This post is sponsored by Libbey.
Competition for consumers’ dining dollars continues to heat up, and eateries are feeling the pressure to delight diners with a memorable experience in addition to a delicious meal. On-trend tableware can help highlight dishes and drinks, and create an experience that customers are more likely to remember — and share on social media.
“A coordinated tabletop offers countless ways to distinguish your restaurant from others in the marketplace,” said Susan Dountas, senior director of foodservice marketing for Libbey. “It sets the tone for the entire dining experience.”
A leading tableware manufacturer and distributer, Libbey has an insights-driven approach to product development and takes inspiration from trends that provide the biggest opportunities for operators when crafting its collections of beverageware, flatware, plates and more.
“Through our Professional Insights, Libbey provides information about trends along with perspective on how the right glassware and tableware can help an establishment capitalize on trends and elevate the guest experience,” Dountas said.
The National Restaurant Association’s What’s Hot Culinary Forecast lists local sourcing, global influences and fresh, vegetable-centric dishes among its top trends for 2018. Extending these themes from cuisine to tableware can create a more cohesive, distinctive dining experience.
“Add dinnerware with bold color or dramatic accents to add flair to globally-inspired cuisine. Incorporate rustic and organic-styled dinnerware and glassware to showcase and differentiate your presentation of local, fresh ingredients,” Dountas suggested.
Some of the world’s top restaurants are paying close attention to the details of decor and tableware, using carefully curated items to elevate the dining experience, Cleo Abramian wrote in Architectural Digest. “[T]hese days, it isn’t just about the food served on the plate; it’s about the plate itself — and the glasses, lighting and silverware.”
Chris Nixon, executive chef and owner of Element 112 in Sylvania, Ohio, understands the importance of creating a one-of-a-kind dining experience. “I think anybody going into a restaurant, the true fact of the matter is they can do whatever we’re doing for cheaper at home. What happens at a restaurant is you have to provide an experience to charge for,” he said. “That’s how we make money, and part of that is having unique service that they can’t, you know, easily put together at home.”
Novelty can play a part in this experiential approach to dining. In a study published earlier this year, researchers from The Ohio State University and the University of Chicago found that “consuming familiar things in new ways can disrupt adaptation and revitalize enjoyment.” A uniquely-shaped plate or a stylized cocktail glass can go a long way toward making even standard fare seem fresh.
“We serve several different courses, normally, so by mixing up plates through a meal, [guests] get to see a lot of different shapes, a lot of different variables,” Nixon said. “And that makes it more visually stimulating to go through the whole dinner. Even the best meal served on the same plate over and over again gets boring.”
A constant parade of new plates and glasses isn’t feasible for most restaurants, but a more cost-efficient strategy is to mix in new, on-trend pieces with timeless tableware.
“The white plate has, and probably always will, reign supreme in the foodservice universe — for its extreme flexibility and ability to make virtually every type of food shine,” Dountas said. “But, when used wisely, mixing in more unique colors and styles can bring new energy and create a character that set you apart. You don’t have to replace your whole inventory to shake things up.”
Visit Libbey’s website to learn more about how unique tableware can elevate the dining experience and contact a distributor.
If you enjoyed this article, sign up for Restaurant Smartbrief or ProChef Smartbrief, or check out all of SmartBrief’s food and travel newsletters as we offer more than 30 newsletters covering the food and travel industries from restaurants, food retail and food manufacturing to business travel, the airline and hotel industries and gaming.