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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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3 Ways to Boost Foodservice Revenue on College Campuses

Revenue Boosters for K12 Foodservice

College and university campuses are often spread over several acres in multiple collections of buildings. Students are typically in a hurry to get from one class to another, and the thought of having to waste precious time hunting down a quick bite or snack can be the difference between making it on time or being late.

For college and university foodservice directors, this presents an opportunity to be more profitable by considering a few important points. Knowing the characteristics of today’s college student combined with the current state of foodservice reveals three important ways that directors can boost foodservice revenue.

SERVE POPULAR FOODS & BEVERAGES

To start, C&U directors need to serve items students want to buy. This is a no-brainer. Either those popular food and beverage options are available on campus, or students will go off-campus to find them.

On the food side, popular culinary trends should be considered, as well as ethnic foods that speak to a wider range of students. Foods that are quick and easy to purchase and consume are also important, as college students rarely have time to sit and indulge for hours on end. For beverages, coffee kiosks can always be a profitable option. According to the National Library of Medicine, 92 percent of college students drink coffee, so C&U directors might as well make it easy for students to buy.

MAKE USE OF UNUSED SPACES

Because college and university campuses are often so large and spread out, that means there are typically underused spaces that can become profitable with just a little imagination and the right food serving equipment.

Consider creating or moving a point of service from one part of campus to another to maximize the potential of unused spaces. Areas to consider are spacious halls or corridors, outside walkways, around or near athletic centers, or outside of auditoriums. By looking at these spaces as points of sale and profit centers, directors can significantly increase revenue in areas of campus that are otherwise unused.

MAXIMIZE THE POWER OF LABOR

As we’re seeing across the foodservice industry, whether it’s on a college campus or even a fine dining restaurant, labor is a significant challenge for foodservice directors and operators. There’s a clear movement toward technologically driven foodservice complete with automation and streamlined processes. As it relates to food and beverage kiosks and serving areas on a college campus, it’s important to ensure those serving stations are easy to use, easy to clean, reliable, durable, and require the smallest amount of labor possible.

From grab-n-go food stations to coffee kiosks, Lakeside provides a full range of mobile foodservice solutions that create points of sale that are durable, reliable, and easy to operate. We invite you to explore our C&U foodservice solutions today.

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Dishing Out Advice: How to Select a Plate Dispenser

Blog image with blue background and stacks of white plates in foreground

Plate dispensers are a critical component in a wide range of foodservice types. From hospitals and healthcare to hospitality and banquets, providing access to plating and tabletop can keep operations running smoothly for staff members.

So what’s an easy and effective way to distribute plates? A plate dispenser. And what are the most important things to look for and consider when choosing a plate dispenser? Let’s go through those factors one by one.

1.) Where are the plates dispensed?

This is a matter of mobility. Will plates be dispensed from a single location or will there be the need to move the plate dispenser around? For buffet lines in a banquet hall, for example, a mobile unit might be best as the serving line will likely change depending on the service. For cafeteria settings, a countertop stationary unit will likely meet challenges. To move or not to move, that is the first question.

2.) Is there a need for heat?

Hot food shouldn't be offset by chilled plates. Some plate dispensers include a heating element that keeps plates warm before they’re used in service. This is ideal when hot food is served or when there will be issues with temperature maintenance.

3.) What size plates will the unit hold?

When operators want flexibility with plate dispensing capabilities, it might make sense to consider units that provide for adjustable sizes. For example, if service includes both a salad and an entrée course, a plate dispenser that adjusts for both 7-inch plates and 10-inch plates can help provide much-needed versatility. What if china isn’t purchased yet or there’s a chance it could change in the future? Adjustable sizing can help in these situations, too. Likewise, standard dispensers are ideal when exact diameters are known or when china will remain consistent throughout the life of the unit.

4.) Does size matter?

It certainly does. Check with china manufacturers to determine variance to ensure a proper fit inside the plate dispenser unit. To calculate capacity, stack plates and compare with the capacity of the dispenser.

Looking for more information on plate dispensers to meet your unique challenges? Talk with an expert at Lakeside.

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The Best Tray Delivery Cart for Every Size Medical Facility

Woman in hospital bed smiling at nurse and holding meal tray

The Best Tray Delivery Carts for Every Size Medical Facility

Foodservice in hospitals and healthcare facilities is one of the most important but often overlooked aspects of patient care. It’s important because it so closely ties to patient wellbeing and the financial wellbeing of the facility, and it’s overlooked because… well, we’re not quite sure.

The reality is delivering food and nourishment from the kitchen to the patients is a critical component to the overall success of a healthcare foodservice operation and selecting the right tray delivery cart can make a huge difference.

Here are five important areas to consider when purchasing a meal delivery cart for your hospital.

SAFETY COMES FIRST.

The people served in hospitals are there for a reason. There’s no need to give them an illness caused by foodborne pathogens. Yes, when it comes to delivering meals from the kitchen to the bedside, safety comes first. Food should be held at proper temperatures, and when it is, there’s a high probability those foods will also retain their desired, nourishing qualities that are so important for patient recovery. So, yes, safety comes first, but the byproduct can also be wellness.

MAINTAIN QUALITY.

Similar to safety, when food is held in the ideal storage conditions as it moves from point A to point B, there’s a better chance those foods will retain their desired qualities. Why is this important? Patient satisfaction. And patient satisfaction ratings play a key role in the reimbursement rates a hospital receives. What’s one of the biggest contributors to high or low patient satisfaction ratings? The quality of the food. Well-made tray delivery carts will help foods maintain temperature, contributing to safety, wellness, and quality.

HOW’S THE HANDLING?

The key word in “tray delivery cart” is delivery. Moving a collection of meals from the kitchen to patient floors is the goal, and that requires maneuverability and mobility. How far away do meals travel? How narrow are the hallways or turns? Over what type of surfaces will carts roll? These are all important questions, and with a food delivery cart designed for handling and equipped with high-end casters, maneuverability will be made easier.

HOW LONG WILL IT LAST?

The flip side of the maneuverability coin is durability. Even for the best-handling food tray carts, there are still likely to be times when carts bang against walls, crash into closing doors, or roll across hard surfaces that will shake and rattle the cart’s construction down to the core. This is when design and craftsmanship become important in order to extend the life of the equipment.

HOW MANY MEALS CAN IT HOLD?

Lastly, healthcare foodservice operators must consider volume. The right cart will most certainly vary from hospital to hospital based on the number of patients served, how long the runs from the kitchen to the bedside, and in some cases, even what is being served. Quantities are key, as having a tray delivery cart capacity that’s much lower than the volume served will result in additional trips and overstretched labor.

Find the tray delivery cart that’s right for your hospital foodservice program.

The team at Lakeside specialize in food delivery systems for hospitals and other types of healthcare facilities. Schedule a free healthcare foodservice equipment assessment with one of our experts today, and find the right tray delivery cart that meets your unique set of challenges.

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6 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Foodservice Cart

6 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Foodservice Cart

The right foodservice cart can be a huge asset for any type of foodservice establishment. While different types of operations will certainly have different sets of challenges and solutions, as a general best practice, it’s important to ask a series of questions before determining which cart is right.

Let’s go through them one by one.

What are you serving?

The first question to ask is what’s on the menu? This will have a huge impact on the type and capabilities of the foodservice cart needed to execute successful service. Things to consider are the need for refrigerated merchandising, warming, or even a potential menu board. Will grab-n-go food and beverages be available? What you’re serving will impact how it’s served. Volume is also important. This will potentially impact the size of the serving station and features like shelving and storage. Lakeside has a wide variety of utility carts with different weight capacities that can be used in various operations offering the perfect solution.

Where are you serving it?

A foodservice cart can be stationary, or it can be mobile. If you’re looking for versatility through mobility, a traditional serving line or a permanent kiosk won’t work. Decide whether or not you want to move the point of service around the property or the establishment, and then select serving carts that support those goals. Consider the space and terrain, as well. If the cart will be used in a hilly area with inclines, it might be appropriate to consider a motorized cart with brakes.

Who are you serving it to?

This is where the type of operation enters the equation. Are you serving coffee to staff and guests in a local hospital? Students on a college campus? Sandwiches outside a hotel conference room? No matter how you look at it, the customer will always dictate how food and beverages are distributed, which will impact the selection of a foodservice cart.

What should the cart look like?

Appearance and aesthetics tie into the type of operation and the end customers, too. If a serving solution is located in a fancy ballroom, the expectation is that it should have a certain elevated appeal that matches the décor of space. If it’s a coffee cart in a local high school, it should have a more spirited, durable appearance. Yes, we first eat and drink with our eyes, but in most cases, before we get to look at the food, our first impression is of where the food is being served. With Lakeside's wide selection of utility carts, you'll be sure to find the perfect cart for your operations.

While different types of operations will certainly have different sets of challenges and solutions, as a general best practice, it’s important to ask a series of questions before determining which cart is right.

Who is staffing it?

We’re in the midst of a national labor shortage in just about every type of industry. Foodservice has been one of the hardest hit. Now more than ever, when selecting a food and beverage serving cart, it’s also important to consider staff. Questions to ask are: How easy is it to clean a unit? Is maintenance difficult? Is it easy to transport the station across the property? Essentially, usability is a key component when selecting a foodservice cart.

How durable does your foodservice cart need to be?

Every cart should be well-made and durable, but on a deeper level, how rigorous will its usage be? For example, does the type of material matter? Would steel be better than rubber? Should the cart have bumpers because it’s being maneuvered in high-trafficked areas with lots of obstacles. Select a foodservice cart for durability if it will be subjected to severe usage.

Now that you have your answers, what do they mean?

The first step is to consider and compile answers from the questions above, as they will dictate the type of foodservice cart you need. The harder part can be interpreting those answers. That’s where the team at Lakeside and our family of brands can help. Schedule some time with us to go over these six considerations, and we can help you locate the foodservice cart that makes the most sense for your desired goals.

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Casters 101: Everything You Need to Go

Casters 101: Everything You Need to Go And equipment that doesn’t have solid, durable casters might not be capable of reaching those far-off locations to achieve mobile service.

If we all agree that mobility and versatility are desired benefits in a foodservice operation, we can also agree that it’s casters that can help make everything go as it relates to mobile foodservice.

In most cases, whether it’s a mobile serving cart or a tray rack, the casters are the only things that are grounded, so it’s important to make sure the journey is as easy as possible.

Before we get into the details on casters, we need to consider the challenges presented when using mobile foodservice equipment.

Depending on the type of operation, units might need to be moved all the way across a property or even a college campus. There could be a combination of gravel paths, bumpy sidewalks, and even grass to navigate. And equipment that doesn’t have solid, durable casters might not be capable of reaching those far-off locations to achieve mobile service.

Let’s take a look at the different things to consider when looking for mobile foodservice equipment that gains its ability to go from casters.

CASTER COMPOSITION

Casters can be made of different materials, and each has its own unique set of benefits. Some are better for rolling on carpeted surfaces, while others are better for outdoor applications. If the goal is to move serving carts outside on sidewalks or driveways, fully pneumatic casters with treads are the best option. Semi-pneumatic casters are great for carpeted surfaces, while hard rubber casters are great for staying within a kitchen. For the best versatility, polyurethane casters are typically the best option.

CASTER SIZE

The next question is size. How big should casters be? The most common size of foodservice caster is five inches, but as a rule of thumb, the heavier the equipment being moved, the larger the caster. When casters are larger, it makes moving them easier, especially for heavy loads.

BEARINGS

While some smaller foodservice equipment and supplies such as mop buckets might have plastic bearings, heavy-duty equipment like serving stations and tray racks should have heavy-duty, metal ball bearings for adding durability.

ROTATION

For equipment that is being steered across a room or even across the property, it’s highly recommended that at least two of the casters have swivel capabilities to make movement easier. Steering a unit with four fixed wheels is nearly impossible, so using swivel casters makes tight turns a lot easier.

BRAKES

Brakes or stops are a great way to prevent accidents and keep units locked down in a single location. Especially when units are large and heavy, having the ability to slow them down when descending a hill, or being able to lock them in place once service begins, can be a great benefit. Brakes help.

Learn more about casters from an expert at Lakeside.

Book time with one of our representatives today and discover why we use heavy-duty casters on all of our equipment to ensure longevity and durability.

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It’s a Setup: Layouts Where Linenless Equipment Steals the Show

It’s a Setup: Layouts Where Linenless Equipment Steals the Show

We’ve already detailed how linens can create extra costs for foodservice operations. Whether it’s in a hotel banquet room, a restaurant, or even on a college campus, the use of linens – while elevated – can actually bring down an operation’s bottom line.

Once an operator or foodservice division runs the calculations and determines the lifetime costs of linens just aren’t worth it, the next step is to decide how to move away from them. And then once an operator selects the right type of linenless serving solutions to make the lineless transition easier, the final step is to determine where to set up the points of service.

Ideation for Linenless Foodservice

AL FRESCO

Take foodservice outside. This has been the theme for the last 18 months or so, but outside dining opportunities were very popular well before Covid. The problem has always been setting up the points of service, and getting those points of service to the right location. When an operator has a foodservice kiosk with the ability and durability to move it poolside or across campus without the need for linens, it makes outdoor food and beverage options not only attainable but desirable.

LOBBIES

Hotel lobbies are one of the main differentiating advantages over personal home rental services like Airbnb and VRBO, and for hotel foodservice operators looking to increase sales, they can be transformed into points of sale with the right equipment. From a wine cart next to the fire on a warm night to a grab-n-go service for busy business travelers, there are always great ways to transform lobbies into much more than just a hello or goodbye.

HALLWAYS

Whether it’s a long corridor in a convention hall or outside classrooms on a college campus, hallways are a great place to consider service without the need for linens. The one great advantage they have is foot traffic, so why not take advantage of it by providing thoughtful foods and beverages?

AT THE GAME

Speaking of foot traffic, consider the amount of foot traffic seen on a stadium concourse, quad on campus, or any surrounding area to a large event like sports or concerts. With an endless amount of mobile retail opportunities for concessions, merchandise, and souvenirs, or a combination of all three, dirty linens would only hamper point of sale success. All the more reason that operators are big fans of linenless equipment.

Do any of these locations sound like future points of service?

Lakeside and our collection of brands comprise a range of linenless serving solutions that can fit just about every occasion. The trick is finding the right type of unit for current and future needs, and we can help by going through a catalog of considerations. Start your search for linenless foodservice solutions today by talking with one of our experts.

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Bottom Line Booster: Linenless Serving

Bottom Line Booster: Linenless Serving

Americans are quitting their jobs in droves.

In fact, many are calling the current labor shortages The Great Resignation as more and more people are looking to earn their green in greener pastures.

But the reality is labor has been a challenge for much longer than the last few months for hospitality foodservice, restaurants, caterers, and other types of operations.

Even before the pandemic began, staffing was one of the top challenges foodservice operators faced. Now, as we emerge from the pandemic, it’s the top one.

Even in the current climate of rising costs and supply chain issues, three out of four operators say recruitment and retention is their toughest challenge according to the National Restaurant Association’s 2021 State of the Restaurant Industry Mid-Year Update. 

This has many hotel and hospitality foodservice operations looking for answers and solutions. One option is to consider a linen service, which can be even more expensive. The other option is to just pull the tablecloth off the table altogether.

Reduce Staffing Needs and Boost Your Bottom Line

Linens. The bottom line is they’re expensive, and they can impact your bottom line. From staff hours required to prepare and store them to the expensive utility costs that come with cleaning, linens can be a drain on profitability, and when you add up the lifetime cost of linens.

Many operators are looking at linenless alternatives that won’t impact the elevated aesthetics that linens provide, and our team at Lakeside has come up with some great solutions.

Lakeside’s Traveler Series Serving Tables

Create the ideal serving table to match the aesthetic of just about any operation with the Traveler Series. With 12 different laminate finishes and the ability to easily move tables throughout the property, operators can drop the linens while also adding mobility to the point of service.

The Key to Linenless Service…

… is to make sure the units you use will elevate service in the same way a white tablecloth can, without all the overhead that linens require. With solutions from Lakeside, we can help.

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Worth the Wash? The Lifetime Cost of Linens

Worth the Wash? The Lifetime Cost of Linens

As the years add up, so does the cost of using linens in hospitality and conference center foodservice operations. Depending on the size of the facility and the volume of events, it can literally cost thousands of dollars annually to purchase and maintain linens, and that doesn’t even include the additional labor costs. When you add those years up, the numbers can be staggering.

So, what are the alternatives to using linens? Why are they used in the first place? And what are the important considerations when going linenless in a hotel catering or banquet service? Let’s take a look at the three most important details.

AESTHETICS

It’s important to begin with the reasons linens are used in the first place. Simply put, linens add an element of refinement to a service. They look nice and are aesthetically pleasing, so operators use them to elevate an event.

MOBILITY & VERSATILITY

Linens are also popular because they can convert tables or serving stations in any location into a point of service and do it in aesthetically pleasing ways as mentioned above. The point is buffets and serving lines aren’t always in the same places, so linens are mobile, so to speak.

STORAGE & SPACE

Lastly, linens are easy to store and don’t require a lot of space when they’re not in use.

The Benefits of Linen vs. the Alternative

The reasons linens are desirable are obvious. We all love refined service when we’re at a wedding or an important catered business function. But this is from the guest perspective. What about the operator?

As we mentioned, linens are costly and require a significant amount of labor to keep them clean. Cleaning requires either the ability to wash them in-house or use an expensive service. When linens are cleaned in-house, water and electricity usage climbs. It can literally translate to thousands of dollars in cost.

There are alternatives, though, that still meet the benefits listed above, and one of those solutions is the Traveler Series Serving Tables from Lakeside. These durable units do not require the use of linens and can be easily moved throughout the property. Let’s look at the Traveler Series through the lens of the benefits.

AESTHETICS

Lakeside’s Traveler Series Serving Tables come with beautiful laminate finishes. With 12 optional laminate top finishes and even more solid surface finishes available, operators will find an aesthetic that matches the existing space. From Victorian Cherry to Sand Stone, the looks are as varied as the guests who will use them.

MOBILITY & VERSATILITY

All units come with durable casters that allow for transport across the property. This means just about any area of a hotel or conference center can be turned into a serving station in a matter of minutes simply by rolling a table into place. Units come in various sizes, too, from 30-inches all the way up to 60.

STORAGE & SPACE

The Traveler Series Serving Tables can be purchased as nesting tables with the option for two or three different heights. This makes storage easy while also providing an added level of versatility.