In previous blog posts we have discussed how noise levels in restaurants affect the customer experience. We have approached the topic from many perspectives, including discussions about music and table linens. Now we have something else for you to think about: a recently released study shows that tablecloths affect guest perceptions of how food tastes.
If your restaurant has avoided linen rentals in favor of bare tables and paper napkins, this study might be an eye-opener for you. We don’t need to say your restaurant's bottom line depends entirely on how pleased guests are with the experience they have in your establishment. Improve that experience, and you will ultimately improve revenues.
Tablecloths and Better-Tasting Food
Experienced restauranteurs know from observation and intuition that ambiance influences how guests perceive quality. According to a German study that looks at environmental variables and their impact on guest perceptions, restaurant diners are likely to perceive that their food tastes better when they are seated at tables with tablecloths.
The study looked at a number of factors, including lighting and use of table linens. It found that lighting alone had minimal impact on customer perceptions. But when lighting had been combined with table linens, the study highlighted significant changes.
One study group was seated at tables covered with tablecloths and in an area with dim lighting. The other group also dined in dim lighting but without tablecloths. Participants in the tablecloth group ate 51% more soup and lingered over their meals for longer. They also reported that their food tasted better.
Interestingly enough, the study also showed that participants found their soup a bit more salty under dim lighting. Researchers suggest that such perceptions are due to the fact that the sense of taste is heightened when light levels are low.
The study data does not mention the different types of tablecloths that were used. Yet it was somehow determined that a gray-and-white checked tablecloth had the most positive impact on diner experience.
It Is All About Perception
Covering tables with tablecloths has no impact on the molecular constituents of food items. Chefs use the same ingredients and follow the same cooking procedures whether tables are bare or covered. This proves that food believed to taste better when accompanied by table linens is only perceived to taste better by guests.
This understanding brings us back to where we started: guest perception of the overall experience. Guests who leave restaurants having had positive experiences will also walk away feeling as though their food had tasted better.
Just as it is imperative to keep noise to a minimum to create the optimal customer experience, restaurateurs should consider table linen rentals. Bare tables and paper napkins tell customers you want them in and out as quickly as possible, which although it might be good for short-term profitability, ultimately ends up harming long-term success.
We fully endorse table linens for restaurants of all types and sizes. From fast casual to the most formal dining rooms, table linens truly make a noticeable difference. If you would like to know more about our table linens, or linen rentals in general, we would be more than happy to answer your questions. Let’s work together to create a linen rental program that will meet your needs and make your customers happy.