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Serving Items Buying Guide

serving-traysWhen considering and purchasing serveware—like bowls, platters, and coffee urns—for your restaurant, hotel, or any other foodservice establishment, what service items will you need? What types of dishes should you be using to for single-serve portions? What about for larger parties and banquets that are either buffet style or sit-down?

Planning for and purchasing all the serveware your restaurant needs at once can easily become overwhelming if you don’t know where to start, so we’ve taken out all the guesswork for you. Below, you’ll find a description of common serving items, what they’re used for, what to consider when choosing the right pieces for your business, and what brands we recommend, ensuring your guests are getting the best service possible.

Beverage decanters and carafes: Decanters and carafes are decorative glass bottles used to supply your guests with a readily available second pour of wine, juice, and water, or for presentation purposes while allowing older wines to separate from sediment. Stylish and beautiful, like those made by Libbey or Steelite International, decanters and carafes also help aerate or oxidize wine and are often made of glass, stainless steel, or polycarbonate.

Butter servers and warmers: Bring chilled butter to your guests in simple porcelain, stainless steel, or even melamine dishes that are small enough to fit the right amount for a single serving or slightly more. Some single-serving butter dishes come with lids, too, which can be ideal if your restaurant has outdoor seating. If the butter needs to be warmed and melted, like for dipping lobster or drizzling over gourmet popcorn, look for stacked butter dishes that hold tealights or other small candles (usually with a metal frame that holds a ramekin over the flame). Shop for warmer made with sturdier materials that can take constant heat, like ceramic, stainless steel, or cast iron, and be sure to source from reputable brands. Vollrath, American Metalcraft, and Winco all make excellent ones.

Salad and serving bowls: When it comes to serving salad, pasta, chips, bread, or any other foods that require serving bowls, consider your restaurant’s serving style, décor, and menu offerings. For example, if your foodservice business hosts a lot of banquets and large crowds, roll-top serving bowls are ideal as they keep food protected and at safe temperatures, which can be important if they’ll be sitting out for longer services. Small bowls, ramekins, or crocks are perfect for restaurants that serve lots of appetizers or tapas, offering smaller, more personal portions. Large bowls that help your guests easily access and share food might be best for those that offer a family-style menu.

Coffee and tea service: Coffee and tea serveware generally includes some type of pitcher for the coffee/tea and smaller dishes for creamer, milk, sugar, and any other items your guests will be adding to their hot beverages, like honey and lemon. For banquets and parties, you may want to invest in a large coffee brewer or urn guests can self-serve along with lidded cream containers and insulated carafes to keep your beverage hot and the condiments cold. If your guests are getting their own drinks, a coffee- and tea-making station should suffice. If they’re being served, you’ll likely want to consider purchasing some insulated carafes your servers can use to fill or top off cups. Vollrath makes some of the best coffee and tea serving products like stainless steel creamers, urns and decanters, including their signature Tilt & Pour® SwirlServe® beverage servers that keep beverages hot or cold for hours.

Dessert dishes: Other than small chargers and plates for cakes and other delicious baked goods, look into sundae bowls and tulip-shaped glassware for ice cream and mousse. A popular dessert dish, too, are mason jars. You can find mini ones for smaller, reduced calorie servings, but standard-sized mason jars work as well. Also, small round- or square-shaped bowls, like those from Libbey, in glass or ceramic are considered classic, go-to dessert dishes if your restaurant would prefer to go with something a little more versatile versus specialized.

Condiment servers: Many restaurants store condiments, like oil and vinegar, salt and pepper, and ketchup right on the table. Others have their servers bring them to the tables on an as-needed basis. Condiment serveware can be food-specific, like honey jars, salt and pepper shakers, or cruets, while others can be more versatile, like glass jars, ramekins, and sauce cups. Whether you’re going to leave any condiments on or bring them to the table, make sure you find serveware that is easy for guests to use and servers to transport from the kitchen to the dining room.

Serving platters: Restaurant serving platters come in a wide range of sizes, materials, and styles. Does your restaurant serve family-style meals like large, sharable portions of chicken or pasta? Having a large rectangular platter might do the trick, since it might fit easier along the center of the table while being accessible by different seats. For a bit more flare, sizzling skillets can be used to serve hot-off-the-stovetop dishes, like fajitas and some desserts, while platters made of wood, like those expertly made by Tablecraft, are ideal for serving breads, charcuterie spreads, and even sandwiches.

Miscellaneous: If your restaurant serves some specialty items, like chips and salsa, French onion soup, potatoes au gratin, or rarebit, you might want to look into how these are traditionally served and decide whether you’d like to source the food-specific serving items (like small bakeware dishes for au gratin and rarebit or ceramic crocks for French onion soup) or use more versatile serving dishes, like your general serving plates and bowls.

How BHS Foodservice Solutions can help

BHS Foodservice Solutions has a large selection of well-crafted serveware in stock and ready to ship. Make serving your guests easy and enjoyable with BHS Foodservice Solutions’ variety of platters, pitchers, cruets, carafes, crocks, warmers, dessert dishes, and more. With a large selection of both casual and elegant serveware in stock and ready to ship, find everything your restaurant needs to elevate its front-of-house services and delight your guests with delicious food served beautifully.

If you have any questions, contact us, and one of our knowledgeable customer service representatives will help you find the supplies your restaurant needs to provide superior services for your guests.