It’s often said that people eat with their eyes but, in fact, the plate a dish is served on is just as important as the food itself. In fact, the tableware you choose could make or break your business so it’s vital to give it the same consideration as you do your menu.

The right tableware can say a lot about your brand; whether you want to be known for high-end, gourmet delicacies or comforting, home-cooked food it’s important to choose crockery to match. With so many different styles, shapes, sizes, colours and patterns available, choosing the right tableware can prove difficult.

Start by considering your menu; are you serving tapas style dishes that may suit smaller bowls and plates? Or perhaps your presentation style is minimalist, in which case a larger plate or bowl may look most effective. If you want to add that extra wow factor, there are many unusual shapes of plates and bowls that can help to make a memorable impression on your diners. You may wish to go in the opposite direction and serve on slates, or wooden boards. These are all great options for your food service, but don’t forget you will still need crockery for your side dishes, dips, sauces etc – these ‘upsell’ items can make your operation some serious profits!!

If you’re serving a buffet table, rather than a sit down meal, you should also give careful consideration to the overall appearance of your menu. You’ll want to create a consistent image that reflects your brand so avoid mixing and matching different brands and styles. You may, however, choose different shapes and sizes within a range of crockery to create variation and interest.

Of course, when deciding on the size and shape of your crockery, it’s vital to consider storage. If you buy crockery that is too large or awkwardly shaped you may have difficulties storing it or fitting it in your dishwasher that could lead to unnecessary breakages. Rectangular, square and even more way out shapes do look great and can really give the ‘wow’ factor, but they do have vulnerable corners that will be susceptible to knocks and chips. Will they be worth it?

Crockery designed to last

Crockery used by caterers gets some real hammer! Not only is it served to diners several times a day, it is constantly washed, often in heavy duty dishwashers. The slightest chip will make an item unusable for the professional caterer and the costs of replacing broken crockery can quickly add up. It is of the utmost importance that you must never ever serve to your valuable customers any crockery that is chipped or cracked. If you don’t care about your crockery how can you say that you care about your food or your customers?

Of course initial outlay is a key consideration for any catering business, so you probably don’t want to break the bank buying the most expensive crockery – after all, some breakages are inevitable and the cost of replacing just a few plates could prove to be unsustainable.

There are some fantastic products on the market, designed specifically for catering use, that offer a happy balance between cost, durability and style. Look for crockery that is toughened hotelware with vitrified or super vitrified glazes and has the BS4034 mark, the British Standard that sets out hotelware crockery performance. Hotelware may be heavier and thicker than domestic crockery but is better suited to withstand the demands of a busy catering operation.

For further cost savings, you may even consider buying factory seconds. Despite the name, you can pick up premium-brand, factory-seconds without compromising on style or substance. Often they have a very slight imperfection or flaw that doesn’t meet the high standards of the manufacturer, but the cost savings could make a huge difference to your cash flow whilst maintaining a professional image. However, beware of bargain basement ‘job lots’ that you may see, it is very possible that when you want to re-stock your crockery you cannot get that particular style or pattern any more.

The crockery you use should be one of your key considerations, before your first meal is ever served. Get it right from the start and you will benefit from huge savings, whilst creating an excellent reputation from the very start.”

For more advice on choosing the perfect crockery for your restaurant, café or bar give us a call on 01709 377040.