How to choose the perfect uniform for your restaurant?

As is no surprise to successful restaurant owners, an attractive and appealing floor begins with the staff. You expect faultless service from your waiters, bartenders, chefs, maitre d’s; this expectation, of course, covers every aspect of the hospitality they provide your guests. That includes uniforms; and somewhat unbelievably, uniforms are an oft-overlooked tack-on in too many restaurant operations. Make no mistake: you need a stylish uniform. Fortunately, it needn’t be complicated.

A uniform, as with any visual asset, begins with consistency. Whichever uniform scheme you choose for your staff, it must be consistent. Of course, waiters and maitre d’s won’t be wearing the same uniforms – nor will bartenders and chefs – but a well-designed uniform will carry a consistent design theme across all of the different types. This can be a simple visual device – all staff wear the same bow tie, for instance; or a repeating pattern – one staff member might wear a pin-striped tie, while another might wear a pin-striped pocket square. The possibilities are endless, but with consistency as your foundation, choosing a design you like and applying it as a uniform will not be a cumbersome task. We are not, after all, fashion designers, and we don’t have to be.

The next step is ensuring your uniform design aligns with your restaurant’s concept. This requires a relatively elementary process-of-elimination approach. So, if you operate an American-style diner, having your staff wear bright colourful ties may not be the most appropriate choice. Perhaps, in this instance, ties would not be appropriate at all. Two possibilities, eliminated; from there, a soupcon of research may suggest bold, top-grain leather aprons might suit waiters who serve ribs, burgers and other fried delights in a diner-style environment. Conversely, a 5-star operation needs a touch of formality – think matching ties, or matching belts. Whatever you decide, the basis of your staff uniform must be the same. That is what makes it a uniform. Augmenting it with stylish accessories comes secondary; your staff must be in identical slacks, identical shoes, and identical shirts. A uniform will fail in its mission if some staff members are permitted to wear running shoes, and others jeans, and others leggings. Too many restaurant operators think this lack of consistency inconsequential, but patrons notice.

One important question remains: should your employees be responsible for the cost of the uniforms. This depends on the nature of your operation. In most cases, staff understand that there are personal expenses often associated with working in hospitality, and that is primarily because holding an attractive (neat, tidy) visual profile is expected and in the best interests of the individual. You are by no means out of line in suggesting employees fund their own uniform staples based on the theme you’ve chosen. Uniforms expenses can be partially recouped at tax time. However, if your uniform has specific accessories or pieces, it may be a good idea to absorb the cost yourself or subsidize the cost your staff must pay.

Do your restaurant’s uniforms need an overhaul? At any step of the design process, we can help you craft a consistent and robust visual scheme using only the finest top-grain leather. Contact us today.