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Types of Chinaware

Choosing the right types of chinaware for your foodservice operation can save you money and lots of headaches. From size and shape to color and composition, the possibilities for chinaware seem endless and can be overwhelming. Read this buying guide to learn more about your options and the choices you will have to make when determining what dinnerware to purchase.

The Importance of China Selection

Front of the House

  • Mood: China assists in defining a restaurant’s personality; it sets the mood and can reinforce the theme of the venue.
  • Experience: Aside from the food itself, table settings can greatly influence how customers will evaluate their dining experience.
  • Presentation: China acts as a canvas for a chef’s culinary presentation. Attention to detail when plating can make a big difference next to your competition.

Back of the House

  • Sanitation: A 100% vitrified product helps to prevent crazing and cracking which can accumulate bacteria.
  • Durability: For your china to withstand the rigors of commercial foodservice use, research the durability of each vendor's products, including the ability to be used in the oven, dishwasher, or microwave.
  • Storage and Stacking: Choosing stackable dinnerware can be beneficial to saving space in your kitchen.

Compare Dinnerware

Dinnerware Style Comparison Tool

Select a style to learn more

Speckled Dinnerware


Speckled china is a perfect blend between plain white china and solid colored china, with the right amount of color to dress up your place settings.

  • Key Attributes
  • Features outer accent band along rim
  • Adds color to traditional ivory dinnerware
  • Speckled Dinnerware in Action
Narrow Rim Dinnerware

Narrow Rim

Maximizing the surface space for your mouth-watering cuisine, these dinnerware pieces feature a simple narrow rim design.

  • Key Attributes
  • Take full advantage of eating area
  • Simple, timeless design
  • Narrow Rim Dinnerware in Action
Scalloped Edge Dinnerware

Scalloped Edge

Scalloped edges create an eye-catching, wavy design along the rims of these distinctive dinnerware pieces.

  • Key Attributes
  • Subtle scalloped edge design
  • Available with or without bold outer rim accents
  • Scalloped Edge Dinnerware in Action
Irregular Dinnerware


Natural lines and unique sides bring an interesting look to your tabletop display.

  • Key Attributes
  • Items can be mixed and matched for optimal creativity
  • Establishes an organic, contemporary feel
  • Irregular Dinnerware in Action
Triangular Dinnerware


Triangular shaped china adds a new dimension to place settings and helps draw attention to your perfectly crafted culinary creations.

  • Key Attributes
  • Great for enhancing the presentation of specialty cuisines
  • Adds a sleek, trendy look
  • Triangular Dinnerware in Action

Chinaware Colors

The following spectrum shows the most common chinaware colors. It is always best to get a sample before placing chinaware orders because colors may vary by manufacturer. Please note that the color "Bright White" can be referred to as "Porcelain White," "Super White," and "Ameriwhite" depending on the vendor.

Type of Dinnerware

The majority of dinnerware items fall into the following categories. Please note that bone china and bone white china are not the same thing. Bone china is made of bone ash and has a distinct translucent white color. Bone white china is made of clay and has a "bone white" ash coloring that can be seen in the color spectrum above.

Material Features Features
10 Strawberry Street NAG-12RD Whittier Nagoya 12 inch Round Platter - 12/Case
  • Hard and dense
  • Can be fully vitrified or semi vitrified
  • May or may not be glazed
  • Glazes create a smooth, clean appearance
  • Microwave and dishwasher safe for added convenience
  • Non-vitreous pottery
  • Excellent heat conduction
  • Lightweight yet durable
  • Adds texture to table settings
  • Recommended to be hand washed only
World Tableware SL-20 Slate 8 inch x 5 5/8 inch Ultra Bright White Wide Rim Rectangular Porcelain Plate   - 24/Case
  • Made of clay that's malleable and great for forming detailed shapes
  • Created in a two-firing process
  • Becomes vitrified during the second firing
  • Finish is hard, but more brittle than china
  • More affordable than traditional china or bone china
  • Most pieces are dishwasher, microwave, and oven safe
Cardinal Arcoroc G9144 Intensity Steak Plate 11 3/4 inch x 10 inch - 12/Case
  • Made of clay that's malleable and great for forming detailed shapes
  • Created and becomes vitrified with a single firing
  • Extremely durable
  • Most pieces are dishwasher, microwave, and oven safe
Bone China
Cardinal Arcoroc FH509 Infinity 12 inch White Coupe Bone China Plate   - 12/Case
  • Made with ceramic clay that contains at least 25% bone ash
  • Created and becomes vitrified with a single firing
  • Resistant to chipping and scratches
  • Thin-walled for a delicate, refined look
  • Lighter than porcelain and china
  • Most pieces are dishwasher, microwave, and oven safe

Suggested Dinnerware Usages and Requirements

From plates to platters and bowls to creamers, the pieces you choose to serve your culinary masterpieces on emphasize the image you've worked so hard to perfect. The question is how much dinnerware do you really need to keep your business running smoothly? Use this handy chart to find out! To calculate the quantity needed of each type of dinnerware, simply multiple the number of seats you have by the factor shown.
Item Usage Fine Dining Casual Dining Cafeteria Banquet Institutional
5" - 6" Plates
Serving small salads or bread and butter
2 -- 6 1 1/4 3
6 1/4" - 6 3/4" Plates
Serving small salads, desserts, or bread and butter
1 1/2 3 3 -- 3
7" - 7 7/8" Plates
Serving salads, sandwiches, and desserts
1 1/2 2 -- 2 1/2 --
8" - 9" Plates
Serving lunch entrees and salads
1 1/2 2 1/2 2 -- 2
9 1/8" - 9 3/4" Plates
Serving large breakfast and lunch entrees, dinner entrees, and salads
1 1/2 2 1/2 2 1 1/4 --
10 1/4" - 12 1/8" Plates
Serving large dinner entrees
2 2 1/2 -- 1 1/2 --
7" - 7 1/2" Platters
Serving sides and salads
1 1 1/2 -- -- --
9" - 9 1/2" Platters
Serving lunch entrees, salads, and specialty seafood dishes
1 1 1/2 1/2 -- --
11" - 13" Platters
Serving large meat and seafood entrees
1 1 1/2 -- --
Serving coffees, cappuchinos, lattes, and hot chocolates
-- 3 2 1/2 -- 2 1/2
Serving tea and other light, hot beverages
3 3 2 1 1/2 1 1/2
Underliner for serving hot beverages or soups
2 1/2 3 2 1 1/2 1 1/2
Bouillon Cups
Serving soups, stews, and desserts
1 2 1 1/2 1 1/2 1 1/2
Fruit / Monkey Dishes
Serving sides and desserts
2 3 6 2 1/2 3
Grapefruit Bowls
Serving soups, cereals, and desserts
1 1 1 1/2 -- 1 1/2
Oatmeal Bowls
Serving soups and cereals
-- 1 1 -- 1
Rim Soup Bowls
Serving soups, salads, and pastas
1/2 1/2 -- -- --
Pitchers / Creamers
Serving milk or cream
1/3 1/3 -- 1/3 --
Sugar Bowls
Serving crackers or sugar
1/3 1/3 -- 1/3 --
Serving sauces, gravies, and dressings
1/3 -- -- 1/2 --


How can you tell if the chinaware you’re about to purchase is durable enough for your needs? Ask questions: there is no industry standard on durability. Every manufacturer is different and the guarantees on dinnerware vary widely.

Does your dinnerware pattern come with a chip warranty?

Warranty Type
CAC China Limited One-Year Edge-Chip Covers regular round plates and platters in normal service use
Cardinal Limited Five-Year Edge-Chip Covers all Arcoroc Extra Porcelain dinnerware, Chef & Sommelier Maxima dinnerware, and Zenix products
Hall China Limited Lifetime Edge-Chip Covers all pieces under normal usage conditions
Homer Laughlin Limited Lifetime Edge-Chip Covers all pieces under normal usage conditions
Tuxton Limited Lifetime Edge-Chip Covers all pieces under normal usage conditions
World Tableware Limited Five-Year Edge-Chip Covers all pieces under normal usage conditions

Does your china have a high alumina content?

Alumina oxide is a durable compound that acts as a partial replacement for silica, making the final product both whiter and harder. A high-alumina body offers a variety of benefits such as increased strength and chip or breakage resistance as well as improved thermal conductivity, helping food to stay warm for longer periods of time. China from Homer Laughlin and Hall China have high alumina content. Tuxton offers a few lines with high alumina options such as AlumaTux Specialty Items, Modena AlumaTux, and San Marino AlumaTux. In addition, select items from Syracuse China also fall under this category, including their Reflections line.

Is your dinnerware fully vitrified? Durability

Fully vitrified means that your dinnerware is non-porous. Fully vitrified dinnerware is stronger and thinner than ware fired at lower temperatures. A fully vitrified product does not absorb water, leading to less internal stress from expanding and contracting. This helps to prevent breakage and ensures a long life for your china with normal use. CAC China, Tuxton, Hall China, World Tableware, and Homer Laughlin offer fully vitrified products, and Cardinal's porcelain lines Zenix and Candour are also fully vitrified. See these serving bowls, appetizer dishes, and platters from American Metalcraft for more fully vitrified products.

Does your dinnerware stack rim-to-rim?

If your china features rim-to-rim stacking, this means your dishes rest on their outer rims when stacked. This design is meant to prevent the unglazed bottom of a plate from resting on top of a glazed surface beneath it, preventing scratches and other damage to the finish of your valuable china. This type of stacking can be found in CAC China and 10 Strawberry Street dinnerware.

Care, Maintenance, and Storage

As the saying goes, “Dishes don’t break…they are broken.” It’s important to take good care of your chinaware to keep your replacement costs low.

Care, Maintenance, and Storage
  • Never stack plates higher than 12” on a shelf. Use a plate dispenser for easy storage.
  • Store plates in stacks and cups in racks.
  • Store china at or below food plating areas on shelves made of non-magnetic stainless steel. See this shelving buying guide for more information on the differences between types of shelves.
  • Use plastic or rubber scrapers, scrubbers, and sponges to remove food.
  • Avoid wet nesting (storing dishes when they are wet). Be sure to dry them according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Please remember to always follow the manufacturer’s care, maintenance and storage instructions for best results.

Cost & Availability

Dinnerware is not a fixed cost. With constant use and commercial washing, dinnerware will eventually need to be replaced.

If the company from which you purchase your chinaware stocks the items you are looking for, you can keep the initial and future costs of buying dinnerware low. On the other hand, if a company says they will stock a new pattern just for you, you will often pay a premium for that service. Buying a stock pattern allows you to take advantage of purchasing volume while staying in control of your dinnerware costs.

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