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A Close Look at the Compact Mart Cart

In so many settings, it's not practical or profitable to only sell food and beverages in one stationary spot. With a bit of creativity and the right tools in place, there's no need to limit service to one particular area, though. This blog will focus on one of those tools, the Lakeside Mart Cart, and we'll introduce you to the power of the Mart Cart, whether you're setting up a profitable breakfast cart or taking advantage of outdoor dining trends.

The Benefits of the Lakeside Mart Cart

It comes in two convenient sizes. 

The smaller mart cart size, which is a breeze to zip around, is the Lakeside 660 Compact Mart Cart for Mobile Food Operations. It measures just 28 1/4 x 49 x 72 1/4 inches. For even more bells and whistles, the Lakeside 68040 Compact Mart Cart with Full-Length Stainless Overshelf provides plenty of space at 27 1/2 x 60 x 70 inches. Either way, both compact carts provide plenty of space for food and beverages while efficiently and conveniently using space. The large stainless steel countertop work surface offers plenty of space for completing tasks.

They're designed to maximize portability.

Both sizes of compact mart carts provide next-level portability and are easy to maneuver into and out of spaces large and small including elevators, rooms, hallways, and kitchen areas. Features include easy-to-grab, ergonomic, vertical or horizontal handles on the side. There are also heavy-duty 5″ swivel casters to quickly move the cart from place to place. Better yet, both carts are lightweight yet sturdy. No need to be a racecar driver while steering and guiding either cart. Just move your point-of-sale and enjoy the profitability.

Speaking of profitability, stock the things that sell.

The sky is the limit when it comes to food and beverages that can find their way onto a Lakeside Mart Cart. It makes for an ideal breakfast on-the-go serving station, a snack bar, or beverage cart. Above the upper countertop is a storage area with multiple compartments that can hold a variety of items such as utensils, napkins, food packets, yogurt cups, tea bags, condiments, and more.

Create and customize Compact Mart Carts.

The adjustable height and slide-out stainless steel shelves allow the cart to customize its functionality for all sorts of easy configurations. It's even possible to remove shelves and replace them with optional insulated containers for holding hot and cold items. Soup, hot cocoa, lemonade, and fresh fruit salad have never tasted better or been easier to serve. The optional personalized merchandising front is an incredible way to add a logo, phrase, or design element. There is also plenty of space for accessories like utensils, napkins, plates, cups, ice, food containers, and a cash register.

Clean-up and maintenance are a snap.

Not just practical, both carts are also attractive and durable with a standard laminate exterior finish. For added design interest, custom laminate finishes are available. Both sizes of the Lakeside Mart Cart have a stainless steel interior that is easy to clean and sanitize. An excellent way to attract customers to any location is by offering a variety of food and beverages in an attractive, functional compact mart cart.

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How to Set Up a Profitable Breakfast Cart

Revenue Boosters for K12 Foodservice

As they say, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but according to data, it's also the most profitable. These days, many restaurants and foodservice stations are discovering America's love affair with breakfast, which is why so many businesses are offering these dishes all day. But who says restaurants have to have all the fun? Breakfast carts enable other entities to serve customers their favorite dishes without a commercial kitchen. But, how is it possible? Let's break it down.

By the Numbers: Breakfast Sales in the United States

Although breakfast has always been popular in the US, it's taken off considerably since 2020. According to a 2021 survey, over half (62 percent) of Americans say that breakfast is their favorite meal of the day. More impressively, the vast majority (79 percent) of individuals say they've eaten breakfast for a different meal (i.e., lunch or dinner) at least a few times in the previous year.

As far as breakfast dishes, eggs take the top spot with 65 percent of the vote, followed closely by coffee at 58 percent and cereal at 56 percent. Overall, this data illustrates that Americans are hungry for breakfast and, more importantly, they love the staples. That said, many restaurants and foodservice establishments are getting creative with breakfast offerings, so now is the best time to invest in this meal.

The Advantages (and Challenges) of a Mobile Breakfast Cart

Restaurants have it the easiest when serving breakfast because they have the infrastructure to build a menu and handle orders. Even hospitality businesses have it easy since breakfast in hotels has been a staple for forever. However, other entities like colleges, corporations, and venues can take advantage of breakfast by using a mobile cart. Breakfast carts offer several benefits, such as:

Flexibility

A mobile cart can move to wherever the action is. For example, if there's a busy event, a venue can deploy carts to different areas to cater to guests. Similarly, colleges can post a cart in front of hot-spots so students can grab something on their way to class.

Affordability

Breakfast carts are designed for "grab-and-go" items and meals. So, a single attendant can manage the cart easily with minimal backup. Also, carts don't draw much power for refrigerated items, or businesses can use ice trays to keep products at the right temperature.

Versatility

It's easy to change the offerings on a breakfast cart since it doesn't necessarily have a menu. So, cart owners can swap out low-selling items for those that go like hotcakes, making the cart even more profitable.

Although these benefits are pretty substantial, running a cart has two drawbacks. First, restocking the cart can be challenging, especially if it's deployed in a high-traffic area. On busy mornings, the cart may run out of food quickly, leading to dissatisfied customers. The second downside is that it doesn't offer hot food. As we mentioned, eggs are the number one dish, so customers may not appreciate the limited selection.

How to Optimize a Cart for Profitable Breakfast Service

Since demand is so high, businesses can't afford to neglect the earning potential of a portable breakfast cart from Lakeside. Here are a few ways to make the cart even more accommodating to customers:

Use Fun Signage

Magnetic signs can draw the eye and entice customers to come check out the cart and its offerings.

Provide Plates and Utensils

Although a cart won't have hot food, businesses may offer dishes that require utensils (i.e., cereal). Providing these items on-site makes it easier for customers to eat on the go.

Savory vs. Sweet Breakfast

Some people prefer sweets for breakfast, such as cinnamon rolls, coffee cake, or doughnuts. Others may want savory dishes like breakfast sandwiches or bagels. Carts can either focus on one item or provide both to capture both types of customers.

Make Breakfast Carts More Profitable by Selecting the Right Cart

Lakeside offers a full range of serving cart solutions that are ideal for breakfast service. Check out some of our most popular options today.

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How Flexible Foodservice Benefits the Hospitality Industry

When you think about hotels, resorts, and casinos, an image of an expansive property with a wide range of gathering spaces often comes to mind. From the arrangement of tables tucked behind the poolside waterfall to the small study just off the lobby, when guests can relax and explore every nook and cranny the establishment has to offer, they’re also more likely to stay within the confines of that establishment – and spend money there.

Simply put, those are the benefits of flexible foodservice. Those are the reasons to consider food serving solutions that can move from location to location on resort property. They provide guest satisfaction and profits for the operations

What does it mean to provide flexible foodservice?

The reality is there are many ways to “be flexible” when it comes to hospitality foodservice. All are closely related and are largely provided by similar foodservice equipment solutions, but they are different, nonetheless. Let’s take a quick look at the different aspects of flexible hospitality foodservice, as well as some of the benefits of each.

FROM HERE TO THERE

The first and most logical type of flexible foodservice is the ability to move a serving area from point A to point B. In resorts and hotels, one easy way to think about mobile foodservice is during a wedding. While cocktail hour might involve small plates and cocktails by the pool, the formal dinner will take place in the ballroom. It’s completely possible to utilize the same serving solutions for both, maximizing the potential of those units.

SAVING SPACE

Flexible foodservice solutions should provide an ability to save space as serving areas are moved around a property, even allowing for simple storage when some units aren’t in use. Nesting tables can be a great option in these cases. While one area of service might require the full breadth of tabletops, another might be better suited for only one. When operators can easily slide one table under another, saving space is easy.

BLENDING IN

When it comes to moving the point-of-service around the property, that can create challenges with aesthetics. Ideally, any serving unit should look nice no matter where it’s located, so how can an operator achieve those objectives in multiple locations with the same unit? Start with a unit that looks great and has a neutral aesthetic.

Go far with the Traveler Series from Lakeside.

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Are You Ready for the Summer Surge of Outdoor Dining?

Now that there's a strong light shining at the end of the pandemic tunnel, restaurants across the country are opening their doors and welcoming their patrons back for unrestricted indoor dining. However, the restaurant industry was among the hardest hit by COVID-19, and it's likely that whatever the new normal turns out to be, it will include certain aspects of restaurant service that gained momentum during the darkest days of the pandemic.

Outdoor dining, for instance, has long been a popular trend in areas with abundant sunshine and long warm seasons, but for the past couple of years, it has served as a lifeline for restaurants that would otherwise not be able to survive the long months of limited options for serving their guests. Now that summer is on the horizon, many restaurants are seeking ways to make al fresco dining more than just a survival strategy. Not only does patio seating provide more tables, but guests seem to like it too. Everyone is happier when the sun is shining on them, the food tastes better, and as an added bonus, restaurants that choose to go this route won't be left having to make last-minute pivots in the event that further COVID surges result in the reimplementation of restrictions.

For everyone to get the most from outdoor dining, it's essential that the designated area is more than an obvious afterthought. Following are several suggestions designed to help restaurants optimize their outdoor spaces and attract customers.

Add A Water Feature

Water features such as fountains, ponds, and waterfalls add a note of tranquility to any outdoor space — and they also create white noise that successfully drowns out city traffic noises. The sound of water also has a calming effect on the brain, which causes positive associations among guests.

Add a Fire Pit

The biggest problem many restaurants face with al fresco dining is that their location doesn't offer enough warm, sunny days to make it worthwhile — and even in areas with balmy climates, temperatures tend to drop after the sun goes down. Fire pits make it possible to extend the time that restaurants can utilize their outdoor seating areas as well as provide an extremely appealing ambiance.

Create Separate Dining Spaces

Moveable partitions create separate dining spaces without making a permanent commitment, which helps guests feel as if their table serves as a private safe space. Even though future shutdowns seem unlikely, there will likely be coronavirus spikes and surges going forward, and many people remain wary of spending too much time in public spaces.

Consider Making Your Patio Pet-Friendly

A pet-friendly patio isn't for every restaurant, but those serving casual fare in a pub-style environment may be able to increase their clientele by allowing well-behaved canine companions to accompany their owners. Restaurant owners and managers need to check with their local municipality before going this route to ensure that they aren't in violation of local codes. Food and beverage establishments that choose to offer pet-friendly outdoor spaces often offer a special menu just for dogs and provide bowls of fresh drinking water.

Light Up The Night

Soft, twinkling fairy lights, outdoor lanterns, and candles create an ethereal atmosphere that sets an elegant mood for guests. Accent lighting at ground level creates good visibility without casting glaring shadows that ruin the mood.

Other ideas include having live music outdoors, creating a special patio-only menu, hosting all-day barbecues, and setting up a small bar in the outdoor space.

Outdoor dining service requires outdoor delivery and bussing solutions.

The bottom line is outdoor dining can be difficult and complicated unless operations consider the equipment and solutions that make it easier. Getting food and beverage to the customers is critical, and outdoor services stations can help resolve many challenges, but many operators forget the importance of bussing. Removing plates and glasses can be just as important as delivering them to the table.

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A Review of the Healthy Fast Casual Trend

Fast-casual has moved from a trend to an expectation, even a requirement for hospitality-focused operations like resorts, hotels, or casinos as a way to grab a healthy bite before enjoying the afternoon. The younger consumers have disrupted fast-food operators as they have shown a preference for healthier, fresher, and more upscale options when in a hurry. Many members of Gen Z have never visited some large fast-food chains and have no plans to do so when a bento bowl, vegan option, or fresh salad is available.

Fast-casual growth

Fast-casual had a market value of $125.6 billion in 2019 and is expected to have a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.6% from 2021 to 2027. This will push the total market value to $209.1 billion by 2026, far exceeding the anemic growth rates of traditional fast food. This market is no longer a trend; it’s an expectation.

Growth isn’t the only plus for the fast-casual market, excellent profits are also a component. The average profit margin of fast-casual restaurants is 6-9%, compared to 3-5% for full service. As volumes grow the margins increase further as fixed costs are covered and variable costs drop due to greater efficiencies in staffing needs.

Hybrid options: the newest trend

While fast-casual has become a norm, a new trend recognizes the need of customers to eat healthy and quick during the day and then prefer the elegance of full service at night. This hybrid model can serve both market needs from one space and with limited staffing through the use of easy, modular, and versatile serving equipment.

Often neglected in hospitality is that many people prefer fewer choices so long as the choice that fits their needs is available. For many, making one choice is a welcome respite from lives where too many choices exist in their daily lives. The ability to switch with ease fits their needs and the needs of the hospitality provider.

An example would a resort hotel that wishes to serve both the dining needs of its customers by switching from lunch to dinner menu and service style in the evening, making the best use of limited space. Using flexible Traveler Serving Tables, the restaurant can transform the dining area to fit the night’s menu needs with a serving area that are work individually or together.

This next level of hospitality flexibility can accommodate a weekend brunch menu, accommodate outdoor dining, transform common areas and event areas as necessary, and transition dining areas between purposes. Having such a degree of flexible hospitality foodservice retains keeps customers in-house for dining as it gives them an ease of options.

Service flexibility with the Travelers Series.

A hospitality operation with a modular serving station that doesn’t require table cloths and is easy to clean up can respond quickly at a low cost. Modular serving stations are perfectly tailored to meet the needs of both customers and organizations and the demands of this new dining trend.

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Is Street-Side Dining Here to Stay?

Over the course of the last two years, the restaurant industry experienced change after change to stay relevant. Many of these challenges resulted in innovative adaptations, and now, some of those adaptations might be here to stay. Of all the changes we saw during the Covid-19 pandemic, though, the one we most enjoyed was a massive shift toward outdoor dining.

In city after city, outdoor dining spaces were set up on parking lots, in street-side parking spaces, on sidewalks, and even in yards. Diners loved it, and many are clamoring for these spaces to be made permanent in a post-Covid world.

Because they are so wildly popular with diners, they’re also enormously popular with restaurant owners and operators. In cities and towns large and small, there’s overwhelming support to make outdoor dining structures permanent, despite pushback from other business types who cite disapproval for the lack of parking spaces and the additional noise. Municipalities are listening to the restaurants and their customers, though, as cities like New York and San Francisco have already voted in favor of making these street-side dining spaces permanent.

Street-Side Dining Comes with Challenges

If street-side dining is no longer just a temporary fix, restaurant operators will need to look for more permanent service solutions to match the permanence of the outdoor dining spaces they serve. As we’ve discovered over the past few years, there are consistent challenges in maximizing labor and making service easier and more efficient for staff, as food and beverage must now be transported over bigger areas. The days of simply running plates from the window to a table two steps away are over for operators who take advantage of street-side dining.

Challenges don’t just involve bringing food and beverage to the customer, of course. There’s also the issue of bussing away dinnerware, flatware, and glassware after service is over. For operators who invest in equipment to make this process easier, the “new norm” will be easier to deliver and take away, making both customers and staff happy because of increased efficiency.

Lakeside has solutions that can help.

Lakeside is one of the leading manufacturers of bussing stations that are designed for mobility and flexibility, benefits that help when bussing tables in street-side dining settings. Units are made using durable stainless steel and come with various finishes to match the aesthetic of the operation. Learn more about bussing stations from Lakeside by viewing the different options from our bussing station range.

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Lakeside Helps Florida Soup Kitchen

Food insecurity impacts more than one out of every ten U.S. households. When you think about it, that’s an alarming number, and it’s something so many great non-profit organizations around the country are trying to reduce.

One of those organizations is Gracie’s Kitchen, a soup kitchen in Yulee, Florida that feeds seniors, veterans, single parents with families, the homeless, and the working poor. Before the Covid pandemic, they were serving more than 40,000 meals every year to those in need in the Yulee area, with additional branches of their organization helping to feed malnourished dogs and cats, as well as their “Socks for Souls” program that provides socks to those in need.

Their main focus is on foodservice, though, with more than $30,000 raised annually to “Nourish the Hungry and Feed Their Spirit.” Here at Lakeside, we admire their commitment to the community, so we offered to help.

Lakeside Helps to Upgrade Gracie’s Kitchen Serving Carts

A team from Lakeside learned about the Gracie’s Kitchen story and quickly discovered their serving cart situation was a challenge at best. Pictures of their existing carts showed they were being held together, quite literally, by duct tape, and that’s when Lakeside decided to step in. By replacing their old plastic carts with new Lakeside 311 series carts, their ability to serve the community in need was drastically enhanced. The Gracie’s Kitchen team could not have been more thankful.

utility cart service

Foodservice utility carts for kitchens are our specialty here at Lakeside, and we’re happy to help contribute to the great works at Gracie’s Kitchen with our 311 serving carts.

The 311 series is the first stainless steel utility cart created at Lakeside, and it was designed to last. It’s made for both front-of-the-house and back-of-the-house applications, and we hope the great crew at Gracie’s Kitchen find their work just a little bit easier with the 311. Based on the duct-taped plastic carts they had before, we can guarantee it.

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What’s the 311 on Stainless Steel Utility Carts?

You’ve come to the right place for information on utility carts, as we’re going to explore one of the classic models in the Lakeside portfolio. From a company with more than 75 years of interesting history, the advent of the 311 is one of the most important milestones in Lakeside history.

Why?

lakeside 311 stainless steel utility cartThe 311 Utility Cart is the very first stainless steel Lakeside utility cart design, and it’s still very popular today. Made for both back-of-the-house and front-of-the-house service, the 311 Utility Cart is ideal for bussing, service set-up, usage as a tray or soiled dish station, and can even serve as a light-duty transport and storage cart over even floor surfaces.

The 311 Utility Cart from Lakeside has other important benefits, as well. Its durability comes from electronically welded, 20-gauge stainless steel legs along with a reinforced, hemmed front on 22-gauge stainless steel shelves to provide added support where it’s needed.

For reduced sound and vibration, deadening panels are added under the shelving to make 311 Utility Cart usage quieter. With bumpers on the legs and handles, walls and furniture are also protected. Finally, the 311 Utility Cart from Lakeside is easy to use.

The Evolution of the Utility Cart

With more than 75 years of experience comes the recognition that one single stainless steel utility cart design will not satisfy every type of need. While we love the 311 design, we realize it’s not the perfect cart for everyone. That said, our first stainless steel utility cart has helped inspire the designs of so many other carts in the Lakeside portfolio.

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What Utility Cart Is Best for Your Facility?

When trying to determine which utility cart is best for your facility, there are a few simple guidelines that can help make the decision easier. In schools or hotels or even in warehouses, it's important to determine the W's that will lead you to the right choice, so let's walk through those basics now before we provide you with a great tool to help you select the best utility cart.

WHAT WILL YOU TRANSPORT?

This is the most basic and most obvious question you'll need to answer. What are you moving from point A to point B, and how much do those items weigh? The reality is this will impact your utility cart choice in two important ways. First, the more weight you'll move the heavier duty a cart will need to be. Carts come in different levels of durability. Moving 500 pounds on a cart designed to transport 250 pounds can be a major safety hazard, and your cart will not last. Second, the shape of the items you're planning to move will impact the shelving requirements on the cart.

WHERE WILL YOU TRANSPORT IT?

Casters will play a key role in a utility cart's capabilities. We've dug into the basics of casters in a previous post, but as it stands in terms of utility cart selection, the main question to ask is over what types of surfaces will my utility cart travel. If the answer is smooth inside surfaces, the caster requirements will be different than uneven pavers out on the pool deck.

WHEN WILL THE CART BE USED?

This is a question operators and facilities managers might not think about. The fact is when utility carts are designed and manufactured here at Lakeside, we create carts designed for varying levels of usage. Incurring the expense of a cart designed for use 20 hours per day isn't cost-effective for an operation that only needs to use the cart during a single, eight-hour shift. Likewise, a cart designed for minimal usage won't cut it for higher-demand operations. How long you plan to use the cart plays a big role.

So which cart is right for you?

Answering that question correctly includes cross-referencing the items above to hit an option that fits your best overall needs and challenges. Lakeside has a full range of utility cart offerings, but the reality is most of those carts will either be too much cart or too little. To help you find the cart that's just right, we put together a comprehensive cart selector that walks you through the WHAT's, WHERE's, and WHEN's. Click the button below to use our new utility cart selector.

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The Importance of Ergonomically-Engineered Utility Carts

A utility cart is a valuable tool for any commercial establishment that needs to move goods from point A to point B. While there are different types of utility carts with different levels of durability, they should all be easy to use in an ideal world. In a world of foodservice staff shortages, they need to be easy to use, and that's why ergonomics play an important role.

Why should foodservice operations consider ergonomically-engineered utility carts? For starters, they can reduce the risk of injuries by as much as 35 percent. They can also help employees avoid longer-term health issues like carpal syndrome and back pain. Think about it. When someone is pushing hundreds of pounds across a hotel courtyard for a buffet dinner service on the other side of the property, moving those materials on a cart designed to move easier will most certainly be the safer option.

While injuries caused by poorly designed utility carts might not be common, what is normal in today's workplace environment is the lack of staff. An operation that can make the workplace safer and the tasks easier to perform will ultimately have greater retention rates, and ergonomically-designed utility carts can help achieve those goals.

Make Existing Utility Carts More Ergonomic

Some simple changes to your carts could make them more ergonomic. For instance, replacing handles with knobs for ergonomics in foodservice is a quick way to make your workplace more comfortable for employees and customers alike. Other changes include installing adjustable shelves in carts and having employees carry the cart instead of pushing it when it's not in use. The best thing about using ergonomically engineered utility carts is the fact that they can reduce accidents by as much as 80 percent.

Buy Utility Carts That Are Ergonomically-Designed

When buying ergonomic carts for your business, it is crucial to consider the following four factors for maximum efficiency.

1. SAFETY: Try to buy carts with features that will protect your employees from injury. Consider buying a cart with a retractable handle or a locking mechanism for the wheels.

2. DURABILITY: The lifespan of a cart is highly dependent on how durable it is. Choose carts that are made with high-quality materials and components so they can withstand regular weather changes, bumps, and drops without breaking down too quickly.

3. COMFORT: Your ideal ergonomic carts should be designed in a way that makes them comfortable to use without causing discomfort to the user's back and shoulders over time. Consider features like ergonomically-designed handles or easy-grip handles on the sides of the cart to help make pushing them easier for your employees. If you are buying foodservice utility carts, you should ensure that their comfort is top-notch so as to improve efficiency in your establishment.

4. COST: Ergonomically engineered utility carts come at different prices. Ensure that you shop around before buying one, so you can find the best fit for your needs at the right price point. This ensures you're getting what you're paying for and not buying a utility cart that won't meet your needs or will provide more capabilities than required.

4 Ways to Make Sure Your Employees Are Protected from The Risks of Ergonomics

1. Ensure that your cart is properly aligned whenever you are using it. Whether you're pushing, pulling, or carrying it, make sure the wheels are aligned correctly and that the handles are well positioned to allow maximum comfort and effectiveness.

2. Check that your handlebars are securely fastened at all times and that they cannot slide around while in use. When maneuvering this equipment, arms should not be extended out to their full length as this increases strain on wrists and shoulders.

3. Ensure that your carts have mesh pockets or compartments for trash bags and other items to help prevent littering within the cart itself as well as on surrounding ground surfaces.

4. Keep these carts at least one foot away from walls when being used to avoid any potential collisions with wall-mounted shelving units or racks.