The Timeless Appeal of Restaurant Ware
We're not sure whether it's nostalgia, or if it's purely aesthetic, but restaurant ware holds a special place in our retro loving hearts. It's one of our all-time favorite retro kitchen accessories, whether it's displayed in a rack or used to serve everyday meals.
In the first half of the 20th century, the dinnerware industry responded to the expanding restaurant and diner business by developing a high quality china for commercial use. Companies like Buffalo China, Hall China, Homer Laughin and Syracuse China began to produce plates, platters, bowls and cups that could withstand heavy use.
So, with durability in mind, restaurant ware is typically thick, heavy and rounded. It's prized for both its high quality and colorful patterns. It just feels good in your hand and it looks good on the table.
Fortunately for us, there's still an abundance of it available today, from your standard dinnerware pieces to items like egg cups, creamers, butter pats, cereal bowls and ramekins. Patterns range from deco to retro; transfer printed, to hand-painted.
And because such a wide variety of designs and patterns are available, you can match your collection to your interests... based on color, a particular manufacturer or even a specific restaurant, hotel or railroad.
It will come as no surprise that some of the most popular of all restaurant ware is Jadite, which is easily recognized by its unique opaque milky-green color. Because of its popularity, it's currently being reproduced and sometimes marketed as vintage. While inexpensive reproductions may be fine for everyday use, collectors are wise to do their homework before buying a hard-to-find piece that requires a significant investment.
But the favorite of the Retro Kitchen staff is the classic red and/or green scroll, which was produced in some version by just about every China manufacturer.
There's something oddly comforting about it. Maybe it's the Christmasy colors? Maybe it's the familiar pattern? Or the way the scrolled edge frames a piece of cake?
Or maybe it just reminds us of a kinder, simpler time. A gentler era that we're hoping to preserve; one piece of restaurant ware at a time.