Category Archives: Customer Spotlight

Customer Spotlight: Convivio

An intimate connection with Italian food and culture. According to owners Andrea Melani and Emilio Centro, this is the goal for every visit to their authentic Italian restaurant Convivio in Carmel, Indiana.

 

Nestled in a cozy corner of Carmel, Indiana, Convivio boasts more than just their outdoor bocce ball court, welcoming bar, and delicious food. Melani and Centro boast authenticity, each learning from their Italian roots. Melani was born and raised in Riomaggiore, Italy and grew up in a restaurant family. He learned all about traditional Italian food, but he eventually landed himself in central Indiana as he followed love. Centro is a second-generation American with family from Roccaforte, Italy, but he grew up helping his father and grandfather at their restaurant Napoli Villa in Beech Grove, Indiana. Each with a rich background of Italian culture and restaurant experience, the pair joined efforts in 2015 to begin the concept of Convivio Italian Artisan Cuisine.

Now, the pair is dedicated to creating all pasta and pizza dough from scratch daily. You can enjoy lunch or dinner with beet, spinach or red pepper pasta, then take some home by the pound to cook and enjoy at home!

As their Kickstarter campaign states,

“We want our guests to be happy, curious, surprised, and intrigued during their visits. Our artisan cuisine is deeply rooted in the Italian tradition but has an innovative taste for creativity. We are committed to selecting the finest ingredients from identified sources, preserve their natural qualities, and celebrate them with traditional Italian cooking styles.”

 

The restaurant’s kitchen was designed by Central’s own Scott Ebbert. The design allows for plenty of prep space as well as dedicated room for their Marsal Pizza oven to make their delicious pizzas! The kitchen also boasts Vulcan ovens and True prep tables to keep their operations running smoothly.

Convivio officially opened in November of 2016. Now, delicious foods, great memories, and warm hospitality continue to be the theme of the restaurant. Be sure to check out their menu and if you are in the area, stop in for a visit!

Have questions about designing your restaurant’s kitchen? Give one of helpful product consultants a call at 800-215-9293 or browse our website!

Warm Up with the Perfect Cup of Coffee from These Local Coffee Shops

Coffee Shops

What’s better than the perfect cup of hot coffee to help you get through a cool day? Even if you’re not living in a 90’s sitcom, local coffee shops have the best vibe and service. If you are traveling this fall, be sure to keep these coffee shops on your agenda.

These are but a few incredible places to grab that sought-after cup of joe. We would love to hear about your favorite local coffee spot. Tell us about it in the comments!

Durango Joe’s Coffee

Colorado, New Mexico | Website

Durango Joe’s coffee shop is a welcoming coffee shop that cares about people! They love to work and serve people, from the coffee farmers to their customers. They explain they directly partner with their coffee farmers across the globe and share the same goal. Their menu has a wide variety of delicious coffees from their Mosaic Blend and Columbia to the Red Mountain Blend and coffee from Costa Rica. You can also enjoy espresso drinks and delicious signature drinks. Why not a Vanilla Latte made upside down with caramel sauce laced on top? They have you covered! You can also choose other cool drinks and teas, from chai tea lattes to iced pomegranate green tea. Plus, every morning you can enjoy delicious fresh pastries, breakfast burritos and sandwiches.

Durango Joe’s has been serving local communities since 2004. Their website explains it began with owner Joe Lloyd’s grandfather Doctor Leo Lloyd who served the Colorado’s Durango community for over 40 years. Joe and his wife LeAnna have continued the tradition of serving others through their coffee shops. Joe is active within his community and loves everyone that walks into the doors at each of their seven locations. So if you’re looking for a great cup of coffee and great people, stop by!

durango-joes

Hampton Coffee Company

New York | Website

If you find yourself in The Hampton’s this fall, you must stop by one of Hampton Coffee Company’s six locations. This independently-owned and family operated coffee shop opened its doors in 1994 as a small espresso bar and coffee micro-roastery. The business grew and today they are now known as Long Island’s largest independent coffee roaster retailer! In addition to their stores, you can also find their brews in many of the restaurants in The Hamptons.

The Hampton Coffee Company also does everything they can to help the environment! Some examples include UPS Carbon Neutral mail orders, Energy Star-rated equipment, solar panels and eco-friendly cups. In addition, they do everything they can to make sure you have the best and freshest cup of coffee available! They avoid using vacuum-packed bags or warehouse their coffee. They always deliver and serve it fresh. In fact, you can visit their Coffee Roastery and Coffee Experience Store to learn more about how it is all done!

hampton-coffee-company

Paramour Artisan Coffee

Wamego, KS | Website

When you visit a website and the first thing you see is “Best java around,” you know you’re going to get a great cup o’ Joe! This Midwest coffee shop has been serving their local community for 25 years. It all began when Owner Jim Hovind worked under Sal Bonavita and Alfred Peet—the founder of the famous Peet’s Coffee. Paramour explains the shop was inspired by these two coffee legends, and in in tribute to Peet who has since passed. Their mission? To serve great coffee.

Their location in downtown Wamego, Kansas not only has a wide variety of fresh daily brews, but also delicious pastries! Be sure to grab a peach cobbler muffin or bacon-maple scone with your coffee. If you will not be in the Wamego area, you can still get Paramour’s coffee! You can buy their brews on their website, with most orders shipping within two days. If you’re a business owner looking for a great coffee blend to add to your shop, they handle wholesale inquiries too! It’s a great addition to your coffee shop, restaurant or retail operation.

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Customer Spotlight: Mallow Run Winery

A good bottle of wine is often a staple of the dining experience. Wine has the power to bring together new friends and strengthen bonds between lifelong ones. Whether you prefer those on the sweeter side of the scale, or your palette grants you the opportunity to enjoy the subtle complexities of a bold Cabernet, conversation is inevitable.

It seems, much to our delight, more and more locally owned and operated wineries are springing up across the country with the goal of bringing consumers together to share in memorable experiences. Wine production is such a rich field that it always offers something new to learn, both for expert connoisseurs and novices alike.

When it comes to growing grapes to turn into wine, the climate holds major influence. It’s a sensitive procedure, tending to grapes, with many factors to watch out for. For instance, too much rain or humidity, too little exposure to sunlight, or off-balance soil pH levels can drastically alter the grape, and thus the flavor of the end product. It’s no surprise, then, that certain areas with favorable climates have come to stand apart as “Wine Capitals,” producing and distributing some of the best wines in the world. Northern California is one such hotspot that’s home to popular wine destinations like Napa Valley and Sonoma County. With its sunny afternoons and cool nights, the hospitable environment is a perfect home for vineyards.Vineyard

If the climate plays such an important role, then it can come as some surprise that Indiana has seen a rise in wineries over recent years, and has been able to hold its own in terms of quality of product. With a climate that experiences both extreme heat and cold, as well as a myriad of other harsh weather-related elements, it doesn’t necessarily paint a picturesque outlook for vineyards. Still, though, as if in direct defiance of Mother Nature herself, many of the wines produced from Indiana wineries have gone on to win national awards and critical praise.

One such Indiana winery is Mallow Run, located twenty minutes south of downtown Indianapolis. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Sarah Shadday, the Marketing and Wholesale Coordinator for the winery, to learn more about the business, as well as the challenges and possibilities of operating an Indiana winery.

Q & A

Central Restaurant Products: What inspired the idea for Mallow Run?

Sarah: The winery originally started as a vineyard; a project by owner John Richardson and his son Bill, after they moved back to the family farm in the early 2000s. What started as a vineyard to grow grapes and supply other wineries turned into its own winemaking facility and has since evolved into a vineyard, winery, concert/event venue, and much more!

The name of the winery comes from John’s Great (x5) Grandfather, George Mallow, who originally settled the farm. The farm is still owned by the family today and in addition to the winery, still produces corn, soybean, alfalfa and cattle.

CRP: What types of wine do you produce?

Sarah: We produce a wide variety of wines, from dry reds and whites like Pinot Grigio and Cabernet Sauvignon, to semi-sweet wines like Traminette (Indiana’s signature grape) and sweet wines made from grapes like Concord. We also do fruit wines like Blackberry and our famous Rhubarb! We also started making hard cider last year. That has been a fun project!

CRP: Do you still grow your own grapes, or do you import them from other regions? Grapes

Sarah: Both. While we do have twelve acres of vineyard (four of which were planted this past Spring), there are certain varieties that will just not grow in Indiana’s climate. When we want to add a wine like Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Grigio to our list, we are importing that juice from growers on the West Coast and producing the wine here.

CRP: Can you explain how much Indiana’s weather contributes to the taste and quality of each batch?

Sarah: Indiana is a HARD place to grow grapes, especially in Central and Northern Indiana. The summers can be hot and dry; the winters can be devastatingly cold. That incredible range of temperature and precipitation can really stress the vines and in some cases, kill them. However, when the weather is good, it can really produce some flavorful grapes!

The biggest difference between our grapes (which are primarily hybrid grapes) and West Coast grapes (which are primarily vinifera grapes) is that ours tend to be white or red with lower tannin structure. They’re not going to be as big and bold as the Cabs and Zins in California. But Indiana grapes do have some really fun fruity, earthy, and floral characteristics that do come through.

CRP: What would you say sets your wine apart?

Sarah: I think our wines are special because they really mean something to people. Our best seller, Rhubarb Wine, is sweet and fun, and rhubarb is a super nostalgic plant for a lot of people. They remember Grandma’s rhubarb pie.

We go for fun flavors and try to keep it interesting by doing new things. Earlier this year, we were the first Indiana winery to ever CAN wine!

CRP: Can you give us a brief overview of the wine-making process?Tank

Sarah: This could fill a book, so I’ll keep it simple. We spend a lot of time in the vineyard making sure to prune in the winter and allow sunlight to produce healthy grapes in the summer. We then watch them carefully when we’re close to harvest and let them tell us when they’re ready. We usually only have one or two days’ notice! After picking, the grapes are crushed and pressed and the juice is fermented.

Depending on what we want to do with that particular grape (blend or create a single varietal) it may stick around. It can be blended, introduced to oak; there are so many variations and choices. Once a wine has been filtered and stabilized (for wines that will be chilled), a team of five people still bottle every single wine by hand. We sell wine at the winery of course, and it is distributed to select grocery stores, restaurants and retail outlets in Central Indiana.

CRP: Are there any good food and wine pairings you would recommend?

Sarah: Our motto – eat what you like, drink what you like. If it pairs well on your palette, it’s a perfect pairing! Traditionally you match strength of flavors. Something heavy and fatty? Choose a structured, bold red. Light fish? Go for a delicate rosé or light white.

CRP: Anything else you would like the readers to know?

Sarah: Don’t be intimidated! Younger and younger demographics are enjoying wine. It can be fun, casual, and cool. It’s becoming the Millennial’s drink of choice very quickly!

Formula for Success: Wine + Food + Live Music

Mallow Run also pairs wine tastings with exciting events. They feature live music nearly every single weekend, and during the summer season they host the Picnic Concert Series, inviting musicians, guests and food trucks to jam out all summer long.

On Labor Day Weekend they will be celebrating their eleventh anniversary with a hog roast and three days of music, food and, of course, wine.

Another upcoming event is their annual Wine at the Line run/walk that benefits the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of Indiana. It will be held on Saturday, October 1.

In addition to hosting their own events, they also participate in dozens of festivals throughout the year.

If you’re interested in learning more about wine, be sure to swing by Mallow Run and try a tasting with their experienced sommeliers.

Interior

Customer Spotlight: The Broken Beaker and the Artisan Distillery Trend

FullSizeRenderThe craft beer and winery experience has exploded onto the scene. Over the past decade, we have seen more and more local breweries and wineries pop up all across the country, and consumers are drinking it up. Depending on the state you live in, a similar trend may be observed among artisan distilleries.

The Broken Beaker is one of the newest in the Indianapolis area. Located in the center of the Mass Ave strip in downtown Indy, they are surrounded by local eateries, bars and other nightlife hotspots that residents flock to for weekend festivities. But they stand apart, offering a refreshingly new experience. Perhaps this difference can be reflected in the way they distill their own high-end vodka right on site. Or the fact that there are very few local distilleries in the Indianapolis area (or Indiana in general), juxtaposing against the backdrop of a craft beer mecca. Maybe it’s their unique theme, paying homage to the wonders and mysteries of science, that nicely wraps the experience up in a periodic table of excitement.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with the husband and wife team behind the Broken Beaker to learn more about their unique concept, the process of distilling, what separates a good vodka from a bad, and the local legalities regarding artisan distillation.

Chemist + Engineer = The Inspiration

molecule mule edit

The Molecule Mule

When asked how they came up with the concept, Heather, an engineer by day, said they first got the idea to open a distillery ten years earlier while visiting friends in Oregon. They were inspired by the amount of distilleries there, and the unique types of liqueur that were being produced. Heather recalls, “There were all types of crazy liqueurs. Liqueurs I had never heard of before, or didn’t think you could make into a liqueur, and it was an amazing experience. We were kind of leaning in that direction anyways because we wanted to differentiate ourselves. We wanted to hit the basic spirits – the vodka, the whiskey, the gin, the rum – but from there, where do we go?”

But it’s not just enough to want to open a distillery. Thomas, a chemist, stresses the importance of your product’s story. He says you can’t just think of yourself as producing and selling some type of alcohol. It all depends on branding, how you want to market the product so it stands apart and offers the consumer something new. Given the nature of their professions, science was the obvious choice for concept.

Their vodka products are currently branded under the Pendulum label, inspired by physics, and they are hoping to expand into “Isotope Liqueurs,” a tribute to chemistry; “Hypotenuse Gin,” relating to math; and “Mitosis Whiskey” for biology. You can buy bottles on site, or enjoy entirely unique cocktail concoctions served out of laboratory beakers, some even over dry ice to create a visual, smoky perception! You can also tour the distillery located in a room right next to the dining area to learn more about where and how the process occurs.

Everything’s an Experiment: The Process

“Everything’s an experiment” is one of their taglines. “We do a brand new weekly infusion every Wednesday, and so every Wednesday it’s an experiment. What we’re essentially doing is, well, do this and this and this taste good together? And so far they’ve all worked out well, but it’s an experiment so we’ll see what happens,” says Heather.

And because of the delicacy of the distilling process, the same can be said for every batch of vodka they produce. But, Thomas notes, the constant focus is always on quality. He attributes this to the artisan character of their product.

distillerySo what separates a good vodka from a bad? Heather says that one of the benefits of making it yourself is you can taste it every step of the way to identify the bad compounds versus what they themselves would want to be served, using that as guidance when selecting what to serve to customers. “It’s really interesting because now in hindsight, I’m used to tasting where that cut is between the bad stuff and the good stuff, and I’m sitting here thinking when I was in college, the stuff that I was drinking tasted a lot like the stuff that first comes off the still, which is bad for you, is bad tasting, and that’s why you had the hangovers. But boy was it cheap! And now I know why,” she jokes.

When it comes to buying vodka off the shelves, they advise not to go too cheap. “With the cheap stuff, manufacturers have a high volume to produce so they are very liberal with their cuts, scooping in the bad stuff at the beginning and at the end, which leads to a bad taste and bad hangover. You don’t have to buy super expensive, but never go cheap.”

Thomas and Heather also recommend using wheat to ferment over corn, even though corn is arguably the most popular source due to its inexpensive cost and access. They vow that wheat provides more flavor and is more forgiving than the flavor offered by corn, making for a better product.

There are a lot of steps to the distilling process, and it is not uncommon for one batch to be slightly different than the one before it. In (very) layman terms, here’s a quick overview of the process:

  1. Choose your grain (in this case wheat) and convert it from starch to a sugar by applying high heat.
  2. Add yeast, which will eat away at the sugar and turn it into alcohol.
  3. Let ferment for five days to a week.
  4. The distillation process is basically the act that immediately follows fermentation, where you filter out the solids from the liquids, tasting along the way to identify (and remove through boiling) the compounds that taste bad.

Again, that’s a very brief description of the actual process. If you are interested in ever trying it out, Thomas and Heather highly encourage taking a class and touring as many distilleries as you can. They gave a special shout out to Six & Twenty Distillery in South Carolina.

Image courtesy of www.distillerytrail.com

Image courtesy of www.distillerytrail.com

Indiana Legalities

It turns out, it is much harder to open a distillery in Indiana than it is a microbrewery or winery, as evidenced by the disproportioned ratio of Indianapolis-based distilleries to breweries (two to, like, fifty). This is mostly due to current Indiana liquor laws.

There is risk involved when opening any business, but for distilleries, the stakes are much higher. The old Indiana laws prohibited tasting rooms. Heather recounts, “It’s not like beer or wine where you can make a little bit in your basement until you get the feel for it. You had to get a permit, pay a whole bunch of money for the equipment, and hope you could do something with it.” You also couldn’t sell directly to the public. Instead, you had to find a distributor and pray they would push your product.

Indiana passed a new artisan law roughly three years ago, permitting a tasting room. Now local distilleries can have more control over their product and how much it is pushed, as well as establish more of a connection with customers.

#Trending

The reason you are more likely to see more wineries and breweries in Indiana is that you can legally ferment certain amounts of beer and wine in your house, allowing owners time to perfect their product before setting up shop. That’s not the case with distilleries. “There is no quantity you can make in Indiana in your house without a federal permit. Other states are more lenient.” Heather elaborates that the big difference between the competition among breweries/wineries over distilleries is that the entry point is much easier and cheaper, both for equipment and the legalities already discussed that favor beer and wine over spirits. Before opening, Heather and Thomas had several investors lined up, but they wouldn’t invest until they could sample the product. They described this as a cyclical catch-22, because they couldn’t produce the product until they could afford the equipment and space to do so.

Now that they are up and running, they are eager to expand their selection to encompass other spirits, and are excited for the future of artisan distilling and what the possibilities the new(ish) artisan distilling law offers.

The Concoctionsbb drinks 1

Their most popular drink, Heather says, is their Bill Nye Elysium that mixes a strawberry-basil infused vodka, grapefruit juice and orange zest syrup. My personal favorite was the Tiny Rick, combining jalapeño-infused vodka with raspberry and jalapeño syrup, and grapefruit and lemon juices making for a delicious mixture of heat, sweet and tartness.

Other crafty cocktails include the Molecule Mule, French 76 and the E=MC?. To check out their menu in its entirety, click here.

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 Nebraska.tv 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

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!

Dawson's on Main

Customer Spotlight: Dawson’s on Main

Dawson’s on Main opened its door on Main Street in Speedway, Indiana 10 years ago on June 16th 2006. Brothers Tony and Chris Hill have always been in restaurants, enjoying quality meals eating out and even considering themselves “foodies.” When Tony was given the opportunity from another friend in real estate to purchase the building on Main Street, he convinced his family to jump on the investment with him. Eventually, the name “Dawson’s on Main” was agreed upon (after one of Tony’s sons, Dawson) to give the restaurant a classic and unique feel. The family was among the first to make the jump on Main Street, and only great things have followed since their opening.

 

The Food

Dawson’s serves a wide variety of food from sandwiches, steaks, seafood, pasta, and everything in between. If you’re searching for a lunch time favorite, the hand breaded tenderloin is far and away a fan favorite. However, you certainly will also want to come back to try the in-house cut, freshly cooked steaks! Co-owner Chris Hill notes that as a proud Hoosier, the rib eye is his favorite dish from the restaurant. All dressings and sauces are also made in-house, making their dishes all the more unique and incredibly delicious!

 

The Race

Being located approximately half a mile from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, May has always been a very busy month for Dawson’s. With the 100th running of the Indy 500 this year, this May is expected to be their largest month to date. Hill notes that at this point in May, “you start at 11am and you are on your feet moving until 11pm.” To help streamline the kitchen, Dawson’s has a limited menu around race time that features their top dishes (about 25 dishes). This allows customers to still order their favorites, but to also still have a great experience in a relaxing atmosphere.

With the increase in people, a new vibe has also entered Main Street. May it be the recent revitalization of Main Street with new shopping, breweries, and fun activities, or the high spirits of Hoosiers and visitors for the upcoming race, but Main Street is where you should be!

Are you a big race fan? Stop in for dinner and you will likely see a few familiar faces! Many drivers who have been around a while frequent Dawson’s on a regular basis, with appearances from younger drivers as well when the track is closed and they’re not busy with PR. Recognize the names AJ Foyt, Jonny Rutherford, and Parnelli Jones?

Dawson’s will also once again be participating in the 10th annual Rockin’ on Main as one of the main caterers. The event is a street festival held on Carb Day that shuts down Main Street and features live music, drinks, food, and kid activities.

Equipment

Chris and Tony heard about Central when an employee who regularly visited handed them her card and told them to visit us. After one visit to our awesome showroom, they have been customers since!

As far as the most used equipment? Fryers for their high demand tenderloin sandwiches, charbroilers for steaks, and Robo Coupe food processors for their house made sauces and dressings are all essentials in their kitchen to bringing you your delicious food.

 

Are you in the Indianapolis area or coming to town for the race? Be sure to stop in and visit Dawson’s on Main! You won’t be disappointed.

Be sure to also visit Dawson’s an additional location in Brownsburg, Indiana Dawson’s Too Sticks and Stones.

 

Liam's Restaurant

Customer Spotlight: Liam’s Restaurant, Lounge & Cheese Shop

Liam’s Restaurant

Washing dishes and bussing tables. It’s how many in the restaurant industry get their start. Right?

That’s where it all began for Liam’s Restaurant owners Rhonda and Scott Foster.

The two got their first taste of the restaurant industry as teenagers. Rhonda worked in the industry for years, as did Scott, who also studied under German chef Heinz Schellenberger. After years of hard work and a drive for the same passion, they got married and began their journey to open a restaurant together.

Over the course of this journey, Rhonda and Scott took their time on what to name the restaurant. Years, in fact. It was a serious decision–one they knew would be with the business for years to come. One of the names that kept coming up was “Liam,” their now 16-year-old son’s name.

“It naturally came to fruition because it is his name,” Rhonda said. “We understood the seriousness of putting a name on a building. We were conscious of that.”

So in 2002, Liam’s Restaurant was born.

Liam's Restaurant 2Local Ingredients

Rhonda and Scott are passionate about using the freshest in season ingredients for their customers. While the term “going local” may seem like a trend, it is actually a very cost effective way to make customers happy. Why? Because the food tastes better and the costs are low.

The menu at Liam’s Restaurant changes frequently to accommodate fruits and vegetables that are in season and meat prices that are lower. When ordering food, they don’t give a list of foods they want. They ask what is the best food available right now and work their menu around that.

“There was one part of the year a few years ago where we stopped using tomatoes because they were bad due to the rain,” Rhonda said. “We weren’t going to buy a gassed one.”

Customers asked why the tomatoes were gone and they were completely transparent to the fact that they didn’t want to serve food they didn’t believe in, and that would cost the customer more money. They did something similar when meat prices skyrocketed and had temporarily taken burgers off the menu. The goal at Liam’s Restaurant is not to provide just any product, but the best menu items for the taste and the value to the customer.

“We support small farms from wherever,” Rhonda said. “It’s good to build relationships with them, especially because they only see the vegetables in their raw state.”

She explained they love to keep conversations with local farmers and show them the final outcome of the farmer’s hard work.

They also try to make their entire menu local as possible–even by making their own syrups, tonic grenadine and more for their bar and garnishes that can be eaten.

FostersMarriage and a Restaurant

If you work in the restaurant or foodservice industry, you know it is full of long, hard hours. So, being married and owning a restaurant together could seem like a challenge, but one that this couple was up for.

It works great for Rhonda and Scott because they are on the same page, and have been for the last 24 years. She explained often times only one person in a marriage works in the industry and it is difficult because the other doesn’t understand the demands and hours.

To keep it balanced, Rhonda and Scott try to keep things separate. Scott handles the back of the house and Rhonda handles the front.

“Sometimes it overlaps, and if we get frustrated, we just treat it as business.”

The two do a great job of being able to put emotions aside and make good business decisions together.

Vibe and Customers

Whether you are a regular or first time customer, Liam’s Restaurant strives to make sure you feel special and have a great experience. While the restaurant may have a cool atmosphere that may come off as fine dining and exclusive, Rhonda does not want people to feel that way at all.

“We put fine food and good wholesome seasonal food on a plate,” she said. “It’s beautiful!”

Most importantly, if their guests are comfortable, then they are comfortable.

Liam's Customers“We treat our guests like they are coming to our house. We’ll give you everything to make your experience amazing.”

They absolutely love their relationship with their customers, which makes everything that much more special.

Liam’s Restaurant has an open kitchen to give their customers a chance to walk up to the line, talk with the cooks and see what’s happening with the food.

“We’ve kept an open kitchen since we have been open and keep it on purpose so customers can come up and say hey!” Rhonda said.

She added that many of their customers take advantage of this opportunity to see what’s going on and let the chefs know how their experience was.

Favorite Equipment

Liam’s Restaurant has been working with Central for their equipment needs since 2006.

“We’ve worked with Blair (Dovidas) since the beginning,” Rhonda said. “He’s so proficient. He goes above and beyond–it is not unusual that he gets us stuff fast.”

In a kitchen where food is made to order, and has to be done as quickly and efficiently as possible, the equipment is important.

FoodOne of the favorite pieces of equipment Liam’s Restaurant purchased from Central are their chrome flat top grills. Restaurants are often hard to keep cool and because of these grills’ mirror-like surface, they do not radiate heat which helps keep the kitchen cooler.

They also love using sous vide. They use a vacuum seal to push butter through the membrane of fish and to cook tenderloins because it cooks from side to side evenly.

Another item the love are their John Boos worktops. They have one in their cheese butcher block section and in their kitchen for food prep.

When it comes to fried foods, they do not fry them often, but Liam’s does have a small fryer from Central and only use pork and duck fat to fry–not peanut oil. They’ve even made donuts using pork fat which she said were so good!

Last, they recently installed a new bar and put in a three compartment Krowne Metal bartender station with step ups and wells to make bartending much more proficient.

Where to Find Liam’s

The next time you find yourself in Georgia, you must stop in and see everyone at Liam’s Restaurant! Whether you’re in jeans or a suit/dress, they want you to come in, eat great food and have a good time.

They are located at 113 Jackson St. and have lunch, brunch and dinner services. Learn about their meal hours, menu items and more on their website and be sure to like them on Facebook and Instagram!

Images used from the Liam’s Restaurant Facebook page