No more undressed tables

Resuinsa, the leading R&D&i company in the hospitality sector, recently took part in a study highlighting that dining without a linen tablecloth increases the presence of bacteria on the table by a factor of 37, whilst PVC tablecloths host four times as many micro-organisms as textile coverings. The company sees ‘the report as completely positive for the sector. Given our approach of ongoing commitment to innovation and research, these figures provide reliable and practical data on the use of table linens’. The company points out that ‘the study was performed using Resuinsa table linen, as it is our number one priority to provide professionals with information verified by experts in all areas’.

The research focusses on health and safety, and stands in contrast to the trend seen over recent years at restaurants in Spain for undressed tables. This trend ‘has not been taken up in other countries with long-standing culinary traditions, such as Italy or France’, states Resuinsa CEO Félix Martí. The question is: Is it worth following some trends when you know that you could be encouraging higher levels of bacteria on tables at your business? Nonetheless, Martí also highlights that ‘Spanish restaurants are shifting away from this trend and returning to linens that offer quality and comfort; we have seen as much in the orders being placed by sector professionals’.

In this vein, the professionals at Resuinsa underscore that the hospitality industry is once again seeing the value of table linen as a marker of quality, whether this be a full tablecloth, individual mat or centre runner. ‘Textile use depends on the gastronomic selection at the establishment and the ambience it wishes to accentuate. In this sense, and depending on the type of restaurant, tables can be dressed with linens, a cover slip and tablecloth, a centre runner or with a simple individual placemat’, the company points out.  ‘All linens offer the benefit of providing comfort, design and quality to a business, playing with colours and textures, whilst always taking into consideration the décor and the latest trends.’

‘Leaving aesthetic trends to one side, using table linens is linked to our mise-en-place culture— the carefully designed room—as the right linen tablecloth can be a focal point for the interior design, or harmonise with the type of ambience that restaurateurs wish to convey to their clients. Every décor deserves table linen. Just think about when a person sits down in a room—the first think they see and feel is the table, and when it is dressed, it can convey a multitude of design and comfort values’, explains Martí, adding that ‘as shown in the study where our products were used, it is not just about image but also about underlining hygienic benefits’.

For Martín Berasategui, linens are ‘synonymous with quality and elegance’

If there is one person perfectly qualified to speak for linen use at restaurants, it is the eight times Michelin-starred chef, Martín Berasategui, who continues to use table linen at most of his restaurants. ‘A tablecloth may seem to be just another table addition, but for me it continues to be synonymous with quality and elegance’, he explains. ‘In any Spanish home you’ll see table linen, so for me quality home cooking, ingredients and table linen are inseparable. Moreover, there is nothing quite like a table dressed in top quality linen conveying comfort and class…I think the tablecloth will never go out of fashion’, underlines the chef.

With regard to the value of linens in restaurants, the chair of the Asociación Española de Gobernantas de Hotel y Otras Entidades (ASEGO) [Spanish Association of Hotel Housekeepers], Lorena Moreno, states that ‘before the dishes are on the table, diners can already discover a lot about the place. The décor in general, the uniforms and appearance of the waiting staff but, in particular, the table linen or lack there of will have informed their culinary expectations from the start. I think all gastronomy spaces need tablecloths and napkins that provide added value to the culinary experience’. Moreno also points out that ‘despite many guests worrying over stains, for our department white linens are the best colour option as they make stain removal much easier’.