As a food service provider, you want only the best for your patrons. Nothing says "I care" more robustly than a well thought-out and established dessert bar from which your customers may pick and choose a variety of post-meal morsels of sweetness. Before setting up such a bar, you will want to determine if you wish to offer both hot and cold dessert items, or just one or the other. If both, you will need to acquire a dessert table with cooler in one end and heater in the other. Once you have the equipment, the remainder of the task at hand can be competently performed with ease.
Items you will need
Dessert table with hot and/or cold sides, preferably with lighted canopy
Dessert table pans and containers
Set up your dessert bar table near a wall with an outlet and plug in the power cord so that it is behind the unit and out of the way of your customers so they don't inadvertently unplug or trip over it. The power cord(s) must be supplied with power to operate the internal cooler, lights, and/or internal warmer systems. If your bar table has both a heater in one side and a cooler in the other, you will need an outlet with two sockets. In this type of model, the canopy light is generally powered from either of the power cords running the temperature controls, so a third outlet shouldn't be necessary.
Turn on your table's heater and/or cooler a couple of hours before your patrons begin arriving so that the pans may arrive at their stable temperatures.
Mix up and/or chill your cold items and cook or bake your warm items and have them in your kitchen ready for transfer to the dessert bar's square and rectangular-shaped pans when your customers begin to arrive. Place the warm dessert items into clean bar pans and set them into the hot side of your dessert bar table and place the cold dessert items into clean bar pans and set them into the cold side of your dessert bar table. Use a clean bar pan every time a refill is necessary for any given dessert item or condiment.
Place all dry toppings to the far end of the cold side of your dessert bar table. Of all dry toppings, place the heavier items (sugar crumbs, peanuts, etc.) closer to the main desserts and place the lighter items (lightweight candy toppings etc.) toward the furthest end of the cold side. This will prevent the lighter toppings from falling off of the spoons and then mixing with the heavier items (lighter items fall from spoons easier than heavier items) which will keep your dessert bar table organized, neat and convenient.
Follow your health inspector's instructions to prevent citations or fines from being assessed against you for failure to comply.
Never re-use any food items which have been out on your dessert bar after your lunch or dinner meal time. Throw out all that remains to prevent cross-contaminating your other food stock or spreading any possible germs to the next group of customers at the next meal time. With this in mind, keep only small amounts of food and condiments on your table at any given time, checking for needed refills regularly, perhaps once every fifteen minutes during your busiest times. This will assist you in reducing the amount of waste generated, which will save you money over the long term.