Part three of this three-part article focuses on the ideal customers for linen-replacement napkins.

Restaurants that want an upscale look, but are conscious about spending, are great potential customers for linen-like napkins. So are restaurants with messy food items, such as barbecue and fried foods, because of the product’s aforementioned absorbency.

However, potential customers can be found in many places outside of restaurants. Hotels, golf clubhouses, movie theaters, department stores and cosmetic facilities are all possible sales targets. Armchem reps have sold linen-like napkins to upscale car dealerships who put them in their waiting rooms where they offer beverages, and law firms that have lunches for the partners and premier clientele. Even tanning salons have used linen-like napkins to wipe away overspray, says Brahms.

Other likely customers are catering services and large catering halls. Cavalier does business with the military, and Jones says that linen-like napkins can be found in officer mess halls and ward rooms for higher-ranked personnel. Some naval ships also use linen-like napkins when they deploy and are out to sea for nine months due to supply/availability issues. In general, higher-volume facilities that are trying to create a certain image and cannot manage the volume and the large inventory to provide linen have shown interest in linen-replacement napkins.

Even though linen-like napkins offer a number of advantages, distributors agree that there is one type of customer that is likely to stay with real linen: upscale restaurants.

“It’s hard to convince a true high-end restaurant to trade to a linen-like napkin from a linen napkin,” says Harbison.

Though, Brahms adds that even these type of restaurants are potential customers, because the linen-like napkins could be used as towels in its restrooms.

For distributors who are considering carrying linen-replacement napkins in order to broaden their reach in the foodservice market, the ways to sell this product are plenty. However, many decisions in business ultimately come down to cost. In the case of linen-like napkins, a restaurant or other establishment can make a wise choice that benefits its customers as well as its bottom line.

Larry Bernstein is a freelance writer based in Fair Lawn, New Jersey.