It may not sound very exciting, but the way glassware and dishes can be stacked is often a crucial part of a restaurant operation. So Libbey, makers of glass products for the foodservice industry, changed its manufacturing and design process to create a more stackable line of both glass- and dinnerware.
“In the Restaurant Basics line, it’s very important that all of the glasses are straight, so they’re not cocking one way or the other and causing problems as they stack,” says Susan Dountas, Director, Marketing Libbey Foodservice. “Also, to make sure that when one glass goes on top of another, that it won’t shift. So you have to contour this kind of glass differently than you would a normal glass interior. From the dinnerware perspective, it’s a matter of design again, so that it has that lower profile, yet is still durable and protected by our warranties.”
It’s all about helping to make a foodservice operator more efficient, says Dountas. “Our Slenda line actually has a regular profile and a low profile. The low profile allows you to stack more dishes on top of each other than a full profile does. This allows you to take up less space and put more product on top of another.”
It’s about space, Dountas adds. “That’s probably the simplest way to say it. It’s just like, at home, we’re always looking for more counter space and it’s even more valuable in a bar or a restaurant. It can save you space by being able to go vertical.”
Dountas notes that bars always need more prep space, especially now that it can take multiple items to mix for specialty drinks as opposed to just tapping a beer. “That’s another reason why it’s just so important that the glasses don’t interfere with the process, but that they’re close at hand, easily accessible, not annoyingly in the way all the time,” she says.
Another important consideration with dinner- and glassware is washability. “The washability is the same with all of our products. The low profile isn’t so low that the server has a hard time picking up the plate from its edge. Sometimes you can get so low profile, you’re struggling to get it off a tray. That’s not the case here.”
When space is at a premium, bartenders want to be able to serve multiple drinks out of one style of glass. “Our line is perfect for that,” says Dountas. “We go from a DOF all the way up to a large tumbler. But durability and stackability are key and we feel we have the edge.”
The company tries to make the stackability look like a design element. “It’s not, what is this doing in the middle of my glass? It’s more, it makes the glass look a little bit more interesting,” Dountas notes.
She adds that Libbey has nine or 10 styles of glass, including smaller-sized ones for beer because, with the new premium and craft beers, the alcohol content is high. “Our dealers have wanted to downsize a little bit to compensate for that. So those are some of the reasons that we add into our lines.”
At the upcoming National Restaurant Association show, the company will introduce a new line of stackables to complement the Restaurant Basic one with a little different design.
Dountas says the Practica line is her favorite. “We just did some new photography with the Practica bowl and the food stylist liked it so much that that’s all she’s using now. They come in four sizes, so they stack either way. If you wanted to have multiples of one size, they’ll all stack up vertically. Or, if you wanted to nest them, you could do that, too.”
Dountas describes the bowl design as sweeping up and then back down before shaping itself into a bowl. “That’s great for a server, or a customer, because you can put your thumb in there to secure it. It helps the server not end up with that thumb in the salad. You’re able to hold it and really not interfere with the food or the contents or the bowl in any way. So, it’s great for front of the house if you want to serve from it. But we’re also seeing a great back of the house application, too.”
Dountas admits there’s a lot of competition, especially in glassware, but the company has twice the assortment of its next closest competitor and what helps it to continue, as a leader is to introduce new designs into the marketplace. “We’re lucky because we are so close to our customers and have such a broad customer base. We get a lot of ideas and requests from them as well as watching trends so that we are sure that we’re on top of the glassware that we need and introducing new designs so we stay relevant,” Dountas explains.