Common Questions About Banquet Carts
What should I consider when buying a banquet cart?
Size is the largest factor to consider when looking at banquet carts. Most of these units are sized based on the amount of plates they can hold. Some carts hold as few plates as 24, but larger units can accommodate 200 plates. Usually, this capacity is measured with the plates stacked, so purchasing heat-resistant plate covers should be considered. These covers retain heat to keep food warm longer, and if you aren't interested in using a banquet cart that requires plates covers, pick out a unit that holds plates on a wire rack without covers. Keep in mind that uncovered food will dry out quicker when it is held for long periods of time.
Heated banquet carts can be preheated before food is placed inside. When you're ready to transport the food, it just needs to be unplugged, and then can be plugged back in when you reach the destination. Most heated banquet carts keep food at warm, safe temperatures for hours even when unplugged.
Typically, banquet carts are used to keep food warm, but some are available for cold food as well. These units can switch between the two functions, adding versatility to banquet operations.
What are banquet carts typically made of?
Stainless steel banquet carts are heavy duty to support transport through your establishment, while polyethylene carts are a more lightweight option. This material is resistant to damage from impacts, so it works well in mobile applications. They also resist bubbling, cracking, chipping, and breaking. Banquet carts made of polyethylene come in a variety of colors, so they can be used in color-coded applications.
How does door size affect banquet carts?
Full-size doors on banquet carts provide the most convenient access to stored food, but when the door is opened, heat can quickly escape. Banquet carts with Dutch doors, also called half-size doors, are usually more energy efficient than units with full-size doors, and each door can be opened individually to leave smaller openings for heat to escape through.
What is a Queen Mary banquet cart?
Queen Mary carts are multi-leveled metal structures with wide, long shelves perfect for transporting dishes, chafers, and other tabletop items from a storage area to and through an event space. They are also used for moving the same items and others around back-of-house areas. Models are available in steel or aluminum construction and with several shelving options, depending on how you intend to use yours. Their narrow design and tall height make them ideal for setting tables and transporting dozens of meals through a hotel or conference space.
Why is it called a Queen Mary cart?
The origin of the name of these carts is a cause for speculation. Whether it refers to the luxury ocean liner of the same name or the long, low road carts used to transport aircraft during WWII, the Queen Mary cart can tackle heavy-duty jobs with sleek style and efficiency.
How many levels should my cart have?
This will be dictated by how you intend to use the cart. These are designed for back of the house transport, banquet service, and mobile storage and typically have between three and six shelves. A Queen Mary cart with few shelves may be more appropriate for transporting bulk items, because there is typically more space between the shelves on such units. On the other hand, a model with several shelves may be better for setting up and replenishing banquets, where it may be necessary to move many smaller items at once.
How much weight can a Queen Mary cart carry?
The weight capacity of this type of banquet cart can range from 1200 to 3000 pounds, with each shelf holding between 200 and 600 pounds. It is important to keep in mind how far and across what terrain you'll move your cart. You don't want to purchase a cart that, when loaded, will be too heavy to maneuver through tight spaces. In this case, it may make more logistical sense to purchase two or more smaller carts.
What are Queen Mary carts made of?
Stainless carts tend to be slightly more expensive than their aluminum counterparts. Stainless steel is more heat, corrosion, and impact resistant, so carts made from it may be a better value in the long run. Aluminum carts, on the other hand, are usually less expensive and lighter weight. They are also more susceptible to damage and corrosion over time, but will not rust when damaged like steel can. Both are relatively easy to clean and sanitize. Many come with non-marking rubber or vinyl bumpers to protect walls and other surfaces from damage during transport.
What features are available on these carts?
- Carts with enclosed shelves are great for mobile storage and also for transporting less-stable items, such as dishes. Most are enclosed on three sides, so they may not be as convenient when loading and unloading.
- Raised ledges help products stay in place without falling over the edge. These ledges may be flanged up or down, and it's important to keep this in mind when calculating the measurements between shelves. These edges may make placing some items within the Queen Mary cart more difficult.
- Slanted shelves may be desirable for seeing what items are on a cart. They may not be as beneficial when moving items from place to place because items may slide around. Some models come with built-in drain devices that empty into drain pans at the bottom of the unit. The slanted shelves help water and debris move away from the dishes. That design makes them perfect for banquet breakdown operations, as it keeps liquids from pooling on the shelves. This also makes it easier to clean the cart, allowing the operator to splash soapy water on them and then rinse them, with the liquid automatically draining off the levels. In most models of this type, the drain tube can be positioned to empty into a floor drain, so the operator doesn't have to empty the drain pan repeatedly during cleaning.