Choosing the right dinnerware for a restaurant requires consideration of everything from color and shape to durability and ease of cleaning. Given that the plates, bowls, and mugs are some of the first things patrons will notice when they're served a meal, you shouldn't rush the decision. Take the time to consider every option, starting with high-quality melamine dishes. Before discussing melamine dishes, it's worth taking a moment to pin down exactly what restaurateurs need to consider when they buy dinnerware for restaurants. After all, there's little sense in choosing dishes without a clear understanding of what each material has to offer, and that's impossible without first defining the establishment's needs.
Of course, every restaurant is different. At fine dining establishments, appearance is everything, and the dishes must be elegant. traditional, and perfectly matched to the restaurant's menu and decor. At more casual family restaurants, dinnerware offers a fun, low-stakes opportunity to experiment with fun new colors, designs, and styles.
There are still some dinnerware traits that every restaurant owner, chef, waitperson, and even dishwasher will love. Dishes must be made from food-safe materials that are temperature-resistant to reduce the chances of accidental burns, dishwasher safe to expedite clean-up, and affordable enough that the restaurant can replace them without difficulty. Melamine meets all of those needs and more.
The Benefits of Melamine Dishware in Restaurants
With so many options for dinnerware materials, restaurant owners and purchasing managers sometimes have difficulty keeping everything straight. Melamine is one material that just about always stands out, though.
Durability and Longevity
Melamine is an incredibly durable material. Plates made from melamine are scratch-resistant and stain-resistant, and they rarely break or chip when dropped. In busy restaurants with crowded dish pits, those are must-have traits.
In addition to impressive durability, they also boast greater longevity than many alternatives. Melamine dishes can be run through commercial dishwashers countless times without anyone worrying about color fading and other damage.
Variety and Versatility
Every restaurant's needs are different when it comes to style. Melamine dishes are versatile enough to meet just about all of them, though. The material doesn't just come in many colors, patterns, and textures. Restaurateurs can also order melamine dishware that mimics the appearance of other materials.
Melamine dishes can just as easily be made to look like fine china or rustic pottery. Some restaurants even use dishware designed to look like wood. Because all of these options are made from the same durable material, the dishes can still be used in all serving areas, from formal dining rooms to patios and poolside bars.
Melamine is naturally BPA-free, which sets it apart from plastic dishware in terms of customer safety. The material also has active FDA approval for use in all kinds of dinnerware and serving utensils, which is a good indication of how little there is to worry about when it comes to safety.
Restaurant owners don't just have an obligation to ensure that their dinnerware is safe for use by guests. They must also do everything possible to provide a safe working environment for employees. Melamine isn't just difficult to break and thus less likely to cause lacerations but is also an effective insulator, which helps to protect both servers and customers from burns when plates are holding hot food.
Ease of Cleaning
Melamine plates are lightweight, which makes them easier to handle in the dish pit. Because they are covered by a lustrous glaze, these dishes are also easy to wipe down and, if necessary, clean by hand. That said, melamine is 100% dishwasher safe.
There are plenty of dinnerware materials that are non-porous and dishwasher-safe. However, those aren't the only factors that set melamine apart when it comes to ease of cleaning. These plates also dry faster, which makes them a perfect option for exceptionally busy kitchens.
Restaurants often get by on thin profit margins, especially until they become fully established. The average profit margin for modern restaurants is just 3-5%, which is much lower than in most other sectors. To get by in that kind of economic environment, restaurant owners need to keep costs low.
Purchasing melamine plates is a good way to keep costs low without sacrificing quality or style. Melamine plates aren't just more affordable than china, porcelain, and other options more typically associated with high-end establishments. Because they're so durable, they also need to be replaced less often. The combined effect is to offer a far greater value than that associated with most dinnerware materials.
The Right Melamine Dinnerware Makes All the Difference
Serious chefs, restaurateurs, and food aficionados know that presentation is almost as important as taste. Dinnerware is one of the most essential components of presentation, which means it can either make or break guests' impression of not just the specific dishes they're eating but also the restaurant itself.
Successful restaurants don't just serve delicious food. They create an atmosphere appropriate to the specific clientele being drawn in, and dinnerware helps create the desired ambiance, whether casual, trendy, quaint, or sophisticated.
Consider the difference between an upscale restaurant that uses classic white plates and complete place settings and a family diner with a more casual atmosphere and bright, fun dinnerware. Now, think of how out of place everything would look were you to reverse the dinnerware sets. This thought experiment should make it clear that the right plates can make all the difference.
Tips for Choosing the Best Melamine Dishes
Because melamine dishes come in every imaginable color, pattern, shape, and style, choosing the right ones can be a challenge. If you've been tasked with finding the perfect dishes for a new or newly remodeled restaurant, take the time to investigate options and follow these tips to find the perfect plates:
1. Set a Budget and Stick to It
Part of the reason that melamine dishes are so popular among today's restaurateurs is that they are affordable. That said, it's still wise to set a specific budget and stick with it. Just take the time to investigate pricing first to make sure the budget will be realistic. Because it's so durable, heavy-duty commercial dinnerware is worth the investment.
2. Consider Dinnerware a Marketing Tool
Every aspect of a restaurant should be specifically tailored to the needs and preferences of its intended audience. The role of dinnerware isn't just to hold food. The choice of plates is also directly related to the restaurant's style and ambiance. Dinnerware that fits a restaurant's overall culinary experience can become a powerful marketing tool.
3. Don't Overshadow the Food
There's nothing wrong with choosing fun, colorful plates for casual dining and family restaurants. In many cases, this aesthetic complements the brand. However, the dinnerware shouldn't be allowed to overshadow the food. For signature dishes, try to keep things simple.
4. Pay Attention to Trends
For restaurants, bars, and coffee shops that cater to younger crowds, keeping up with trends can make the difference between success and failure. Right now, oversized dinnerware and drinkware are trending, for example, but that might change in the future. Ensuring that the restaurant's dishes are highly shareable on social media helps to draw positive attention to the establishment and turns its customers into de facto brand ambassadors.
5. Mix and Match Judiciously
In casual family restaurants, mixing and matching colors and patterns can create a fun vibe. However, you'll need to do so judiciously. Be sure to choose colors and patterns that complement each other well, and purchase all of the dinnerware from the same company to avoid discrepancies in size that could ruin the effect. Some restaurant owners find it easier to stick with the same plates but swap out the bowls or mugs to create more variety.
6. Stick With Traditional Shapes
Most plates are round, and there are good reasons for this trend. Round plates don't have difficult-to-clean nooks and crannies, and they hold a good deal of food. Square plates are commonplace in traditional Asian and more modernist-styled restaurants, but their straight lines make these plates more likely to chip. Unless there's a compelling branding or stylistic reason to choose square or even triangular plates, it's best to stick with what's known to work.
What About Serveware?
One of the great things about melamine is that it isn't just perfect for dishes, bowls, and mugs. Because melamine is heat-resistant, it's also the perfect material for serving dishes. From serving bowls for chips or bread to appetizer trays and dessert platters, restaurateurs will find that there are plenty of opportunities for further incorporation of attractive and unique melamine pieces on every table.
Quality Dishes Create a Unique Dining Experience
Melamine dishes are growing in popularity for good reasons. They offer everything you need in restaurant dinnerware, from durability and ease of cleaning to variety and impressive versatility. Whether you're planning to open a new restaurant or want to revamp an existing one to attract new patrons, improve branding efforts, or save money on dishes in the future, melamine dinnerware is a perfect option.