You’re with a friend at a bustling café. You’re just getting situated at your table and taking in the sights and smells as your server approaches. She’s friendly enough, but you notice she’s wearing ripped jeans and an ill-fitting blouse. “That’s a little tacky,” you think to yourself as she takes your order.
The server leaves, and your attention quickly returns to your conversation…but as the meal progresses, you can’t help but notice that all the servers are wearing different outfits. There’s no uniformity—nothing to distinguish them from the patrons.
As a business owner, you find this oversight a bit baffling (if not offensive). “This is Business 101 stuff,” you think to yourself.
Will the sub-ideal appearance of the wait staff deter you from going back to that café? Maybe not. But it might not be your first choice next time.
The message here is that impressions matter.
Stylish, functional, well-fitting uniforms are a must in any restaurant—whether it’s a small-town bistro or a nationwide sports bar franchise.
Here are five things to consider when choosing a uniform for your establishment.
Your staff is the face of your business. The uniform they wear represents your brand. Think you don’t need a brand just because you’re a small business owner with a single restaurant location? Guess again! Every business—large or small—needs a brand identity. Uniforms are a silent marketing tool, promoting your business without words or images. They also help prevent confusion by distinguishing staff from patrons.
Darker colors typically convey a more serious, upscale impression. Bold colors capture attention. White conveys sophistication and purity. If you’re curious about how color influences impressions and attitudes, here’s a good blog post on color psychology.
Uniforms don’t have to be expensive or elaborate, but they should make a statement. At a minimum, that statement should be that you take pride in your establishment.
It goes without saying that your uniforms should be tidy-looking and functional, but they should also be stylish. Unless your restaurant has a specific or unusual theme, contemporary is the way to go. This doesn’t mean you have to cast aside tradition—an ensemble of vest, slacks, and button-down shirt is timeless attire for servers, especially in more upscale establishments, while chef’s hats and coats are both functional and make a statement about who’s in charge in the kitchen.
The restaurant business is demanding. Your hardworking staff deserve uniforms that are functional and comfortable. An uncomfortable uniform is like a pair of shoes that are just a tad too small—you can’t wait to get out of it. Itchy, ill-fitting, or otherwise irritating uniforms may very well translate into poorer service from staff on the floor, poor creativity from staff in the kitchen, and reduced productivity all around. And, in any case, do you really want patrons observing your wait staff tugging at their collars and adjusting uncomfortable slacks all day?
Choose comfortable uniforms that give your staff room to move and breathe. They don’t have to cost a fortune, but quality matters, which brings us to our next point…
Quality matters. You might think you can save a bundle by ordering in bulk from an overseas wholesaler site, but don’t be surprised if those $5 aprons only last a few months before you’re back online ordering more. Investing in quality restaurant apparel upfront will save you money in the long run. In any case, shoddy tailoring and poor-quality materials don’t convey pride in your establishment. Go for the good stuff.
Safety is so important in the restaurant industry, where open flames, fiery ovens, spills, splashes, and splatters are part of the job description. Protecting chefs, cooks, and servers from these hazards is essential. Many standard apparel items protect wearers by design—think the double-breasted chef’s coats that protect a chef’s chest, neck, and arms from burns, splatters, and hot liquids. Or bib aprons, which also guard against splatters and spills. To ensure you’re getting quality apparel designed with safety in mind, order restaurant apparel from a company that offers trusted brands in the industry.
In a nutshell, quality restaurant uniforms that convey a sense of pride in your establishment and reflect your brand identity will help you take your business to the next level.