A Glimpse at Issues Impacting Tabletop Design in 2019

Tabletop design from H. Weiss Company

With the turning of the calendar to a New Year comes a number of interesting tabletop design challenges for the Metro New York foodservice operator. Usually at the top of the list are the basics: colors, textures and size. This year, legislation in New York City has complicated the issue. 

Our BHS/H. Weiss tabletop design team is getting ready by what we do best, watching what our manufacturers and the rep community are previewing and then listening to what our customers have planned for their menus as we start a New Year. 

We have always made it a habit to look at what top chefs and their culinary teams are planning for their new menus. This year, we are already seeing a move towards healthier fare. This includes a twist – simple curry (either without cream or as a rub) grain bowls. 

Last year was a year for color. This year our clients are asking for a return to white plates and small coupe bowls. The 7-9” low coupe bowls from Rosenthal or Steelite are at the top of our list. They also help from the P&L side with locked in portion control.

Many of our clients are also moving towards the addition of “Build-It-Yourself” entrees. So the customer picks a basic salad and then adds protein or fish prepared as they like. 

PlateScrape January 2019 728×90

We are also seeing lots of soups led by Po. They enable the customer to choose a broth and toppings. We are suggesting that our BHS/H. Weiss customers present them in big bowls with lots of vegetables for color. 

2019 will also be marked by lots of copper, brass, and black metals for flatware. They team perfectly with the return of bowls- and mix nicely with white. We are also suggesting that since many of our customers moved to color last year, that they creatively mix some of those pieces  as the pendulum swings back to white.  

This year will also be marked by a change in the texture landscape. Look for pressed glass plates and glasses. There’s also a big move towards serving on wood and galvanized American “garbage cans” for fries with FOH trays. Much of the white china service that we are talking about features matte finishes. 

On the cocktail side, look for lavender garnished drinks as well as  smoked drinks. We are also suggesting that our BHS/H. Weiss customers look to reuse the old coupe champagnes. 

As we work with our customers, we are always on the lookout for additional revenue streams. We see a great opportunity for restaurants and foodservice operators to market and sell both their home made bitters and hot sauces. Great branding and a way to keep your table in front of that customer you are depending on for return visits.  

While on the topic of additional revenues, at the top of that list is the on-going increase in take-out and delivery. From Seamless to Uber Eats, restaurants and foodservice operators at all price points are embracing the potential of technology to drive delivery/take-out revenues. 

What makes this really interesting this year is the implementation of the ban on styrofoam containers and plastic straws that went into effect this month in NYC. How do you maximize those take-out and delivery revenues is you are faced with increased packaging costs? 

We are suggesting a couple of creative alternatives for our BHS/H. Weiss customers. They include more hamburgers wrapped in paper like old fashion hamburgers. We are working with our customers to create imprinted paper and logo’s stickers. We are still looking for the right paper straw and have never been a fan of difficult to clean metal-straws. 

While we are on the subject of green… Many of our customers are also Ecolab customers. We are noticing that Ecolab continues its push towards green. Why do we care because there’s clearly less residue left on tableware to effect taste. 

Remember, the BHS/H. Weiss team is here to help you build a winning tabletop and packaging  strategy for the New Year. One that will balance the right look in the restaurant and then extend to a profitable technology platform of takeout and delivery. 

Liz Weiss
Liz Weiss is the President and co-owner of Armonk, NY based H. Weiss Co., a division of BHS Foodservice Solutions. She is known nationally as one of the nation’s foremost authorities on tabletop design. The Michigan State graduate is also actively involved with WPO-Women’s Presidents Organization. Comments may be sent to eweiss@hweiss.net