When you set the table for a special occasion at home, do you just focus on the forks or do you layer the look with carefully chosen table coverings, fresh flowers, candles (unscented, always) and beloved plates? Think about your favorite restaurants. While the food is the star, the interior design and tablescapes are the stage that makes meals look good.
“People are noticing the details and want to know more about the plate, not just what’s being served on it,” says Morgan Jones-Greenberg, owner of Table One, a boutique manufacturers rep group in Atlanta specializing in table tops for the hospitality industry. Working with chefs and restaurant owners, her team adds the tabletop building blocks of a look and decides on silverware, glassware, plates, table lighting, coffee service pieces and accessories. She worked with Ryan Pernice to design Table & Main and Osteria Mattone.
"Ryan was actually a cold call back in 2011 when I saw an announcement about the Table & Main opening. He was kind enough to agree to meet at my showroom and he’s been a tremendous partner and friend ever since," says Morgan. "We really considered the unique setting of Table & Main when building out their tablescape. Being in an old house on a historic street in Roswell we wanted the tableware to match the feel of the space: warm, inviting and as if you were joining friends at their home for a meal."
Floral plates reminiscent of what you might find in a relative’s china cabinet added a pop of color. They also mixed in different materials to bring texture and dimension to the tabletop. Cast iron dishes to serve piping hot sides, and wood boards to accentuate thoughtfully curated cheese and charcuterie selections helped add layers and set the scene. Functional flatware with a beveled edge detail was chosen to give a little bit of interest and complement the homey feel.
Ryan believes the first consideration is to make sure that the aesthetics and vision for your tabletop match the overall feeling of the room. If you're designing for an upscale steakhouse, you can't have flimsy cutlery and chintzy glassware. "Your guests should feel a parallel between what's on the table and how the restaurant presents itself as a whole," says Ryan. "You eat first with your eyes! Guests decide how they feel about a space in a matter of seconds. It's essential that, as they sit, guests gain a sensation that the meal they're about to enjoy will be as beautiful and exciting as their initial impression."
At Ryan's restaurants, the seasonal menu changes drive tabletop decisions. If the chef intends to put a new prime steak on the menu, there will be a plate that can best show off the cuisine and give guests a sense that they're getting their money's worth.
"Table & Main's tabletop features service ware that is simple but elevated, just like Chef Woody's cuisine," says Ryan. They use all-purpose Reidel stemware to showcase the sommelier-curated wine selections. "But we don't feel it's necessary to include all the different, specialized glassware that Osteria Mattone uses for its bigger wine collection," he says.
Table & Main's Southern hospitality comes through in Lodge cast iron plate ware, wooden planks for Chef's homemade sausages, and a unique four-compartment plate to best deliver their vegetable plate that features four different preparations. Osteria Mattone's table top is more refined, incorporating white tablecloths and finer material plate selections with appropriate glassware for wines, as well as several high-end Reidel decanters.
Next time you dine out, devour the interior design too. It's all a part of the meal. Bon Appetit!
Morgan's Spring Decor Tips
For spring I’m excited to see bright pops of color. For the longest time, chefs were coming in only asking for white plates. Lately, we’re seeing our clients be more open to finding colors to compliment their ingredients, not take away from them.
Another trend I’m excited about is fun glassware. Cocktail programs have evolved in such a big way, including spirit-free drinks which I think is going to be a big trend on 2023 menus. Cocktails naturally have a lighthearted and celebratory connotation, so why not play it up with your glassware? I’m seeing a lot of unique shapes and exaggerated textures in glassware.
"You eat first with your eyes! Guests decide how they feel about a space in a matter of seconds."
- Ryan Pernice