White Castle is at it again. The famous Midwest hamburger chain with hundreds of locations in 13 states is gearing up for its annual Valentine’s Day celebration. At the time this post was written, White Castle restaurants were taking reservations for their February 14 sit-down service.
The annual celebration is a tradition at White Castle. Customers who would normally stop by for a quick burger and fries will visit their local restaurants on Valentine’s Day for a sit-down dinner complete with table-side servers and bright red tablecloths.
You might think the idea of celebrating Valentine’s Day at a hamburger joint doesn’t quite do it for you. And maybe it doesn’t for a lot of others as well. But let us stop a minute and consider one of the little details White Castle remembers: the tablecloth. Why? Because restaurant tablecloths really do make a difference.
Let’s say you were a White Castle manager preparing for the upcoming festivities. Why put a bright red tablecloth on all your tables? You don’t use tablecloths on any other day. Why do you need them on Valentine’s Day? The answer is simple: they create a sense of formality.
A Valentine’s Day dinner is supposed to be a special affair. It is supposed to be classy, elegant, and somewhat formal. Red tablecloths give White Castle restaurants a bit of formality you don’t see the rest of the year. But let’s move beyond White Castle.
Dining on bare wooden tables screams ‘cheap’. The impression is no less cheap if you throw in a paper placemat. But cover the table with a linen tablecloth and you suddenly go from cheap to classy. Now your guests do not have the sense that you are trying to get them out the door. They can be more relaxed and congenial. They can actually spend time talking over a spectacular meal whipped up by your cook.
If you are a restaurant manager, don’t be discouraged if your locations don’t use tablecloths. It is surprisingly easy to get started. You can contact a company like Alsco, who specializes in linen rental services for restaurants. Tablecloths are a quick and easy way to class up your restaurant.
Cutting Down on the Noise
As long as we are talking about enjoying one another’s company over a good meal, let’s talk about the noise in a typical restaurant. If you haven’t noticed, restaurants have been getting noisier for the better part of 20 years. Diners are not happy about it.
Noise prevents them from having good conversations. It prevents them from actually enjoying their meals. If you are trying to get people out the door as quickly as possible, let the noise continue. But if you want a more welcoming environment that actually encourages your guests to spend time in your establishment, it’s time to cut the noise.
Turn down the music, then cover your tables with linen tablecloths. A tablecloth cuts down on noise by reducing the amount of deflection when cutlery makes contact with dishes. It more readily absorbs the sounds of glasses clinking together. That’s a start.
Linen tablecloths also absorb ambient noise. A restaurant that utilizes table linens is one in which you cannot readily hear the conversation going on at the table next to yours. It is a restaurant where the music doesn’t sound quite so loud and where you don’t notice bussers clearing tables.
Whether you appreciate White Castle Valentine’s Day efforts or not, their tablecloths really do make a difference. Any restaurant that offers table-side service really ought to consider using them.