What Your Table Linens Say about Your Restaurant

Evening sunshine filtering into the restaurant at Dona Lola holiday resort in Calahonda

Valentine’s Day 2019 marks the 28th consecutive year of the White Castle restaurant chain’s annual Valentines celebration. Fans of the promotion have, for years, enjoyed their favorite burgers and fries complete with Valentines decorations, hostess seating, and even fancy table linens.

If you’re not familiar with the White Castle chain, note that it is run as a counter service chain on the 363 days the Valentines promotion is not running. From a professional standpoint, it is quite interesting that those restaurants participating in the promotion choose to deck out their tables with formal linens.

Why formal linens for this special promotion and not the rest of the year? Because table linens create a specific kind of image White Castle wants to present in honor of Valentine’s Day. If you own or manage a restaurant, there are lessons to be learned here; lessons that should lead you to consider what your table linens say about your restaurant.

Class or the Lack Thereof

No one expects White Castle to offer table linens year-round. After all, they are a counter service restaurant offering fast food. But when you are talking about a formal sit-down experience, that is a different matter. The right table linens tell patrons that a specific restaurant is a classy establishment that cares about presentation. That is, of course, provided those linens are properly laundered and processed.

Poorly laundered and processed table linens can demonstrate a clear lack of class in the eyes of patrons, explains linen services company Alsco. That’s why they recommend professional laundering. Linen services like Alsco are the best choice for high quality table linens because that is what they specialize in.

A Positive Customer Experience

Next, table linens tell patrons what restaurant management think about the customer experience. Given that restaurants are service oriented businesses, one would expect management to be concerned about every aspect of the restaurant environment that influences customer experience, including table linens.

Table linens that look clean, professional, and well-coordinated definitely enhance the customer experience. Linens that are stained, wrinkled, and not a good fit for the establishment’s overall decor and theme do just the opposite. Even if customers do not consciously take notice of table linens, those linens still affect the experience one way or the other.

A Commitment to Quality

Perhaps most important is what table linens say about a restaurant’s commitment to quality. With no offense intended to White Castle or other fast food restaurants, patrons do not visit those kinds of establishments with the expectation of getting a five-star meal. They want a delicious hamburger and fries served quickly and for a low price.

Customer expectations at a formal table service restaurant are just the opposite. When patrons are paying $30 or more for an entrée, they expect everything from the food to the service to be of the highest possible quality. They even expect high quality table linens.

The fanciest restaurant in the world will alienate patrons by charging five-star prices while seating patrons at tables with two-star linens. That’s just the reality of the restaurant business. Unfortunately, linens are one of the first things restaurants compromise on when they’re trying to cut costs.

Do you own or manage a restaurant that utilizes table linens? If so, what do those linens say about your establishment? Remember, White Castle thinks fancy linens are important enough to include them in their annual Valentine’s Day promotion. Note they been doing that promotion for nearly 30 years and their customers love it. Think about White Castle next time you’re looking over the table settings in your dining room.

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