When it comes to dinnerware, many operators can get caught up in the visual appeal of how plates and bowls look on their table and how they complement their menu items. Now don’t get me wrong, these are key things to consider, but dinnerware replacement costs should also be in that upfront conversation as well (if it’s not already).
In this article, we'll discuss the average replacement cost to expect when buying melamine dinnerware for your restaurant, factors that can increase your replacement cost, as well as offer tips that can help extend the life of your melamine dinnerware (which will help lessen your replacement rate and cost).
Average Replacement Cost of Melamine Dinnerware
When you buy melamine dinnerware, the forecast for how much you need to keep your stock current is a very low number on average. So, while the replacement cost is unique to each individual restaurant and its operation, the average replacement cost for melamine dinnerware is around 10% -20% annually.
For example, if a restaurateur buys $500 worth of melamine dinnerware, on average, he or she is going to have a yearly replacement cost of approximately $50 - $100.
However, if the operator does not follow the proper care and maintenance procedures for melamine dinnerware, the replacement cost could be more.
Factors that Affect Replacement Cost
When trying to estimate a replacement cost, you must think about how many customers you have per day, menu items, and how many different pieces of dinnerware you want to use per menu item. In addition to these questions there are three crucial factors to consider when examining your inventory:
- Table Bussing – Busboy or Customer
- Incorrect Par Levels
- Care and Handling
Let's take a closer look at each of the factors and see if any of three might be affecting your operation.
How Your Tables are Bussed
Do you have people that clear your tables, or is the customer responsible for clearing their table? If the customer is responsible for clearing their table, what can happen in many cases is they will throw their dinnerware away in the garbage. Vigilant staff and signage near trash bins can help to minimize these types of losses.
If a busboy is clearing off the table, make sure that dishes and bowls get carefully placed in separate stacks in the bus tubs. When attempting to quickly clear and turn a table, a lot of dinnerware gets broken, chipped, and even mistakenly thrown away during this process because it gets carelessly tossed in bus tubs and trashcans. Remember, melamine is not unbreakable, just highly durable, so make sure your staff is properly educated on how to handle melamine products.
Incorrect Par Levels
If you don’t have the right par level to cover customer demand, you’re going to see quicker wear and tear on your melamine dinnerware because these items will be used more frequently and will not be able to receive proper maintenance. That’s why it’s important, as you consider purchasing dinnerware, to have at least one piece of dinnerware for service, one that will be in the dishwasher, and one in stock. However, if you’re going to use the same type of bowl for four menu items, then you’re going to need to make sure you have more bowls to cover demand.
Care and Handling
Whether you’re a national chain or small restaurant, it’s vital to have checks and balances in place for your staff to ensure your melamine dinnerware will be handled correctly at all times. You should always have an assigned staff member who is responsible for educating and monitoring other staff so the proper care and maintenance procedures are followed. If your staff adheres to the recommended care and handling, then you will get the optimal performance and service life out of your melamine dinnerware. If not, then you can always expect higher replacement costs.
Tips for Lower Melamine Dinnerware Replacement Cost
- Do not expose any melamine dinnerware to direct flame or heat in excess of 200˚F
- To avoid cracking and blistering from heat, avoid using melamine dinnerware in ovens, microwaves, plate warmers, or heat lamps
- Avoid moderate to heavy use of sharp, serrated knives, as these can cause scratches
- To avoid chipping and scratching, do not strike melamine dinnerware with or on any hard surface while attempting to remove excess food
- Presoaking will help to maintain appearance and luster and will also help you avoid any destaining procedures
- Do not use any chlorine bleach or chlorine-based sanitizing solutions
- Make sure your garbage bags are transparent or clear, so any discarded dinnerware, flatware, baskets, or trays can be salvaged by your staff
All of the factors discussed in this article can have a significant impact on your replacement cost and rate. Here at G.E.T., our melamine products are not only known for their breadth of sizes and colors, but for their versatility and durability, which provides a longer commercial service life. With proper care and handling, you too can maintain the luster and appearance of your melamine products, saving you time and money.