Need help making a purchase? Central has you covered with a library full of buying guides you can conveniently find on our website.
Each Tuesday in December we’ll post one of these buying guides. If you’re looking for something specific, be sure to check out our buying guide page. Also, check back as we will add more upon the release of our 2012 January master catalog.
Understanding Flatware Weights
Lightest weight flatware
Commonly used in high-volume facilities
Durable and difficult to bend
Ideal for most commercial facilities
Available in both 18/0 and 18/10
Understanding Stainless Steel Types
18/0 and 18/10 specifications function to illustrate the percentages of chromium and nickel content in stainless steel. Chromium increases product hardness, while nickel helps resist rust and corrosion. These numbers represent the composition of the stainless steel only, not the weight.
Composed of 18% chromium and 0% nickel
Can be used with magnetic tableware retrievers and scrap blocks
Composed of 18% chromium and 10% nickel
Maximum protection against corrosion, food and cleaning
Soft shine with polished finish that enhances the look of quality
Estimating How Much Flatware You Need
When estimating the amount of flatware you need, remember to take into account the number of seats in your establishment, the turnover rate, any specialty items on the menu, your warewashing capacity, the type of operation (fine dining, family style, cafeteria, etc.) and your backup inventory requirements.
Based on these factors, Central can help you order the exact amount of flatware you need to be successful.
To determine the right amount of flatware, multiply the number of seats you will be serving with the flatware number listed at the right and divide by 12. This will give you the number in dozens you will need to order.
For more information, view this Flatware Buying Guide in full on our website, which also provides the list of our flatware along with the manufacturer, metal composition, weight and an enhanced image of the handle.
The beginning of the school year is the best time to go over standards and policies. It’s also the time to make sure all the right tools are available to make every day a successful one.
Here are 10 products and ideas from Central to help get your cafeteria started right for the upcoming school year.
1. Food safety is critical. All cafeteria employees should go over proper food and hand washing techniques at the beginning of the year, followed by periodic refresher meetings and posted signage. Also, when wearing gloves, upon stepping away from a workstation, or moving on to another task (even if just for a second), dispose of the gloves immediately and put on a new pair when returning.
2. There are trays designed for a quick turnaround. Melamine compartment trays dry the quickest and are an excellent choice for schools with a quick turnaround. Click on any of the following for more information: #17K-046, #17K-047, #17K-051 and #17K-052.
3. Planning menus in advance, and making them easy to access, helps everyone. Can students and parents easily access your menus? If they are only sent home with students, don’t forget about the ones who lose things easily or forget to take things home. Consider posting menus online and also having menu boards in the cafeteria. This way, everyone stays informed.
5. Create a rewards program to help teach students healthy eating habits. Make sure the program doesn’t reward with more food—especially junk food. Work with other members of the school to create incentives to eat healthier such as free time or fun activities.
6. Learning doesn’t have to stop during lunch time. On top of promoting healthy eating habits, use meal times to inform students of your school’s green initiatives and get them involved. This can set them up to be environmentally conscious in their every day life.
7. Food allergies are very serious. All workers should be prepared in the event of an emergency, even if you don’t have any students to your knowledge with allergies. A student’s life can depend on it. In last week’s resources blog, we found excellent information about food allergies from the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, including this Food Action Plan.
8. When shopping, there are warranties exclusive to schools. Keep your eye out for these. Some brands that have these special warranties are Garland, Vulcan, APW Wyott, Cres Cor, Duke and Univex. (At Central, we mention ours in our school catalogs. Feel free to contact a Product Consultant for help).
9. Keep cereal fresh. For breakfast programs, cereal dispensers keep food fresh, save space and control portion sizes.
10. Dispose of the disposables. For flatware, both the Windsor and Dominion medium weights are great options for schools as well as our Central Exclusive Tumblers. Also, while you may not always think of ice as a disposable, have you ever considered reusable ice? It saves money and you will never have to deal with the mess regular ice can bring. Check out mat #647-001 or singles #647-002. And if you’re in the market for a new dishwasher, the Jackson CREW44 conveyor dishwasher is one of the top picks for schools.
One of the most important yet undervalued components of the dining experience is the table. At this point, you know table setting basics from silverware placement to having the classic white linen neatly draped over. But from restaurants to catered events, there is always a way to take it a step further to enhance your customer’s experience. After all, taking some extra time to liven up the setting could bring in more money somewhere along the line.
This week we came up with a few ideas along with Michael Williams (Product Consultant, Central Restaurant Products), Laura Bedilion (Category Manager, Central Restaurant Products) and Stacy Blanton (Director of Marketing and Communications, IUPUI Food Service) to create 10 ways to make your table setting go above and beyond your guest’s expectations.
Color: It’s scary, but if you know your guests and your atmosphere, which you do, you can play with color to find one that best represents your establishment or catered event. This applies to more than the table cloth; it applies to napkins as well. During Williams’ catering days, he used multiple colors for napkins to liven his setting. For example, in the fall he used a burnt orange and a rich brown.
Upgrade your Tableware: If you have fairly new dinnerware, skip this number. But if your plates are scratched, your glasses are murky or your knives are dull, Bedilion recommends updating. Today there are a variety of shapes, colors and styles of plates—including those that don’t scratch or break easily. Also, when upgrading, you can look at your current dinnerware set to decide if you need more durability. Same thing goes with drinkware and flatware.
Napkins: Sure, you can roll your silverware in a napkin—but why not take some extra time to enhance the experience by folding the napkin in a way your guests have never seen? Find one and try it. It could become a signature part of your establishment.
Go Natural: Everyone has seen gemstones in centerpieces; why not use something natural instead? Blanton recommends using natural items for centerpieces and details such as leafy greens instead of greenery, pine cones and rocks instead of clear gems.
Candle Lamps: For low-lighted settings, a large or bright lamp can be distracting or in your customers way—especially if they can’t cover or move the light. Bedilion suggests candle lamps, which create just the right amount of light and are available in a variety of styles. They are also available in LED that simulates traditional candlelight if you’re staying away from fire.
Make it Personal: If you run a busy establishment and are constantly turning tables, your server will make the experience personal. But for a catered event, many times the most interaction between the wait staff and guests is filling drinks and clearing plates. Blanton suggests taking a few extra minutes to create individual menu cards for a plated meal. It can make a difference.
Fruit: Fresh fruit can be used in many ways other than for consumption. Williams would slice fresh fruit into water pitchers to liven the setting which would also infuse the water with flavor. Some of his most commonly used fruits were blueberries, honeydew and cucumbers.
Height: This is one of the very simple yet excellent ways to make a food presentation pop. Instead of laying everything flat, Blanton says to use a variety of heights (especially on a buffet, but it’s possible with a table too). There are many different ways to display food with height from risers to tiered displays. Williams adds that height can even be added with cardboard boxes and linen.
Condiment Display: Instead of throwing the ketchup and mustard on the far end of the table with the sugar and sweetener packets crammed into a small square container, find a condiment holder or organizer to conveniently hold all items for your guests. There are even holders that include a coil for table numbers or menu items, such as daily specials.
Ice sculptures: Okay, so this one may be taking it a bit further than just creatively folding a napkin or using bold red linens. However; you may find them to be the wow factor you’ve been searching for to make an event extremely memorable. Check out theseice sculpture molds.
Let us know ways you have changed your table setting to enhance the experience for your guests in our comment section!
Obviously, this is just a crash course and not meant to be a complete guide to restaurant design—just some helpful hints on getting started…Your customers might think a dining room consists simply of tables and chairs, but you know there are a number of key issues that help ensure not only an aesthetically pleasing dining area for your guests, but also an efficient one.In addition to basic space requirements and limitations, consider how lighting and color come into play, what to look for when selecting your furniture, and the relationship between flatware, dinnerware and table linens.Where food meets customerAccording to NAFEM, the dining room is the “stage,” where food, service and atmosphere come together to deliver a memorable dining experience.
Naturally, every consideration of space and construction has a corresponding operating cost. While smaller space allocations may result in reduced building costs, insufficient space can increase operating costs and lead to inefficient operation and lower profits.Consider the number of patrons you will be serving and over what period of time; what kind of preparation methods that will be used in the dining area, what type of storage space is required, what kind of space is needed for checking, waiting areas, coatrooms and service areas.
Lighting and DécorNAFEM identifies five basic principles of lighting, which are space relationships, perspective, contour, special details of intrinsic beauty and imaginative and subtle qualities.According to NAFEM, guests in your restaurant will subconsciously feel the impact of light and color, associating it with their overall dining experience. A small room could benefit from brighter colors and lighter shades. Conversely, dim lighting and warm, dark colors could make a large dining room seem less overwhelming, and more cozy.Studies show that bright lights and primary colors –blue, red and yellow- actually encourage a faster turnover in busy establishments. Often, you’ll see these combinations in fast food restaurants, commercial cafeterias and employee dining areas. Likewise, subtle colors can create a more peaceful, leisurely atmosphere.Furniture and seating arrangementsIf you have already developed a concept and central theme in your restaurant’s business plan, selecting your furniture should be fairly straightforward. It is important to pay close attention to the quality and durability of your furniture to prevent heavy replacement costs down the road. Before purchasing any furniture, ask questions about how the material will reflect your restaurant’s theme, if the furniture you’re considering is an appropriate height, and if replacement parts are readily available.Also consider how difficult your upholstery is to clean and if it will hold up under frequent and constant use. Some states even have fire safety codes that may affect your upholstery considerations. Check with your state’s restaurant association for more information about requirements in your area.Also, as mentioned, your seating arrangements must be compliant with ADA standards. Regulations require that wheelchair users should have easy access to the bar area as well as the dining area. The result is that most bars are being lowered to a 36-inch height. Check with your product consultant or local restaurant association for more information on these requirements.A design consultant or foodservice industry expert can help you identify your options, and whether you should use chairs, stools, booths, or all three. According to NAFEM, booths offer the ability to maximize seating, but they are also large and rather permanent. Will booth seating enhance or detract from your décor? How formal will your restaurant be? Are you going to offer take-out service or seating in the bar? A detailed seating plan will help answer these questions.Flatware 411Your restaurant’s seating arrangements will help you determine what goes on your table too. Consider again the theme of your establishment. Not every restaurant requires a demitasse spoon, shrimp fork and steak knife. Make sure anything you put on the table serves a purpose. The appearance of clutter will leave a negative impression with your guests, so any piece of flatware or glassware should be absolutely essential to the meal.Your flatware should be durable enough to withstand the level of use you anticipate. Some patterns naturally hide scratches and wear, while other styles can accentuate them.GlasswareWhen you are selecting glassware, considering the following tips NAFEM offers to reduce your future replacement costs:
Glasses that have a heavy bead or roll on the lip are less likely to chip.
The thicker the glass, the more durable it will be.
A straight-sided glass is more durable than a curved or bulged glass.
Glasses that are flared (like a martini glass) are more likely to chip, crack and break.
Handle your glassware with care!Remember to let your glasses cool after removing them from the dish machine. Thermal shock, which is basically rapid temperature change, is one of the most common causes of glass breakage in a restaurant and normally happens when you fill a glass fresh from the dishwasher with ice. The last thing you want is an ice bin full of glass shards! Last, store your glassware properly—in a rack with dividers, to prevent glass-to-glass contact.That being said, glasses are going to break. Experts recommend setting aside one glass from each collection and writing the model number on it for easy reordering.Make sure to order enough glassware so as not to have to rush them through the washing system, which can stress china and glassware. Maintain a simple ratio of three times as many glasses to seats to ensure a glass on every table and a complete supply of replacements even when the dishwasher is full.Dinnerware and accessoriesTable accessories like shakers, napkin rings, lamps and vases should have some visual appeal, but not at the expense of comfort or space. Again, consider whether your table accessories reflect the image of your establishment. Will your customers expect condiments and flatware to be on the table? Will a white linen table cloth create the impression of higher menu prices? Who is going to launder and iron them?Table lamps and candles have become increasingly popular with the advent of flameless and electric lamps. A table setting can appear more cozy and intimate in the absence of overhead lighting—consider overall functionality as well as aesthetics. Also consider how often you’ll need to replace candle fuel, wax or batteries and make sure to include those costs in your budget.