When the food arrives at your dinner table, the first thing you pick up is the flatware. Almost immediately, diners make a judgement about your establishment simply by the shine and weight of the fork and knife. Choosing the right flatware to present to your customers is just as important as choosing the items for your menu.
Almost everyone in the foodservice industry uses stainless steel flatware. Food grade stainless steel is extremely strong, durable and corrosion resistant. But even then, there are different grades of stainless steel flatware and understanding their differences will help you make an informed purchase for your restaurant.
Food grade stainless steel is made primarily of chromium and nickel. Different amounts of either element will affect the quality of the flatware. For example, chromium will make the steel softer, but has an excellent resistance to rust and tarnish. A higher percentage of nickel makes the steel stronger while also adding luster and shine.
Many restaurants will choose flatware with designs and etchings. While they may look beautiful, another purpose is to hide wear and tear from heavy use and frequent washings. Most flatware is dishwasher safe. Remember to dry it immediately after washing to keep it shiny and spotless. Avoid contact with bleach, however as bleach may cause the steel to corrode or stain.
When shopping for your restaurant’s flatware, you will encounter a label stating the ratio of chromium to nickel. It’s important to understand what they mean in order to make the right choices.
18/10 indicates 18% chrome to 10% nickel ratio. This grade of stainless steel flatware is the highest quality and the most expensive on the market. They are considerably heavy and you will often find them in upscale restaurants and hotels.
18/8 indicates a 18% chrome to 8% nickel ratio. This is the most common grade of flatware found in restaurants. It’s quite durable and resistant to rust and corrosion. Many fast casual outlets, catering companies and cafeterias use this grade of stainless steel flatware.
18/0 indicates 18% chrome to 0% nickel ratio. This is the most affordable of the three options but is the least resistant to corrosion. Be aware also, that since this grade is metallic, the flatware might get caught in the magnets of conveyor dishwashers. None-the-less, this is still a good choice for businesses on a budget, perhaps opting to upgrade later on.
You might also consider whether to purchase flatware that is forged or stamped. Forged refers to large pieces of stainless steel which are heated and formed into flatware shapes. Stamped flatware is cut from a piece of stainless steel. Because of the heating process, forged flatware is much stronger than stamped. Contact Restaurant Design Concepts for a free onsite consultation.