Finishing a great day on the slopes, skiers head to the restaurant at the base of the mountain to enjoy some food and drinks while they engage in lively conversation with their friends about the day.Often, they pile their gear on the table, in the center or at the end, blocking several chairs that could be used by other customers. Business owners know very well that every empty chair is lost revenue to the restaurant.
It took a skier with an engineering mind to come up with a solution: Clutter™ Baskets. These storage baskets hold ski gear, phones and accessories, freeing up valuable table space for more customers.
“I’m a retired Air Force officer, an engineer, and so I have an engineering mind,” said Kenneth Mann, P.E., owner of Clutter™ Baskets, Corp. “I retired in 1994, but kept on working as an engineer at the Air Force Academy in Colorado, up until last year. I’ve skied my entire life, and like everyone else, I’d stop at one of the restaurants on the mountain to have lunch. There would be five or six people sitting at a table with all their stuff at the end, leaving three chairs empty – no one could sit down there. I got to wondering how the business could maximize the number of people that can sit and, at the same time, increase table space without adding extra chairs.”
A few years ago, Mann came up with the solution: metal storage baskets that could be mounted high enough on the tables to allow for conversation.
“It took about a year of working with different people to develop the final design for Clutter™ Baskets,” Mann said. “I joined the National Ski Areas Association, went to some trade shows last year, showed my prototypes and met with people. The response I got was brilliant with everyone asking, ‘Why didn’t anyone think of this before?’”
Unique and practical design
Clutter™ Baskets can be permanently mounted to the tops of tables at any height. Alternatively, quick-disconnect brackets can be used that allow for easy removal of the baskets.
Mann said, “Let’s say the venue doesn’t want them on the table for special events, they can remove the baskets in 20 seconds; no tools needed as they simply snap off. The bracket underneath is attached permanently with recessed screws that are flush with the table so they can’t be seen or felt.” With their tapered design, Clutter™ Baskets can be stacked to take up less room for easy storage.
The taller support brackets hold the Clutter™ Baskets at a height that allows people on opposite sides of a table to see and talk with each other. In restaurants and bars that have countertops along the walls, the storage baskets can be mounted directly on the walls just above the counters. If the ceiling is low enough, they can even be suspended with chains or cables above the tables and counters.
“We have developed a round Clutter™ Basket that fits into the umbrella holes in outdoor tables,” Mann said. “In the summer they can hold biking and hiking gear to keep tables clear for food and drinks. In the winter, each basket can easily handle four helmets, goggles and gloves. They’re made of heavy-gauge steel with a quarter-inch-thick steel base, so they hold up very well outdoors.”
The versatility of the Clutter™ Basket design lends itself to countless other uses both indoors and outdoors. For example, the baskets can be mounted above worktables in maintenance areas to hold tools, or used in kitchens, offices and daycare areas.
Mann says that after thinking about what restaurants have gone through with Covid-19, he designed plastic barriers that can easily be fitted beneath the baskets to partition a table, should the need for such protection arise again. A typical eight-foot by 32-inch table can be divided into six barrier-protected spaces.
Simple advertising solutions
Mann said, “The other thing I thought of was to provide small rectangular advertisements on the sides of the baskets promoting specials like Happy Hour or other services the ski resort might provide such as ski school, childcare, equipment rentals and even advertise local businesses.”
Separate removable laser-cut vinyl logos or metal tags can be attached to the baskets, and if desired, artwork, logos or resort names can be laser-cut into the ends of the baskets.
Further customizable features include the fabrication material, which can be steel (expanded, perforated or solid plate), stainless steel or aluminum. Customers can choose the finish that best suits their needs: powder coated, spray-painted, galvanized or anodized. Clutter™ Baskets can be painted any color, and the size, shape and mounting system can be made to meet any design requirements. If needed, arrangements can be made for delivery and installation.
The innovative and versatile Clutter™ Baskets quickly pay for themselves while improving customer experience.