Category Archives: Customer Spotlight

Irish Lion St. Patrick's Day

Customer Spotlight: Gearing Up for St. Patrick’s Day with The Irish Lion Restaurant & Pub

Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Duit! – Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

It will be all hands on deck at the Irish Lion Restaurant & Pub on March 17, 2016! When doors open at 11 a.m. for St. Patrick’s Day, guests can expect a true Irish celebration that will certainly not disappoint.

The Irish Lion is a locally-owned restaurant and pub located in the heart of downtown Bloomington, Ind. (the home of Indiana University).   It is a restored historic 1882 tavern with stained glass windows, cast iron columns and original Brunswick back bar and Civil War vintage front bar.

This year will be their 34th of serving authentic Irish fare, daily specials, fresh seafood, steaks, lambs, Dublin pub stews, poultry, pasta and pub grub. The Irish Lion also offers an extensive wine list, full bar and over 100 whiskeys and 116 single malt scotches. They also take pride in pouring the finish Irish and European imports on draught.

irish lionPreparation and Equipment Maintenance

Even though St. Patrick’s Day is one of this establishment’s busiest days of the year, each day at The Irish Lion is treated with the same care to ensure consistently great food and beverages for their guests.

“The days leading up are consistent with all the other days with the exception of ordering additional promotional items to give away, checking stock (including glassware) and additional food prep,” they said. “Equipment is checked, cleaned and maintained on a daily basis.”

Equipment maintenance is crucial, which is something The Irish Lion takes very seriously year-round, not just for big celebrations.

“It is important that all of the equipment gets us through not only St. Patrick’s Day, but every day. Equipment includes, but is not limited to, broilers, steamers, ovens, deep fryers, stoves and refrigeration.”

By ensuring their equipment is properly maintained, they are able to guarantee Celtic Stew, Blarney Puffballs, Corned Beef & Cabbage, Shepherd’s Pie and pints of Guinness are poured until the late night all year long.

Irish Lion GlenSt. Paddy’s Day Festivities

The Irish Lion patrons, Bloomington community and beyond look forward to their St. Paddy’s Day festivities each year.

Note, “St. Paddy’s Day” (Padraig) vs. St. Patty’s Day (Patricia).

They host the finest traditional Irish fare and have party favors and giveaways from The Irish Lion, Guinness, Jameson, logo glasses, t-shirts, hats, shot glasses, necklaces and more (all while supplies last). The Irish Lion Glen (image shown at right) will be open, weather permitting.

Most importantly, “Níl aon bheoir ghlas anseo,” which means no green beer served here. Green beer is not an Irish tradition but is something that has become Americanized over the years in the states. (Find 10 other traditions done in America that are not true in the Irish culture in this Time article.)


The Irish Lion is rich with history. It was designed and used as a pub in 1882 by Mr. Zimri McCollough, an early settler of the county. He was a highly respected man that played a very active role in the community.

There were many ups and downs for the establishment in the early 1900s and only certain parts of the levels were occupied. After a brief vacancy in 1979, the McConnaughy family purchased the building and completed an extensive restoration. The Irish Lion Restaurant and Pub opened their doors in 1982. Features of the building include stained glass used from the time period the building originated, oak woodwork and figural wile tile. Read more about the establishment’s history on The Irish Lion’s website.

If you find yourself in southern Indiana for St. Patrick’s Day, we encourage you to visit our friends at The Irish Lion! If you aren’t, find a local Irish pub in your area to get the true experience. For directions, parking information and other information, visit their website.

Sláinte! (Cheers)

Tower House Restaurant 1

Tower House Restaurant History and Valentine’s Day Specials

The Tower House Restaurant

Tucked away in the rural city of Cumberland in northwestern Wisconsin is The Tower House Restaurant. With origins dating back to 1882, this historic establishment is visited by thousands throughout the year.

“[The area is] filled with lots of lakes, woods, people coming up for ice fishing, cross country skiing or to spend time on the lake,” says owner Lance Burma. “The restaurant itself draws from a 30 to 40 mile radius.”

Lance and his wife Julie took over the restaurant three years ago–their first time owning a restaurant. The couple’s goal was to make major renovations to restore the building back to its former greatness.

“The main floor and outside were completely reconditioned and refurbished,” The Tower House Website said. “The business was closed for five months during construction culminating with a grand re-opening Memorial Day weekend 2014.”

Tower House RestaurantRestaurant Rich with History

The Tower House Restaurant was originally the private residence of a local banker and lumberman, John Frederick Miller. It’s reported he chose that location because it was the highest spot in the city. The luxurious home was comprised of a 7,500 square foot formal living room, parlor, dining room, main kitchen, summer kitchen, seven bedrooms and three bathrooms.

The residence’s main floor was converted into a restaurant in 1951 after it was purchased by Louie and Phil DeGidio. To name the restaurant, a contest was held in 1952 and the winning entry would receive a $10 prize, explained the The Tower House website.

The winning name, “The Tower House” was chosen on Valentine’s Day 1952. It opened for business nearly a month later and was flocked to by over 1,000 guests for their open house, which was over half of the city’s population at the time.

ImageOver the years the restaurant has had a variety of owners, the most recent being Lance and Julie.

Valentine’s Day Event 2016

Valentine’s Day is one of The Tower House Restaurant’s top 15 busiest days of the year. Last year the restaurant had a few menu item specials and for this year, they are hosting a five course wine pairing event.

The event begins at 5 p.m. with a cocktail hour, followed by dinner service at  6 p.m.

For those who make reservations for this event, the menu will certainly not disappoint.

Menu includes:

  • Aperitif of Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc
  • Baked Brie: Brie cheese in brown sugar, toasted walnuts and wrapped in a puff pastry. Paired with La Marca Prosecco
  • Fresh Caprese Salad: Ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese and basil, draped with balsamic glaze. Paired with King Estate Pino Gris.
  • Stuffed Shells: Large pasta shells stuffed with cheese and raisin filling and chicken and cheese filling, topped with Tower House red sauce and homemade walnut pesto alfredo. Paired with Banfi Chianti Classico Reservo.
  • Frozen Sorbet11030926_833079373477289_6939844024485704932_o
  • Veal Piccata: Veal scallops gently pounded and dredged in seasoned flour, sauteed and deglazed with white wine lemon juice and capers. Served with asparagus. Paired with Coppola Claret Cabernet Sauvignon.
  • Italian Creme Cake: Lady fingers soaked in amaretto, layered with mascarpone cheese and topped with toasted almonds. Paired with Whiskers Blake Tawny Port.

Go-To Equipment

The serviceware is the equipment used the most at this restaurant.

“We also serve a lot of pasta and use a 14 gallon pasta cooker,” Lance said.

They also often use a convection oven for preparations, a free standing mixer and proof box.

Customer Favorites

Guests at The Tower House Restaurant love their House Ravioli.

“The pasta is a homemade pasta in red sauce made in-house, served with a Tower House roll and focaccia.”

We have enjoyed talking to The Tower House Restaurant and learning about this historic restaurant! If you live in northwestern Wisconsin, or are traveling in the area, we recommend you stop in and experience this wonderful restaurant! Visit their website for hours and information.

Images from the Tower House Restaurant’s website and Facebook page.

Custom Sweets with Vanilla Bean Bakery

Tis the season for sweets, and local bakeries are setting up for a busy Valentine’s Day weekend. Vanilla Bean Bakery of Indianapolis, Indiana is no different and offers custom creations that set them apart from the competition. Owners Jim and Kristin Klinger established Vanilla Bean Bakery five years ago and have developed four core products that consist of cake truffles, cupcakes, custom cookies and custom cakes. These sweets keep customers coming back for more and more!

The Beginning of Vanilla Bean BakeryVanilla Bean Bakery

Kristin Klinger had always been a stay at home mother, and whenever she brought over desserts to family holidays everyone would rave about them. She had always been interested and played around in the kitchen, and was always a very creative person.

“It got to a point where it was more than the polite ‘Oh wow that really looks great’ to all of a sudden family and friends starting to offer to pay [Kristin] to do something for them,” explained Jim. Looking for a way to pay for her kids’ college tuition, Jim and Kristin put two ideas together and eventually established Vanilla Bean Bakery five years ago. Kristin has no culinary education and is self-taught, so every product you see she learned how to do on her own.

After finding their perfect location, located right by their house, and creating quality products everything started to fall into place for the business.

Truffles, Cookies and Cakes Oh My!IMG_1266

One of the most popular sweet treats are the cake truffles, which come in fun, unique flavors just like their cupcakes. Depending on the weekend, the bakery might be swamped with orders for all four product categories. For Valentine’s Day in particular, Vanilla Bean Bakery will serve up hundreds of truffles and cupcakes.

IMG_1285“Typically, it’s your husbands and boyfriends who have waited until the last minute. When they wake up that morning they’ll need to find a place to get some sweets,” laughs Jim. They know that Valentine’s Day weekend will equal a long week, so they’ll start prepping early and loading up on treats on Monday. Jim uses his notes from the prior year to estimate how much of their product they’ll need going into that day.

Coming up with new flavors is something that Kristin does quite well. She’ll go online and find new flavors and ideas through message boards and their competition. Based on what’s trending, some crazy flavors will pop up from time to time that are hit or miss. Flavors are customer-driven as well. Customers will call and ask “Do you do this…?” and if they don’t, they will! “Because we’re custom, people come to us and every single cake you see on our website is from a customer asking if we could do this from them,” Jim says.

Central Equipment to Whip Up CreationsVanilla Bean Bakery

Even though Vanilla Bean Bakery only whips up cakes and cookies, they still rely on commercial restaurant equipment to get them through each batch of their creations on the daily. Jim says that they rely very heavily on their KitchenAid mixers and wear them down until they start sounding funny and won’t turn anymore. Other than those, they have a double stack oven and a refrigerator and that’s all they need to operate efficiently every day.

We have enjoyed talking, visiting and eating Vanilla Bean Bakery’s delicious treats and encourage you to do the same thing! Visit their Facebook page to keep up with daily flavors for cupcakes and truffles. If you find yourself in the Indianapolis, Indiana area we highly recommend that you stop in to see Jim and Kristin and taste their sweet treats!

Customer Spotlight: Chive Kitchen

Each month we will feature Central customers to showcase their business and provide tips and ideas for any of you in the restaurant industry! This month’s article features Chive Kitchen.


Chive Kitchen11329967_837928002940232_5600255314148383062_n

A brand new restaurant located in Farmington Hills, Michigan, the Chive Kitchen is owned by self-proclaimed “foodie” Suzy Silvestre. Developed from a love of good food, Chive Kitchen is a vegan and vegetarian restaurant that focuses on quality, composed dishes, where it is a priority to source all products as local and as fresh as possible. Silvestre has held soft openings of the restaurant over the past month to test dishes with the public and adjust to the learning curve that accompanies opening a new restaurant. Once fully opened, the restaurant will serve breakfast, lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. It will also have a bar area.


Silvestre expresses the difficulties of being a vegan/ vegetarian and wanting to dine out in Farmington, noting that “options in the area were limited.” Her solution was to open a restaurant of her own, boasting non-traditional vegan and vegetarian dishes. Silvestre has experience cooking creative vegan dishes and decided it was time to branch out from her corporate job in marketing and leverage her experience and love of the industry. Now specializing in high quality, comfort food, Chive Kitchen wants to appeal to the general population of “foodies” – not just the vegan / vegetarian market. Silvestre says “we want meat lovers, vegans and everyone in between to walk away loving our dishes.”


Delicious Vegan/ Vegetarian Dishes

Vegan House Italian Sausage Sandwich with Pepperoni Essence Aioli Grilled Peppers and Onions with a Basil Pesto

Vegan House Italian Sausage Sandwich with Pepperoni Essence Aioli Grilled Peppers and Onions with a Basil Pesto

The focus of Chive Kitchen is to create dishes that have a unique appeal – dishes that break the stereotype of “boring vegan or vegetarian food” and offer a melting pot of flavors to the menu. Silvestre notes that many recipes on the menu are creations from her home kitchen, but she also “relishes in the fun of creating new and innovative dishes with [their] trained kitchen manager to bring a fresh take on vegan fare.” Flavor profiles for the restaurant range from Portuguese and Western European influences to California Mexican and local Michigan favorites, such as the Coney dog. Among several spins on traditional foods, one of the most unique dishes that has been crafted is tofu chicharrón soft tacos with house made mole sauce. Silvestre taste tested the dish with her staff who are not vegans and noted that the reviews were amazing!


Experience with Central

Silvestre utilized Central’s friendly and knowledgeable product consultants to order tables and chairs for Chive Kitchen. Silvestre tells us, “I was extremely satisfied with the process of ordering, the delivery time and the quality of our tables and chairs. Once the tables and chairs were set up in our space, it felt like everything had finally come together.”

Chive Kitchen

If you also are looking for tables and chairs, see our selection here!

Love of the Industry

When asked what her favorite part is of owning Chive Kitchen, Silvestre states that she has enjoyed watching everything come together. After dreaming of opening her restaurant for years, it is finally coming to fruition. She explains, “Now, I have a staff that feels like family, a space that feels like home and I cannot express how much I enjoy watching customers coming in and sharing my love for good food.”


We have enjoyed following their story and encourage you to do the same on their Facebook page! And if you find yourself anywhere near Farmington Hills, Michigan, we highly recommend that you stop in to see Suzy and taste her delicious creations!

holiday season

Customer Spotlight: Restaurants Giving Back During the Holiday Season

Holiday Season

The holidays are a busy time for the restaurant industry but also very rewarding when able to give back to their local community. Learn about two of our customers and how they are giving back over the holidays and what they have going on during the 2015 holiday season.

Anna's Pizza and PastaAnna’s Pizza and Pasta

The people of Winnebago, Illinois love Anna’s Pasta and Pizza, who just celebrated their 20th year in business! This locally owned pizza hot spot has appeared in Pizza Today Magazine and Pizza Magazine Quarterly. They were also named 2009 Village of Winnebago Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year.

Owner Brian Weavel and Anna’s Pizza and Pasta are very active in their community with 2016 being a dream for him, one he says he does not want to wake up from!

He was Pizza Today Magazine’s first and only Guest Editor and Chief for their September 2014 issue and a judge for the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas.

Brian Weavel

Brian Weavel

Weavel also participated in a fundraiser for the Rockford Rescue Mission and made pizza for 24 hours straight and raised $2,600!

Recently, Anna’s Pizza and Pasta did a fundraiser for a Rockford area cancer patient with Green Bay Packers’ Ahman Green and his foundation.

These efforts are just few of many that Weavel and Anna’s Pizza and Pasta have done, and could have been the inspiration for charitable holiday spirit in a group of young men that work at the restaurant.

This holiday season, the group of co-workers used their singing voices to give back to their community.

Calling themselves the “Anna’s Carolers,” the group went caroling house to house singing holiday songs to raise money for Toys for Tots.

Weavel told WREX news “Anna’s Carolers” took on this initiative all on their own and he was very proud of them.

You can follow along with Anna’s Pizza and Pasta, as well as “Anna’s Carolers,” on their Facebook page!

Broad Ripple BrewpubBroad Ripple Brewpub

Indy’s first Brewpub and longest operating microbrewery, Broad Ripple Brewpub, opened in 1990 and prides themselves on always serving the perfect pint and offering an eclectic menu in a family friendly atmosphere.

Each year for the holiday season, the Broad Ripple Brewpub collects money for the United Christmas Service, who provide warm clothing and presents for families that are in need.

“Customers buy a cutout picture of a Christmas light bulb for whatever they can spare, then they write their names on it and stick it to the mirror behind the bar,” said General Manager Billy Hannan.

“This year we got a head start by collecting a dollar for every pint of our ESB that was sold on the night of our 25th anniversary party, held on November 14, and this money will be added to whatever we collect beyond that.”

Also this holiday season, local classically trained musicians play holiday music at the Brewpub, many of whom are members of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

In addition to the great charitable efforts, guests can expect a great selection of seasonal beers.

Broad Ripple BrewpubMany customers look forward to the Wee Alec Heavy, a Scottish Ale. This year, Hannan said they are also featuring a Gruit, called “How the Gruit Stole Christmas” which is an alcoholic beverage that Europeans drank before discovering hops as an ingredient.

“Ours is made with orange peels and pine cones,” Hannan said. “It’s light and easy to drink, with a flavor similar to traditional hopped beers, but with a unique flavor all its own.”

They hope this new beer becomes a popular tradition for future Christmases to come.

Find more information about the Broad Ripple Brewpub on their Facebook page!


Customer Spotlight: David’s Pizza from Lebanon, Tennessee

Each month we will feature Central customers to showcase their business and provide tips and ideas for any of you in the restaurant industry! This month’s article features David’s Pizza.

David’s Pizza

Family owned pizzeria, David’s Pizza, has been in business in Lebanon, Tennessee for over 50 years. Originally founded by the late David Foster, today the restaurant is owned by David’s nephew Brandon Chastain and his wife Teri. Brandon’s younger brother, Jared, and Teri’s younger brother, Ryan, also work at the restaurant.

Teri started working for David in 1999, where he taught her how to be a chef and the importance of the fine details. David’s Pizza was also where Teri and Brandon met!

David's Pizza ShirtBeing Family Owned

Mixing family and work can get hectic for some, but this family makes it work. They don’t play favorites, and Brandon said he actually expects more from family that works there because they know what is on the line. It’s become a tight knit group.

“We have several non-family employees that we basically adopt,” Brandon said. “I like my team to be a one for all and all for one team.”

And while he may own the restaurant, he considers himself to be more of a team leader instead of a “boss.”

“My team understands if you take care of me by offering their best efforts, I’ll take care of them with mine.”

Dedicated Customer Base

One of the great things about being in business for over five decades are the dedicated customers.

“My customers are multi-generational,” said Brandon. “They are loyal the David’s brand and will stand up for what they believe in.”

In fact, David’s Pizza sells t-shirts that say “best pizza in town” which their customers love!

On a typical day, Brandon said they see quite a few of the same people.

“It’s to the point if Mr. or Mrs. doesn’t come in, you kinda worry about them,” he said.

David's PizzaThe Pizza

Customers of David’s Pizza know they can get the freshest products around. This pizzeria uses garden-fresh vegetables, 100% real whole milk mozzarella cheese and sausage that is never frozen.

They also have original crusts locally made with hand-tossed dough that is made from scratch.

“No one produces an 18″ XL hand tossed like David’s!” they said. “We’ve been using the same original thin and crispy crust since David’s first opened. It’s a local favorite for sure!”

David’s Pizza’s most popular pizza is the “House Special,” which is loaded with pepperoni, sausage, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, green and black olives and topped with banana peppers.

Brandon admits it’s a bold combination but once you try it, you’re hooked!

“Customers say more will fall off a slice than what another shop would put on,” said Brandon. “Then they spoon up the extra almost like a side dish.”

Food ChopperThe Equipment to Get the Job Done

When it comes to getting the job done, a restaurant really needs the right equipment.

“Equipment in the kitchen from Central has a special spot with us,” Brandon explained. “No joke, items like work tables, fryers, slice/dice slammers all make the job easier, faster and more consistent. You save on time and money with the effective efficiency so it all becomes an increase in profits.”

Brandon’s personal favorite item in his kitchen is his uncle David’s old bread knife that he had when he started the business.

“It’s old and kinda beat up,” he said. “Started as a serrated blade but has been sharpened till it’s a razor sharp edge. Cuts bread like butter with a hot knife.”

Next, their kitchen frequently use slice/dice slammers which makes it easy to prepare the two bushels of green peppers and 100 pounds of onions each week. It drastically speeds up prep time and is also safer as well.

Giving Back

Since their early days 50 years ago, David’s Pizza has been able to support many non-profit organizations, such as schools, sporting events and other causes. It’s very important to them and they are able to provide special pricing for those that serve both their community or the country, as well as surrounding schools and those who have fallen on hard times.

“Sometimes we are just a blessing in silence,” explained Brandon. “We don’t feel we need a pat on the back for everything we do. It just feels good being blessed enough to help. That’s rewarding enough.”

Brandon has found being an asset to a community also becomes an asset for your business.

“You become a part of the community, not just another restaurant on the strip,” he said. “It helps in brand building cheaper than any other form of advertising out there.”

For Those in the Restaurant Industry…

When asked about the restaurant business in general, Brandon acknowledged it’s a tough business to be in.

“There are always different things you can do to improve on,”he said, whether it be a customer service or kitchen technique. “Restaurant life will take every second of your life if you let it.”

Brandon advises those in the industry to give themselves time to grow and time to rest. Don’t get burned out and let it be a fun adventure and not something you do just because!

Taylor's Bakery

Taylor’s Bakery: The Secret to Staying in Business for 100 Years (and Going)

As you pull into Taylor’s Bakery, a fourth generation family-owned and operated bakery, located at 62nd and Allisonville Road in Indianapolis, it’s evident the building has stayed true to what it was when it was first built in 1968.

It’s not flashy, it’s just simple.  There’s a great hometown feel as you are welcomed by the unchanged sign that reads “Taylor’s Bakery ‘Taylor Made For You’.”

As you walk in, some upgrades have been made but its clear their primary focus is, and always has been, their products.  They have a plethora of baked goods from doughnuts and cakes to bread and cookies. Every item in their merchandisers and on their shelves is enticing; from the elegantly handcrafted cakes to freshly made and ever-so-popular doughnut holes, it’s hard to refrain from getting one of everything.  This success didn’t come overnight though, it’s been a century in the making.

Taylor's BakeryHistory of Taylor’s Bakery

The primary location for Taylor’s Bakery was built in 1968, but the family business dates just a little after the turn of the 20th century.

Founded in 1913 by Dennis O. Taylor, it all began as a small food business.  Dennis then purchased a grocery store near 38th Street and Illinois which  was very successful.

Dennis and his wife, Amy, kept the grocery store for many years with their daughter, Virginia, and son-in-law, James Allen.  Virginia and James’ son, John, became involved as well.  Virginia primarily managed the Epicurean food section while John and James focused on the bakery.  The family opened the 62nd and Allisonville location in 1968, which became the primary location when the grocery store was closed in 1973.  It is carried on today by John and his two sons, Drew and Matt. The family also has a second bakery in Fishers, Ind., that opened in 2003.

Maintaining the Business

Taylor's BakeryWith any successful and prestigious family business, it’s always the hope that it will be carried on from generation to generation.  Matt said he wasn’t ever pressured, but he knew it was always his plan to help continue it on.

He came back to the bakery just after college and Drew just a few years later. John is semi-retired but still comes in almost every day.  Matt handles many things that involve their computers or fixing anything that breaks, while Drew handles the purchasing.

“I couldn’t imagine working for someone else and seeing the family business go down or sold,” Matt said. “I had a vision from early on that this is what I would do.”

Keeping the bakery open isn’t a normal nine to five job and requires many parts and pieces working together to keep everything running as smoothly as possible.  Much of the work begins while people are just going to bed, or are well into a deep sleep. Deliveries are made while it’s still dark and the retail shift arrives just as most people are starting their day.

Keeping Open 100 Years and Going

The fact that Taylor’s Bakery has been open for 100 years and continues to be successful speaks volumes about them.  Just as there have been four generations maintaining the business, there have also been four generations of customers.

Taylor's Bakery“Consistency,” Matt said when recalling why he thinks the business has been so successful. “Just offering the same products.  There have been four generations of owners and there are a lot of the same cakes, breads, danish and doughnuts.  It’s the same as 30 to 40 years ago.”

Perhaps the consistency of the product is the secret to keeping a business open for so long.  Taylor’s Bakery has always stayed true to who they are and what they serve.  They don’t jump on every fad or trend just because it’s what people are buying at that moment.

Of course over time there is change and upgrades need to be made.  They’ve continued to make the appropriate upgrades while staying true to their brand–which includes their recipes.

“Some of them go back (many years), like the white cake is 60 to 70 years old,” Matt said.  “There are other products when the supplies change, you change them.  For example pie dough used to be made with lard and as everyone steered away from lard, you started using shortening.”

Taylor's BakeryMatt thinks they would probably still be using the same ingredients as in years passed if the actual ingredients had not changed.  They make changes and adjustments as they need to and stay as close to the original recipe as possible.

The scale of the products has remained unchanged as well.  Even though the cost of the materials to make their baked goods has increased, all the products have remained the same size.

And all the while the recipes are consistent, Taylor’s Bakery does pride them for being able to customize orders, which customers appreciate.

For one more excellent example of customer service, Taylor’s Bakery keeps their shelves stocked in their merchandisers, even to the hour before close.  Customers can always come in and choose from a large fresh selection without feeling as though they’re getting a stale item.

Food Rescue

For the evenings the bakery closes and there is product still leftover, those items don’t just go in the trash.  They send them to food rescue, Second Helpings.  They began to work with Second Helpings when they knew they weren’t getting anywhere by just throwing perfectly fine product away.

Food rescues are common around the country, and foodservices all over can most likely find one in their local area.  What stood out to Taylor’s about Second Helpings was the fact they could come consistently.

“They’ll come in every day and it’s worked really well for us,” Matt said. “It saves us from putting it in the trash.  When you tour their facility (Second Helpings), see what they do and how many people they serve, it’s a win-win for everybody.”

Lessons Learned

Taylor's BakeryThose who have held any kind of job in the foodservice industry know there is no typical day, and there are many lessons to be learned. There are many aspects that are both in and out of one’s control.

“I’ve gone through a phase where I had an uninsured and unlicensed person hit me at a four way stop,” Matt recalled. “I had two weddings cakes in the back and they both went down.  It basically totaled the truck. I’ve delivered hundreds of wedding cakes  before that and that was the perfect example of taking your eye off someone for one second. Don’t assume they’re going to stop, and we deliver three to four hours ahead of time for that exact reason.”

Matt remembered another delivery learning experience.  He had arrived to deliver a cake at a new place he had never been before and was his last cake of the day.Taylor's Bakery  He took the top tiers in to what he described was a beautiful building.  He set them down and as he looked around the exquisitely decorated room, he saw it was all complete, even down to the the skirted tables and toasting glasses ready in place.

“You just add the bride, groom, guests and you’re ready,” he said.

As he brought the bottom two tiers in and began to set-up the cake, he said they always center the cakes on the table. This table in particular was a folding table and unfortunately not to his knowledge, someone had forgotten to lock the legs.  It didn’t take long before the table went down, taking the cake, toasting glasses and everything on it with it.  As expected, Matt has a phobia of tables now and always checks to make sure they’re secure. In cases like that, there is no salvaging the cake.  Just pick up the phone and start it all over again.  It’s those learning experiences that teach people for the future, and when there is already so much history to a business, those lessons are just stepping stones to future success as opposed to being road blocks.

Taylor's BakeryHere’s To Another 100 Years

Taylor’s Bakery is a great example for those trying to keep up their bakery, or any foodservice for that matter. There are so many trends and designs that are popular today, but perhaps that isn’t everything.

There’s something to the saying, “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.” Consistency and excellent customer service for decades goes a long way and separates a business out from all others.  The longer something is consistent, the more customers know they can trust the brand.

For Taylor’s, customers know exactly what to expect–and love it.

Blazing Bobcat Salsa Recipe from Luke Patterson

In July 2011 we featured Central customer and restaurant owner, Luke Patterson on his restaurants Lukes Joint and The Other Place, as well as the food cart called The Other Cart.  This most recent October, Patterson worked with the students at Arcata Elementary School in Arcata, Calif. for the third annual salsa competition.

Be sure to check out Patterson, even if you aren’t in the Arcata area.

Blazing Bobcat Salsa: Arcata Bobcat Grilled Heirloom Tomato Salsa with Smoked Tomatillos, Homemade Chipotle Chilies, Caramelized Mango and Italian Plums

Luke with the Students at the Salsa Competition

Required Ingredients

(Directions Below)
  • 20 oz. Fresh Tomatillos
  • 4 oz. Jalapeno Peppers
  • 40 oz. Mixed Variety Heirloom Tomatoes
  • 32 oz. Fresh Mango (about 2)
  • 16 oz. Italian plums
  • 2 oz. Fresh-Squeezed Lime Juice
  • 1 oz. Cilantro, Minced
  • 4 oz. Caramelized Garlic
  • Grapeseed Oil, as needed

    Luke’s Kitchen at The Other Place

  • Agave Nectar, as needed
  • Kosher Salt, as needed

Special Equipment Required


Approximately 8 cups

For the Tomatillos

Preheat smoker to 250°F.  Remove husks from tomatillos and wash well.

Gently toss tomatillos with enough grapeseed oil to coat them well.  Add a healthy pinch of kosher salt and toss gently.  Place tomatillos, stem-side down, on a smoker tray and smoke for 30-40 minutes, or until tender.

For the Jalapenos

Preheat smoker to 250°F.  Wash jalapenos very well.

Simultaneously start hardwood charcoal in charcoal starter chimney.  Once fully lit, carefully transfer coals to a small, charcoal grill.

Gently toss jalapenos with enough grapeseed oil to coat them well.  Add a healthy pinch of kosher salt and toss gently.  Place the jalapenos onto a small smoker tray and smoke, 45-60 minutes, or until completely soft.

Transfer smoked jalapenos to medium- to medium-hot grill, turning to completely char the skins, approximately 3-5 minutes total additional cooking time.

For the Heirloom Tomatoes

Remove the top of the tomato with a melon baller or small paring knife.  Cut the tomatoes in half, from top to bottom.  Gently transfer to large bowl.

Gently toss tomatoes with enough grapeseed oil to coat them well.  Add a healthy pinch of kosher salt and stir gently.

When the coals are medium-hot, place the tomatoes onto the grill, cut-side up, and grill 7-10 minutes, or until the tomatoes are softened and the skins are partially blackened.  Quickly and delicately transfer tomatoes to a large bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and set aside.

For the Mangoes

Preheat a convection oven to 375°F and turn fan on.

Peel the mango and remove the flesh.  Discard the peel and heavy stone.

Gently toss the mango pieces with enough agave nectar to coat them with a thin film of syrup.  Add a pinch of kosher salt and stir gently; spread the mango on a prepared non-stick baking sheet and roast for 6-7 minutes.  Gently stir the mangoes and return the pan to the oven for an additional 5-7 minutes, or until the mangoes are caramelized.

For the Italian Plums

Preheat a convection oven to 375°F and turn fan on.

Wash the plums and remove the flesh from the stone in the largest pieces possible.  Discard the stone.

Gently toss the plum pieces with enough agave nectar to coat them with a thin film of syrup.  Add a pinch of kosher salt and stir gently; spread the plums on a prepared non-stick baking sheet and roast for 6-7 minutes.

For the Caramelized Garlic

  • 24 whole cloves garlic
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 3 fresh bay leaves
  • Kosher salt, as needed
  • Whole milk, as needed

Preheat oven to 375°F; if you’re using a convection oven, turn the fan off.

Gently toss whole garlic cloves with enough grapeseed oil to coat them well.  Add the fresh thyme, rosemary, bay leaves and a healthy pinch of kosher salt – stir gently.

Place garlic into shallow roasting pan that holds the garlic in a uniform, single layer.  Pour in enough milk to come halfway up the garlic cloves.

Cover the pan tightly with foil and roast, 30 minutes.  Without removing the foil, gently and carefully toss the contents of the baking pan.  Rotate the pan 180-degrees and return to the oven, 15 minutes.  Remove foil, stir contents gently and return to oven, 10-15 minutes, or until almost all the liquid has evaporated and the garlic is golden brown.

For the Lime Juice

Juice 4-5 limes through a fine strainer into a clean, small bowl.

For the Cilantro

Wash cilantro and mince finely.

To Make the Salsa

Combine the grilled Heirloom tomatoes, smoked tomatillos, roasted garlic, smoked jalapenos (with as many or as few seeds as your heat preference desires),  caramelized mango and tequila-spiked plums in a food processor.  Quickly pulse the mixture to desired consistency, no more than 6-7 pulses.

NOTE: Process in two separate batches if your processor is not large enough to do this in a single batch.

Pour the contents of the food processor into a clean bowl; add the cilantro and fresh lime juice, stirring to combine very well.  Season the salsa with kosher salt, to personal taste.

Serve with crispy corn tortillas.