The push toward sustainability and environmental responsibility is causing restaurant owners to rethink their use of paper products. Some are going back to table linens as a means of improving their own sustainability efforts. That's good. But as long as a restaurant is looking at table linens, it might just as well consider all of the linen products necessary to make the place a success.
Alsco, a Utah-based uniform and linen provider, says that there are four essential linens that every restaurant needs. They also say that restaurants should seriously consider renting their linens rather than purchasing. Linen and uniform rental saves money and time by alleviating the need to launder in-house.
Here are the four essential linens recommended by Alsco:
1. Table Linens
Table linens are essentially your tablecloths and napkins. You do not expect to find table linens in fast food joints where speed and cheap pricing are the two main priorities. But from fast casual on up, table linens can make an enormous difference in a restaurant's performance.
Table linens are more environmentally friendly because they last longer. By contrast, paper napkins and table coverings are single use, disposable items. Moreover, they do not look as classy. The fact is that restaurant patrons think more highly of establishments that utilize cloth table coverings and napkins.
Next up are staff aprons. Everyone from the sous chef to the server needs an apron to protect against hot liquids, food spills, etc. The interesting thing is that there is no single apron that works best in every area of the restaurant. Servers need one kind of apron with plenty of pockets. Line cooks need another kind of apron. Dishwashers need an apron that covers them from the neck all the way down to the knees.
Next up are uniforms. It goes without saying that any restaurant hoping to put forth a professional presentation needs to have staff members dressed uniformly. As for the types of uniforms required, it depends on the scale of the restaurant. Companies like Alsco provide uniforms for servers, hosts and hostesses, bartenders, dishwashers and bussers, prep and line cooks, sous chefs, and head chefs.
Each kind of uniform has its own unique aspects pertaining to the job of the person who wears it. In essence, there is a uniform for every restaurant employee.
4. Kitchen Linens
What are known as kitchen linens are really nothing more than towels. A typical linen provider offers two kinds of restaurant towels: bar mops and kitchen towels. Each serves a different purpose.
The bar mop is a thick, heavy towel with high absorbency. It is used to wipe down the bar and dining room tables. Clean bar mops are often used by bartenders to quickly polish glasses and stemware prior to serving customers.
Kitchen towels are thinner and less absorbent. They serve multiple purposes in the kitchen, including everything from wiping down prep tables to protecting the chef's hands when grabbing a hot pot or pan. Kitchen towels are considered all-purpose towels in the kitchen.
In addition to these four essential linens, linen providers serving the restaurant industry usually go a couple of steps further. They typically rent wet and dry mops, floor mats, and towel dispensers. They can usually furnish washroom supplies including sanitizer pellets, hand soap dispensers, and air filtering/freshening units.
The desire for sustainability and environmental responsibility is encouraging restaurant owners to go back to cloth. That is not a bad thing. Restaurants can embrace sustainability and reduce their own costs by outsourcing their linens to a qualified vendor.