Author Archives: Emily Rollins

About Emily Rollins

Emily Rollins is a Content Specialist for Central Restaurant Products, a foodservice equipment and supply distributor in Indianapolis. Emily writes for the catalog, website and blog. She also loves to keep readers updated on what’s happening in the foodservice industry via Central’s Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest accounts. Each year Emily attends the National Restaurant Association Show and has also attended the Social Media Examiner’s Social Media Success Summit.

How to Prepare for the Valentine’s Day Rush

The second busiest day of the year for restaurants is quickly approaching – are you prepared? Valentine’s day is one of the most popular days to dine out, and causes many headaches for restaurants alike. How can your operation avoid those headaches and complications? Keep reading to find out!

National Restaurant Association has estimated that 70 million people will dine out on Valentine’s Day, and this year the holiday falls on a Friday which greatly increases the amount of traffic that will walk in your door.

The NRA reported that younger adults were more likely to dine out for Valentine’s Day compared to older adults. “33 percent of 18-34 year-olds and 39 percent of 35-44 year-olds say they plan to dine out for a Valentine’s Day meal, compared with 27 percent of those 55 and older,” states the article. How do customers decide where to enjoy their meal? “42 percent say they pick their favorite restaurant or their companion’s favorite restaurant for their special meal. Twenty-one percent select a restaurant with a romantic atmosphere, followed by restaurants that offer special menus or promotions (13 percent), restaurants picked by their companion (12 percent) and a restaurant they haven’t been to before (11 percent).”

How to Prepare

Now that you know your restaurant will be packed come Friday, the 14th, make sure you utilize these tips so you don’t have a holiday headache.

Most people that choose to dine out on Valentine’s Day come in pairs or couples, so seating arrangements become difficult if you have a lot of four-tops. You can prepare for these two-person parties but estimate how many two-tops you expect. You can use data from the previous year as your secret weapon.


“What a restaurateur should do is estimate the percentage of parties that will come in as parties of two and multiple the number of seats in the restaurant by that percentage,” explains Sherri Kimes, a Cornell University professor of serves operations management. “That will give the number of seats that should be provided at two-tops.” Now if you need to calculate the number of tables, simply divide that number by two.

This article from Nation’s Restaurant News suggests that you gather as many two-top tables as possible, weather that means moving around tables, borrowing or renting them. While Valentine’s Day is the second busiest holiday, it takes more flexibility for tables and seating because of so many couples. With Mother’s Day, the demand is for larger parties and bigger tables.

Of course, reservations will always help the dining flow. This way you can make sure you have enough two-tops, and know in advance how packed your restaurant will be. Quick marketing tip: if you end up having a few tables not make it out, post your availability on social media. Customers can see that while everywhere else may seem busy, you have a spot just waiting to serve them up an enjoyable Valentine’s Day experience.

Sweetening Up the Profit

A huge perk to Valentine’s Day is that customers are dining out and looking for something special. Anyone can go out to eat on a given day and get a good experience, but for Valentine’s Day people want to see some changes that really make for a wonderful holiday. This is certainly a holiday where you can charge a little bit more and have a prix fixe menu because of the extra “oomph” to the dining experience.

There’s a big potential for upselling for Valentine’s Day services. When you take reservations, you have the chance to ask a few extra questions like suggesting to add flowers for your date, a personal message printed on their menu, celebratory beverages or desserts, or entertainment or music. These things make the customer feel extra special and proves you’ll go the long way for them.

Servers can upsell on select menu items because customers will be more apt to spending a little bit more than they normally do when they visit your restaurant. Customers will want to add on appetizers or desserts because this isn’t their typical visit and they want to add on things that they might not on a normal occasion.

Quick Service Promotions

QSR Magazine reports that fast-food brands should offer more upscale or Valentine’s Day-themed items to compete with full-service restaurants. “Offering appetizers, small plates, and sides may be yet another way to increase check average at [quick serves] on Valentine’s Day,” says Lizzy Freier, editor for foodservice consulting firm Technomic. “Full-service restaurants have already begun to leverage interest in downsized portions and mix-and-match by introducing new small-plate offerings…and it is something we could eventually see trickling down to quick serves.”

chocolatesEvery year White Castle holds its annual Valentine’s Day dinner in all of its stores for the 20th year in a row. Guests can make reservations and receive a white-tablecloth dinner with tableside service and a special menu to order from. The event became so notorious and popular for White Castle, that they extended the dinner hours from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Limited-time products are especially popular among quick serve restaurants to get more foot traffic in the door during the Valentine’s Day season. Dunkin’ Donuts released a special heart-shaped Cookie Dough Donut with cookie-dough buttercream filling, and a heart-shaped Brownie Batter Donut with chocolate brownie batter and buttercream-flavored filling.

Krispy Kreme normally has their heart-shaped sprinkle Heart doughnut, and a Chocolate Iced Heart Doughnut. They added X- and O- shaped “Kiss” and “Hug” doughnuts new for this year in hopes to drive in more traffic.

Many quick serve companies are offering select products for $2.14, while others are offering a free dessert or appetizer if they purchase two of any item on February 14th.

Whether you’re a full-serve or quick-serve restaurant, there are many ways to be prepared for Valentine’s Day. Make sure you take account for most guests dining in pairs, while also bringing something special to the table to make diners really enjoy their experience.

Central Restaurant Products Teams Up With Vulcan

Central Restaurant Products dropped their latest master catalog on Monday, January 13 with an exclusive Vulcan promotion.

Exclusive Vulcan Promotion

For the third year in a row, Central has teamed up with Vulcan – one of the world’s largest commercial cooking equipment manufacturers. Vulcan equipment will be at their lowest prices and qualifies for free shipping. Central customers will enjoy the benefits of top Vulcan equipment being in stock and ready to ship the same day if ordered by 5:00 p.m. EST.

Central gives customers an advantage in the foodservice industry by stocking a large number of Vulcan’s top products, and customers are able to see how much inventory is available online.

Shop Vulcan

Shop Vulcan’s full line of commercial cooking equipment at Don’t hesitate to contact a Product Consultant at 800-215-9293 with any questions. Product Consultants are available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. Don’t forget to request your free copy of our newest catalog!

Click below to shop Vulcan!

Foodservice Industry News Week in Brief: October 28, 2016

Happy Friday! The end of the week is the perfect time to catch up on the latest foodservice industry happenings! Check out industry news, Central blogs and promotions for the week of October 24 – 28, 2016. Enjoy!

Industry News

  1. Delish: 13 Halloween Cheesecakes That Are So Good It’s Spooky
  2. Free Dessert Is the Best Dessert, Especially on Your Birthday
  3. Huffington Post: This Could Be The Coffee Maker To End All Coffee Makers
  4. Restaurant Hospitality: 8 ways restaurants can trim energy usage
  5. Ruin Halloween With Chocolate-Covered Brussels Sprouts
  6. Huffington Post: The Last-Minute Halloween Recipes You Can Still Make Now
  7. Restaurant Hospitality: Trending this week: Hearty fall-inspired soups, 8 new restaurants, more
  8. Nation’s Restaurant News: Discounts aren’t bringing in customers
  9. National Restaurant Association: Is sustainability on your menu?
  10. Nation’s Restaurant News: 7 ways to fortify your restaurant’s security

Central Blogs

Central Promos

Want the latest version of our catalog? Click here to request a copy!

Visit to view current promotions, or click the links below.

Connect With Us!

To keep up with the latest, subscribe to Central’s email list and get exclusive benefits such as discounts, new product alerts and early access to our clearance list. You can also follow us on the following social channels for the latest blogs, foodservice industry news and more!

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Top 5 Haunted Restaurants in America

October really brings out the spooktacular spirit in everyone, don’t you think? This festive month brings out the ghost tales, and restaurants are known to always make the “most haunted” list. While the list could go on and on, here are the top five haunted restaurants in America. Visit if you dare!

  1. Captain Tony’s Saloon

Key West, Florida

Photo Credit: Captain Tony's Saloon

Photo Credit: Captain Tony’s Saloon

Captain Tony’s has been a hot spot for legends such as Ernest Hemingway, Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, Shel Silverstein and Jimmy Buffet, but it’s probably most known for being haunted. The building that houses Captain Tony’s was built in 1851, originally serving as an icehouse and a morgue. Not only that, but Captain Tony’s is also the home of Key West’s ‘Hanging Tree’. This tree was used to hang 17 people until death. One of the victims was known as the ‘lady in blue’ who still haunts the saloon to this day.

  1. Poogan’s Porch

Charleston, South Carolina

Photo Credit: Poogan's Porch

Photo Credit: Poogan’s Porch

Legend has it that Zoe St. Amand, a schoolteacher, died in the restaurant’s building in the 1950s. Zoe is apparently an active ghost, as she has been known to rotate place settings around the tables, forging food orders, hurling bar stools at the staff and bursting open doors when she’s upset.

  1. Muriel’s

New Orleans, Louisiana

Photo Credit: Muriel's

Photo Credit: Muriel’s

With a city that has a long log of history like New Orleans has, it’s not hard to find a restaurant where it’s inhabitants are from the past. Muriel’s invites any and all spirits to their establishment (they even have a seance room!), where the signature ghost is Antoine Lepardi Jordan. Antoine committed suicide after losing the building in a poker match, but is still honored with a table set for bread and wine every night at the restaurant.

  1. One if by Land, Two if by Sea

New York, New York

Photo Credit: One if by Land, Two if by Sea

Photo Credit: One if by Land, Two if by Sea

Any Hamilton fans out there? You’ll want to check out this haunted NYC spot! The restaurant’s building was actually the carriage house of Aaron Burr, Alexander Hamilton’s murderer. Legend has it that Burr and his daughter Theodosia still haunt the place and routinely knock things over, creep down the stairs and pester the patrons. Apparently there are more ghosts to haunt One if by Land, Two if by Sea, so you might want to visit to find out who is still ‘active’!

  1. Restaurant 1833

Monterey, California

Photo Credit: Restaurant 1833

Photo Credit: Restaurant 1833

In the 1800s, a British doctor by the name of James Stokes immigrated to Monterey wanting to set up an apothecary in the building that Restaurant 1833 is now located. James Stokes was a well-liked person and had a growing family, until two years later when one important patient died under his care. Soon after, the community realized that a large percentage of their population died under Stokes’ care. It became known that Stokes didn’t have a medical license or any experience treating illnesses. Needless to say, his ghost still haunts the building and trashes the restaurant during the night.

October is the perfect time to dine amongst things that go bump in the night. Visit any of these restaurants for a chance to dine and get a little history lesson in the restaurant’s past.

What are some haunted restaurants or bars you’ve been to before? Let us know in the comments!

Central Restaurant Products Help Indiana Chefs Cook at the James Beard House

It’s been called many things – “America’s Culinary Shrine” and “the Holy Grail for Chefs” – but for four Indiana chefs, the James Beard House means the opportunity to showcase talent that’s taken years to perfect.

On December 2nd, four Hoosier chefs will get the opportunity of a lifetime to cook at the historic home and showcase their skills. This monumental feat for these chefs marks the second time ever and the second time in less than a year that the James Beard house has invited Indiana chefs to the famed establishment. The group of high caliber chefs will cook as a group to prepare a meal representing Indiana.

Indianapolis has become a reputable food scene in recent years, with the help of talented chefs migrating to the area and putting up high caliber restaurants. Indy chef and restaurant promoter, R.J. Wall, runs Chefs Night Off Indy which hosts monthly dinners where chefs can show off their creative talent for a group of devoted fans. Chefs Night Off Indy helped push Indiana chefs into the James Beard spotlight.

Now that these talented chefs are given the opportunity to go to New York and cook up a storm, they have to pay their own way and cover the cost of food and drink served. To help, several sponsors have stepped forward to cover these costs. Central Restaurant Products has supplied a grant to cover the cost of the December dinner, so we can be sure these chefs will get the funds they need to create an award-winning meal.

Be on the lookout for more fundraisers as the year goes on, such as food truck pop-ups and special dinners. Congrats to these phenomenal chefs and we look forward to helping you out with this prestigious dinner!

Featured Image Credit: James Beard Foundation

Tip of the Day Tuesday: Combat Cross Contamination with Color Coding!

Did you know? The sixth largest contributing factor to foodborne illness is cross contamination. If just one customer gets a foodborne illness at your restaurant, it can spell disaster for your image. Cross contamination is easy to prevent by using color coding.

There really is no substitute for cleaning and sanitization of your cutlery and cutting boards after use, but color coding your food prep supplies lessens the likelihood of cross contamination. Color coding allows employees to quickly identify which cutting boards, knives, cut resistant gloves and utensils should be used for a specific food.

What Do the Colors Represent?

Cross Contamination


For more information on color coding your smallwares, see our Buying Guide! Shop Central for a vast array of products that can help prevent foodborne illnesses and keep your restaurant running safely.

Foodservice Industry News Week in Brief: September 30, 2016

It’s Friday! The last day of the business week and the last day of September! Can you believe it?!  What are your restaurant’s plans for October? Let us know in the comments!

In the meantime, take a look at all of the foodservice happenings this week!

Foodservice Industry News

  1. Delish: Dunkin’ Donuts New Hot Chocolate Flavor Is The Drink You’ve Been Waiting For
  2. Eater: Danny Meyer Just Single-Handedly Made the Apple Watch Relevant to the Hospitality Industry
  3. HuffingtonPost: Apple Fritter Season Is Here, And So Are The Recipes You’ll Need
  4. Restaurant Hospitality: How competency models can improve employee performance
  5. Nation’s Restaurant News: Self-driving robots deliver restaurant meals
  6. National Restaurant Association: Is your restaurant keeping up with the competition?
  7. QSR Web: Cloud POS vs. digital ordering engine: Everything you need to know
  8. Food Republic: Waste Not: Introducing The Incredible, Edible Spoon!
  9. Huffington Post: This Is How You Eat Pumpkin For Breakfast
  10. Foodservice News: Two Risks Keep No-tipping Policies a Tricky Prospect

Central Blogs

Central Promos

Want the latest version of our catalog? Click here to request a copy!

Visit to view current promotions, or click the links below.

Connect With Us!

To keep up with the latest, subscribe to Central’s email list and get exclusive benefits such as discounts, new product alerts and early access to our clearance list. You can also follow us on the following social channels for the latest blogs, foodservice industry news and more!

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