As restaurant design specialists, Creative Director Tony Matters and his team at Faber know all too well how much every part of a diner’s experience matters. And over the years, they’ve seen tableware evolve from a practicality to an essential part of brand identity, even becoming an income stream in its own right. Here he discusses why tableware matters with Senior Designer, Anouska Tarleton...
Tony: "One thing that’s become apparent over the years is that it’s essential for restauranteurs to consider every part of the guest experience —online presence, decor, service, and of course the food itself. And while it’s obvious that the presentation of food should complement and enhance the dish, tableware is so often considered in isolation from everything else going on around it..."
Anouska: "That's true, even in chef-led businesses where the tableware is obviously very important. They create each dish, so are very in tune with how the tableware works with the food. They’ll know how the right material, shape, and colour is the difference between something staying piping hot and looking appetising —to being cold, sloppy, and off-putting...But what they might not do is consider the bigger picture. Tableware needs to harmonise with the decor and what works well for the food may clash with the table cloths for example..."
“I see tableware as the bridge between the kitchen and front of house...” Tony Matters
Tony: "It's why there has to be an overriding concept for a restaurant. It doesn’t matter what it is, but it needs to feed down to every touchpoint. It’s irrelevant whether you want to buy tableware from a local artisan or use a commercial supplier, as long as it fits the concept. All the touchpoints and elements need to flow and I see tableware as the bridge between the kitchen and front of house..."
Anouska: "I agree, it’s not just about aesthetics and durability. Sometimes tableware looks great and is very high quality, but it’s so heavy that waiting staff struggle to serve smoothly which detracts from service. And when the table size hasn’t been considered, the guests can end up having to rearrange things to allow staff room to serve food—not a great vibe! In the best restaurants service is always so discreet that diners barely realise it’s happening..."
Tony: "That’s true! It’s amazing how tableware can detract or equally add to the experience—by providing a talking point, or adding a bit of theatre for example. There’s no limit to what materials you can use and what you can engineer from a tableware point of view..."
“Diners posting pictures of their food provides a big marketing opportunity..." Anouska Tarleton
Anouska: "And it’s way more noticeable than you think. Every millennial knows what a Wetherspoons plate looks like for example, and Ave Mario’s vibrant tableware has created a strong brand identity that's taking Instagram by storm. It’s also quite notable that because San Carlo plates are branded with the restaurant name, social media users don’t even need to tag the venue in their post or ‘check in’, everyone will know where they’ve been...To be honest I think that tableware is more important than ever. Diners posting pictures of their food provides a big marketing opportunity. When you think about it, tableware is the most photographed thing in a restaurant. You only really get a tiny glimpse of a venue on social media and that will almost always include tableware. The right pieces will make your food —and therefore your restaurant —look ten times better..."
Tony: "Absolutely! And it’s even become a new revenue stream for some of our clients. They made the business decision to work with us on tableware design, something that took off during lockdown when chefs wanted to stay connected to customers. But equally, it can happen organically if diners like what they see and want it in their own homes. Take The Oyster Club, for example. They started selling their fish water decanters as they had so many enquiries from customers!"
"Design is about making your concept a reality through the perfect combination of aesthetics and functionality. The right creative partner will be experienced in working for the restaurant sector and know about its nuances. They'll take the time to understand your vision, making sure they have a bird’s eye view of the project to connect all the dots . And it's this holistic approach to design that enables your staff to focus on delivering the best possible dining experience..."
We hope reading this has got you thinking. Whatever your ideas are, don’t hesitate to contact Faber to discuss how the team can work with you to make your vision a reality...
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