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May 28, 2023

Never underestimate the importance of dinnerware. Of everything in your restaurant — the entrees, the artwork, and your well-trained staff — the dinnerware is the one thing that all your patrons will share. The dishes you select will accentuate your culinary creations while conveying your establishment’s brand. In addition, durable dishes that work with your kitchen can save time and money.

Needless to say, choosing the right dinnerware is an important factor in the success of your foodservice business.

Types of Dinnerware

When deciding which dinnerware to buy for your restaurant you need to consider what will be on your menu. Below are the most common dinnerware options:


Almost all restaurants use plates, and most foods are served on plates. Consider large plates for entrees, small plates for salads, and decorative plates for breads, desserts, gourmet butters, and more. Plates made from upscale materials better convey the feeling of fancier restaurants, while simpler plates are better for buffets and quick-service establishments.


Soup bowls, pasta bowls, and oversized bowls for noodles and broth are among the most popular choices in this category. Smaller bowls are ideal for fruit salad and appetizers, while larger bowls can be used with shareable sides and entrees. For something a little different, consider bowls with oval, square, and angular designs.


Restaurants that take pride in their coffee or tea shouldn’t be without a great set of saucers. Paired with matching cups or mugs, these tiny plates add a decorative flourish to your tabletop ensemble. They also prevent spills and make hot cups easier for servers to carry. While not common in most restaurants, saucers are often used in upscale cafes, coffee shops, and fine-dining establishments.


Large entrees, appetizers, and shareable sides are among the best uses for platters. They’re available with wide or narrow rims — with wide rims better for fine dining — and in shapes ranging from round to rectangular.

Dinnerware Materials

It’s not enough to know what types of dishes you need — you will also need to choose a dinnerware material. Here we’ll review the pros and cons of four popular options.

Plastic Dinnerware

Cheap, durable, and lightweight, plastic dinnerware is the most economical choice when quality isn’t a pressing issue. Most plastic dinnerware is made from opaque polycarbonate. It’s safer than glass because it does not shatter. Plastic stains easily but finding replacement dishes is a breeze. Buffets, cafeterias, and quick-service restaurants can get loads of inexpensive use from plastic dinnerware.

Glass Dinnerware

Don’t be afraid of glass just because it can shatter — glass dishes are surprisingly durable. Vitrified glass is unlikely to break even when dropped, and it’s also safe for the microwave and dishwasher. All glassware is scratch resistant and easily cleaned. Available in many colors and with room for customization, glass dinnerware is often used in hotels, family friendly restaurants, and at restaurants with outdoor seating areas.

Melamine Dinnerware

Melamine dinnerware gives incredible bang for the buck for establishments throughout the foodservice industry. Made from plastic resin and plant cellulose, melamine dishes are lightweight and extremely durable. They’re also easy to find or customize with all kinds of colors and designs. The downside of melamine dishes is they’ll blister and crack when used with microwaves, salamanders, and heat lamps. Also, they can’t be cleaned with bleach. That said, melamine’s excellent price point and service life makes it a top choice for cafes, casual restaurants, franchise chains, hotels, and more.

Porcelain Dinnerware

If you operate an upscale or fine-dining establishment, then you’ll likely want to invest in porcelain. Porcelain dinnerware — which includes heavy stoneware and fine china — is more breakable than melamine but still durable enough when buying fully vitrified lighter dishes. Most porcelain dinnerware is safe for microwaves, salamanders, heat lamps, and dishwashers, and the glazing on china dishware prevents staining from foods and sauces. Porcelain isn’t the most practical material, but nothing is better for conveying quality.

Key Takeaways

There are many factors that go into choosing dinnerware. Restauranteurs must consider their budgets, their kitchen designs, their menus, and even the ambiances of their establishments. It’s important though to take the time and make the right decision. With FSX, you can be sure of the right dinnerware set for your restaurant, all at a discounted price. Click here to explore our discounted dinnerware options.