Anew chef, a new look and an over-the-top review
helped launch Eleven Madison Park into New York’s epicenter of fine dining.
But despite all the changes and the influx of new diners waiting to get a reservation,
Eleven Madison Park is not resting on its laurels. Recently, the restaurant’s
management decided to take it a step further and enhance their dining experience
by upgrading their napkins to the finest in Egyptian cotton.
At The Modern, the Danny Meyer restaurant at the Museum of Modern Art, they
have designed their own dessert napkins - a move that helps to set the restaurant’s
unique tone and separate it from the crowd.
And at The Mandarin Oriental, around the holidays or for special events, the
restaurant puts out an earthy, brown corduroy specialty tablecloth that inspired
one female patron to say, “This tablecloth is beautiful enough to wear.”
These days and nights, many of NYC’s upscale restaurants are taking it
up a notch even before diners open their menus. Restaurants like these pay so
much attention to food, but there are additional ways to give diners what they
expect, which is simply put, the finest in NY dining.
“There are other ways to get diners attention that make a huge difference
to the total touch and feel of a restaurant,” said Matt Schlosberg, vice
president of business development for White Plains Linen, the tri-state area’s
largest linen rental company. White Plains Linen serves top chefs and caterers
who include Jean Georges Vongerichten, Mario Batali, Danny Meyer and Abigail
At many of these and other venues, it’s goodbye starchy tablecloths, and
hello to softer signature or Egyptian cotton cloths and napkins. Recently, both
Petrossian and The Iroquois Hotel restaurant, Triomphe, switched to high-end
Egyptian cotton napkins, made in Italy. “Especially this winter, people
dining out want something soft to wipe their mouths and hands with,” added
Petrossian Director of Purchasing Michael Chamberlain. “Food is what keeps
customers coming back, but we want to make sure they are comfortable while they’re
For most, white tablecloths are still the standard, but Schlosberg points out
that many restaurants are beginning to experiment with a variety of different
colors and fabrics that can also “set their establishments apart, when
matched up properly with the rest of a restaurant’s décor.” Silver,
beige, black and gold are in for 2007, and so are satins, organzas and iridescent
crushes, which all help add a contemporary feel. “We love our creamy Egyptian
cotton tablecloths,” says Iroquois General Manager Paul Celnik.
Some restaurants even rent a handy supply of black napkins for those times when
a customer, who is wearing black, is adamant about staying lint free. “It’s
a small perk that helps ease their mind and lets them enjoy their dining experience
even more,” adds Schlosberg.
Some of the higher-end establishments like Jean-Georges extend their diners experience
past the dining room and into the guest lounges, providing signature washcloths. “Don’t
discount the little things,” adds Schlosberg. “They can make a huge
impact and help keep customers coming back.”
As more people dine out, the need for table linens is on the rise. For most restaurants
that prefer the look, the feel, and the smell of professionally cleaned linens,
renting is the best option.
Each week, for over 2,000 of their customers, Peekskill-based White Plains Linen
picks up and delivers over 600,000 pounds of tablecloths and napkins, cleans
them and brings them back to the restaurants in New York City. “It’s
a daunting task, but someone has to do it,” said Schlosberg. Renting is
also the best environmental option for the “green-thinking” hospitality
manager, as restaurants respond to this new customer trend that is gaining a
strong foothold in the industry.
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