Product Spotlight: Navigator Shirts now carries all your hospitality uniform needs from tops and bottoms to accessories. If you need to outfit hotel, conference center, casino, or resort staff with new uniforms, Chefs Closet has you covered. Get started with the basics like these Navigator Shirts.

Navigator Shirts offer performance poplin with new styling and a soft hand. The fabric stands up to demanding wear making it great for transit, security, or entertainment programs. If you want a branded look, ask about embroidery options which look great on this style.

The best features of all Navigator shirt styles include:

  • Made from a 65% Polyester/ 35% Cotton blend
  • Machine washable, laundry friendly
  • Point collar with permanent stays
  • Two flap pockets with pencil slot
  • Fusible interfacing on collar; epaulets; pocket flaps; placket
  • Moisture wicking fabric is wrinkle resistant
  • Available in light blue or white

Men’s Navigator Shirts

The Men’s Long Sleeve Navigator Shirt gives the professional look of a button-down, collared shirt with added style from the two button-close chest pockets. Choose from men’s sizes S-6XL with a sleeve length of 31, 33, 35, 37 for around $26 each. Buy in quantities of six or 24 to save up to ten percent.

The Short Sleeve Navigator Shirt gives a more casual look that maintains a certain level of professionalism. Available sizes include men’s sizes S-6XL in regular or tall lengths for around $24 each.

Women’s Navigator Shirts

The women’s Long Sleeve Navigator Shirt features the same style and professionalism as the men’s but also includes a straight back yoke seam for a more feminine fit. Sizes range from XXS-3XL for around $26 each.

The women’s Short Sleeve Navigator Shirt also features the back yoke seam and comes in sizes XXS-3XL for around $24 each.

Pair these stylish shirts with khaki bottoms for a more casual, softer look or pair them with black bottoms to get a traditional look. Feel free to mix and match sleeve lengths across jobs. For example, give your outdoor staff short sleeve shirts to keep them cool in the heat and your indoor staff long sleeve shirts since they’ll be in the air conditioning.

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What is Hospitality?

Hospitality is a word sometimes reserved for southerners and people working in hotels. However, the act of being hospitable is something all customers hope to experience when dining out. So, what is hospitality and how can you make sure its present in your restaurant?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines hospitality as treatment including the “generous and cordial reception of guests.” Hospitality means offering a friendly, pleasant, welcoming environment for guests. This is what hospitality means, but what does it look like?

From a customer’s perspective they are not only looking to eat a delicious meal, but are also paying to be taken care of while they relax and enjoy. The top ways your staff can show hospitality include:

  • Enjoy meeting and conversing with new people. Customers hope to feel like the people serving them sincerely want to give them a good experience.
  • Communicate in a clear, effective, and kind manner. Part of your job is to make the customer’s experience easy. Make sure to mention things from the menu you are out of or let guest know what substitutions are and are not possible. This will save them frustration if something doesn’t go as they’d hoped.
  • Be flexible in terms of dish changes. While guests shouldn’t expect you to create a new dish just for them, you should take into considerations options for people with food allergies or other issues outside their control. Everyone deserves the chance to have a fun dining experience.
  • Respect their time. If a table wants to take a lot of time talking and eating, don’t make them feel rushed. If a customer is in a hurry do everything you can, within reason, to help them out.
  • Keep things neat and clean so guests feel safe and comfortable in the environment.
  • Get to know the regulars. When you invest in customer relationships those customers feel invested in you.

Every restaurant and every customer is different, so there isn’t only one way to show hospitality to guests. Overall, the idea is to engage in genuine and kin interactions that contribute to the guests experiences. Whether you’re wearing a server’s apron or a chef coat, hospitality is part of the job. 

Posted in Chef Coats

Guide to New Year Goal-Setting

While many people subscribe to New Year’s resolutions, a more practical approach for businesses involves setting goals for the year. Often goals are abstract and easily forgotten. Don’t let this year be a let down, get organized and set real goals you can track and achieve.

Whether you’re setting yourself up for individual success, focusing on one aspect of the business or looking to motivate the entire business you can set achievable goals.

  1. Look for areas most in need of improvement. This can include everything from tangible financial issues to your own lack of passion about things like the menu. By focusing on areas you already know need help, you’re setting yourself up for success.
  2. Be specific. Whenever possible think of goals in terms of things you can see and measure. If you can’t measure the goal, how will you know you’ve achieved it?
  3. Write it down. Create a vision board, goal calendar or simply write each goal down in a notebook. Once you write down the goal it becomes real and something you can see often, not just in your mind.
  4. Make a plan. Now that you know what your goals are, decide the best ways to achieve them. Number the steps you need to take then check each one off once its complete. You’ll not only have an active way to reach your goals, but you’ll be able to reward yourself at every success along the way.
  5. Don’t be afraid to change your list. As your year changes, so might your goals. If an initial goal doesn’t make sense later on go ahead and take it off the list. It doesn’t mean you failed, but rather that you are aware of the present and future. Likewise it’s okay to add goals as they pop up.
  6. Involve others.Creating a culture of progression and achievement makes for a great workplace environment. Just because you’re wearing the chef coat doesn’t mean you have to go it alone. Get your staff in on the goal-setting process so they’ll feel valued and invested. Besides, it’s not likely you can achieve all your goals solo.
  7. Celebrate victories. When you make a big deal out of every little success that momentum builds to push you through the rest of the process.

Whether you are looking to help yourself professionally or your business this year, setting goals in a concrete way leads to success. Take the process more seriously than that personal resolution to hit the gym or eat less junk food and you can’t lose.

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Ways to Ward Off Winter Blues

Winter months can bring on the blues for many people. If the colder temperatures and drab landscape have you struggling to stay motivated and excited about your menu, these tips can help you keep your creative juices and culinary passion flowing even through the coldest months of the year.

  • Add some light to your environment: Open all the blinds, remove the curtains, turn up the dimmer, add brighter light bulbs or do whatever it takes to brighten up your workspace and dining room.
  • Take the long route: Adding a few extra steps to your day can help get your juices flowing and infuse some energy into your life. Walk to the market for those last minute ingredients or park further from the restaurant when you arrive at work.
  • Make an energized playlist: Whether working in the kitchen or front of the house, adding some upbeat music to your daily activities can provide a little extra motivation.
  • Take it outdoors: If you can add some outdoor tables with heating lamps or near a fire pit the fresh air could do you some good. Don’t put the grill or smoker away so early this year and give yourself an excuse to get outside each day.
  • Add in bright colors: Change up your chef coats and aprons or your tablecloths for the winter to brighter tones of your usual colors. This change and brightness can help lift your mood.
  • Try something new: Add some innovative specials to your menu and change them up each week to keep you excited about what you’re serving.

No matter where you live the end of the year can leave you feeling burnt out and tired of the same old, same old. Make a conscious effort to liven up your winter and your mood with a few simple changes to your surroundings.

Posted in Chef Coats

Product Spotlight: V-Neck Aprons

Are you looking for a server apron with formal style? If you answered “yes,” V-neck style long aprons are just what you need. These aprons feature an angled neckline reminiscent of the letter “V” and give instant elegance to any attire. Pair these upscale aprons with slacks, a button-up long-sleeve shirt, and a tie for the ultimate high-end look. Servers, hosts, and bartenders will look stunning in these styles.

The V-Neck Bib Apron by Uncommon Threads comes in your choice of basic black or thin pinstripe. For less than $20 each these aprons pack style and function with features like:

  • 7.5 oz. poly cotton twill material with a 65/35 polyester/cotton blend.  
  • Snap adjustable neck closure
  • Two divided pockets at the waist

The Tuxedo Apron by ChefsCloset has a similar look at half the cost. Reviewer Denise says “Love apron, neat looking, great material, practical too!” Choose from black or thin pinstripe for about $6 each with extra features such as:

  • Easy Care 7 oz Twill
  • Machine wash and dry
  • 7½ in. deep by 13 in. wide center divide patch pocket
  • Extra long 36 in. ties
  • Slide adjustable neck
  • Reinforced bar tacking

Make your staff stand out from the crowd with style and elegance in V-neck aprons. Add up to three lines of embroidered text to the chest for a custom look at the additional cost of $9.95. For another $5.95 add your logo to the aprons.

V-neck aprons look great on men and women of all shapes and sizes. Help your staff feel polished and professional with stylish, quality uniforms.

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What Makes a Classic?

Have you ever wondered how a particular dish became a classic? The process from introduction to fame and notoriety is sometimes obvious and other times mind-boggling. Understanding how a dish becomes a classic quenches your thirst for knowledge and helps you see how to take your own unique dishes from novelty to classic status.

To reach classic status, a particular dish has to be widely valued and loved. With millions of people in America, how is it possible that any dish can be widely valued and loved? The answer might be simpler than you think. If you compare famous American classics, they have a couple things in common.

First off, they all feature simple, yet bold flavors. Classics don’t get bogged down with a long list of ingredients and flavor profiles. The ingredients are pretty easy to find no matter where you live and cooking techniques aren’t complicated. Instead, these dishes use a few ingredients and show each one off. While exact recipes vary by restaurant and home, the basic sentiment remains intact even for reinventions of classics. The idea is to take an ingredient and cook it well, that’s why everyone loves classics.

The second common feature is most classics are easy enough for any home cook to make and allow for creativity in serving. Think about apple pie. People like to use different kinds of apples or different kinds of fats in the crust, but anyone can make a pie at home. Some people like to serve their apple pie with vanilla ice cream while other prefer a slice of cheddar cheese.

Other American classics include:

  • Buffalo Wings
  • Roasted Chicken
  • Hamburgers
  • Spaghetti and Meatballs
  • Macaroni and Cheese
  • Hot Dogs
  • Grits
  • Meatloaf
  • Pizza

Now that you’ve thought more about what makes a dish classic, it’s time to grab your chef coat and start creating. Make your mark on the culinary world by cooking up the next great staple of every American diet.

Posted in Chef Coats

Employee Gift Ideas

As the holiday season approaches you’re starting to think about gifts for your employees. When choosing presents, think about these factors:

  • What is the nature of your relationship, friendly or strictly professional?
  • What is your budget?
  • How many people are you looking to shop for?
  • Does a group gift make more sense than individual gifts?
  • What can you offer that will make the biggest impact or hold the most meaning?

Once you’ve figured out the basics of what you’re looking for, start shopping.

Professional Gifts

As culinary professionals, your employees would love items that can make their job simpler or more enjoyable. Be careful with professional gifts and make sure they are about the employees, not the business. Recipients should feel free to either use their gift at home or at work.

  • Apron – pay attention to which style works best on each person
  • Chef coat – have their name embroidered for a personal touch
  • Cooking tools -look for fun or unique gadgets
  • A chance to create a special for the menu named after them
  • Gift certificate for specialty classes at a local culinary school

Personal Gifts

Sometimes, the best holiday gift is one that helps employees enjoy their time away from work, especially because this profession requires long hours and working nights or weekends.

  • Gift card – ones for local grocery stores or fun experiences like movie tickets are great
  • Large food item, like a ham or turkey they can cook for the holidays
  • Drink basket – pair a bottle of liquor or wine with appropriate glasses, mixers, and garnishes to create an after-hours treat
  • Extra personal or vacation days
  • Cash bonus

Group Gifts

Help your staff feel like a fun team with the gift of a group experience. You foot the bill and invite them all along to have a stress-free good time.

  • Private movie showing
  • Holiday dinner party
  • Bar crawl
  • Trip to the local zoo for families
  • Fun day at an indoor arcade or outdoor amusement park

Gifts from employers aren’t expected, so anything you do for your employees will be appreciated. No matter your company size or budget, you can give your staff something extra this season to show how important they are.

Posted in Chef Coats

The Gift of Giving

Restaurants serve many purposes: heart of the community, gathering place, source of entertainment. Although you already give something to your community, this holiday season might be the right time to increase that reach. Are there ways your business can give more to individuals or the community as a whole?

A few more common ways restaurants can embrace the giving spirit include:

  • Monetary donations to charities
  • Food donations to food relief efforts
  • Discounts for service members, senior citizens, and children
  • Host holiday celebrations for those without extended family
  • Participate in community fundraisers
  • Offer internships and apprenticeships to locals
  • Display collections jars for local charities

While all of these are great ways to pay it forward, you may want to take a more unique approach. If you’re interested in starting something new, something original, start by:

  • Asking for employee and customer suggestions
  • Looking at gaps in giving within your community
  • Consider your brand and mission
  • Choose one or two causes so you don’t get overwhelmed

Unique giving opportunities can center around your atmosphere, employees, or menu. What can you offer that others can’t? What sets you apart from other restaurants and how can you use that gift to help others? Throw on your chef coat and check out these great, original ideas:

  • Offer microloans to local farmers and food artisans like john j. jeffries in Pennsylvania.
  • Host a BOGO meal event where patrons get a free meal to take with them.
  • Volunteer to teach about food preparation and healthy eating in schools.
  • Donate old equipment or decor to individuals, non-profits, or thrift shops associated with a specific cause.

No matter how you choose to give back this season or all year, you’ll feel good about your efforts and customers will take notice. How are you making giving part of your business model?

Posted in Chef Coats

Product Spotlight: Striped Ties

Are you in the hospitality industry and looking for new uniforms? Look no further than From shirts to accessories like ties and scarves, these new apparel items are sure to impress. For a formal, classic look try out a striped necktie paired with a button-down shirt. This style looks great on everyone and sends a clear message about your standards.

  • The Men’s Tonal Stripe Tie comes in a monochromatic stripe featuring two tones in either black, navy, or red. Made from 100% polyester this dry clean only tie starts at under $18.
  • If you’re looking for a bit more color contrast, try the Narrow Stripe Tie. These 100% polyester styles are 58 inches long, 3 ¼ inches wide, and feature a two-color thin diagonal stripe for under $18 each. Color choices are black with blue/white stripe, light blue with tan/black stripe, red with navy/white stripe, and gold with black/white stripe.
  • The Quint Stripe Tie offers a bolder stripe featuring three colors with sharp contrast. For under $18 each you have a choice of four colors in 100% polyester. The gold style has a thicker deep red stripe with two small black stripes inside it. Other color combinations include brick/black/white, navy/light blue/white, and gray/blue/white.
  • For around $20 you can choose a Men’s Pinstripe Tie with classic thin stripes. These 100% silk ties come in Mocha, Navy, and Steel Gray.

Neckties work with long or short-sleeved collared shirts for both men and women. Look for a tie that incorporates a style similar to your business with your company or decor colors. Pair an untucked shirt and tie with jeans for an upgraded casual style or add dress slacks and a sport coat for the ultimate professional look. Add visual interest with a color that contrasts your surroundings or create a cohesive look by matching accessories like neckties to the room decor.

Posted in Chef Coats

Make Lighting Work For You

As with most aspects of the restaurant industry, science plays an important role in seemingly minor details like lighting. In the kitchen, lighting sets the pace for workers and provides an accurate look at dishes. In the dining room, lighting affects how long guests stay, how much they eat, and how much they enjoy their experience. What kind of atmosphere does your lighting project?

In one study of how lighting affects meals, researchers turned half of a fast food restaurant into a fine dining experience with mood music and low lighting. The results? People who ate in the dimmer side consumed less food, were more likely to order additional items, enjoyed the food more, and stayed longer in the restaurant.

To find the perfect lighting design for your restaurant consider these tips from experts.

  • Use direct lights for food displays.
  • Indirect lighting is good for creating balance.
  • Opt for flexible lighting where you can control the brightness or move lighting at different times of day.
  • Use groups of lights to highlight important areas like a hostess stand.
  • Dramatic lighting is best served as a way to highlight expensive add ons like liquor from the bar or desserts.
  • Pay attention to outdoor lighting and make sure it looks inviting and highlights the entrance.

In general, customers want to be able to see the menu and any important areas of the restaurant, but they often want to feel like they’re in a private, intimate location. If lighting is too bright it can seem abrasive and minimize privacy. If it’s too dim guest may have trouble navigating the menu and restaurant.

Specific areas of the restaurant require different levels of lighting. In the kitchen you want optimal lighting to see everything that’s happening and keep staff alert. Guests want dining room light to be dimmer than, say, the kitchen. Restrooms should offer ample light to make guests feel secure and comfortable. Front of house work areas need brighter lighting to help wait staff do their job well.

As with all restaurant design, put yourself in the guest’s shoes. Take off your chef coat and sit in different seats, walk through the restaurant, stand outside waiting. When you experience things as the guest does, you’ll better understand if there are necessary improvements.

Posted in Chef Coats