Time to innovate
Long gone are the days when a trusty knife and fork were all it took to complete the tabletop setup in your F&B outlet. Now, customers expect more from their restaurants — and rightly so.
With prices for dining out across the region ranging from the perfectly reasonable to the downright scandalous, customers want to get their money’s worth; and aesthetics have become a big part of the F&B package.
“Innovation and creativity is the name of the game in today’s hospitality industry,” agrees RAK Porcelain general manager Renu Oommen.
“Restaurants are going all out to make the experience of dining a delight. The regular round and square shapes are now passé and today’s chefs are intent on presenting their culinary delights in unique and creative styles on unusual and contemporary shapes of tableware,” he adds.
Churchill China export marketing communications manager, Lisa Reffell, says: “The most important issues in tableware are functionality and aesthetics. Customers want products that look as good as they perform.
Churchill offers a range of buffet items in beautiful, practical shapes, and products like white ceramic combined with black items adds a different element to tables.”
Creating a distinctive setting to dine in has also become an important focus for food and beverage outlets, agrees Bahraja Trading chairman Paresh Shah.
“Going to the restaurant to discover an elaborate setting and fine food has become something customers really appreciate. Restaurants are looking to provide a very personal touch and theme, with custom design and colour codes,” he explains.
Zieher executive director, marketing and design, Oliver Zieher says that the move away from tableware ‘rules’ has allowed restaurants to be more innovative with their products.
“The principle ‘form follows function’ isn’t that important anymore,” Zieher explains.
“Former essential requirements for porcelain, such as stackable cups or plates with strengthened edges, are less important nowadays. This opens up the possibility of combining different designs and materials.
Today completely different shapes are combined together, as well as the use of different materials —glass, porcelain, natural stones, wood and stainless steel are all used more often,” he adds.
Using different materials, shapes and designs in tableware allows restaurants to put their own stamp on their set-up.
G.E.T Enterprises CEO Eve Hou explains: “Simple, small items are becoming more popular because of the cost and portion size — restaurants are going for smaller portions and charging less in order to attract customers and continue the trend of dining out.”
Top table tips
• Consider the theme of your restaurant when choosing tableware — a Mexican restaurant, for example, is well placed to make use of bright colours and patterns, whereas a French restaurant may want to stick to clean white crockery with interesting patterns to give a more modern edge.
• How practical is your tableware? Imaginatively shaped glasses may look fantastic, but how easy are they to store?
• Be wary of following fashion trends — it is likely they will look dated very quickly. Choose classic styles with a twist if you want to do something different.
• Use flowers on the table for added oomph — either in a traditional vase or on top of napkins for a rustic feel.