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Inclusive Workplaces: ADA Compliant Cashier Stations

Inclusive Workplaces: ADA Compliant Cashier Stations

Today, any business owner understands the need to ensure the business remains compliant with ADA requirements. One common thing to consider is getting a convenient cashier station with the required height. In this post, we'll help you discover the ADA standards for your business. Ensuring every individual has equal access is crucial for all businesses. But what is the ADA?

The Americans with Disabilities Act affects practically all businesses with 15 or more full-time employees. The company can be online-only, public websites, or brick-and-mortar stores. Generally, the idea for these compliance rules is to ensure all public accommodations are accessible to all members of the public.

When it comes to retail and foodservice, countertops are a big consideration, as cashier counters should be long, wide, and short enough to allow employees and customers with disabilities to gain access to goods and services. It is common to find high sales and service counters that people in wheelchairs cannot reach. Therefore, modifying them to match the required standards is important.

ADA-compliant cashier stations need to be 36 inches wide and high to accommodate all shoppers and persons with disabilities. From a forward perspective, leave 12 inches of knee space below the counter to ensure anyone in it is comfortable and has easy mobility.

Equally important, locate the cashier counter in an area with a clear room with abundant space. The room space for the cashier counter should measure at least 30 inches by 48 inches. The clear floor allows for the free movement of wheelchairs and large appliances. There should be no clutter or obstructions that can present any danger in an accident.

Why Is ADA Compliance Important?

There are many reasons why a business should be ADA compliant. The top ones are:

  • The ADA is the law: the ADA is a law at the federal level and helps protect everyone with disabilities against discrimination. It helps to monitor businesses as they should comply with the typical requirements of accessible design, which means as long as you are operating a business in the US, the standards apply to you
  • You will gain and retain customers. According to the U. S. Census Bureau, one person in every five you meet has a form of disability. Thus, you will likely have some people with disabilities among your target customers.
  • Word of mouth advertising: Generally, the disability community is often tight-knit and sticks together. They are likely to encourage others to become your customers when you deliver exceptional customer service.
  • Tax write-offs and financial assistance: ADA creates standards and resources that help meet compliance goals. Being ADA compliant increases your chances of financial assistance and lowers the possibility of ADA violation.
  • It's the right thing to do. Doing whatever you can do to help a wider segment of the population is just a nice and kind way to act.

What Can Happen If A Business Is Not In Compliance?

Understanding the consequences of not complying with ADA rules will enable you to avoid penalties. They include:

  • It attracts huge fines. According to federal laws, a non-compliant business may pay up to $75,000 in fines for the first violation. Any additional ADA violations may go up to $150,000. These are direct penalties that you need to avoid by ensuring your business is ADA-approved.
  • Lawsuits by people with disabilities: If you don't offer adequate public accommodation, you expose your business to lawsuits, civil penalties, or personal injury issues from customers or employees.
  • Damage to your business reputation: This is perhaps the most financially damaging consequence if your business is not ADA compliant. You will lose reputation among your potential customers, meaning low sales and fewer customers.

It is essential to remain ADA compliant and serve your customers effectively. Here are Multiteria's ADA-compliant cashier stations that you can purchase today for your business.

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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.

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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.

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The Environmental and Financial Impact of Foodservice Linens

The Environmental and Financial Impact of Foodservice Linens

When we think about linens, we often envision the white tablecloth in a fine dining restaurant or the hundreds of cloth napkins at a business banquet, or even the coverings on a serving line. While they can help create an aura of elegance and refinement, the reality is linens can have a negative impact on the environment, which in turn can have a negative impact on a foodservice operation’s bottom line.

Buying linens isn’t just the only expense. It also costs money to use them and keep them clean, and those costs can be quite expensive. Just consider an Atlanta area restaurateur who spends roughly $2,000 per month on linen costs spread across six different locations.

What are the reasons linens are so costly? The same reasons they can also have a negative impact on the environment — utilities.

As energy prices rise and water becomes scarcer, it’s going to cost foodservice operators more and more to operate a business using linens. Energy uses more of our natural resources, and just one look in the newspapers in the American Southwest is all that’s needed to see just how important water is today.

Of course, operators also need staff to help set up, break down, and clean linens. In today’s environment, staff is harder to find than ever, particularly in the foodservice industry. This creates an additional burden for operators who are looking to add fine white to a food serving line.

Whether it’s in-house staffing that can be hard to find or expensive linen services, foodservice operators are now looking at other alternatives to traditional linens that can consume resources and finances.

What are the alternatives to linen?

More than just about anything, linens are used for aesthetics to create an air of refinement. Whether it’s tables or buffet serving lines, when operators use serving stations that meet visual standards and can complement the overall décor of the room, it goes a long way toward the elimination of linens. Look for serving stations that have a variety of aesthetic options, or even better, that provide the level of customization needed to create the desired look.

Lakeside has solutions specifically to help erase the need for linen by providing functionality, durability, and a level of aesthetics that will enhance any serving line situation.

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Finding Comfort, and Profitability, in Mobile Coffee Stations

It's 3 a.m. in the maternity ward of the nearby hospital. An exhausted, soon-to-be father going on 36 hours of no sleep is making his way down the hallway to grab a cup of coffee to keep him alert when he needs to jump into action to help his wife.

Meanwhile, in the lobby, an excited set of grandparents arrive, ready to start their day with a hot, fresh cup of coffee, eagerly awaiting the arrival of their grandchild. While seemingly insignificant, those cups of coffee carry an enormous impact on these hospital guests seeking comfort when they need it the most.

It's well known that foodservice plays a critical role in hospital and healthcare operations. Not only is food and beverage critical for wellness, but it can also provide comfort to both patients and visitors alike while creating profit points for operators. A hospital’s overall satisfaction ratings are largely dependent on how foodservice is perceived, and those same satisfaction ratings play a key role in an operation’s reimbursement rates.

More and more hospitals and healthcare establishments are turning to alternative points of sale as it relates to food and beverage, using otherwise unprofitable parts of a hospital and turning it into the potential for profits. Kiosks and mobile serving units are a big part of this equation. This brings us back to that cup of coffee.

Coffee Kiosks Provide Value and Profit

More than just about any other type of food and beverage operation, coffee kiosks will generate interest amongst hospital guests and visitors, but what considerations do operators need to determine before initiating a kiosk coffee program that results in high patient satisfaction?

MENU

What styles of coffee beverages are being served, and will there be additional food items or other types of beverages on the menu? This is an important determination that will impact just about every other decision, from the type of kiosk cart being used to the ordering and inventory process. Using just one espresso machine? What about syrups and other extras to add to guests' drinks? Think about both the menu you plan to serve and the space you have to serve it.

LOCATION

Next, where will the cart be located, and is it important to be able to move the cart from place to place throughout the day or week? Again, this will impact that type of cart being used, as well as other factors such as service hours. Looking for flexibility as to where you plan to offer your coffee service? Consider portable, mobile coffee counters that can move through hallways with ease, with plug-and-play functionality.

SERVICE HOURS

Service hours are important from both a staffing and a menu perspective, as this can change depending on the certain type of daypart. At the same time, service hours will determine where coffee stations should be located. For example, if a coffee kiosk is operational 24 hours a day, during the nighttime hours, it should be located in a place where it won’t disturb sleeping patients. Lobby coffee kiosks will likely result in the highest traffic of guests, so refrigeration and sinks may be additional components to add to a kiosk, as opposed to a self-contained smaller counter.

Healthcare Foodservice Is Interdependent

As you can see, the three factors above are all interdependent on one another. Hours of service will impact location and menu and vice versa. Regardless of the decisions on the above, though, the one important factor that might provide the versatility to run an operation as desired is the actual type of kiosk being used. In healthcare, it's important to be flexible, ready at any moment, and provide comfort when it's needed most. Your coffee station should reflect those same characteristics.

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The State of Our Food Supply

The State of Our Food Supply

From dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks to pursuing solutions that allow foodservice operations to stay operational, things have been increasingly challenging in the last year. At the very beginning of the pandemic, there were concerns about food shortages as it relates to processing and distributing our food supply, and those challenges continue in varying forms today.

Let's start back at the beginning when the national food supply was in possible jeopardy and was an unknown factor. Many people rushed to grocery stores to stock up for weeks and even months on canned and frozen goods. This left grocery shelves bare and consumers terrified for what was to come.

The industry that struggled the most during this period was the meat processing business.  With heavy staffing working in proximity, many processing staff members fell ill with the coronavirus causing many plants to close. Companies responded, though, and measures were put in place such as temperature scanning, social distancing, and increased sanitation. By June, meatpacking was back to operating at roughly 97%, as reported by WebMD.

While the initial scare put us in a world of uncertainty, we slowly began to find a balance. More resources were available, and shelves were less bare. What we learned was the importance of keeping staff healthy across the entire foodservice spectrum, from grocery stores to restaurants to delivery drivers to meat processing plants.

As the virus continues to sweep across the United States, many are now worried that the industry won't suffer from a supply shortage but rather a staffing shortage. Even with new regulations and rules set in place, extra cleaning, and additional precautions, people are still testing positive for COVID-19. 

Critical labor is being put at risk in order to keep our food supply functioning, leaving many questioning if their jobs are worth that risk. On the other end of the spectrum, many are still seeking jobs and a surplus of people are working from home, keeping grocery stores flooded with business. 

New solutions are popping up daily to help prevent the spread of the virus as well as assist in keeping operations functioning, and even in the initial scare, most weren't going hungry due to a lack of food supply. Giannini Foundation of Agricultural Economics reported the biggest vulnerability for food insecurity was due to the loss of jobs from lost income with collapsing prices and lowered market demand. 

While there's still concern over the potential changes in the industry as we continue to deal with the pandemic, for the foreseeable future food supply looks promising and reliable. 

For a full list of all available COVID-19 product solutions from Lakeside, we encourage you to visit our main COVID-19 Resources page.