There are a number of things to think about when buying silverware or flatware for a restaurant. A good set of silverware can last a restaurant for years, while a poor quality product may require replacement. There are a number of sources for restaurant silverware including restaurant suppliers and silverware manufacturers. For specialty products or engraved silverware, it is usually necessary to work directly with a manufacturer.
One of the first things to be aware of is the distinction between silverware and flatware. Technically, silverware is made from silver, even though the term “silverware” is often used generically to refer to any type of table setting, and it is actually not a very good choice for restaurant use because it requires special care to prevent tarnish and other problems. Flatware, on the other hand, can be made from a variety of metals. It is advisable to select flatware, and to specifically seek products made from high quality metals, with a metal composition which will help the flatware resist rust.
Another important consideration when picking restaurant silverware is what kind of care it needs. Flatware sees heavy use in restaurants. It needs to be able to go through an industrial dishwasher numerous times during its life, and to withstand some serious abuse. Delicate designs, products made from weak metals, and designs with lots of nooks and crannies where dirt can build up are bad choices. Many manufacturers have specific product lines they recommend for restaurant use, and these can be a good place to start.
Pattern, of course, is an issue when selecting restaurant silverware. The pattern should mesh with the décor of the dining room, along with the plates and glassware used at the table. Options such as enameled or plated flatware, along with flatware with wooden and plastic handles, should be considered with care, because enameling, plating, and jointed flatware construction can break down over time, making the flatware unsightly and necessitating replacement. Solid flatware is often a better choice for restaurant use because it tends to hold up better.
When selecting restaurant silverware, people should also confirm that they can get all of the settings they need in a matching pattern. This includes a full array of fork and spoon sizes along with knives and service flatware such as serving spoons and cake knives. While one may not want to order a full array of settings right away, the flexibility of a pattern which comes in an array of settings may be critical later.
Another thing to ask about when choosing restaurant silverware is warranty options. Some manufacturers will warranty their flatware for a set number of years, replacing it if it fails during reasonable use. This can guarantee that if problems do develop, the flatware will be replaced for free.