When Selecting Small Wares to Use in the Kitchen: A Comprehensive Guide

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By De Roberts

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Operating a successful restaurant requires having the right tools and equipment. Small wares refer to the variety of plates, glasses, utensils, and other supplies used in a commercial kitchen. When opening a new restaurant or upgrading an existing establishment, carefully selecting the right smallwares is essential.

This article provides a helpful guide for restaurant owners and managers on what to consider when selecting small wares to use in their kitchens. We’ll cover factors like durability and ease of cleaning, provide examples of common smallware types, and list some essential items every commercial kitchen needs. Helpful FAQs are also included at the end.

Factors to Consider When Selecting Small Wares

Several key factors should be considered when choosing small wares for your restaurant kitchen:


Small wares must withstand frequent washing and heavy daily use. Select options made from durable materials like commercial grade stainless steel that resist chipping, warping, and corrosion.

Ease of Cleaning

Regular cleaning is critical for sanitation. Choose small wares with smooth, non-porous surfaces that are easy to scrub clean. Avoid textured surfaces and crevices that can trap food particles.


Sharp table knives, fragile glassware, and heavy pots all pose risks. Opt for small wares made from shatterproof materials and select knives with protective sheaths. Choose lightweight options when possible to reduce strain.


Acidic foods can react with and absorb flavors/chemicals from reactive materials like copper, iron, and aluminum. Select non-reactive small wares made of stainless steel, glass, and ceramic.


Comfortable designs prevent fatigue and injury. Look for small wares with ergonomic handles that fit nicely in the hand. Weight and balance are also important.

Size and Capacity

Scale small wares to your menu and operation. Stock a range of sizes for versatility. Measure food volumes and select capacities to match.

Types of Small Wares

Common categories of small wares include:

  • Cookware – Pots, pans, stock pots, sauté pans, steamers
  • Cutlery – Knives, forks, spoons
  • Barware – Cocktail shakers, shot glasses, wine glasses
  • Bakeware – Baking sheets, cake pans, muffin tins
  • Storage – Food storage containers, lids
  • Serving Ware – Plates, bowls, platters, utensils
  • Cleaning – Scrub brushes, buckets, rags

Factors to Consider When Selecting Small Wares

Essential Small Wares for a Commercial Kitchen

While needs vary by restaurant, here are some essential small wares that every commercial kitchen should have:

Serving Ware

  • Plates, bowls, and platters for individual portions or family-style service
  • Small plates and saucers for appetizers and desserts


  • Sharp knives for prep work and table service
  • Various serving spoons and ladles
  • Tongs and spatulas for cooking


  • Stock pots, sauce pots, skillets, and sauté pans
  • Sheet pans, hotel pans, steam table pans
  • Mixing bowls in a range of sizes


  • Durable food storage containers in multiple sizes
  • Lids to match all containers


  • Dishwasher safe scrub brushes, sponges, and rags
  • Buckets and sanitizer for washing
  • Hanging drying racks

Other Essentials

  • Digital kitchen thermometers and timers
  • Food scales for precise measuring
  • Proofing baskets, portion scoops, and other baking tools

Presentation and Elegant Service

For stylish plating and service present offerings like tiered serving platters, ramekins, gravy boats, cruets, and decanters. Opt for glass or acrylic canisters for pantry storage.

First thing customers notice is presentation. Using elegant small wares for plating and serving makes a great first impression.

Ordering and Delivery

Carefully review your menu and anticipated food volumes to determine what small wares are needed. Create a detailed list then contact suppliers to obtain quotes and place orders.

Schedule delivery of small wares well in advance of opening to allow time for inspection. Have a plan to efficiently receive and unpack items when they arrive.

Staff Training

Once new small wares are in the kitchentrain staff on proper use and care. Review key details like weight, capacity, and intended use for each item.

Demonstrate proper washing, sanitizing, drying, and storage procedures. Set clear expectations to keep small wares in top shape.

Small Wares for Diverse Operations

From fine dining to quick-service, small wares help all restaurant types operate efficiently. While high-end venues may invest in more elegant choices, the basic tools are universally essential.

Match selections to your style of service and cuisine. Aim for durability and functionality over fancy accents that won’t improve food quality.


What are small wares?

Small wares refer to the variety of platesglassesutensils, and other supplies used in restaurant kitchens, behind bars, and for table service. They are essential items for prepping, cooking, storing, serving, and cleaning.

Why are small wares important in the kitchen?

Small wares allow chefs and cooks to efficiently prep ingredients, cook menu items, plate dishes, and keep work areas clean. Having the right tools boosts productivity in the kitchen.

What factors should be considered when selecting small wares?

Key factors include durability, ease of cleaning, safety, materials, size, capacity, and ergonomic design. Evaluate your menu, operation, and workflow when making choices.

What are some essential small wares for a commercial kitchen?

Must-have small wares include serving dishes, pots and pans, food storage containers, cutlery, thermometers, scales, cleaning tools, and baking supplies.

What are some small wares for elegant presentation and storage?

For stylish plating and service consider offerings like tiered serving platters, ramekins, gravy boats, cruets, and decanters. Opt for glass or acrylic canisters for pantry storage in the kitchen.

Carefully evaluating your needs and selecting durable, commercial grade small wares can ensure your restaurant kitchen has the right tools to operate efficiently. Investing in quality plates, cookware, knives, and other essentials provides long-term value.

Roberts profile author
De Roberts

I'm a dedicated content writer and home DIY enthusiast who delights in sharing his experiences, providing valuable tips, tricks, and step-by-step guides with others.

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