Cotton and Linen Napkin:
There is no doubt that a well-ironed linen napkin dignifies a dinner table and gives a touch of class and distinction to the total experience of dining. For this reason, Luigi's book is devoted purely to linen napkins with the exception of the breakfast section.
Traditionally, the napkin is made of cotton, damask or linen but these days different quality blends of fabrics have become available. This makes the napkin more resistant to stains and easier to wash at normal temperature.
In the domestic range, linen napkins often come with different types of decorative borders and even frills. They could come in a variety of colours and designs often matching the tablecloth. The size of these napkins is not always consistent with the commercial sizes you often see in restaurants; therefore, elaborate folds are not always practical because of the napkin fabric composition and the size.
In the Hospitality Industry the napkin is more consistent in size and quality often because they are supplied from the same source or manufacturer. These napkins could be of a blend of cotton and polyester known in the trade as “polycotton” or of cross-woven 100% polyester. The cross-woven polyester can be washed at a relative medium/low temperature and can be starched reasonably well.
Some hotels and restaurants prefer to launder their own napkins because they have the capability and infrastructure to do so while other establishments, who do not have such facilities, prefer to hire their napkins. The advantage of purchasing against hiring your napkins is a very debatable subject which I will not elaborate in this page. In past experience I found that hiring napkins and other table linen for my establishment was more advantageous to my creative style.
Size of Napkins:
The size of the linen napkin varies from a small breakfast or tea napkin of 32cm square to a dinner table napkin of 56cm square, found usually in good restaurants. However the sizes of napkin may vary between manufacturers, brands and supplier.
There is also a traditional custom-made extra large linen napkin, usually 60cm square, which are often used in prestigious households, stately homes and royal palaces, where it is customary for a corner of the napkin to be embroidered with a monogram or a family crest.
Colour of Napkins:
White has long been the established colour used by generations of hotels and restaurants. The hospitality industry can now take full advantage of a multitude of available colours that make it easy to change colour co-ordination more frequently. This is greatly emphasized throughout this book.
One main advantage of hiring your napkins is that you may frequently change the colour and décor of your establishment — it is more economical than re-decorating. The seasonal touch, will impress your regular customers. and create a warm ambience. However some linen hire companies do not always stock colour napkins so this might take careful planning and budgeting on your part.
Changing the look of your dining room, with seasonal colours, is cool.