All kitted out

Posted on Analysis Mar 2010 - by Tandoori Magazine
All kitted out

Do staff uniforms matter? When it comes to first impressions of your restaurant, of course they do, as Adeel Nauyeck, head of Tiffinbites restaurants, tells Tandoori.

With your staff being both your sales people and very much the face of your restaurant, how they are dressed can have an enormous impact on how your business is perceived.

It goes without saying that your staff need to look smart - without being over-dressed - the need to be neat and clean, as well as be able to move about freely without feeling constrained or mired in layers of clothing. But it’s not just about how they are kitted out, but also their hygiene and level of appearance they maintain. After all, you wouldn’t want an establishment where your staff are putting in a day’s work with unshaven faces - beards should at least be trimmed - have lots of tattoos on their arms, have long and unclean finger nails, or even not had a bath or shower for days on end.

What uniforms do is to give your restaurant a certain credibility and identity. Imagine the staff being dressed in the same way as your customers, then how would one be able to tell the difference?

Depending on the type of restaurant business you are running, there are generally clear lines of division about who wears what. A manager, maitre’d or even a sommelier may be in a suit. Waiting staff may be in a casual two-piece and the kitchen staff in white.

“Staff uniforms,” says Adeel Nauyeck, managing head of Tiffinbites restaurants, which has several sites in London as well as concession stores in Birmingham and Manchester, “give clarity of personnel to the guests and provide unity and conformity to team members. One of the good things in the modernisation of the Indian restaurant sector is that the stereotypical look of the waistcoat and bow-tie is disappearing and in its place restaurant owners are bringing in more investment and creativity in their staff uniforms.”

Black uniforms seem to predominate with black deemed to help with mood and energy. It’s functional, visible in line of sight, along with being compatible for both male and females. There is no “necessity” in terms of how many pieces a uniform should constitute. Trousers and a top are the basic combinations, but thereafter one can go on to a tie or even an apron. What are crucial are the quality and the type of fabric the uniform may be made of. “Over the years, I have come across all materials,” says Nauyeck, “ranging from cotton to polyester, silk, wool and even hemp. One has to take into account the climate, but on the whole, 100% cotton works best.

Should the uniforms differ between the sexes? “Ideally,” notes Nauyeck, “yes. But from a cost and operational point of view, no. Even if the Indian restaurant doesn’t have many women working in the industry front of house, opposing uniforms of the same colour make sense. When it comes to the matter of cleanliness and how often uniforms are washed, I’m very strict on this. Freshness and motivation are key. If a team member appears not to wash their uniform, they are simply not motivated. Good personal hygiene is essential.”

Casual or formal? Nauyeck concludes: “Formal uniforms. Informal uniforms imply casual standards and policies in terms of recruitment, level of career development available and welfare of that employee. Formal implies the exact opposite.”

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