May 2007 Edition
Dress For Success This Summer

Dress for Success This Summer

By Michelle Ponto


With the summer months approaching, menus aren't the only thing changing with the season.  More and more restaurants are switching

their serving apparel to reflect the sunny weather, especially those that have outdoor dining opportunities such as patios, front sidewalks and roof-top terraces.


Switching up your staff's uniform does more than bring in summer clients.  The right serving apparel for your restaurant staff can create a statement, increase your branding, and provide a sense of pride with your servers.  


But what most restaurants want when it comes to serving apparel is a clean, dignified unique look that represents the image of their organization.  Regardless

of whether your restaurant is part of a resort, casino, cafeteria, hotel and any other facility that serves food, the secret to having your serving apparel work for you is coming up with a look that compliments your branding while maintaining the restaurant's image.


Developing a Concept That Works

If developing a concept for your uniforms seems intimidating, chances are you won't have to come up with the entire design answer yourself.  Many uniform and apparel companies have designers on staff who will work with you to gain an understanding about what you want to communicate to your customers.  They will then develop various solutions to reflect what you want to accomplish.


Sometimes the solution is simple such as following the restaurant's theme, but other times it takes some creative thinking.  The good news is that there are hundreds of solutions out there and serving apparel can vary from corporate colours, to certain clothing styles such as bistro aprons, to ethnic apparel such as Asian style tops.  With summer on its way, T-shirts and short sleeve shirts are popular choices.  And if your food establishment has a patio or outdoor area, baseball caps could also communicate to possible patrons that your restaurant is the place to be for summer eating. 


For more upper-end restaurants, rather than casual T-shirts, subtle prints such as fauna or tone-on-tone designs could be a viable solution.  Another popular choice that is available from Blackwood Career Apparel & Essentials in Vancouver is stretch fabrics.  Combining moisture management technology and Lycra, these comfortable stretch garments range in style from form-fitting short sleeve shirts, to dresses and skirts.


With the changing season, it means the beginning of outside dining patios.  If it's an informal restaurant, one recommendation is a polo shirt with your logo embroidered on it and a waist apron with a logo.  It's clean and simple, yet promotes your establishment's branding. Polo shirts or unisex server shirts and aprons are also relatively inexpensive and are available in a wide assortment of colours. 


A variation of this uniform is pairing a traditional dress shirt or T-shirt with a knee length apron.  These are popular with bistro style establishments and coffee shops.  Again the aprons and shirts can vary in colour to represent the restaurant's colour theme.


Branding Your Employees


Serving apparel can be as simple as a white shirt, tie and apron, but it doesn't say much about your company, nor does it create a brand.  Instead, one thing you need

to remember is that the most important person is the server.  They are your frontline and the first thing your customer sees.


Research shows that when it comes to selecting serving apparel, choosing a nice stylized uniform increases pride and moral.  Employees feel proud wearing a garment that is associated with a particular restaurant.  This helps from a human resources point of view as you not only attract quality employees, but the employees you have won't be tempted to leave.


But what your servers are wearing is only the beginning.  Many restaurants with successful branding have found that their name has extended to take-home promotional items.  Some have developed gift shops where they sell logo items such a caps, T-shirts, bags and other popular items.


While the choices are limitless, the good news is once you make up your mind, getting your actual uniforms and promotional add-ons is quick. In fact, Blackwood Career Apparel & Essentials has a 10-day turnaround time from the time of order.  They also offer features such as Teflon coating to help reduce staining to keep your staff looking clean and professional.


With the right serving apparel, your staff will be ready to beat the hot summer heat regardless of whether they are serving on patios, golf courses, wedding receptions

or in-door venues.