Thoughtful interior design, ambient lighting and a warm atmosphere all matter when it comes to creating a memorable moment for restaurant guests. And amid the ubiquitous elements, tableware stands as one of the final touches. Indeed, nothing looks less appealing than a restaurant with bare and/or empty tables, as it generates the feeling that the restaurant is closed.
It is often said that the devil is in the detail, and this is especially true when it comes to tableware setup and arrangement. Every single detail is crucial, from the elegant centerpiece to the choice of inconspicuous chopstick holder. When executed correctly, tableware components can serve to enhance food presentation. This can be witnessed in the ongoing creativity of chefs who have, on occasion, served their masterpieces on dry ice, elaborate hot plates and even raw stone.
However, beyond spectacular setups and innovation, every restaurant operator has to keep certain principles in mind when choosing their tableware. Practicality and functionality are fundamental. Operators need to maintain a business mindset, and tableware components must be manageable day to day. For example, they should be durable, resistant to scratching to some degree, space efficient, safe to place in the dishwasher and convenient for staff to serve to guests.
On a global scale as with any other subset, tableware has seen a wave of trends that have impacted a major portion of restaurants internationally.
These trends, as with most industries, see periods of change and/resurgence depending on developing tastes and innovations in the market.
Currently, there has been a significant shift toward handmade crockery, which witnessed growth during the Covid-19 pandemic, when the number of pottery studios that curated custom-made tableware experienced a boom. Fast-forward to the present and nearly every specialty coffee shop has coffee cups specially designed for their brand. In addition, larger restaurants have also jumped on the bandwagon, with bespoke plates and other items. Furthermore, this element of customization and personalization has extended to restaurants seeking branded print/artworks on their plates (logos and/or graphics). Several international restaurant brands, such as Le Petit Maison, have incorporated this aspect into their tableware.
Another emerging trend is the growing demand for sustainability, which today is considered a massive advantage in F&B business culture. Securing food preservation and maintaining adequate/sustainable channels of acquiring all aspects of the supply chain have
become crucial discussion points, driving customer demand. This has even manifested itself in the aforementioned tableware subset, where heightened concerns for the environment and hazards associated with non-bio plastic have led to a spike in green packaging formats and bio-plastic tableware options. This is a viable route for larger Asian markets, where population size and consumption rates are high.
New technological options are constantly being made available to upgrade sales channels in F&B outlets. Such advancements include everything from kitchen display screens to mobile devices for tables. This is also evidenced in the increased sophistication of mobile payment systems, which is in direct response to the growing demand for online orders and home delivery services. In recent news, TigerTMS partnered up with Fetch Group to provide a food and beverage ordering module within its leading mobile guest services solution, iPortal. Fetch is a unified guest experience platform for food and beverage businesses, providing the hospitality industry with a next-generation guest engagement solution. The platform promises to offer a complete package of solutions, including the QR code scan order and pay module that has been integrated into iPortal.
Another example of innovating the ordering/payment component factor of the customer experience was the launch of the Spades startup in 2022. Spades is a dine-in payment service for restaurants, allowing customers to pay their bill at their table without the need for app downloads, registrations or setup fees. The startup has already signed with 150 restaurants, and their QR code payment system is another innovative option that may soon enter the global context of greater trends.
On the supply side, new apps such as Eighty6 and Safqat have been developed that not only digitize, streamline and quantify the entire supply chain experience but also enable suppliers to connect with restaurants, caterers and grocery stores at the click of a button.
In conclusion, emerging trends can be summarized into three main focal points: convenience, sustainability and technology/digitization. However, it is important to note that ultimately, customers still desire an experience/ immersion when they dine out. Restaurant operators need to be mindful of this to make sure trends and products, from both the visual and operational standpoint, are incorporated into every element of their design to enhance their venues, making sure they remain on the pulse of current trends.
Glee Hospitality Solutions