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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.

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The Multifunctionality of Foodservice Utility Carts: What To Know

 

If you work in the foodservice industry, heavy-duty utility carts are a great way to transport a wide variety of items, protect valuable inventory, and is a safe storage space. Regardless of whether you're moving boxes, retrieving supplies, or getting ready for an upcoming event, you can make life easier by relying on multifunctional utility carts, but what does multifunctional really mean? Why is it important? And what are should operators look for when considering foodservice utility carts?

Transport Supplies Seamlessly From Place to Place

Of course, one of the first ways you can use multifunctional utility carts is to transport supplies easily from place to place. For example, you might have food and beverages that you need to move to a specific room for an upcoming event. Maybe you need to move cups, plates, and napkins. Perhaps you have fragile items that deserve added protection. Heavy-duty utility carts are versatile pieces of equipment that can accommodate all of your transportation requirements.

Keep Your Supplies Organized

If you don't keep your supplies organized, you might have a hard time efficiently carrying out your daily operations. Utility carts come with a bunch of helpful compartments that allow you to organize inventory, hardware, and other tools. That way, you make life easier for your employees and workers. They can hang their tools on the side, divide items by compartment, and make sure all fragile items have proper protection. You can also save space on storage, as you can keep some items on your utility carts if you use them regularly.

Take Advantage of Customizable Options

Different niches and industries have different needs, so you might want to customize your utility cart depending on your specific line of work. For example, you might want to choose vertical panels that provide added protection or privacy. You might want to hang pegboards on the side of your utility carts for hanging tools. You can also use shelves that have cantilevered type adjustments that create more space or make your cart easier to transport. If you want to increase the efficiency of your operations, take advantage of a personalized, customized heavy-duty utility card.

Handle Heavy Loads

Utility carts have been specifically designed to be strong and durable. If you have heavy loads that you need to transport from place to place, you can use a foodservice utility cart to help you. You do not have to worry about purchasing heavy equipment or asking your employees to manually transport heavy loads from place to place. This can significantly reduce the chances of your employees getting hurt, and you can provide your industrial equipment with the protection it requires. If you need to transport heavy loads from place to place quickly and safely, multifunctional utility carts are the way to go.

Take Advantage of Foodservice Utility Carts from Lakeside

If you work in the foodservice, catering, hospitality, or restaurant industry, you understand the importance of having heavy-duty utility carts you can use regularly. Because your utility carts can serve more than one purpose, you can reduce the equipment required by using this valuable piece of equipment to fulfill multiple roles. Furthermore, you can take advantage of added storage space while making life easier for your staff. If you want to get the most out of your utility carts, count on the foodservice professionals from Lakeside to help you.

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The 5 Levels of Durability in Lakeside Utility Carts

Utility carts can provide a wide range of functions in commercial foodservice or operational foodservice environments. Whether it's delivering meals to a kindergarten classroom or mobile foodservice on a college campus, what you're moving, how much it weighs, how far it goes, and how often a cart is used should be factored into the decision on which cart to buy. But more on that in a minute.

There are definitely some ideas for strengthening your mobile foodservice capabilities, though, and one of them is to determine how durable a cart is needed based on Lakeside's five levels of durability. How are levels determined?

Basically, Lakeside's Durability Index is a function of how the cart will perform over time performing the functions it was designed to perform. This is a calculation that goes beyond simply adding up the total weight of the cargo. It involves analyzing other factors like the weight individual shelves will hold, the type of flooring over which the cart will move, and the number of times per day the cart will be used.

Lakeside then takes this data to create and develop cost-effective solutions that will meet the demand of their Durability Index, and they fall into five different categories.

A Quick Comparison of Lakeside's Durability Index Ratings

STANDARD DURABILITY CARTS

For starters, Lakeside offers standard durability utility carts that are designed to transport lighter loads of 300 pounds or less for up to three hours per day. These are classic cart options that take care of all the important and basic functions an operator would need including bussing, set-up tray stations, and more. Use Standard Durability models over smooth tiles, vinyl tile floors, and smooth indoor concrete.

MEDIUM DURABILITY CARTS

These economical carts can be used in the front-of-the-house or for more utilitarian functions like deep well utilities. Shelving is reinforced with a hemmed front for more moderate loads of up to 500 pounds. They are designed to be used from four to nine hours a day over smooth surfaces.

HEAVY-DUTY CARTS

As with the other tiers in Lakeside's Durability Index, the higher you go on the scale, the more weight the cart can handle. In the case of Lakeside's Heavy Duty carts, they can transport weights of up to 700 pounds for as many as 12 hours a day. From the receiving dock to the warewashing station, loads can be transported over vinyl, ceramic tiles, indoor concrete, and carpet.

TOUGH TRANSPORT CARTS

The higher we get on the Durability Index, the more these carts can handle. For operators looking to transport up to half a ton per load, the Tough Transport Cart option will achieve those objectives from 10 to 18 hours per day. To provide even more functionality, caster systems are designed to roll over uneven tile floors, thresholds, elevators and carpets. With shelving made from 14 gauge stainless steel and legs that are 1/8 inch stainless steel, Tough Transport Carts can handle just about any job.

EXTREME DUTY CARTS

Finally, for operators who need the ultimate in durability, Lakeside's Extreme Duty Carts deliver the ultimate in performance, with carrying capacities up to 1,500 pounds for use around the clock. These carts are often used for extreme functions in operations ranging from casinos to correctional facilities across any type of surface, from the parking lot to uneven pavement.

Use our helpful guide to determine which level of durability you need.

If the above information is helpful, but you're still finding it difficult to determine exactly which durability level you need, check out our easy-to-use cart picker. Simply answer a few questions about your intended use cases, and we'll direct you to the models that will suit you best -- nothing more, nothing less.

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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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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.