These intense tones, reflecting current runway fashions, combine in bold, dramatic contrasts of red/orange and red/purple/blue, woven into glowing damask designs. The message of the colorful new patterns is casual luxury: Color has become a vivid option in today’s table fashions, as many restaurateurs move away from formal settings, with pale neutrals, to create an upscale, downsized environment for popular small-plate and bar-type venues.

"Vibrant patterns of new linens are helping to drive the trend to casual looks and styles in today’s dining," noted Jean-Philippe Krukowicz, national sales manager at Garnier-Thiebaut. At the same time, colorful linens "add an elegance that diners respond to," he said.

The dominant style of all-white dinnerware has heightened the trend to rich fabric patterns, which set off and make a beautiful backdrop for creamy-white china.

Generally, restaurant operators look to color-saturated table fashions to make a statement, express a mood or set a theme for events or even for room interiors. And those opting for warm, comfortable "at home" tones - mostly buttery shades of yellow, gold and café - often accent these settings with a splash of color in runners or napkins.

One reason restaurateurs readily embrace highly-colored patterns in both tablecloths and runners, is many of these designs are available with a protective finish, such as GT’s "pearl" coating that wards off spots and stains, while keeping intact the natural look and texture - and bright colors - of the original fabric. As practical as they are elegant, the treated linens have a multi-use longevity.

Color also has the power to work its magic on both traditional and modernist settings, playing the lead or a supporting role in creating stunning restaurant tablescapes, always adding a touch of glamour to décor.