Our linen company (Company #1) was bought out recently by another company. Most linen companies work on a par level which means the restaurant sets how much of each kind of napkin, cleaning towels, tables cloths we will need each week. We use cotton napkins, bar towels, 42 inch table cloths, 52 inch table cloths, 62 in table cloths, kitchen bib aprons, and a few black polyester napkins for customers who don’t want the lint from the white napkins on their clothes.
On the par system, if our par is 2000 cotton napkins a week and we only use 1800, then the company will deliver us 1800 but charge us for 2000. If the company is nice, they will let us call a day in advance and “lower” our par to 1800, so they only charge us for 1800. Company #1 was nice about this.
The new Company (#2) showed up for delivery the first day with the pars from Company #1. But no cotton napkins, just polyester, no 42’s, just extra 52’s. Apparently we are one of only a few restaurants in Atlanta that still uses cotton napkins. No one wants to provide them anymore because they wear out and are hard to clean. I took the order having fully expecting all these problems.
My waiters had a fit with the polyester napkins. The polyester does not work for polishing silverware and when they used them for wine service, the wine would dribble down the cloth onto the floor. I was told that the cotton napkins were on order as well as the 42 inch table cloths. Meanwhile Company #1 had raised our prices in January and I hadn’t caught it, so company #2 is charging us more, especially for those cotton napkins, which I hadn’t received.
So doing what everyone in the business does, I contacted another company. So now this is company #3. A rep came in and we discussed our pars. They don’t want to do cotton napkins either but will for a penny more a napkin. I mentioned the waiters reaction to the polyester and the rep ran out to his car and brought in a “glass cloth”. It was great, can be used for polishing silverware, wine service and have a nice blue and white stripe. I mentioned that I would love to use them as napkins and he said “no, wait”, and ran out to his car and brought in a white napkin with a blue stripe that is called a “Bistro Napkin”.
He suggested that we not use the “glass cloths” as our guest’s napkin because some restaurants use them to clean up spills, even though we’re supposed to use “bar towels” to do that, and they can’t guarantee that they will be spotless. The “Bistro Napkin” is a polyester blend, but was more absorbent than the regular polyester napkin, but not as good as the cotton. I did a water test on both. I mentioned that I loved the blue stripe, but think I have more red in the dining room and he ran out to his car again, but this time came back empty-handed. The “Bistro Napkin” comes with a red stripe, but he doesn’t have one. He’ll come back the next day with a pack of 100 red stripe napkins and we can set the dining room with them and see how it looks.
Meanwhile, I am to contact Company #2 to see how long my contract (which they bought from company #1) is in effect and what the cancellation policy is with them.
So he brings the red stripe napkin. We set the dining room. I call Chef Justin out, he likes them. My dining room manager likes them. My sous chef, saute cook like them.
My host does not. I send a photo to my daughter and she hates them. My husband likes them. 90% of the customers like them. A few prefer the white cotton. Meanwhile my waiters are fighting over the glass towels that were left for us.
I call Company #2, tell them I want to discuss cancelling my contract. This gets me to a district manager who tells me to give them more time, he has the red “Bistro” napkin, the glass cloths and now the 42 in tablecloths in stock. He tells me about another restaurant down the street who switched from Company #3 to them. He doesn’t know what my contract says about cancellation. He will have to pull records from another office.
I call the restaurant down the street and speak to the manager. He tells me he had a lot of quality problems with Company #3 and they were not able to solve them, so they went to Company #2. The prices are very similar. Five cents more for kitchen apron, 5 cents less for glass towels.
Kitchen aprons, bar towels (for the kitchen and cleaning), red stripe Bistro Napkins, glass cloths, 42 inch table cloths, 52 inch table cloths, 62 inch table cloths, black napkins.
And I should return one bundle of the red stripe Bistro Napkin to Company #3.