What do you think the No. 1 reason glassware breaks? (Or dinnerware, for that matter).
Being dropped? No.
Clanking against another object? No, but close.
Ready for it?
Not having enough. Yep, that’s right. Too few items, or even “just enough” might seem okay, but in reality, it could hurt you in the long run. Think of it in terms of shoes. If you only have two pairs you wear all the time, they’ll wear more quickly.
Order the Proper Amount of Glassware
In general, for your glassware and dinnerware, at least two items per seat is optimal. This differs operation for operation though. If there’s an item being used often in several different ways, consider ordering about five per seat. This gives the items enough time to cool down.
Each little bit of contact on a glass adds up and eventually leads it to break. This can come from stacking cups that technically shouldn’t be stacked, clanking them together or clanking a beer glass on the tap for show.
“When glassware expands and contracts with heat and temperature changes, it suffers from blows,” explains Dave Coggins, a retired kiln technician. “So it will someday fail. It could even be from a whack really hard.”
Many times restaurant owners advise their employees not to stack (if glassware isn’t stackable), clank, etc. However, when things get hectic, employees just do whatever they can to get things done quickly.
To tell if a glass is starting to wear, there will be a white ring in the entire inside of a glass. That’s wear surface area has rubbed away, and the longer the glass is worn down that way, thermal shock will eventually occur.
“You must let glasses cool enough before using them again,” Coggins said. “When a glass is new and pristine, with no body checks (microchips), they’re designed to handle a 100°F temperature swing. But once it has checks, it won’t necessarily take that big of a swing anymore from a hot environment to cold, or vice versa. So coming out of a an 180°F environment and immediately putting in iced tea and only cooling to 140°F, you’ll get a break from a body check.”
When a glass experiences a sudden change in temperature, thermal shock can occur. Glass holds its temperature, and when a rapid change occurs suddenly, enough stress on the glass can occur and cause breakage. With thermal shock, the thicker a glass, the stronger it is against mechanical abuse/clanking. Thinner glasses are more resistant to thermal shock. “That’s one of the reasons why when the sidewalls are thinner than the base, they’ll separate from each other when introduced against thermal shock. The base is contracting,” Coggins said.
To reduce the risk of thermal shock, here are a few things to avoid:
- Do not put a glass that has held ice directly into the dishwasher without letting it settle back to room temperature first
- Similarly, when you remove a load from the dishwasher, give the glassware time to readjust before sending them directly back into service
- Avoid putting cold water or ice into a hot glass
To see if there are any chips, put the glass over anything dark. If you see anything that looks like little white specs, the glass may be susceptible to thermal shock in the future. Each small chip is a scape point and is where thermal shock will separate the glass.
Mechanical shock is another common reason for breakage. This is the direct result of contact with another object, like a spoon, beer tap, another glass, or dinnerware. This can cause minuscule abrasions, invisible to the eye, yet weakening the glass. Over time it becomes more susceptible to breakage from impact or thermal shock.
What to Watch For
Some common restaurant mishaps to try to avoid are:
Putting silverware in glasses
- Banging the feet of stemware together on overhead racks
- “Bouqueting” or lacing too many pieces of stemware between fingers
- Clanking the bowls of wine or martini glasses together
- Smacking the lip of a beer glass against the tap
Tips Moving Forward
- Order plenty of glassware. A Central product consultant can assist with ordering the right amount.
- Cool cool cool. This ties in with the rule to always order plenty of glassware. Do not use a glass immediately after it’s been through through the dishwasher. Same goes vice versa. Don’t immediately throw a glass into the dishwasher just after having served a cold beverage in it. It’s also good practice to pre-heat a glass with hot water prior to pouring hot drinks.
- A quiet kitchen is a good kitchen. The less clanking of glassware, the longer it will last.
- Avoid stacking non-stackables, “bouqueting,” or throwing in silverware in to glassware
- When stacking, it’s better to lay them all on their side instead of stacking on top. There is less force this way when laid sideways.
- Always use a plastic scoop for ice, never using the glass itself.
- Always handle gently and immediately remove abraded, cracked, or chipped glassware from service.
- Not all glass racks are the same. The right one depends on the type of glassware you’re using. Stemmed glass racks are different than tumbler racks. Shop all glass racks here.
- Avoid stacking glassware.
- Read this helpful hint guide to prolonging your glassware for more tips and tricks.