Getting the Most Out Of Your Glassware

glasswareOne of the most important investments for foodservice operators, glassware is a focal point for any table setting, showcasing signature cocktails and transforming everyday beverages such as soda, tea, and water into liquid masterpieces. Understanding how to care for your restaurant’s glassware and training your staff about proper glassware handling can save you thousands, reducing replacement costs and expenses associated with glassware accident injuries.

Causes of Glassware Damage

There are two basic causes of glassware damage, mechanical shock and thermal shock. Glassware that has come into contact with objects such as a beer tap, spoon, plate, or even another glass can suffer from mechanical shock. The damage from mechanical shock is often imperceptible to the naked eye, causing minute cracks that permanently weaken the glass, making it prone to thermal shock.

Glass retains temperature, creating susceptibility to thermal shock, a condition that occurs due to a sudden change in temperature. Thermal shock causes the glassware to crack, especially in areas already weakened by mechanical damage.

Protecting Glassware in the Kitchen

Training you kitchen staff to follow 8 basic dishwashing rules will extend the life of your restaurant’s glassware, protecting it from damage and keeping pieces in service for years. First, it is important to always remove glasses from buspans one at a time. Doing so reduces the chances of dropping a glass and causing mechanical shock damage from contact with the buspan. Second, never pick glasses up in “bouquet” fashion by grabbing several glasses by their rims and holding them together. In addition to increasing the chances of glassware breakage, this technique is also unsanitary, spreading germs from contact between hands and the glasses’ drinking surfaces. Third, never stack glasses together when unloading from buspans or the dishwasher. Repeatedly stacking glasses together can create slight chips and cracks in the bottom of the glassware, eventually rendering them useless.  Likewise, never put flatware inside of glassware. The sharp edges of knives and forks can scrape the insides of the glassware, impairing the glasses’ strength.

Glasses containing ice should be dumped and allowed to warm to room temperature before washing to prevent thermal shock. When washing, always scrape and clean glassware before flatware and china to avoid unnecessary damage. Also, pay attention while inserting glasses into dish racks, always using the proper racks for stems and tumblers to protect glassware from damage during the washing cycle and in transport to storage. Finally, always handle glassware in a gentle manner, removing pieces that have chips, cracks, or abrasions from service.

Making sure your warewashing equipment is in top shape can also go a long way in protecting your foodservice glassware. Replace glass washer brushes frequently; worn brushes can harm the structural integrity of glasses. Also, check the temperature of your dishwasher at least twice daily to minimize chances for thermal shock.

Protecting Glassware in the Bar and Dining Area

Like your kitchen staff, waiters, bartenders, and busboys can help you protect glassware by following a few simple glassware handling rules. It is imperative to always handle glassware gently, avoiding picking up glasses in bouquets, stacking glasses, or using glasses to hold flatware. Avoid contact with beer taps and other objects, as well as glass-to-glass contact in overhead racks and anywhere else.

When preparing drinks for guests, never use a glass to fill another glass with ice. Using a plastic scoop is the safest and easiest way to transport ice from bins to glasses. Glassware used to hold hot beverages should always be pre-heated with hot water prior to filling the glass.

As your bus staff removes glassware from tables, they should take special care to separate items in bus trays to avoid mechanical damage. If possible, dump ice out of glassware before sorting into bus trays or directly into divider racks. Also pay attention while loading bus trays; overloading them can increase chances for dropping the trays, causing glassware breakage.

How long has your glassware been in service? Do you follow any additional special care rules to prevent damage?