How Many Smallwares Should You Purchase?

Have you ever gone to a restaurant which ran out of cutlery or glassware? Sounds impossible? Not at all, but if you purchase the right amount of smallwares in the beginning you can avoid this disaster.

What is the right amount?

Different successful restaurants may each have their own formula which they believe works best for them. There has yet to be a proven rule of thumb method. Most reputable restaurant suppliers are honest and can offer recommendations. Tim Johnson, Director of Purchasing and Beverage for restaurant chain, Champps Entertaintment Inc, has suggested the following methods that work:

  • Cutlery

You should purchase two and half times as many place settings as number of seats. Cutlery is easily thrown away, damaged and stolen. Therefore, a restaurant requires a lot more on hand.

  • Glassware

Glassware includes all glasses used in the dining room and bar except for any less frequently used barware such as shot glasses and brandy snifters. If you serve water to each person then you should purchase one and a half times the number of seats. In any restaurant, 16oz glasses are used most often. Purchase extra to avoid reordering something that may be out of stock. If you plan to use the same type of glass for water, pop and beer, then you should order three times the number of seats. Glassware can easily be broken from waiters dropping them or customers knocking them over accidentally. Dishwashing chemicals that are needed to sanitize the glassware properly can often cloud the glasses and also chip them.

  • China

You should purchase two times as many place settings as number of seats. Keep in mind if you have specialty china that requires significant wait times. If you know a certain piece of china will take three months to arrive, then you should purchase more of that particular item. Work with your supplier to see what type of china is frequently in stock. You may want to consider going with something that can be easily replaced.

  • Barware

You should purchase one and half times the number of seats for the more commonly used glassware such wine and beer glasses. This rule of thumb does not apply to shot glasses, rock glasses or brandy snifters. These types of glasses should be based on the number of sales you believe you will achieve. Rock glasses will probably be used more than shot glasses and brandy snifters. However, this will all depend on the type of restaurant you have and how much of your sales comes from the bar. Because speed is everything for a bartender, breakage is higher therefore you may want to increase the quantity of your order.

Applying the formulas

To summarize what has been mentioned, here is an example: “TRB Steakhouse” is a 200 seat restaurant with 165 dining room seats, 20 bar seats and 15 patio seats. Therefore, before opening, “TRB Steakhouse” should have 500 sets of cutlery, 300 glasses on hand and 400 sets of china.

Note: Total glassware does not include barware such as shot glasses, rock glasses and other specialty barware.

Purchase in bulk

Purchasing the right amount of smallwares not only prevents you from running out, but it also can save you lots of money. By purchasing in bulk, suppliers can offer volume discounts that will save you significant money compared to buying as you go. So when you are starting your own restaurant, purchase right. Don’t try to be cheap. Avoid embarrassment and customer complaints now.

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