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Serving Trays and Flatware in the Same Unit Just Got Easier

Pretend you’re a student in a college dining hall or a doctor in a hospital cafeteria for a second. You’re hungry. You’re probably short on time. And you’re probably not quite sure, at this point, what you will select for lunch. You grab a tray from the tray dispenser, and then you grab a fork and knife.

Let’s repeat that. You grab a tray from the tray dispenser, and then you grab a fork and knife.

The reality is trays and flatware go hand in hand. There are practically zero scenarios in which a diner will grab a tray without grabbing silverware, so for the operators serving those customers, it seems quite simple to consider foodservice equipment that will conveniently provide dining trays and flatware in the same location.

That’s exactly what Lakeside provides with their line of mobile tray dispensers that are also designed to serve as silverware carts.  By combining silverware and tray storage, operators can create a centralized location where guests can begin their dining experiences, and there are several different options to choose from.

Two-Sided Enclosed Frame

The Lakeside 403 two-sided enclosed frame can hold 10 flatware cylinders above a storage area for trays. Trays can be loaded or removed from either side, and the stainless steel design provides both clean aesthetics and durability that will stand up to the rigors of moving trays and silverware from the back of the house to the cafeteria serving line.

Mobile Tray and Silverware Dispenser

The Lakeside 986 mobile tray dispenser with silverware dispenser is similar to the 403 model, but it has a slightly smaller footprint. Slots are included for eight silverware cylinders, and trays are loaded and unloaded from the sides rather than the front and back. Like the 403, though, units can easily roll from the warewashing room to the serving line and back, making these units compact and convenient.

Tubular Flatware Frame

The Lakeside 213 tubular flatware frame has a 10-cylinder capacity above. Below the silverware storage area, the tray dispensing section of the unit allows for access from all four directions, making it a bit different than the other options listed above. Built for continuous use, the 213 has a load capacity of 400 pounds holding trays of various sizes.

Learn more about the convenience of combining tray and silverware storage and dispensing in the same unit. Check out our line of tray dispensers today.

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Handling Food Serving Trays in Two Ways with One Unit


There are two main times to consider the importance of a serving tray dispenser in foodservice operations. The first is when customers take trays to start their dining experiences, and the second time is when those trays are no longer being used by the customers and are set for removal from the dining area. The good news is both processes can be served by the same unit.

With the right foodservice tray dispenser, operators can make sure customers have the trays they need when they need them, while at the same time making it easy to remove used trays to prepare them for cleaning and storage. Doing this in the most efficient way is important, and that often involves transporting trays across far distances, from a serving area on one side of a property to a kitchen or warewashing station on the other. The ultimate goal of a tray dispenser is to make service convenient for customers and make work easier for staff.

A 2-In-1 Unit Provides Convenience

A 2-in-1 tray unit can provide the ability to dispense serving trays and handle the used trays, all at the same time. These units have a cantilevered dispensing area that's open on three sides, so customers can quickly and easily grab the trays they need for their dining experience, but the base has a handy platform where used trays can be stored until they're taken to the kitchen for sanitizing. This keeps them separate from clean trays, and also eliminates the need for workers to carry stacks of heavy trays back and forth.

Using tray dispensers with an area for used trays, foodservice workers can provide both dispensing and bussing abilities in the same cart. This convenience helps staff be more efficient and can actually reduce stress during these labor-challenged times. Most important, customers will easily be able to get a clean tray when needed, and used trays can be quickly stowed away so they don't get mixed up with clean options.

A Serving Tray Dispenser For Multiple Locations

Whether it's in the dining hall of a college, a hospital cafeteria, or another event such as a corporate luncheon, mobility is the name of the game when it comes to a versatile serving tray dispenser. With classic features and benefits from Lakeside, serving tray dispensers are both reliable and multi-functional -- on-the-go. Both single and double-platform dispensers are made from stainless steel for durability, and operate on large casters for stability. They're easy to maneuver through doorways and hallways.

Walls are protected by corner bumpers to reduce the chances of scuffs and marks, and the design keeps the dispenser stable as workers steer it from the kitchen to the dining area. Whether that's in the next room, down the hall, or even in another building, the right serving tray dispenser is very important when it comes to handling both clean and used trays with ease.

With several models to choose from, businesses can select the serving tray dispenser that fits the size of trays they use and provides the biggest benefits for their operations. By adjusting the dispensing height as trays are used, it is easy for customers to continue grabbing trays even when the stack of clean trays is smaller. This also allows for more space underneath, where used trays can be stored. It's a winning combination for economical and convenient foodservice.

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The Importance of Ergonomics in Tray Dispensers


Finding the needed staffing for any foodservice operation is currently very challenging. Keeping them there is an entirely different issue. One of the best ways to retain valuable team members is to create working conditions that make the job easier. By finding solutions that help workers do their jobs with less stress and strain, more workers will be interested in staying on the job. That, in turn, brings in new talent and helps retain existing staff simultaneously.

For foodservice operations where serving lines are part of the equation, considering tray dispensers can be an easy win with staff, eliminating the need for constant shuttling of trays from the back of the house to the serving area. While tray dispenser ergonomics is not something everyone thinks about, the workers who use these dispensers will certainly notice the difference. Here's why:

How Do Ergonomic Tray Dispensers Work?

For an ergonomic tray dispenser to work correctly, it requires spring tension that will raise the trays to the proper height for dispensing. Adjusting the height level is extremely easy, and workers can attach and detach springs as they need to make sure the dispenser is at the right height. It only takes a moment to make adjustments, and once the height is accurate, it will remain where it was placed until springs are attached or detached again.

There are several sizes and styles of ergonomic tray dispensers to choose from, allowing workers to have all the space they need for trays while still maneuvering the units through the kitchen and dining areas with ease. Choosing an open design can make loading and unloading easier, and there are cantilevered options that can also meet foodservice needs. The right ergonomic tray dispenser gives workers convenience.

How Do Ergonomics in Tray Dispensers Help Workers?

By considering ergonomics in tray dispensers, operators minimize the need to reach beyond a person's capacity -- literally. This helps staff not only when loading units, but also when unloading trays, cleaning the dispenser, and preparing the tray dispenser for a foodservice event. Whether workers use the tray dispenser daily or it is needed infrequently, making sure trays can be easily accessed with a dispenser that requires little maintenance is a great way to show support for staff.

With adjustable tray dispensers, it's also easier to accommodate a wider range of physical abilities, making the pool of potential applicants larger because the physical stresses of the job will be easier. In addition, the chance of workplace injury will also be reduced. That benefits the workers who are operating the tray dispenser but also the company that employs those workers and needs them to be healthy and available for foodservice events.

Do Ergonomics Matter to Customers?

Customers can also appreciate the value of ergonomics when it comes to tray dispensers. As they grab trays for use, they will not need to bend and stretch in ways that might not be comfortable for them. And because trays are literally the first thing a guest will encounter, they will set the tone for the entire dining experience. Whether they are in the hospital cafeteria on their lunch break, at school getting their education, or in a corporate setting at a banquet or catered event, being able to easily reach a tray and move on with their dining experience can make a big difference in their level of comfort.

From workers to customers, and anyone who uses or interacts with tray dispensers, ergonomics have value. Adjustable tray dispensers are more convenient, and they reduce the chances of injury and discomfort for anyone who loads or unloads them, as well as anyone reaching for trays during their dining experience.

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3 Ways to Experience ROI with a Tray Dispenser

Deciding on whether or not to invest in foodservice equipment can be a complicated calculation of the benefits and overall return on investment. This is true for ovens, ranges, and refrigeration, and it's true for tray dispensers, as well. Whether you're a corporate dining facility, a hospital cafeteria, or something in between, the formula is relatively simple. Will the benefits of a tray dispenser weigh more than the initial cost of purchasing one? Let's break down three benefits that factor into determining the return on investment of tray dispensers.

A Tray Dispenser Frees Up Back-Of-The-House Workers

It's been well documented that we're in the midst of The Great Recession, and one of the byproducts of our current situation is that foodservice operators are finding it very difficult to hire and retain staff. The more an operator can make labor more efficient, the easier it will be to alleviate staffing issues.

Among the largest benefits of tray dispensers are the freedom staff members will experience from not needing to run stacks of trays to the serving line. The back of the house can focus on food preparation, and the serving staff can focus on the guest experience. Not only are the stacks of trays heavy and cumbersome, but carrying them through crowded areas can pose a risk of harm to the workers and others.

With a tray dispenser, the need for carrying trays is eliminated, and the trays will not pile up in the back of the house, either. Everything can move more smoothly and efficiently, and it will be easier to achieve operational goals. There are various types of dispensers, including those that also hold flatware, so it's important to consider all factors when determining which tray dispenser will work best.

Get More Shelf Space With a Tray Dispenser

Investing in a tray dispenser provides the opportunity to free up shelf space that is currently taken up by stacks of trays. Those trays will be transferred to a mobile cart, and the resulting shelf space can be used for other things, such as merchandising other foods and beverages that will enhance profits. The dispenser also allows for storing trays in a manner that is both sanitary and safe, so they are ready to be used when needed.

When trays are stored on shelves, they can collect dust, take up too much space, and be in the way of other items that also need space. A tray dispenser solves those issues conveniently and provides a company with a specific place to store trays in a neat and orderly fashion. Having a designated location for those trays makes it easier to keep back-of-house areas organized and to help workers handle foodservice operations faster and with fewer concerns.

Buying a Tray Dispenser Heightens Mobility

The mobility that comes from buying a tray dispenser is extremely important. Being able to quickly move trays from one location to the next means it takes less time for workers to set up an event or prepare for any other foodservice operations. From feeding hungry school children to prepping a corporate banquet, foodservice takes a lot of behind-the-scenes work. Being more mobile makes that work faster, and allows workers to be more efficient at setup and take-down no matter the frequency of the event.

Depending on the layout of the space and the type of foodservice needs a company or organization has, the location where food is served may not be directly adjacent to the food prep area. Being mobile in those cases is vital to making sure trays reach their intended destination. There will not be a need to carry heavy trays back and forth or struggle with the time limits for setting up and removing the food and supplies when workers have the mobility that comes with a tray dispenser.

Finding the right tray dispenser does not have to be difficult. There are several types and designs to choose from, so any company can locate the dispensers that work for their needs. The number of trays needed, the layout of the space where the dispenser will be used, and the options for storing it and the trays when not in use all matter, to make the right decision.

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How to Improve Your Meal Delivery Efficiency

There are many keys to successful meal delivery. One of them is to ensure that meals delivered are fresh and of high quality. Another key is to deliver meals quickly and efficiently. Consequently, these goals often go hand-in-hand, and there are several ways for operators to help achieve them.

Here are three ideas for operators to consider when looking to improve meal delivery efficiency, while also preserving quality.

Transport More Meals At The Same Time.

It might seem obvious, but transporting more meals at once can make meal delivery more efficient. Delivering fewer meals at the same time means that the entire process is less efficient, and less efficiency can reduce profitability because, yes, time is essentially money. Breaking up these meals into separate deliveries increases the transportation costs.

For this reason, it makes more sense to transport a greater number of meals at the same time. this can also help improve meal quality as prepared foods won't need to wait as long in the kitchen for the next wave of delivery.

Make Sure To Deliver Meals Securely and Safely.

Another method one can use to improve meal delivery efficiency is to ensure that all meals are delivered securely and safely. There are a number of things one can do to make sure this is the case. From ensuring that packaged items arrive intact to keeping food at proper serving temperatures from the kitchen to the fork, food safety is ultimately the most important aspect of any operation, from senior care communities to schools and corporate cafeterias.

Again preserving quality is a byproduct of safety. When items are kept and served at proper temperatures, not only do they remain safe for service, but they also retain the desired qualities that make food appetizing.

Utilize High-Quality Meal Transport Carts.

One more way to make meal delivery efficient is to use high-quality meal transport carts. Ideally, one would use delivery carts that can be easily moved, are durable, and can be moved outside across a variety of surfaces. Consider the types of surfaces over which they will move. Sometimes bumpy tiles and even elevator thresholds can be obstacles to food delivery, and Lakeside's team of experts can help.

The Lunch-Time Meal Transport Kiosk is suitable for this delivery. It is made from stainless steel for easy cleaning and sanitation. This kiosk is also made to accommodate a combination of coolers or thermal bags to handle various changing menus.

Curbside foodservice carts are another good option. The Curbside Pick-Up Cart is one such cart and it includes a durable stainless steel construction. It also has an all-weather cover, so one can use it in a variety of weather conditions. The Curbside Pick-Up Cart comes with all-swivel casters so it can move easily. All this, combined with its convenient push handle, makes it one of the top-notch curbside foodservice carts available today.

Meal delivery solutions are key to effective meal delivery. One can choose from a variety of different curbside and pick-up carts in addition to other products like drying racks. Steam tables are one more example of the meal delivery solutions that are available. All of these solutions can make it easy for one to deliver meals effectively.

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How Meal Delivery Presentation Impacts Your Bottom Line

How Meal Delivery Presentation Impacts Your Bottom Line

Here's a little puzzle: What part of the body does a person first use to eat? The answer might not be obvious at first, but people first eat with their eyes. Whether that's in a fine dining restaurant when a plate is placed in front of the guest or when people are at home enjoying the convenience of delivery, presentation that appeals to the eyes by being attractive is an essential part of customer satisfaction and operator revenue. Presentation draws people to food and entices them to select it.

Defining Meal Delivery Presentation

More specifically, the way the food is arranged, the photographs and designs that are on the package, the color and shape of the food, and so much more -- all those elements definitely are part of meal delivery presentation. Just as importantly, the cart or other equipment and supplies on which food is served also contribute to happier customers and more successful operators.

There are some key reasons why food presentation and appearance are so important. For one, when food is attractive, it communicates the message that the restaurant or operation offers quality. Also, meal delivery presentation influences what food customers select. People gravitate toward food choices that are pleasing to the eyes. In addition, presentation enhances customer perception of the food they are getting. Ultimately, all of those affect the bottom line as a result of increased sales.

Meal Delivery Carts

Meal delivery carts can be the perfect solution for successful meal delivery, while at the same time matching the preferred aesthetic. That includes unique colors, designs, and configurations. Various carts from Lakeside are available for hospital room service, steam tables, tray delivery carts, tray starter stations, and curbside & carry out. Those carts provide a great way to conveniently and stylishly deliver many types of food and beverages. Even better, Lakeside's units are sturdy, fast, efficient, and quiet.

Many Foodservice Environments

Lakeside's team understands and serves all types of foodservice environments, including K-12, colleges and universities, B&I, healthcare, hospitals, assisted living communities, nursing homes, rehabilitation homes, and more. The company helps by providing innovative, sustainable, and efficient food service equipment combined with extensive online resources to ultimately help enhance customers' experiences and so much more.

For any business, the goal is to boost the bottom line. There's no doubt about the fact that meal delivery presentation increases sales and improves the bottom line. With so many appealing choices available when it comes to meal delivery carts, there is a smart solution to meet any meal delivery presentation need. The challenge is narrowing down from all those excellent options and choosing the perfect configuration.

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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:


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.


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.


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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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.


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.