Author Archives: Tracey Allen

About Tracey Allen

Tracey Rector is a Content Specialist for Central Restaurant Products, a food service equipment and supply distributor in Indianapolis. She writes for Central's catalog, website and blog and provides latest foodservice information on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+. Each year, Tracey attends the National Restaurant Association Show. She has also attended Vollrath University, Vulcan University and Social Media Examiner's Social Media and Blogging Success Summits.

foodservice industry news

Foodservice Industry News Week in Brief: July 15, 2016

Welcome to the end of the week! Check out this week’s top foodservice industry news stories, Central blogs and promotions for the week of July 11-15, 2015!

Foodservice News

  1. Fortune: Starbucks invests in artisan Italian bakery for upscale offerings
  2. Thrillist: ‘Pokemon Go’ is going to make restaurants and bars tons of money
  3. West Orange Patch: Trump-Burger or Clinton-Patty? Restaurant releases ‘Political Burgers’
  4. Bloomberg: Post-Brexit Britain wakes up to smell of pricier cup of coffee
  5. Digital Spy: Pizza Hut now lets you order pizza using nothing but emoji
  6. Eater: Taco Bell’s boozy cantina is headed to the Las Vegas strip
  7. QSR Web: Technology helping Rise to raise profile
  8. HuffPost Food: Square watermelons exist, as if life wasn’t weird enough already
  9. Nation’s Restaurant News: Menu tracker: New items from McDonald’s, Brio Tuscan Grille, McAlister’s Deli, more
  10. Convenience Store News: CSNews opens nominations for Technology & Fuels Leader Awards

Central Blogs

  1. Top 5 American bakeries to visit during your summer travels
  2. Wordless Wednesday: Craftsmen Tap House
  3. Throwback Thursday: Central’s 2014 year in review

CatalogCoverCentral Promotions

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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Six Ways Restaurants Can Cut Costs

Guest Blog: Six Ways Restaurants Can Cut Costs

The following article is a Guest Blog written by Ann Holtzapple with Vulcan Equipment. Be sure to check out Central’s selection of Vulcan equipment on our website for the best prices!

How Restaurants can Cut Costs

Restaurant operators are constantly looking for ways to cut costs.  Easier said than done, you say? Think again. Setting aside a little time each day to focus on these six strategies will have a major impact on your bottom line.

cut costs by measuring1. Measure Everything—Including Waste

Create a science of precision in your kitchen by carefully measuring every ingredient, and equally every ounce that is wasted. According to, businesses in the food and hospitality sectors throw away nearly $15,000 in food waste every year. Conduct a waste audit to determine exactly what is being wasted, and how much. After three days, measure the results and create an action plan to reduce food waste and adjust your orders accordingly. It’s a win for the environment, and your checkbook.

2. Hold Vendors Accountable

Don’t feel pigeonholed into working with the same vendor if you notice your costs slowly creeping up. While it’s important to develop and maintain close relationships with all your vendors, it’s also imperative to know when to shop around. Put together a list of the top 50 items you purchase from a vendor and take it to bid. Find out not only who is willing to give the right price for product, but also who’s going to work with you long-term and forge a relationship beneficial to both parties. Sit down and review your business with them once a quarter, and set objectives to measure success.

3. Share the Numbers

In order for all parties to be committed, each stakeholder must fully understand the numbers. Instead of hiding the balance sheet, share it with your Chef and Managers so they are aware and personally vested in the cost-cutting operation. Knowledge is power, and once everyone has an understanding of the P&Ls, they also have a responsibility in helping achieve budget.

make bread from scratch4. Make Everything From Scratch

While it may seem more cost-effective to purchase some items premade, this isn’t always the case. It’s much cheaper to buy staple items in bulk—flour, milk and sugar—and in turn make bread, soups and desserts from scratch. This model also brings the luxury of mixing up menu items and specials because you aren’t committed to one, premade item. Not to mention achieving the added benefit of elevated flavor and freshness by cooking from scratch.

5. Use ENERGY STAR Qualified Equipment

Do an energy audit and analyze your utility bills. Most likely, you could be saving a vast amount of money on gas and electric simply by using ENERGY STAR qualified cooking equipment. There are a wide range of products available, and even savings calculators that can help you determine just how much money you’ll be saving. Some of the numbers are staggering. For example, a new counter top steamer that just came out last year can reduce water usage up to 90% and energy usage by 50%.

5. Time Management

Scheduling the appropriate amount of people without being over or under-staffed can be tricky, and neither have positive outcomes. Taking the time to calculate how long every task takes will give you a clear picture of who is needed to complete a successful service. Also take into consideration how many reservations are on the books and prep work that still needs to be completed. This type of careful planning will pay off in the long-run.

Following these strategies will help you minimize costs without sacrificing the integrity of your food. It’s never too late to start saving, and starting with streamlining your operations will provide a clear path to success.

Central and Vulcan

For the best Vulcan equipment solution, be sure to visit our website or contact a product consultant at 800-215-9293.

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Top American Bakeries

5 Top American Bakeries to Visit During Your Summer Travels

Top American Bakeries

Cookies. Brownies. Cupcakes. Cake pops. What is better than a perfect and delicious baked good? Especially while traveling when the calories don’t matter, right!? While you are traveling this summer, Central has some of the best customers around that make all the sweet treats that will have you wishing you lived there. Here are some of the top American bakeries to add to your stop this summer, and be sure to share your favorite places below!

Magnolia Bakery

Nationwide | Website

Magnolia Bakery is one of America’s most popular and well-known bakeries as it has been featured on Saturday Night Live, Sex and the City, The Devil Wears Prada and many more. Their first location opened in 1996 in Bleecker Street in Manhattan’s West Village and now over 20 years later, have several locations in New York City as well as Los Angeles, Chicago and Honolulu. They are also popular internationally as well in 15+ cities across the globe! People flock to this bakery for a chance to eat their amazing confections from cupcakes and bars to cookies and brownies. Plus, not only can you buy their amazing treats, you can attend cooking classes too!  They release their classes for the month, which would be the perfect stop to add to your itinerary with one of the top American bakeries! And if you won’t be in a city this summer that has a Magnolia Bakery location, don’t fret! They have an online store that ships across America. Be sure to treat yourself this summer with some of their best sellers!

Cake Bake Shop

Indianapolis, IN | Website

Tucked deep in Broad Ripple, one of Indianapolis’ most popular and walkable neighborhoods, you will find the Cake Bake Shop! This adorable place may sound familiar as they have been featured on the Food Network, Hallmark’s “Home & Family,” Indy Monthly and most recently were on the set of “Dumb and Dumber To.” Owner Gwendolyn Rogers created a “storybook cake bake shop” in a 1940s cottage that has heavy French influences from the decor all the way down to the food and treats. When you visit the Cake Bake Shop, not only can you try delicious cakes, pies, cupcakes, and other desserts, but you can enjoy lunch and afternoon tea too. From being on the list of “The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie in All 50 States” to the Food Network’s “Guilty Pleasures,” this award-winning location is definitely one of the top American bakeries and is a must when visiting the Hoosier state.

The Enchanted Bakery

Grand Island, Nebraska | Website

As you make your way across the United States, you must pop into The Enchanted Bakery! Since 2003, this Nebraska bakery has been going above and beyond for their customers with baking amazing cakes and fine pastries. The Enchanted Bakery is owned by sisters Veronica Ramos and Ana Gonzalez and it was their dream to open Grand Island’s first Mexican cake business! The two are dedicated to the business and according to a article, they arrive each day at 7:30 a.m. and head home around 9 p.m. Wow! They love putting together delicious and unique flavors that customers can’t get anywhere else. From Tres Leches and Mocha, to Red Velvet and Chocolate Cheesecake, you won’t want to miss a stop to this delicious bakery!

Ali’s Sweet Treats

Miami, Florida | Website

Throughout your travels to the Sunshine State, be sure to drop by Ali’s Sweet Treats! This adorable shop hits our list of one of the top American bakeries and  specializes in decorated cookies, cakes and cookie cakes, cupcakes, cake pops, fresh macarons and more! Want treats for your four legged friend? They make all natural dog treats and “barkday” cakes too! The dog treats have no added sugars, preservatives or artificial flavorings so they are safe for your furry friends. Ali’s is perfect if you are in need of a custom baked good, especially if you need a logo or photo on it! Their team creates edible images for cookies, cakes, cupcakes, brownies, ice cream, whipped cream desserts and more! The customer service you receive at Ali’s is exceptional and if you are in or traveling to the area, be sure to check out their Facebook page for the latest specials and coupons.

Zombee Donuts and Bakeshop

Fullerton, California | Website

For a fun and out of the box bakery experience in California, drop by Zombee Donuts and Bakeshop! This zombie themed specialty and vegan donut shop rounds up our list of top American bakeries with their super fun atmosphere and awesomely spooky treats! The shop was opened up by the mother/daughter duo, Marie Theodore and Vanessa Guillen because of their love of The Walking Dead. You really just have to visit and see for yourself but some of the great treats they offer include the Zombee Mascot, a raised glazed zombee shaped donut with a jelly filled head and chocolate face. Or, perhaps a Maple Bacon Bar? (YES PLEASE!) This is the perfect mixture of salty and sweet with the shop’s famous maple bar topped with a nice and crispy strip of bacon. One of their other popular favorites are the “Cereal Killers,” which is a moist and crispy cake donut topped with different cereals such as Fruit Loops, Cookie Crisps and Cocoa Puffs. From the fun atmosphere to the “to die for” treats, this bakeshop should definitely be on your travel list.

Other Recommendations

For more top American bakeries and restaurant recommendations, Central customers are the best! Be sure to check them out in our Customer Spotlight section. Have a favorite local bakery? Be sure to give them a shout out in the comments!

Image at top from the Enchanted Bakery Facebook page

foodservice industry news

Foodservice Industry News Week in Brief: June 10, 2016

Happy Friday! Welcome to the end of the week. Check out the latest industry news stories, Central blogs and promotions for the week of June 6 through June 10!

Foodservice News

  1. Nation’s Restaurant News: Chili’s plans to enhance value, positioning, technology
  2. QSR: The next labor battle? Overtime
  3. Pizza Marketplace: Smaller brands, offbeat products win big in trend toward higher-end eating
  4. National Restaurant Association: Restaurant industry added nearly 10k locations in 2015
  5. Restaurant Hospitality: Could bar reservations help increase revenue?
  6. Convenience Store News: Six keys to connecting with millennials
  7. The Washington Post: The 40 most essential D.C. restaurant dishes of 2016
  8. Restaurant News: Arby’s adds buffalo chicken to popular sliders lineup
  9. USA Today: This restaurant just unseated Chipotle as the most popular Mexican chain
  10. Serious Eats: The Great American Beer Brawl of 2016

Central’s Blog Posts

  1. Restaurant Hot Spots: Central Customers to Visit this Summer
  2. Wordless Wednesday: Patachou Cuban Breakfast
  3. Throwback Thursday: Chef’s Night Off

Current Promotionscentral March 2016 catalog

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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restaurant hot spot

Restaurant Hot Spots: Central Customers to Visit this Summer

Restaurant Hot Spots

When it comes to some of the best restaurant hot spots around, Central customers (which include restaurants across the country) are the ones to visit! Take a look at this roundup of some of the best places across the United States to visit during your summer travels. In addition to this list, also be sure to check out our Customer Spotlight series and add their restaurants to your “to-do” list as well. Happy eating!

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit

Nationwide | Website

No matter where you travel this summer, you are sure to find a Dickey’s close to you! This fast-casual franchise serves some of the best slow-smoked barbecue there is (and we know because we’ve had it!). It all began in 1941 when Travis Dickey, a World War I veteran, opened the very first Dickey’s in Dallas, Texas. The family worked at the restaurant and in the early days the menu began with beef brisket, pit hams, barbecue beans, potato chips, beer, bottled milk and soda. After wild success, Dickey’s said they began franchising in 1994 after loyal customers and barbecue fanatics demanded more locations. Today they have over 530 restaurants in 43 states. No matter how much they grow, they strive to provide that great service and amazing food  at each and every location. Try the beef brisket, pulled pork, St. Louis style ribs, polish sausage, spicy cheddar sausage, smoked turkey or marinated chicken with anything from their extensive list of delicious sides from jalapeno beans to macaroni and cheese. And if you have children, kids eat free on Sundays!

The Pancake Shop

Hot Springs, Arkansas | Website

For incredible pancakes in historic Downtown Hot Springs in Arkansas, be sure to pay a visit to The Pancake Shop! This restaurant hot spot has been featured in The New York Times, Southern Living and several other publications for their unique dining experience that they said has not changed much over the last 70 years. You’ll experience fresh ingredients, from orange juice that was squeezed that morning to pancakes made from scratch (served with butter and warm maple syrup). Everything is made to order so you can get everything the way you want it! Their dedicated staff, with many that have been on the team for decades, will make sure you have an amazing experience. They also love to share some of the famous celebrities, musicians, trainers, jockeys, etc. that have walked through their doors which you can see displayed on their wall. Want to know something even cooler? It is such a restaurant hot spot that there can be a wait on weekends–so they have teamed up with The Savory Pantry right next door where while you wait, you can get a fresh cup of coffee, listen to great music and sample specialty foods from all across the world. Not a bad way to wait on a table!

Leal’s Mexican Restaurants

Clovis, New Mexico | Website

“Mi casa es su casa” means “my house is your house.” When you visit either of the two Leal’s Mexican Restaurant locations in Clovis, New Mexico, you are guaranteed an awesome experience from this family owned restaurant hot spot that has been voted “Best of Clovis” many times over the last 16 years! Just thinking about delicious chips with salsa, quesadillas, tamales, fajitas, sopapillas, chile rellanos, margaritas and more could motivate anyone to make the trip to try this delicious food! This restaurant’s roots date back to 1957 when Jesse and Irma Leal opened “Leal’s Cafe Tortilla Factory” and served Mexican Barbacoa, Huevos Rancheros, Tamales and Menudo. It expanded in 1968 and became “El Nuevo (the new) Leal’s Restaurant” and today, Laura works to continue her family’s legacy and tradition of fine Mexican food. Customer favorites include the taco salad, the Bryant Special featuring stew meat and bean burrito topped with chili con carne and cheese or the tequila lime chicken!

Dinghy’s Restaurant & Bar

Frankfort, Michigan | Website

If you’re looking for a nautical themed restaurant with delicious in-house smoked ribs, chicken and turkey legs, beef brisket, barbecue, fish and more, then you have to check out this restaurant hot spot in Frankfort, Michigan. This restaurant has been in business for over 20 years and prides themselves on the freshest ingredients and going local as often as possible. According to Dinghy’s, the theme of the restaurant pays homage to the history of the ferry boat fleet that steamed out of the Frankfort harbor for 90 years! You’ll love the rich history of this restaurant that displays old maritime maps and photos. Newly renovated in 2012, you must stop in to have a drink in the new bar that’s made of sturdy oak and a cherry wood cut top. Also in the bar they said you’ll find the World Record Brown Trout which was caught on a 10 pound line across the street in Michigan’s Betsie Lake.

Have a Suggestion?

We’d love to hear about your favorite local restaurant! Tell us and give them a shout out in the comments below!