Branding is a subtle art form. It is the accumulation of carefully orchestrated details that work together to create a specific message. While you might have paid careful attention to lighting, music and place settings in your restaurant, you may have also given staff uniforms short shrift. The appearance of your team is an integral part of making a great first impression and creating a specific experience for your bar and restaurant patrons. The right uniform can reinforce your brand and send a clear message about exactly the type of establishment you want to be.
The Minimalist Approach to Restaurant Uniforms
Approaches to uniforms styles are just as varied as the types of restaurants out there. There are establishments who take a more minimalist approach and simply incorporate a common piece of identifying clothing or pin into the outfits of their staff. This is a more subtle method of branding and can avoid making a uniform feel too gimmicky. It is an ideal way to convey a sense of individuality and sophistication. This strategy also tends to make the staff feel more approachable. Diners may be more likely to ask questions about the menu and regard the staff as experts rather than just servers jotting down orders.
The apron has become a popular vehicle for reinforcing branding and providing a minimalist approach to uniforms. At Gallo Pelon, a mezcaleria in Raleigh, NC, the bartenders wear handcrafted, full-length leather aprons. Not only do these uniforms add to the overall feel of the restaurant, but they also help the bartenders look like true craftsman as they mix unique drinks behind the bar. Aprons also serve an important practical purpose and keep bartenders and waitstaff clean, dry and presentable.
Creating a Cohesive Look
It is also important to bear in mind that a uniform doesn't necessarily mean that everyone in the restaurant is wearing the exact same outfit. Instead, you can create a consistent look by having staff adhere to a certain color scheme or general theme. For example, speakeasy style bars can have their staff dress in 1920s style clothing with bowties, suspenders and other dressier elements. This will help to convey the feel of the restaurant without creating a literally uniform look.
On the other end of the spectrum from minimalist options lies the truly matching uniform that requires that everyone wear the exact same outfit. While this might not be the right choice for every bar and restaurant, it certainly does have a time and place. For example, Hale Pele in Portland, OR, uses Hawaiian shirts and dresses, loud jewelry and other tropical themed accessories to create a consistent feel. The restaurant tries to transport customers to an exotic location where they can escape and try new dishes. The uniforms help build on this concept.
Choosing the Right Uniform
No matter what type of bar or restaurant you operate, it is important to remember that the staff uniforms are a part of sending a targeted brand message to your customers. Take advantage of this opportunity to create a more complete customer experience. As you are choosing the right uniforms, here are some other factors to keep in mind:
- Choose durable materials that are easy to clean.
- Don't forget to take comfort into account. You want your staff to look and feel good.
- Make sure that it is neat and tidy and can fit a variety of different body types.
- Try to keep the cost down, especially if you require employees to purchase their own uniform.
Putting some thought into your staff uniforms can help you take your branding to the next level.