Casual Dining Restaurant
Typically a casual dining concept/restaurant will offer full table service (waiters and waitresses serve 100%) vs. limited table service (partially served/helped by waiter/waitress) and the length of time the customer spends in that restaurant is longer than a fast-casual (order and pick up by customer) concept. All of these options involve inside seating with moderate ranges of food options and quality and therefore, the operator will tend to lean towards a more reusable option vs. a disposable option because their guests are expecting more of an upgraded/home like presentation.
Now to the durability of the reusable options. Do I choose disposable, china, or melamine dinnerware?
China is going to give your operation that many options from a clean classic look and feel to newer trendy options, but in almost all cases will be more vulnerable to breakage and chipping. With china, you won't be limited to its full use, but it will have that heavier weight, and therefore it will be heavier for you staff to carry when serving and cleaning.
Melamine will give you the aesthetics of most china and ceramic options, but without the breakage, chipping, and weight you will encounter with these. However, you will have some limitations as to what you can do with melamine. For example, a Mexican restaurant that serves enchiladas will not be able to place that melamine plate or platter in the oven to melt the cheese, not that most operations want to risk serving a customer a hot plate, but melamine can not be used in ovens or microwaves.
Another aspect to consider when deciding between melamine vs china are your menu options. Do you have many menu options that require a heavy serrated knife such as steaks or chops? If so, a china option may be a better fit for your operation as melamine will scratch and become less eye appealing vs a traditional china plate.
If these drawbacks regarding melamine don’t concern you then a melamine option could be an ideal fit to help you maximize the durability of your dinnerware and overall costs of replenishing chipped and broken china. Alternately, with a lower overall melamine use cost, you can use the savings to change out your dinnerware more often becuase just as menu changes are important to compete, the aesthetics of your location will also draw more customers.
Fast-Casual Dining Restaurant
Fast-casual restaurants generally offer healthier and higher quality dining experiences vs fast food options, minus all the bells and whistles that come with casual dining restaurants. This makes fast-casual restaurants the "happy medium" between fast food restaurants, or QSR, and casual restaurants. Fast-casual restaurants usually require its customers to order as they enter the establishment before choosing where to sit. Once your order is ready a server may bring your food to the table or call your name.
The question now is what type of dinnerware will you use to serve fast-casual guests – disposables, china, or melamine?
One key factor to consider is if you will have an electric dishwasher or actual labor designated to wash the dishes. If you prefer not to have one of these two options, or your budget does not allow for this, then it may be best to go with a disposable option. With disposable dinnerware, you will not have to worry about the overall durability of your tableware as these items will be thrown away after every use. However, you will be constantly reordering replacements and you will need a more frequent trash pick-up and storage areas for your disposables. Additionally, a disposable dinnerware may give a certain impression of regarding your overall food quality and therefore my limit how much you can charge for your food regardless of your intentions.
With china, you will be able to give your guests that classic look and feel I mentioned above in this article. One aspect to consider with china dinnerware is how you intend to clear your tables. If you wish to have your guests return their items to a designated area you may experience some breakage due to the careless or accidental handling of the product. One way to minimize this from happening is to have your staff bus the tables. If that is not an option, we would not recommend china dinnerware as you will spend a lot of money on replacements.
Melamine is another option to consider as its lightweight, durable, and more prone to taking a heavy use. If you decide to go with melamine dinnerware you can still uphold that presentation aspect that your brand offers due to the many ranges in quality, design, and shape, along with giving your operation an item that is operationally friendly. Again, things to consider with melamine are menu options as melamine dinnerware does have limitations that may and may not work for you.
In conclusion, the decision as to what type of dinnerware is more durable for your operation will ultimately depend on how you will utilize your dinnerware, your budget, and the impression you want to make your customers' experience. How your restaurant is logistically setup to operate and your menu options will be two key deciding factors for you to consider. You may even decide that a combination between the three will work best.
Leave a comment at the bottom of this page and share what you believe is the most durable dinnerware in your operation. What do you like or dislike about it?