Restaurant ware is a broad range of dishware that is produced specifically for use in…you guessed it…restaurants. It is appropriate for many industrial or institutional purposes such as cafeteria or hospital use. Much of this ware was made for railroad dining cars. Patterns were created and reserved specifically for certain establishments. Military officer’s tables are graced with dishware bearing specific service logos. Many restaurants have their own logo ware. Organizations and clubs also invest in tableware bearing their emblems. Collectors build sets of restaurant ware and some pieces, especially older or rare ones, command high prices.
My own restaurant ware interest is in Syracuse China Dogwood pattern. Some of my pieces are pictured above. This design, with the scalloped edge is on the Winthrop body shape. There is also a plain, straight rim with the same decoration that I’m not opposed to collecting. I love the dogwood blooms. It is one of my favorite flowers. Reminds me of the beautiful little spring-flowering dogwoods brightening the dark woods of my North Carolina childhood. This pattern was used by the Norfolk and Western railway in their Roanoke Hotel restaurant. The 10-KK date code corresponds to Oct. 1956.
Buffalo China Windsor cup and plate
Buffalo China Estoril plate, cup and saucer
There are and were many American manufacturers of restaurant ware. Some big names include Syracuse, Buffalo, Shenango, Homer Laughlin, Mayer, Jackson, Wallace and Tepco. Their products were thick, heavy weight vitrified china. This material could withstand the hard commercial use without chipping, cracking or crazing.
Comcor by Corning, ceramic glass, rope design, pattern name unknown to me
Corning produced lines of restaurant ware using their ceramic glass formulas and these products were also much thicker and heavier than household dishes. Restaurant ware is produced in many other countries and there are avid collectors of non-US varieties of dishware.
Sometimes the pieces from particular establishments are prized or certain shapes such as platters. I have a fondness for bouillon cups. They are so cute! Vintage ware from closed potteries is popular.
Homer Laughlin cups with an airbrushed mauve-gray rim band
Shenango salad plate, I have not been able to identify the pattern name
Jackson China bouillon cup, black scrolled pattern, name unknown to me
In my online shops on eBay and Etsy I currently have a small selection of restaurant ware. Most of the pieces for sale are by Buffalo China or Syracuse. There are a smattering of offerings from other manufacturers as well. Restaurant ware is a strong, perennial seller. Collectors look for examples that are in the best condition possible. Since the dishes have likely seen service, most will carry use marks, usually utensil scratches and rubbed areas from stacking. Pieces with light to minimal signs of use are often listed at premium prices. Rare shapes or patterns can cause bidding wars.
Whenever I come across a restaurant dish in good condition, I snap it up it knowing it will sell.