Guacamole. Caesar salad. Baked Alaska. Brazilian meat carving. If this were a game show, we'd be talking about the category of tableside foodservice, and though these things will never go out of fashion, today's operators are much more creative with what they bring to the guest.
We've seen high-end Spanish steakhouses provide a rolling Gin Tonica cart that comprises nearly a third of their entire alcohol sales. There are restaurants that flip the end-of-meal dessert cart concept and provide an appetizer cart instead, when diners certainly have bigger appetites. We've even heard of operators who use rolling carts for pasta service.
No matter how you approach tableside service, though, the important concept is in the approaching, in literally bringing the meal or cocktail preparation to the guest. And there are three main reasons for doing this.
CREATE A FUN EXPERIENCE.
More and more, dining is becoming an experience, not just a place to satiate and nourish. We're seeing this from fine dining all the way to fast casual as guests are judging operations not just on the food, but by the entire experience.
What can be more fun than tableside ice cream preparation with liquid nitrogen or housemade spaghetti tossed in a giant wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano? Diners love it, and for staff, it's a chance to create a memorable experience and showcase more than just jotting down orders and running plates.
"You have to be comfortable in that kind of environment because, essentially, you're on stage," says Christian Frangiadis, executive chef and owner of Spork in Pittsburgh, in a recent Restaurant Hospitality article. "You have to have the confidence to engage with the guest the entire time, be knowledgeable, and speak to what you're doing every step of the way."
One of the top demands of younger demographics is the desire for foodservice transparency. Think about the rise of fast casual restaurants where guests can not only see their ingredients but visually select them to top their burritos or pizzas. The same concept can be applied to full service restaurants, as well.
When you roll ingredients or finished dishes into the dining room, you can showcase how fresh your lettuce is or how beautiful your pastries are. Transparency is just about seeing, though, it's also about learning. As we mentioned above, during a tableside preparation, staff get the opportunity to talk with guests about those ingredients including where they're sourced and how they're prepared.
There's certainly an obvious factor to tableside service. By providing a certain level of experience, you can charge more for the dish. But this isn't the only one.
In reality, tableside service can actually save operations money. Instead of buying a restaurant-grade ice cream machine for a handful of servings per night, fresh ingredients and a canister of liquid nitrogen can be so much cheaper. If you're serving cocktails, you're creating an additional bar that rolls around the dining room or service area. And depending on what you're serving. rolling carts can also present an opportunity to cross-utilize toppings and cut down on food waste.
No matter how you look at it, tableside service can present an easy way to increase profits in bars, restaurants, and hotels. It just takes the right planning and equipment to make it happen.
The Equipment to Make It Happen:
When you think about what you need to deliver tableside service with efficiency, elegance, and class, you need several things. Rolling service carts should be:
- Well made and durable
- Maneuverable in tight spaces
- Big enough to hold what's needed for the service
- Aesthetically pleasing to match the operation's décor
- Safe for operators and for guests
Roll'n F&B Service Carts from Mogogo are both functional and fashionable in meeting these needs. Made with high-density bamboo panels, heavy duty casters, and a slick vinyl-covered handle, operators will feel like they're rolling an easy-to-handle vehicle through the dining room while guests will be enticed by the classy display heading their way with enticing food and beverages. The hard part becomes choosing a category, and making a selection.