Which Restaurant Aprons Do You Need?
Restaurant aprons are commonly worn by employees in the front- and back-of-house, from wait staff to dishwashers. In addition to being available in classic black or white and bright colors like red, green, blue, and yellow, there are several apron materials and styles to choose from. Each is generally better suited to certain back-of-house or front-of-house roles, but which apron style is best for an operation will also depend on employee preference and the type of restaurant in which it will be worn. For example, a waiter in a fine-dining restaurant may be expected to wear a different type of apron than a server in a fast-casual restaurant. Below, you can learn more about the types of aprons available for cafés, restaurants, and other foodservice operations.
Types of Restaurant Aprons
Bib aprons provide the most coverage, often falling to the knees or below and covering the entire chest. These usually have a square neckline with adjustable neck straps and waist ties to provide a secure fit. With specific designs to fit different purposes, bib aprons are the most common type of apron. Those designed for servers and wait staff are usually made from a polyester or cotton blend and include multiple pockets for conveniently storing pens, check holders, straws, and other small items employees may need during their shifts. The tuxedo apron, which is designed with a V-neck style resembling a tuxedo jacket, is a variation of the bib apron that is often used in high-end restaurants.
Bib aprons without pockets are a great choice for line cooks who need more protection from popping grease and splattering sauce than a waist apron affords. Because they provide coverage from the neck to the knees, bib aprons are also commonly used by employees in dish rooms and bussers who want to keep their clothes unsoiled while they clean tables, transport bus tubs, and rinse dishes. Bib aprons designed specifically for dishwashing are made from waterproof or water-resistant materials like vinyl or neoprene, which helps protect your employees' clothes from being soaked with water and can provide protection from splashes of hot water.
Waist aprons, as the name suggests, tie at the waist and do not offer any coverage to the upper body. These aprons can range from 11 to 34 inches long. All waist aprons can be used by bartenders and servers, but medium and long waist aprons, which may be called bistro aprons, are also often used as chef aprons by professionals hoping to protect their pants from stains caused by splashes and spills without taking away from the status of their chef coats. Like other aprons, these are usually made from a polyester or cotton blend and are available with and without pockets.
Cobbler aprons, also called smock aprons, are sleeveless garments that slip over the wearer's head and rest on the shoulders, with ties on the sides to ensure they stay in place. They provide full coverage over the back and chest, and have either a crew or V-neck. Because they are more utilitarian in design than their bibbed counterparts, they are not usually worn in restaurants, but are often preferred in cafeterias, commissaries, and other commercial foodservice operations where sanitation and safety take priority over style.