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How Custom Gear Boosts Three Food Service Businesses

As a food service business owner, custom uniforms, promo products, and health and wellness items like masks and antimicrobial pens are all important for outfitting and promoting your company.

We talked to three of our food service business customers to get insight into how custom gear has helped them.

“Custom gear helped us with our branding!” says Kristin Cordell, co-owner and marketing and event coordinator for Dough Heads Waffles. She recently ordered both Hanes Authentic T-shirts and Hanes Tall Beefy T-shirts with their logo to use as uniforms. They also sell them on their website. “We have customers wearing them as well as employees.”

A food truck business, Dough Heads Waffles provides the Lancaster, Pennsylvania area with specialty stuffed waffles they’ve named the “Wocket” (pronounced wok-it), short for waffle pocket. Serving up delicious dough stuffed with everything from Buffalo Chicken and Veggie Parm to Bananas Foster and Cookie Butter, they’ve found that having a standout logo and cool custom gear really helps their business stand out. 

The Dough Heads team turned to Custom Ink because they were able to get custom t-shirts with extended sizing and printing with true color matching. “We love the bright print quality and the specialty sizing options,” says Kristin. “A few of our employees need big & tall options, so that was great to be able to get what we needed!”

Leanna Blevins and Kristin Cordell in their custom Dough Heads shirts. Photo credit: Kristin Cordell, Dough Heads

Being mobile, food trucks often have to get creative to help their customers feel comfortable, even if they’ve just parked somewhere. Throw blankets and canopy tents customized with a company logo can quickly make any park or parking lot feel like an event. A lot of brick and mortar establishments are setting up outdoor areas with tents as well, and in the colder months, the smart ones have throw blankets on hand as well.

Particularly impacted by the global pandemic, all sorts of food services businesses have had to learn to adapt to a changing landscape. Formerly focusing on catering, Cheesemonster Studio, a woman-owned retail cheese and cheese education business located in Washington D.C, pivoted their business to retail after their usual bookings went away. 

Owner and head cheesemonger Alice Bergen Phillips says, “We opened our online retail cheese shop this past June and continued our cheese education classes virtually over Zoom. The silver lining to all of this craziness has been that we are now able to reach a much more far-ranging audience because we teach virtually and we ship all over the country and are able to connect with people who are all over the place, not just in DC.” This also opened up other unexpected opportunities for marketing. “After pivoting from catering to retail, we now had the back-end capabilities to bring in some awesome merch.”

She says that having custom t-shirts not only brings in money but it helps promote their business. “It genuinely blows my mind that there are folks walking around with our logo on their chest, and it’s such a unique design that other people are bound to ask them about it. Getting the word out about Cheesemonster, especially after having to make such a drastic change in our business, is absolutely essential to our survival, so having these t-shirts is incredibly helpful!”

Beth George, owner of BYOB BAGELS (which she says stands for Be Your Own Boss, Build Your Own Business, Bake Your Own Bagels) in Englewood, New Jersey, has had to re-orient her business goals a few times over the years. A former child advocate attorney, she was distressed when her four-year-old started exhibiting behaviors of the children she’d worked to help. After a lot of research, she discovered for her son the source of the issues was dietary. Once they changed what he was eating, he started to excel. The thing he missed most was bagels, so she developed a wheat-free bagel recipe that eventually led her to a successful food consulting business.


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A post shared by BYOBBAGELS (@byobbagels)

This year, when she ordered her new batch of t-shirts, she added custom masks for the first time. “We wanted to look snazzy.  We were fortunate to get a huge amount of press, first with a front page feature in September 2020 in the Food Section of the New York Times, then in October 2020 on ABC as a Localish feature, and in November 2020, as a feature on the CBS Sunday Morning Annual Food Show.”

Beth George, 57, and Frank Mauro, 81 are the world’s go-to “bagel consultants” with their business BYOB Bagels. In this image, Beth works with clients in Texas via FaceTime. The clients (Rich Adams, beard w/ sunglasses // Brian Dunn, grey shirt // Doug Dobolek, blue shirt) are being taught how to make the proper dough.
CREDIT: Michael George for The New York Times

Beth says that her custom t-shirts and masks are her calling card. “ With every media event, Zoom meeting, in person meeting, etc., I wear the t-shirts, and if, in person, the COVID protective masks. The shirts are a lot more memorable than my face!”

We asked Kristin, Alice, and Beth to give their best advice to someone else in their field who is thinking about getting custom gear and this is what they had to say:

Kristin says, “Make sure you’re ordering custom gear from a company that is really able to do a true color match, and consider what sizes are needed!”

Alice advises, “Make sure you have a logo that you love and that is easily recognizable – that makes the merch design all that much easier.”

Beth says, “JUST DO IT.”

So, whether you’re looking to refresh uniforms, get new custom masks, or outfit your business, you can find great options chosen specifically for restaurants and food services over at our website.


Miellyn is the Copy Manager at Custom Ink. Her work has spanned marketing for television networks like TLC and Travel, educational content for Smithsonian and National Geographic, marketing and story for indie video games, essays for publishers including Random House, The Telegraph, and Smart Pop Books, and stories for press outlets like VICE and VH1.

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