When restaurateurs are shopping for their operation, they can often get lost looking at the big picture. This is, of course, to be expected, but it doesn’t mean that small details can be left unchecked. Bearing this in mind, we have compiled a list of some essential items that may fall through the cracks when business owners are caught up looking at the bigger picture. Granted, these are not all of the smallwares that can be easily forgotten when shopping, but they are definitely some of the most important ones.
Back of the House Smallwares
There is a tremendous need for smallwares in the commercial BOH environment. Both prep cooks and line cooks require a wide range of various tools and accessories to do their jobs properly, and to keep themselves and customers safe. Here are a few commonly overlooked items in the BOH (please note, these are only a few).
- Mixing Bowls – Every kitchen has a tremendous need for an adequate number of mixing bowls. Mixing bowls are used for a variety of different purposes in both prep and line cooking, and often times businesses under stock on them. Be sure your kitchen has not only an adequate number, but a range of different sizes to suit the needs of your cooks.
- Cutting Boards – Cutting boards are needed to facilitate all forms of cutting, slicing, and chopping that cooks do, and every commercial kitchen needs to be properly stocked. Cooks can’t share cutting boards when they are being used, and it is better to have more than enough than too few. Additionally, many local ordinances are starting to mandate that restaurants color coat their cutting boards. Though many operations do this already, it is a wise idea to color coat your business’s cutting boards to decrease the risk cross-contamination or an allergen reaction.
- Knives If you think any kitchen can get through the day without a variety of knives, we'd like to meet you! In reality, knives are one of the most commonly picked up items in the BOH and having a sturdy variety available is a priority for any commercial kitchen.
- Pot Holders / Cut Resistant Gloves – The safety of employees is of utmost importance, lest business owners be liable for injuries that occur in the BOH. To ensure that your employees are operating as safe as possible, specific smallwares should be on hand to prevent injury. Pot holders, high heat gloves, and cut resistant gloves are some items that are not only an easy way to minimize hand injuries in your kitchen, but are also starting to become mandated by many county health departments.
- Can Opener - An essential part of any food operation. Forgetting to include a can opener, manual or automatic, can hold up you kitchen on opening day.
- Thermometers – Thermometers and heat probes are essential in many varying facets of commercial foodservice. For more information on the varieties needed in your specific operation, refer to your local health department and our Buyer’s Guide What Goes Up Should Stay Up.
Front of the House Smallwares
Though there aren’t as many smallwares needed in FOH dining (or bar) operations as there are in the BOH, there are still items that are frequently forgotten about. Here are a few of the most important items that should not fly under the radar of business owners.
- Ice Buckets & Scoops – The transport of ice from the BOH to the FOH is often necessary (especially for restaurants with bars), and ice buckets and scoops should be on hand to move it in a sanitary way. Many localities have started to mandate ice scoops with hand guards and buckets that hand upside down as a way to ensure sanitary ice handling, and many manufacturers have begun making these standard items.
- Salt & Pepper Shakers – Salt and pepper shakers, along with shakers for things like garlic, sugar, or cheese, have their place on every table setting. Though all restaurateurs want to think their food is perfectly seasoned, businesses would be remiss if they didn’t offer patrons seasonings at the table.
- Bus Boxes – Bus boxes are a must for dine-in restaurants. During rush periods, it is essential to flip tables as efficiently as possible. Bus boxes allow servers / bussers to gather and carry far more dirty dishes than is possible by hand, and for higher volume businesses, it may even be a worthwhile investment to purchase a bus cart. A FOH bus cart allows several bus boxes to be cleared at one time, and is perfect for banquet halls or high volume establishments.
- Tray Stands – Most restaurateurs remember to purchase server trays, but when a server brings a full tray of heavy plates to a table they need a place to rest it. Tray stands (or “tray jacks”) are must for dining rooms that accommodate larger parties, and are especially important in banquet facilities.
- High Chairs / Child Booster Seats – According to the National Restaurant Association, family-friendliness is an important factor to 7 of 10 Americans when choosing where to eat. When shopping for FOH accessories, be sure your business is stocked up with varying sizes of high chairs and booster seats to accommodate the wide range of children that may be dining in your establishment.