the menu then ruin everything with the dressing and toppings.

Avoid Iceberg lettuce and excessive amounts of croutons, bacon and cheese. Keep your choices for dressing to oils, vinegars and low-fat (but be cautious with low-fat dressings because just because it says its low-fat doesn’t mean it’s the healthiest. This is where doing your homework ahead of time can be very helpful). But what you can overload on for your salad is veggies!

NRA also gives suggestions for fish and meat. Choose fish with the key descriptor words above and choose leaner meats such as skinless chicken breasts, turkey burgers, pork loin and beef sirloin.

When at the restaurant, keep in mind your waiter or waitress is there to serve you so don’t be afraid to customize your order or to ask questions.  They can help you whether it’s having them point out better options or asking if they have a list of healthier menu items. When customizing your order, if you do not see an option with those key descriptors, then customize your order.

Instead of having a heavier side dish, go for the steamed vegetables (or something healthier). Sometimes there’s an additional cost to swap a side, but depending on where you go it usually isn’t that much.  If it means that much to you to keep on track, the additional $1.49 charge could really be worth it.

For a few other things, eat something small or drink a full glass of water before you leave or before your order arrives. This will make you less hungry and can help with over-eating.


Also, don’t feel like you have to eat everything on your plate. Many places serve double the portion size you should be eating. Sounds easier said than done to opt for taking half home and this is where having something small or drinking a glass of water before could really help so you aren’t starving. Eating slowly will also help you feel full and makes it easier for your body to digest the food.

Now you’re ready to face eating out worry free. Here are a few additional websites to help you: