Dressed for Success: The 5 Ingredients to Great Restaurant Uniforms

By: Jerry Martin

5 Minute Read

Jun 06, 2016

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Restaurant Uniforms

No one ever said that running a restaurant is easy. In fact, restaurants are notorious for their high rates of failure, with one reliable study finding that 23% of restaurants close their doors in their very first year of operation. Of the restaurants that manage to survive for a full twelve months, a large number will never see their second or third anniversaries. Clearly, restaurant owners need all the help they can get. Having said that, let's turn to a simple and effective way to give your revenues a boost and enhance the image of your restaurant: employee uniforms.


This is the kind of claim that is often greeted with skepticism, and understandably so. When your business is struggling to turn a profit, worrying about uniforms can seem like a useless distraction and a needless expense. What difference does it make if your employees wear uniforms?

However, uniforms can make a significant difference, more than enough to compensate for the added expense involved with their use.

How Restaurant Uniforms Can Increase Revenue

It’s common sense, really. Who would you rather have preparing your food: a cook in a high-quality apron or someone wearing an old T-shirt? Fortunately, we don’t have to rely just on old-fashioned good judgment to draw conclusions about the usefulness of restaurant uniforms. Research also bolsters this view. The value of restaurant uniforms has been demonstrated by a number of scientific studies on the subject.

One of these studies, commissioned by the Textile Rental Services Association of America (TRSA), found that 90% of consumers who express an opinion on the topic prefer to see employee uniforms at the “fine dining restaurants” they frequent. At fast food restaurants, the percentage is even higher, with 93% of respondents claiming they have a preference for employees in uniforms.

Why? Uniforms provide businesses with varied benefits:

  • Guests tend to view uniformed restaurant employees as more competent than those without uniforms.
  • Guests also tend to regard employees who wear uniforms as more courteous, approachable, and trustworthy.
  • Guests have an easier time distinguishing employees from other persons in the area, which helps to prevent embarrassing confusion.
  • Employees who wear uniforms are more aware of representing a “brand” and as a result are more likely to maintain an appropriate level of professionalism.

All of this has a direct effect on your bottom line. Uniforms are widely associated with expertise and sound customer service—that’s exactly what consumers are looking for.

Restaurant uniforms aren’t all alike, and tend to be classified according to the roles of the persons wearing them. Here we’ll look at some of the more common types of uniforms used in a restaurant setting.

1. Restaurant Aprons

restaurant apron
These garments are used by employees in a number of different industries, but they’re most commonly associated with restaurants, particularly the kitchen area.

When people talk about aprons, they’re usually thinking of the bib apron. This garment, worn over clothing, covers the area from chest to the upper thighs. It is usually secured on the body with a strap around the neck and a pair of ties that can be knotted in the lower back. This type of apron usually comes with pockets that are useful for storing various items.

Another option is the tuxedo apron, which is more elegantly designed than the standard bib apron, though otherwise similar in appearance. It’s often worn by waitstaff.

The four-way apron ties around the waist like a skirt and does not protect the chest area. This apparel includes several layers that chefs can use for cleaning purposes.

The last type of apron for restaurants is the bistro apron. This usually extends from the waist to just past the knees, and is typically worn by restaurant staffers who interact with customers.

2. Restaurant Shirts

restaurant shirts

Waitstaff often wear long- or short-sleeve dress shirts with collars and full button fronts. Alternatively, some restaurants prefer short-sleeve polo shirts. Having these personalized with the company name and/or logo will turn this classic apparel into a true uniform that immediately identifies the wearer as an employee of the establishment. The apron, if one is used, will be worn over the shirt.

3. Black Pants

Slacks, often black, are the preferred choice for many restaurants.

chef uniforms
4. Slip-Resistant Shoes

A good pair of shoes is another important element of a restaurant uniform. Black shoes or sneakers are generally preferred, and it’s important that all footwear have slip-resistant soles to ensure safety on potentially damp floors.

5. Chef Coats

Many restaurants require the kitchen staff to wear double-breasted chef coats. Usually white, these coats often have two parallel rows of buttons down the front, giving this apparel a distinctive look that diners have come to associate with high-class restaurants. Another option is the butcher wrap coat. This does not have buttons but, as the name suggests, closes in the front by wrapping one side over the other and using ties to secure it in place.

What Restaurant Uniforms Do You Wear?

Providing restaurant employees with durable, attractive uniforms is neither difficult nor expensive, and it pays off in the long run by giving your establishment a professional image. An experienced uniform rental service can help you with your restaurant apparel needs, so you can enjoy all these benefits for years to come.

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