Fashion is fickle—I think we can all agree on that. In the last 50 years we’ve witnessed bellbottoms, the powersuit, grunge, hipsters and lumbersexuals. In many ways, fashion trends extend beyond the clothes we wear to the places we inhabit. More restaurants are stripping their interiors to their structural bones, showcasing exposed ventilation, decades old brick walls, and pairing it with warm, rustic tables.
When you open a restaurant, you should probably spend as much (or even more) time on the design than you do on the food. Why? These details are your first impression to the diner and help set an expectation for their meal and dining experience. And even then, diners will drink something long before they have a taste of something from your kitchen.
So what do you do?
Glassware is the easiest way to affect the mood and appearance of your restaurant. Think about it—if you charge $7 for a gin and tonic, what if I told you that you could charge $11 for the same gin and tonic, but served in a more elegant way? Perhaps you serve it in a wide rocks glass to accommodate a single large ice cube, or you add a lemon or lime twist. I’ve even seen some bars add a sprinkling of lavender petals on top of an orange slice to enhance the appearance of their lavender cocktail. Perception is proportionate to value, and you may find diners are willing to pay more if they deem it worth the price.
Let’s take a few familiar industry favorites and find out new ways to reinvent them:
1. Red Tumbler
The classic, plastic red tumbler (like this one from GET Enterprises) has been seen for decades in diners and dives alike. These all-purpose cups are in it for the long haul—and by long haul, we’re guessing you’ve had them for at least 10 years already. Designed to add some color to the table, you may find the red tint also changes the appearance of most beverages to a muddled, brown color.
It doesn’t cost much more, but you’ll instantly transform your patron’s perspective by opting for something more similar to glass. This Laguna Hammered Finish Tumbler from Cambro not only hides water spots and scratches, but it’ll have the same look and feel of glass.
Thinking of spending even a little more? Try the polycarbonate Tom Collins Glass, like this one from Thunder Group. More expensive than the red tumbler, but much cheaper than glass, you’ll have the durability of plastic with the beauty and appeal of glassware.
The classic “inverted sombrero” shape of the margarita glass has been synonymous with its potent namesake since at least the 1950s. Still, the margarita glass serves just one distinct purpose—to serve margaritas; this is fine if your restaurant specializes in this popular beverage, but if a margarita is just one of many cocktails you serve, you may find shelf size at your restaurant comes at a premium. Sure some establishments have tried to make this glass perform double-duty by serving guacamole and even shrimp cocktails (we’re looking at you, 1980s), but suffice it to say this glass takes up a lot of shelf space for little return.
If margaritas aren’t your main cocktail, or if you’re hoping to give your restaurant an update, try serving the beverage in a double old-fashioned or rocks glass, like this Cabernet Rocks glass from Cardinal).
More and more casual and fine dining restaurants are updating the classic boozy beverage by giving it an elevated look that diners enjoy. Salting the rim is a snap, and you’ve just cut down on your glassware expense.
3. Traditional Wine Glass
The traditional wine glass is a tried and true favorite, typically consisting of softly-rounded edges and a tall stem meant for holding. Though some say the stem is to prevent dirty smudges from appearing on your glass (which it will), the presence of a stem is actually to ensure that you don’t inadvertently warm your wine.
Although beautiful, a slim, delicate stem makes for a precarious design in a busy, commercial setting. You may have to replace stemmed wine glasses more regularly due to their instability.
This trendy take on the classic wine glass not only minimizes the occurrence of breakage, but you’ll soon love the versatility of the stemless wine glass (like this Perfection Tumbler from Cardinal Glassware). In addition to red or white pours, you can also give both iced tea and soft drinks an elevated touch when you serve it in these glasses. Just make sure you opt for either fully tempered glass or kwarx so you have something more durable.