Industry Update
Opinion Article15 August 2017

Top 5 Advantages of Linens from the Mouth of a Linen Guy

By Chris Gowdy, Vice President at Riegel / Mt. Vernon Mills

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In the words of Rodney Dangerfield, "I'm at the age where food has taken the place of sex in my life. In fact, I've just had a mirror put over my kitchen table."


Mirrors we say no to, but a nicely-ironed tablecloth, alongside freshly-starched and pressed napkins, evokes the memories of fine dining from days we hope have not long since gone away. While "fine" dining of old may be harder to find outside of the big cities, there are plenty of dining establishments that deliver fine experiences – think creative chef meets farm fresh ingredients meets local wines and other concoctions and it's a recipe for a grand night with family or friends.

An essential part of any fine-dining experience is the table linen. Let's assume that we all agree that a cloth napkin is a must in any sit-down restaurant. Whether it's spun polyester, a cotton/poly blend, 100% cotton or even something crazy like 100% linen, the cloth napkin is not an expensive proposition whether it's laundered on premise or at an outside facility. As one of our colleagues eloquently said: "Just add a quarter to that $50 steak so I can wipe my mouth properly!" The tablecloth, on the other hand, is a costlier investment.

Here are a few reasons why restaurateurs consider "stuffy" and "expensive" tablecloths (starting with irrefutable and indisputable facts and ending with the harder to prove, but you know it's true):

  1. Sound – Whether it's a five-seat spot or a banquet facility with more than 100 tables, all the clinking, clanking and clunking of utensils, plates and glasses are lessened by the tablecloth.
  1. Clean – Consider this scenario. The first party exits. Dishes are bussed away, old tablecloth comes off, new tablecloth goes on – Voila, clean table! Even the "show" of table changeover let's you know you're somewhere that pays attention to the details. A bar mop dipped in some unknown solution used to wipe off the table works in some places, but let's please not go there in your nice restaurant.
  2. Ambiance – The mood or character of a restaurant can be vastly improved via tablecloths. Use plain white for "fancy" environments, or table runners or other colors to accent the room or support a theme.
  3. Value – Back to that $50 steak; put it on a paper plate and see what kind of feedback you get. People are paying for the experience, not just the food. Don't be cheap. Putting down a nice tablecloth will go a long way towards creating a memorable experience, and subliminally, it is an easy way of giving guests a reason to want to return. Besides, that small cloth addition will enable you to charge a little extra too.
  4. Beauty – Let's not forget how important it is to put your best face forward on social media. Making sure your tables look their best will help your customers to sell your restaurant on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and more. With every post, the world is looking at your linen.

There you have the main reasons to use table linens, as told from a guy who sells table linens. One more thing: tablecloths do cover up any dings or dents or other imperfections that have happened to your tables since they were new. We've noticed a linen-less trend starting to come back to linens for this very reason, especially in banquet areas where staff does not necessarily break down tables with white glove service.

Chris Gowdy

Chris Gowdy is vice president at The Riegel Consumer Products Division of Mount Vernon Mills, Inc., a company making Worry-Free Textiles Since 1838.

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    About Riegel Linen

    The Riegel Consumer Products Division of Mount Vernon Mills, Inc. has been making Worry-Free Textiles Since 1838. Our rich heritage and roots in manufacturing ensure that our customers receive both great quality and value. We lead the market in innovations ranging from first to market with new products, technical breakthroughs in fiber formation and color retention and global distribution capabilities. The Riegel name serves as both our division's name as well as a widely recognized brand in hospitality, linen supply, healthcare and retail sectors. Our name is synonymous with Quality as all industries we service know Riegel products both look great and last a long time. Our products are engineered to thrive in commercial laundering environments giving customers great value. For more information visit