SPARTANBURG, S.C. (March 23, 2013) — Restaurants that would like to improve food quality and service perception, and charge more per entrée, should strongly consider using cloth napkins, according to a recent study by Milliken & Company, a leading manufacturer of table linen fabrics for the hospitality industry. The study, conducted by a third-party research company, reviewed U.S. consumers’ preferences between paper and cloth napkins at sit-down restaurants.

infographic01.pngThe study found that a majority of U.S. consumers prefer to dine at sit-down restaurants with a cloth napkin. Aside from basic preference, U.S. consumers who said they preferred cloth napkins reported paying 64 percent more on an entrée than those who preferred paper napkins, and that when dining at a table set with cloth napkins, 50 percent expect to pay more money than if they were seated at a table with paper napkins. 

infographic02.png“Finding out that consumers would be more likely to go to your restaurant just because of cloth napkins shows the importance of listening and responding to consumer preferences,” said John Entsuah, GM Napery at Milliken & Company. “Cloth napkins also appear to allow restaurants to charge more for their food and increase the associated quality of the food and service.” 

The study also found that 77 percent of U.S. consumers notice the way a table is set when visiting a restaurant. Along with noticing the table setting, U.S. consumers highly associate certain aspects of dining at a restaurant with tables set with cloth napkins.

  • 82 percent associate it with a better restaurant appearance and ambiance
  • 75 percent with better food quality
  • 88 percent with better service
  • 84 percent with being environmentally friendly  


On environmental concerns specifically, 54 percent of U.S. consumers said cloth napkins were more environmentally friendly than paper napkins. Only 14 percent felt that paper napkins were more environmentally friendly than cloth napkins.  

“We found this part of the study to confirm the energy-saving technologies we have in place to enhance the general reuse benefit of cloth napkins, since they are industrially laundered and used multiple times versus a one-use paper napkin,” said Entsuah. “The study also found that consumers use an average of three paper napkins per meal. This is waste that could be easily avoided by the use of cloth napkins. The patented technology in our Signature® fabrics allows the napkin to be washed at lower temperatures, saving energy, and our SofTouch Technology™ is designed to make the napkins feel good after many launderings.”


Finalized at the end of 2012, the study was conducted with a random sample of 308 U.S. consumers and has a margin of error of 5.6 percent and a confidence level of 95 percent for total U.S. consumers.

"We’ve always known that there is no substitute for high-quality table linens in terms of performance, durability and value,” added Entsuah. “This study shows that using cloth napkins also makes a significant difference in the minds of consumers with respect to many of the areas restaurateurs are interested in improving. We expect that this will generate a second look from many who previously only considered paper napkins.”

Category: Press Releases
Tags: Milliken and Company , Innovation, Cloth, Linen
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