One of the mainstays of restaurant supplies is dinnerware or flatware: all of the utensils that people need to manage a fine meal, from appetizer to dessert or coffee. They’re a major staple of food service, and making decisions about what sets to buy--from pattern to materials, which specific types to have available to which ones can multitask--is a major consideration. A good restaurant supply store will have a lot of options to choose from, but before you go shopping you should make sure you know the essentials.
To begin with, not every restaurant will need all of the flatware utensils that exist. Most restaurants can stick with a very basic set: salad forks, dinner forks, dinner knives, soup spoons, and dessert/coffee spoons. Of course, some restaurants will use the same spoons for both soup and the sweet courses, but there are reasons for the different sizes and configurations of flatware items. There are, of course, far more utensils than these: fish forks, lobster forks, seafood forks, fruit forks, ice cream, pastry, strawberry, snail, and oyster forks. Just within one category there are a lot of options to choose from, clearly! The different configurations of the tines--from the fruit fork’s three slim tines to the two tines of the snail fork and the four tines common to most other forms--generally are geared towards making it easier to manipulate the particular item in question, piercing and catching or scooping or cutting, depending on the course in question. Clearly, though, buying up every piece--even if your restaurant serves a very wide variety of dishes--is not entirely practical. Assess what the core needs of your operation are: what types of dishes you serve the most of, which of these items can be used fairly easily for multiple courses, and so on, and move from there.
Then, too, there’s the question of materials. The most commonly available varieties of flatware are sterling silver, silver-plated, and stainless steel. There are, of course, various strengths and weaknesses of each type. While you should avoid mix-and-match approaches to flatware purchases, there are some areas in which sterling silver or silver plated flatware makes a major difference. Silver adds some elegance to high-end seafood meals, and since the metal is inert, it doesn’t carry or transmit heat as readily. However, for most restaurant and even home operations, stainless steel is the way to go, for a few reasons: first, it’s much, much more reasonably priced, especially when buying in large quantities, than sterling silver or even silver-plated utensils. Secondly, the material is much tougher to scratch, and much easier to clean than silver flatware. But even among stainless steel flatware, not all products are created equal; the best standard is 18/10 stainless steel, which has the best proportion of chromium and nickel in the alloy to prevent corrosion and enhance hardness.
Finally, there are production methods to consider and know about. The three basic methods of producing flatware items are: forged, stamped, and hollow-handle. Hollow-handle is the most complicated production method, resulting in lightweight, well-balanced utensils--but they also tend to be very expensive. Stamped flatware are made using patterns that are stamped directly into sheets of metal, which are much more economical, and slightly heavier than the hollow-handle varieties. Forged flatware is done in a very old-fashioned way, pouring liquid metal into forms, making it all one, single piece--and very heavy.
With this information in mind, you can go to a restaurant supply store and start looking into the choices available to you for furnishing your table or tables. For the most economical choices, stainless steel (of an 18/10 grade) and stamped manufacture are the best; but for high-end restaurants or fancy china service, sterling silver with hollow-handle or forged production is a better way to go. By knowing what your flatware needs are, you can make informed choices about what to buy, in which volumes, and what you can leave on the shelf.
Workplace injury and illness cost restaurant owners millions of dollars annually in compensation and productivity; kitchen safety should be a top priority for all restaurants.
For hospitality workers, where hourly wages and casual employment contracts are the industry standard, a single missed day of work can not only cause undue financial stress, but can also affect the productivity of your kitchen.
Ramen and Poke, oh my! These fun fast casual food concepts are popping up all over the place and with good reason - they are delicious, colorful, and easy to execute with high price margins on the food costs. Plus, neither ramen or poke is anywhere near a 'new' food concept - both have deep cultural roots and have been enjoyed for generations in the respective areas they originated in. If you're looking for a new restaurant concept to try, consider one of these two options. Here's a little more info on both:
Ramen: originating in Japan, a classic ramen bowl involves Chinese wheat noodles, a killer broth, and a variety of savory (delicious) toppings. The ramen craze in Japan originated in 1910, with the first stand along ramen shop opening at that time. It took, granted, several decades for this classic, easy to execute, and delectable noodle dish to take off in the USA, but it's now a fast growing industry, with trendy eateries popping up in major cities on the east coast, west coast, and everywhere in between. Broth is key - essential - to a good ramen bowl - so perfect yours, and then work on a variety of ingredients which will please a variety of palates and lifestyle restrictions. Remember to cater to vegetarians with both vegetarian broth and completely separate prep space in order to increase your marketability.
Poke: from the far East to the far West, Poke Bowls hail from Hawaii. A very simple preparation involves marinating raw fish in a soy sauce marinade, and then creating a 'bowl' with various rice and vegetable toppings. This trend is newer, even, then ramen and appeals very easily to a health conscious consumer, especially if the bowl is prepared with brown rice. Different types of fish can be used, and because the fish is marinated, cheaper cuts can also be employed.
Want to try out these concepts but not sure how they will do in your neighborhood? Consider a pop up to gauge interest and also run the kitchen for a night and see how your staff does with either/or concept - or perhaps even a hybrid of both!
Food trucks are a great, economical way to get your business started on a budget. Many brick and mortar restaurants envy food trucks their low overhead, mobility, and ability to go to customers vs waiting for customers to come to them.
However, at some point, every food truck may consider expanding their operations to a brick and mortar store. Once you have a proven concept at hand, you can increase your profit margins drastically by adding chairs - and a liquor license! - to your operation. However - there are still important things to consider before taking the plunge:
Location - a food truck can easily go from place to place. Some cities, such as Austin, TX, will even allow food trucks to semi-permanently park on land - thereby rendering the operation extremely cheap from a rent perspective. A restaurant is, of course, static by nature. So location is key. Even a couple miles distance in a city can be the difference between high foot traffic and almost no foot traffic. Although a solid menu and marketing plan will certainly boost your customer base - as well as the reputation you've built through your food truck business - choosing a desirable, high traffic location will certainly help.
Finance - a new restaurant build out can easily cost a quarter of a million dollars - or more. Where is this capital coming from? Chances are, you will need a partner with deep pockets or a hefty loan in order to turn your restaurant into reality. In addition to the opening costs, it's important to consider how long you will be in operation before turning a profit. Average, six to twelve months are needed before a restaurant turns a profit (although again - see above - a good marketing plan, good location, and good reputation can drastically increase that).
Vibe - food trucks are, almost by definition, hip and cool places. Restaurants can have many different atmospheres, and it's a great time to sit down and brand your business appropriately when your're creating your restaurant plan. Are you more upscale? Chic? Minimalist? Family oriented? Traditional? All of these are great things to consider with your architect and general contractor as you make the plunge from food truck to brick and mortar.
Equipment - this is last on our list but perhaps the most important piece of all! Your restaurant will need: ovens, shelves, refrigerators, ice machines, pots and pans, knives, cutting boards, the list goes on and on. Chances are a good part of your food truck may be used in the new spot, but it may make sense to keep the food truck for mobile/catering operations and to sustain your existing business and start from scratch. No matter your choice - trust RestaurantSupply.com for the best possible deals from the best brands and shop with us first when outfitting your new restaurant.