How to Buy Dinnerware for Your Restaurant

Even the dishes and glassware should reflect your restaurant's style

Buying dishes for a new restaurant
Steve Buissinne via Pixabay

Commercial dishes and glassware add personality to a restaurant, reflecting its ambiance, design, and theme. Here are the things you need to consider as you choose them.

Know Your Budget

Commercial dishes, just like restaurant seating and tables, can be more expensive than those for personal use. That said, such dishware comes in a wide range of prices. Typically if you buy in bulk, you'll save money.

If you're buying new, find a commercial dinnerware or restaurant supply store. If you're buying used goods, keep an eye out for listings of sales and auctions.

Durability Is Important

Commercial dishes can be more expensive than home versions because they're designed to withstand the constant wear and tear of restaurant use. Even those made by fine china makers are thicker and stronger than their usual products.

Consider Your Design

If you're opening a 1950s-style dinner, classic white plates and coffee mugs will work well. If your restaurant concept is Mexican or Italian, you might look for plates with bold colors and designs.

In any case, your dinnerware should reflect your restaurant theme and complement the overall design of your restaurant.

Commercial dinnerware can be customized with your restaurant's name and logo if that appeals to you.

Plastic, Paper or China?

Some food businesses, like food truck owners and caterers of casual outdoor functions, rely on disposable dishes. But for most food businesses, the cost of replacing disposables continuously will far exceed the initial investment in china plates.

If you do opt for paper or plastic dinnerware, look for ones that can be recycled or composted. You can purchase disposable dinnerware made from corn that is 100% compostable. You'll need a way to compost or recycle the disposables so that they don't end up in a landfill anyway. 

Plastic plates are more durable than paper and they're reusable, but they won’t hold up like china. Environmental responsibility will also be important to many of your customers.

So, even if you are opening a simple, casual soup and sandwich shop, china is your best bet.

Restaurant Glassware

Glassware makes as much of a statement as dinner plates. You can dress up your restaurant bar with funky martini glasses, oversized wine goblets or brightly colored tumblers.

Buy from a commercial distributor so that you get tough glassware that holds up to restaurant wear.

One more tip: Your beer distributor can often give you promotional pint glasses and other restaurant glassware for free. Be sure to check your state and local liquor laws to make sure you're allowed to use them.