In casual or fine dining, be it a Michelin starred restaurant, gastropub, pizza place, takeaway, tapas bar, hotel or pub, image is everything. Following 2020 and the first quarter of 2021, presentation and appearance is going to be even more important both to the customer but also the staff who have suffered under furlough or even redundancy and now need to feel part of a team. This is where hospitality workwear places a key role.
Nowhere more so than the hospitality industry are the staff so front and centre. Whether its the theatrics of service, the ballet under the brightly lit open visible kitchen, the magic tricks of the barista or the sleight of hand of the mixologist, as the teams perform their roles all eyes are upon them, and just like actors in a theatre the cast need a costume for this twice daily performance. This is where hospitality workwear plays its role.
Much like the staid serving staff in a French brasserie, modelling their starched white shirts and black aprons, uniforms synonymous with an episode of “Allo Allo”, you would know exactly who and what you were interacting with.
In the more twenty- first century hospitality environment especially here in the UK, workwear trends come and go, but identity and comfort is always a key feature. The artisan look has emerged, targeted at the new millennials and the hipster market, alongside the sports bar look and the more traditional polo and sweat shirts.
Now in mid 2021 after a disastrous fifteen months for the hospitality industry innovation is key and image and perception will be vital to how the product is perceived as the industry re-emerges.
Buying hospitality workwear whether for front of house, waiting staff or the kitchen can be a minefield. In many hospitality locations staff turnover is seasonal and difficult to manage, but getting the look, the image and the identity right is paramount.
As the UK hospitality industry emerges from under the cloak of the pandemic and lock-down now is the time to consider your requirements for staff clothing and then subject to government decision making, operating in near normality and full opening.
The industry in 2019 was worth a small fortune and was the UK’s third largest employment sector both directly and indirectly, employing nearly 3.5 million people. Those staff and support workers need an identity, they need a uniform.
Across the broad range of hospitality and catering hospitality workwear, the two basic principles are functionality and appearance.
Let us start in the kitchens.
Hygiene and safety are key factors as well as image when looking to provide a uniform to your catering staff. Aprons, chef’s jackets and trousers, hats and protective clothing will all be used in kitchens. The problem is that it starts to get even more complex when you look at the options and colourways available.
Let’s move to service
In the majority of fine dining restaurants, front of house staff have a different look to the serving team which offers the customer a clear distinction. This can be done using colour or different types of uniform or just the addition of an apron, of which there are numerous examples in a multitude of colours.
In the last couple of years there has been fresh food frenzy and its what I term ethical dining. Knowing what we are eating and where our food comes from has led to the “artisan” look offering a vintage chic image to restaurants, cafes, bars, bakeries and even outside catering. These products have been ethically sourced and come in multiple colours, styles and patterns and add to the aesthetic of the business.
Outside dining has been forced on the hospitality industry so extremes of weather have to be considered for service, unlike in the kitchen where like saucepans they are always boiling. Polos now come in different ranges to allow wicking when working in the heat of the sun or restaurant to allow perspiration to be absorbed by the material. Body warmers are necessary for dining outside on cooler days and evenings and fleeces are vital for cold autumnal/winter days.
Whatever your business needs uniforms have to be stylish, practical, professional and comfortable. For a more personal touch embroidery or printing can be added to every team members’ uniform to create a co-ordinated look and experience that impacts on the clientèle. A badge or embroidered chest piece with the name and company logo not only improves trust, helps develop a team spirit, but also removes the anonymity that can result in guests being unwilling to interact. You don’t want to be like the first restaurant on the moon…..great food…..but no atmosphere!!
Personalised, smart, functional hospitality workwear is a valuable tool which should be used to drive your business forward. Colours, logos and imagery all work well together to remind people what your business is about. If you create a strong identity and company ethos, your staff and your customers will respect what you do and embrace it.
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