China Dinnerware

Chinaware is constructed out of durable ceramic material that is biscuit-fired in a kiln at a high temperature and then glazed-fired at a low temperature. China dinnerware is available in several different shapes, styles, qualities, and colors, and appropriate for a range of dining experiences, from fine to casual.

Selecting the right restaurant dinnerware is important for both front and back of the house use. Serving good food is only half the battle. Your dinnerware selection embodies your ambiance, setting the mood for your guests and reinforcing themes by boosting food presentation and enhancing the overall experience you serve. The presentation will greatly influence how your guests perceive your business, and high-quality china creates an amiable backdrop in which your chef can channel their craft and offer up culinary masterpieces.

Presentation aside, high quality china has many perks for the back of the house as well. Opting for 100% vitrified dinnerware helps prevent cracking that can accumulate bacteria, thus reinforcing sanitation efforts while withstanding rigorous use. It’s important to understand the durability of your product prior to purchasing to determine if they can be used in the oven, dishwasher, or microwave; as well as whether they are stackable because this can save valuable space in the kitchen.


Though styles of dinnerware may change, chinaware is still just as popular today as it has been for decades. Some of our most popular chinaware brands are:

The selections are many and the possibilities endless. In that way, shopping for the right dinnerware can feel overwhelming. Here, we offer up our expert experience by reviewing several common factors to consider prior to making your final chinaware selections.

Porcelain vs. Bone, and Other Types of China

The two most common types of china dinnerware are porcelain and bone. Porcelain china is constructed out of a combination of feldspar, quarts and kaolin. It is often the least expensive of the two types and has a heftier weight. Its composition is more brittle compared to bone china, often resulting in more chipping.

Bone China is translucent with a finely grated composition, including feldspar, quarts and kaolin, as well as added bone ash which enhances durability. The quality of bone chinaware is often determined by how much bone ash is used in its conception. It’s widely considered to be thinner and more durable than porcelain china, weighing less and appearing more delicate. Bone china is more expensive than other types of chinaware, but features an upscale presentation with much more durability, meaning it will need replaced far fewer times than other types.

Stoneware and earthenware are other types of china dinnerware that are less common. Stoneware china is vitrified, making it more dense and durable than earthenware. It is versatile and serves a variety of uses. Many bistros and Asian restaurants choose this type to enhance presentation of their sushi rolls. It is also microwave and dishwasher safe.

Earthenware, by comparison, is made out of clay that has been fired and glazed to a non-vitreous state. It is lighter than stoneware and has a high degree of durability as well as excellent heat conduction. It is great for farm to table settings as it features a more rustic presentation. It falls on the lower end of the scale as far as cost is concerned and is recommended to be hand washed only.


Style and Color

China dinnerware is available in dozens, if not hundreds, of styles, patterns, shapes and colors. We offer thousands of chinaware skus on our website, but even with such endless possibilities, choosing the right kind to accentuate your ambiance can feel overwhelming. Fortunately, we offer free samples on many dinnerware items, so you can see how the piece fits in your dining room before committing to a bulk purchase. You can also use the left-hand navigation on the side of our pages to narrow down to the results you’re looking for.

The theme of your restaurant will often determine the style. Mexican restaurants, for example, usually feature a colorful array of Cancun or Fiesta dinnerware, while trendy coffee houses or farm-to-table establishments may prefer the splotched pattern of Rotana. Fine dining establishments usually stick with the classic bright white look that never goes out of style.

Though there are several colors that can add vibrancy and flare, the most popular is, and has always been, white. However, you have options here as well. Bright white is more intense and crisper than standard white, where as Ivory (also known as American White) is a more subdued, creamier white. Colors and hues can change depending on the manufacturer, so it is always recommended that you request a free sample prior to purchase.

Durability and Warranties

No chinaware is 100% unbreakable. Therefore, it is always a best practice to purchase more than you’ll anticipate using, especially in a fast-paced kitchen environment where natural wear and tear can take its toll much faster. It is important to note that there is no industry standard on durability as far as chinaware is concerned. However, even though no china is unbreakable, some are more durable than others and come with better warranties, so always be sure to ask.

Is your china fully vitrified? This is one cue to tell how durable it is. Vitrified china means that your dinnerware is non-porous and won’t absorb water which results in less internal stress due to contracting and expansion. This helps to prevent breakage. Both porcelain and bone china can be 100% vitrified. Bone china, as discussed earlier, is more durable than porcelain because of the added bone ash included in its composition, in addition to full vitrification.

Many top brands offer at least a One-Year No Chip Warranty. Homer Laughlin offers a Lifetime No Chip Warranty. Many popular ITI patterns, like Rotana, Quad, and Cancun, are available from Central with an exclusive Five Year No Chip Warranty. Always verify the manufacturer’s warranty prior to purchase because some chinaware doesn’t include any at all.


Suggested Usage

Dinnerware is usually packaged by the dozen, and depending on the manufacturer, certain minimum purchase quantities may apply. We also offer quantity break pricing on some of our dinnerware selections, so make sure to call in and speak with a product consultant prior to purchase to learn more.

Suggested quantities depend on the type of establishment and how many it seats, as well as what the popular dishes are and how they are served. A general rule of thumb is to plan for two of each per seat, to make sure you always have enough dinnerware to accommodate rushes. Remember the best practice is to always be proactive and stay ahead on cleaning cycles to consistently keep supply on hand. Due to the fragile nature of many types of china dinnerware, it is always best to anticipate breakage and to buy in bulk.

Suggested minimum dinnerware requirements for a 100 seat dining room.

Item Type Quantity by Dozen
  9" or 9-3/4" Dinner Plate 25 dozen
  7-1/4" Salad or Desert Plate 33 dozen
  6-1/2" Dinner Plate  33 dozen
  11-1/2" Steak Platter 6 dozen
  11-1/2" Breakfast Platter 6 dozen
  8-1/2 oz. Coffee Cups 33 dozen
  7 oz. Bouillon Bowls 20 dozen
  Saucers 20 dozen
  Fruit Dish 33 dozen
  Grapefruit Bowl 25 dozen
  Deep Rim Soup Bowl 20 dozen
  Oatmeal Bowl 6 dozen
  Sugar Packet Holder 6 dozen
  Creamers 6 dozen

Care and Maintenance

Though already noted, no china dinnerware is break-proof, taking proper care of your chinaware is the best way to ensure its longevity. Reduce chipping and breakage by avoiding:

  • metal trays and improper racks
  • overloading bus trays and dish racks
  • piling heavy items on top of lighter ones
  • stacking dinnerware too high or nesting cups
  • using other dinnerware or metal utensils to scrape dishes
  • pouring cold water or ice into hot cups or mugs. After removing from dishwasher, it is always best to let dinnerware cool to room temperature before using to avoid thermal shock.

Avoid stains or discoloration by:

  • Washing soon after use
  • Presoaking in water below 160°F
  • Using proper detergent concentrations