Sure, you may have more important things to worry about, but looking after your glassware and minimising breakages can lead to serious savings. By Malcolm Richardson.

In today’s modern restaurant or food venue, glass is everywhere.  In the bar, the face of your venue is displayed in the quality of your glassware.  When you serve a meal, your food is supported by the plates and tableware.  All of these glass items are not only the base for your service, but often a very large part of both your set-up costs and your wastage costs.

Over time the quality of your tableware degrades, there are breakages, and even thefts (Donut King I have one of your cups!) .These all hamper the product and the bottom line.

If we take a look at the glassware you have in service, we may find that there are a number of factors we can deal with to help prolong and even recycle most of your collection. There are many options available and a wealth of tips to help you get the most out of your current stock, and a number of things you should take notice of when buying new kit. 

The first and most noteworthy thing to take into consideration when looking at glassware is the way you clean and dry it. The choice of who cleans it, what products you use when cleaning, the methods and of course the handling all have an impact on the life of your glassware.  While glass washers or dishwashers are a requirement by law, the style of washer can vary and choosing the right one will help your cause. 

A cheap washer can cost you money in the long run by damaging your glassware.  Incorrect temperature or pressure in the washer can cause issues from the first wash.  A high quality washer that is set-up and installed by a professional will treat your glasses the way they should be. Using the correct washing and drying formulas in the washer will of course help as well.  Speak to the glassware supplier and ask for their input. They may be able to recommend products that the manufacturer has trialled with the glassware.  If you find no joy here, speak to several chemical supply companies and get a broad range of opinions.  All of this will help you make an informed choice of washing and drying solutions.


Storage of your glassware is just as important, as this is where your glassware will spend most of its time.  Timber, glass or metal shelves?  Hanging or standing? Rim up or down?  All very valid questions.  All very complex in their own right. While you may think that hanging flutes and cocktail glasses is the way to go, take into account that this puts pressure on the stems and can reduce the age of them standing. Then again, standing also puts pressure on the stem. What to do? Talk to the supplier! When selecting glassware, always make a list of what you need to know and ask a lot of questions. If the store can’t answer them, email the manufacturer for advice. Questions like ‘what is the best way to store, clean and serve my glassware’ should be quickly and easily answered by the manufacturer, after all they made them.

Serving glassware is often overlooked when looking at the life of a glass. If you rest the rim of a glass on a beer tap while pulling, or rest the bottle there while pouring, you risk cracks and even chips, which left unchecked can injure patrons.  Even unthought-of things like dropping ice cubes into a glass can damage them. Take a close look at your glassware. Is it solid enough for a large ice cube to bounce off the side? These little things are almost always overlooked, but are incredibly important. There is a very technical aspect of service as well that is never considered in drink service. Carrying. If you have a glass holding a cold drink, and you carry it to a table by hand, the temperature difference between your hand and the contents of the glass can place small stresses in the glass. I know it sounds crazy, but this little stress, as minute as it is, multiplied a few hundred times can cause the failure of the glass. Carrying glasses a tray not only looks better but increases the lifespan of the glass.


A small point which most venues will be aware of, but which is still noteworthy is the filling of ice. A number of bars I have visited still fill the glass with ice by driving it into the ice maker or tub. This is a huge no no!  This poses a huge risk of chipping and breakages in the tub. Worst case scenario, a patron could find a glass shard from a previous glass that you have placed in the tub. A steel scoop is the best option. 


Collection, particularly in a bar environment, is a major consideration. How many times have you seen a ‘glassy’ carrying a tall sleave of glasses up over the shoulder? It is a very common sight and you may be surprised to know that this has been a common practice for many, many years. It does, however, cause the most loss and damage to your collection. Stacking like this puts stresses on the rim of glasses and cracks them quickly. The obvious cure is to carry on a tray, but this also poses issues to service. Collecting a large stack may return 15+ glasses at once, but if you weigh this productivity up against the cost of the glassware, I’m sure you’ll find that using a tray is cheaper than replacing glasses.

In restaurant settings, you will find that some diners will stack glasses on plates when they finish their meals. A good table service method is to have floor staff focusing on collection of empty glasses as they pass tables. This not only helps with glass preservation but it puts the option of upselling more drinks right in your hand. Resist the urge to enforce a ‘charge per breakage’ rule in your venue when staff members break glassware.  Not only is it illegal under most awards, it can sour your staff’s opinion of management.  Consider more training and perhaps a reward target for reducing breakages.

Glassware in today’s venues is a very small part of the operation.  In saying that, it is also one of the things that can see you wasting profits. Care and attention to these simple points will see the life of your investment extended. Consider putting a guideline or instruction sheet near glass storage areas outlining your methods for cleaning, storage and service. Ensure staff are aware of the risks of contamination from glass chips, the costs of broken glassware and the importance of following cleaning methods as written. Taking a proactive approach to the smaller parts of your collection will ensure your time and money can be better spent in other areas. Consider for a minute, if two glasses are broken in every shift (average) over the course of a year, at a cost of $9 each, that totals out to a possible $6,500 per year you are spending on replacing glassware. While $9 is what you’d spend on an expensive cocktail glass, and you probably won’t break as many as two per shift, even averaging out a beer glass at $4 every service over the year means you are still looking at around $1,500! That’s a nice HD television over the bar that you’re missing out on. 



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