What to look for when purchasing a catering trolley

What to look for when purchasing a catering trolley

If you work in a catering environment, you’ll know just how busy it can get sometimes. Whether you are providing table service or cleaning up tables after a party has left, you need tools that will help to make your work more efficient.

Catering trolleys can help you do just that, reducing labor costs and time, and ultimately improving your business. Keep reading to find out what you need to know before purchasing a catering trolley.


Before you buy a catering trolley you will need to decide on the material. This decision depends on factors such as if the cart will be customer-facing or not, and how far it needs to travel on a daily basis.

  • Metal: best for transporting dishes, food and supplies. Most metal carts are made from stainless steel which is rust-resistant, extremely durable and hygienic. Metal carts also have a better aesthetic and are suitable for bringing out in front of customers.
  • Plastic: lightweight and durable, suited for even heavy-duty jobs. Most plastic trolleys are manufactured from polyethene which is easy to keep hygienically clean.
  • Combination: made from a combination of materials to provide the best qualities of each. They usually have plastic shelves and aluminium supports and are very durable for use in restaurants and kitchens.

Number of shelves

In the case of deciding how many shelves, more does not always mean better. You may think that having a greater number of shelves means you can carry more on the trolley, but in fact, it lowers the shelf clearance so you won’t be able to carry tall glasses, jugs or plates with lids.

Most catering trolleys are manufactured with two, three or four shelves for optimum shelf clearance and load capacity.

Shelf lip

This may seem like an insignificant feature but it makes all the difference if you plan to use the trolley to transport food and drink. It is very easy for items in transit to slide around and even fall off a shelf.

A shelf lip can keep items where they are supposed to be until you reach your destination. Plus, in the event of a spillage, a shelf lip can contain any liquid or food and prevent it from falling off the cart.


Open or enclosed shelves

Open shelves are ideal if you intend to use the trolley to serve food, as they look more aesthetically pleasing and people can watch as their food arrives. However, locking cabinet doors are a great way to hide additional supplies you don’t want anyone to see.

With that being said, cabinet doors are less functional than open shelving, especially if you constantly need to add or remove items.


It’s not a trolley if it doesn’t have castors, and there are different types to suit various catering environments. If you are using the wrong castor, you may find that the trolley will not function well or it might break down in the middle of a journey.

A rigid castor is fixed in its place and can only move forwards or backward.

A swivel castor has a raceway that enables it to turn in any direction.

There are also some other features that you may wish to bear in mind, depending on the environment the trolley will be used in:

  • Brakes: especially important to prevent the trolley from running away while food is being served or cleared up.
  • Non-marking: it’s best to choose non-marking castors if you want to prevent any damage to your floors, especially hardwood, tile and linoleum, as they can show up marks very easily.
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