This week’s Throwback Thursday takes us back to June 2015 when Central was fortunate enough to attend a Chef’s Night Off event in Indianapolis! Chef’s Night Off is an ongoing series of unique dinners prepared by talented chefs from local restaurants. Check out some of these crazy concoctions!
Every year, early in December, many in the Indiana community grab their tissues and tune into local radio station WZPL for the annual Make-A-Wish Request-A-Thon. Over the last 18 years this event has been held, the station stays on-air for 36 hours straight to raise money that grants wishes for children with life-threatening illnesses.
The Smiley Morning Show has been hosting the event for the past 13 years and their group alone has helped raise over $4 million. The Request-A-Thon breaks the traditional rules for radio to have fun, take any song requests for donations, share stories from Make-A-Wish families and more.
This year’s event was held on December 4 and 5 and it was one for the record books! In total, the Make-A-Wish Request-A-Thon raised $580,000 and granted 72 wishes!
Central has been a Make-A-Wish sponsor since 2012 and has participated in the Request-A-Thon each year since. It is one of our many community outreach events and employees are always so excited to help.
For the Request-A-Thon in particular, WZPL is in need of people to help take calls for donations. This year they had eight open volunteer positions for Central to fill during the last two hours.
We had several employees offer to volunteer and had to draw names out of a hat to choose the eight to go!
Our following employees were chosen: Missy Fishburn, Kate Nolan, Mike Ferrando, Tracy Pitts, Carol Halter, Bob Davidson, Sarah Templeton and Suzanne Maddux.
Shortly after the volunteer’s arrival, Sarah and Mike went on-air with The Smiley Morning Show to talk about our company and present our donation. Both did a great job and were excited to meet the radio show hosts and share information with the listeners.
Missy Fishburn and Mike Ferrando showing Braden he made it to the WZPL Facebook page
The Environment that Inspires
Once you walk in the doors of the call center, you step into a room filled with so much happiness and excitement. Phones are ringing off the hook and every few minutes someone shouts out a large donation amount they took which is then followed by cheers and clapping from the group. It’s filled with people from Make-A-Wish and radio station staff to local celebrities and Make-A-Wish families.
“The feeling when we walked in to the room was exciting, touching and all around great,” said Credit Analyst Missy Fishburn. “To see all the people come together and be a part of making so many of the kid’s wishes come true is something I’ll never forget.”
One of the group’s memorable experiences was meeting and spending time with 9-year-old Braden. Braden whizzed through the call center making friends everywhere he went, putting a smile on everyone’s face and even helped with some phone calls too.
“Braden ended up answering one of my calls and I acted as his secretary for that call,” said Sarah, product consultant at Central. “I was excited to volunteer so I could take as many calls as possible to get as many donations as I could. Having Braden there helping out was a great bit of extra motivation and extra special for me.”
It can be a very emotional and touching experience taking donation calls for the Make-A-Wish Request-A-Thon, which makes it so special to those that volunteer. Many times the people on the other end of the line end have tears of joy and are so thankful such an event exists. Other callers may have had their own experiences similar to these Make-A-Wish families which inspire them to donate.
“I had a 27-year-old woman who had 13 surgeries growing up as a child including open heart surgery to commit to being a wishmaker,” said Product Consultant Kate Nolan. When one becomes a wishmaker, they make monthly donations to Make-A-Wish. “Also, there was a mother of two, they were both Riley kids, commit to being a wishmaker as well. She’s a nurse at IU (Indiana University) and wanted to show her support.”
Many of the volunteers received calls from children offering up all they had in either allowance money or money they raised on their own.
“A 12-year-old boy had been saving his money and he didn’t know what to do with it so he told his mom to call in and do the $40-a-month for the year,” said Credit Coordinator Suzanne Maddux. “This was his allowance and birthday money and he wanted to do something good for someone else.”
These calls represent the entire community who participated in this event and made it such a success. From here, these children and their families will be able to have a day, week or experience out of their normal routines that brings them hope and happiness.
More Information for Your Area
Check out photos from this year’s event on the 2014 WZPL Make-A-Wish Request-A-Thon Facebook page! If interested in becoming involved in your local Make-A-Wish chapter, you can find yours on the Make-A-Wish’s website. Simply put in your zip code and you can find contact information to help you get started. If your area or company has had a neat or inspiriting volunteering experience, please share below!
From left to right back row: Missy Fishburn, Kate Nolan, Mike Ferrando, Tracy Pitts, Carol Halter and Bob Davidson. From left to right front row: Sarah Templeton, Suzanne Maddux
For many parts of the U.S., August means time for your county and state fairs. In Central Restaurant’s home town of Indianapolis, the 157th Indiana State Fair kicks off Friday August 1st. While this blogger prefers the thrills and dizziness of the carnival rides during his visits, many of the near 1 million visitors expected at this years event will sample (probably even devour) the dozens of unique foods presented by over 140 food vendors.
2014 Indiana State Fair Featured Foods
Every year, the food vendors compete to have their unique offering crowned that year’s ‘Signature Food’. This year, the competition’s theme incorporated the re-opening of the famed State Fair Coliseum after an 18-month renovation. Vendors were asked to submit “Reconstructed/Deconstructed” foods and a panel of 6 local celebrities voted on a winner earlier this summer.
The winner was the Fruit Twister Shake-Up from Goodwin Family Products based in Muncie, Indiana. Their take on the classic lemon shake-up adds fresh oranges, pineapple and strawberries to a refreshing mix of sugar (or zero-calorie Splenda), ice and water. This new summer treat, along with the other nominees will be available at the Fair from August 1st through the 17th.
Cheeseburger Basket on a Stick (Barto’s Catering): Barto’s Signature Cheeseburger Basket all rolled into one. Fresh seasoned ground beef and Sharp Aged Cheddar cheese tucked in a hash brown potato ball and rolled in seasoned bread crumbs and deep-fried to golden brown. Served on a stick.
The Mac Daddy (Gobble Gobble): Gobble Gooble’s signature homemade macaroni and cheese topped with their pulled BBQ turkey.
Funnel Cake Ice Cream Sandwich (Urick Concessions): Creamy, soft-served vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two golden brown mini funnel cakes topped with powdered sugar and a drizzle of chocolate sauce.
Colossal Grilled Cheese Sandwich with a Salted Chocolate Carmel Shake (American Dairy Association): Three columns of breaded mozzarella sandwiched between two slices of American cheese grilled to perfection on Sour Dough Bread. This colossal sandwich is accompanied by a delicious Salted Chocolate Caramel Milkshake.
We Can Help You With Your Signature Foods
Central is proud to have done business with several of this year’s winners over the years, and we can help you too. Whether you are full time on the fair circuit or equipping your fixed location – finding the right equipment to expertly prepare your ‘signature dishes’ is what we do everyday. Talk with a product consultant today at 800-215-9293 and they can walk your through our selection of Concession Equipment, Commercial Deep Fryers or Soft Serve Ice Cream Machines.
And, if you are from out-of-town and looking to sample a Fruit Twister Shake-up for yourself, your product consultant might be able to include one with your next shipped order! (OK, maybe not.)
For Indianapolis, early February usually has bitter cold temperatures, snow and ice. Those in the city avoid being outdoors as much as possible because of the frigid temperatures. So upon being named the Super Bowl host city for 2012, it could only be expected that people were wondering how the city was going to pull it off.
Not only did Indianapolis exceed expectations, the weather was unusually cooperating too. There were days with temperatures in the low 50s, almost making locals forget about the severe ice storm the city had just a year ago. There were a few days with rain, but all in all the weather was oddly pleasant for this time of the year.
Super Bowl Village ribbon cutting ceremony
The 10 day extravaganza kicked off on Friday Jan. 27 with the first six or seven days being heavily local traffic. Then by Thursday Feb. 2, the out of town guests started trickling in and the city was packed.
One of the major benefits of having an event as large as the Super Bowl in Indianapolis is how close everything is in the downtown area. It’s very manageable to walk from one end of downtown to another.
Restaurants all over the downtown area and beyond were anticipating a huge increase in business. Before events began, Julia Watson, vice president of marketing and communications for Indianapolis Downtown Inc., said businesses were forecasting as much as six months of business in the 10 day period.
So restaurants planned. They all planned. Those restaurants and food trucks in the immediate downtown area close to Super Bowl Village had to do a little bit of extra planning to ensure their food deliveries could be made and employees could get to work due to street closures.
Today Show crowd
Originally, it was anticipated 150,000 people would come into the city—and in a recent Indianapolis Star article; Super Bowl Host Committee officials said the total attendance (locals and out of town guests) at the Super Bowl Village alone was probably over 1 million.
So how did it all pan out for foodservices?
It was great for those near Super Bowl Village. But many downtown locations a little further out from Super Bowl Village and extending cities planned for large crowds that didn’t all come.
Despite being 20 to 30 minutes outside of downtown, OAKLEY’s Bistro, a restaurant on Indianapolis’ northwest side, was successful. In January, they said they were creating different menu options and were even opening on Super Bowl Sunday and the following Monday—two days they are normally closed.
“We had a great weekend, very busy,” said Chris Hopkins, manager at OAKLEY’s. “A lot of our business was from out of town guests and it was great to introduce them to OAKLEY’s.”
Hopkins said the only negative aspect were the number of people who made reservations then didn’t show. They were able to still fill the spots with walk-in traffic, which is something Hopkins said is pretty common on special event weekends.
When it came to mobile food, the food trucks were a big hit. The city reserved space for them on Monument Circle, where the famous Super Bowl Roman Numerals stood.
Food truck Duos Indy was nervous and excited before all the Super Bowl festivities took place. After it was all said and done, the warm weather was great for them and the rainy days weren’t the best.
“We had an amazing Friday night and were prepared for that kind of business every day,” said Becky Hostetter, chef and co-owners of Duos. “Other days and nights were fine and right at our projections, but the rain Saturday was problematic. We also found that Sunday was a bust.”
Hostetter also noticed how a majority of the crowds stayed closer to the Super Bowl Village and away from some of the locations on the outer parts of downtown.
“That was hard for all our friends in the restaurant business in the surrounding areas (Fountain Square, Mass Ave., etc.) who had worked so long and hard to prepare thoughtfully for such an event.”
All in all, Hostetter said they discovered they were completely capable of handling the large crowds while prepping in a smart and thoughtful way. They also met their expectation of serving guests within 60 seconds of them approaching a window. This is quick service–especially on their busiest nights, one of which they served around 550 people.
When it came to food rescuing (organizations who gather food that foodservices overstock, over prepare or don’t use that hasn’t been served to the public), Ben Shine, communications and development manager at Second Helpings, said they had a whirlwind of a weekend.
On Feb. 6, Shine said they had already rescued around 20,000 pounds of food, with more to come. Then they recently updated the numbers and on Feb. 16, the total amount rescued was 46,000 pounds. And for their kick-off event “Souper Bowls,” where local artists, chefs and community members got together to help fight hunger in central Indiana, they had over 500 in attendance and cleared just over $10,000.
St. Elmo Steak House
As for restaurants? Those closer to the Super Bowl Village probably received the most business—with the most popular place in the city to visit being St. Elmo Steak House.
Prior to the events, St. Elmo’s made sure they were fully prepared. Bryn Jones, director of marketing, said they knew they would be a go-to place but it ended up being even bigger than they anticipated.
“It was a very big week for us in terms of sales and national and local publicity,” Jones said. “We were prepared for both, but it was still a lot to handle.”
Shrimp is one of the restaurant’s signature menu items and Jones mentioned over the course of the week, they sold over two tons of it.
St. Elmo’s was a top restaurant for celebrities and athletes to dine at, too. Michael Douglas, Adam Sandler, John Travolta, Jerry Bruckheimer, The Fray, Eli Manning and Tom Brady are just a handful of the many celebrities and athletes Jones said came through their doors.
“Pretty wild week!” he said, which is a perfect way to sum it up.
Super Bow Host Committee with Blue wearing Super Bowl scarves
It was an incredibly wild week for the city. Indianapolis put on a Super Bowl extravaganza that many frequent Super Bowl visitors said was the best they had ever experienced. Who would have thought the Midwestern city with the nickname “Naptown” would go on to host one of the best Super Bowl’s to date?
The city exceeded expectations and it was not only a great opportunity to showcase the city as whole, but to showcase the finer details such as great food and Hoosier hospitality. Definitely one for the record books, that’s for sure.
All images used with permission from the 2012 Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee.
Today is the American Heart Association’s “National Wear Red Day” to raise awareness for heart disease in women. Mimi’s Cafe, a French-inspired casual dining restaurant with 145 locations around the country, is taking it a step further by marking Feb. 3 as a kick-off date to a month long campaign. Anyone that comes into the restaurant on Feb. 3 can get a free cup of soup–then for the remainder of the month there will be other opportunities for diners upon making a donation. Read the release news release in full on Mimi’s Cafe’s website.
Restaurant Performance Index On The Rise From National Restaurant Association, Read Article
It seems like we just heard similar news that the Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) hit a new high. The National Restaurant Association recently came out with an article stating the RPI finished out December up 1.6 percent. This is the highest level it’s been in the last six years and the next few months should be on a positive track. For more information, including a deeper look into how the RPI is calculated, visit the NRA website.
Foodservices Across the Country Prepping for Game Day
From SmartBlog on Restaurants, Read Blog
Restaurants all across the country have been gearing up for Super Bowl Sunday. The NRA estimates 48 million Americans will order takeout and 12 million will watch the game at a bar or restaurant. Pizza and wings are on the top of many restaurant’s menus, but there’s more! Check out SmartBlog’s article which covers what restaurants are up to for game day.
Image: Schnitzelbank Bratwurst/Super 46
And the Winner of Super 46 Sandwiches Is….. From Indianapolis Monthly, Read Blog
Whether you’re waiting tables or at home with friends on game day, it’s always good to have some party recipes on hand. Here are a few websites we found that feature a plethora of Super Bowl themed recipes:
Looking for some of the week’s top information? Here are five stories from the foodservice industry for Jan. 23-27.
Progress with School Nutrition From USDA, Read Blog
There’s been much buzz over school nutrition over the past few years, especially though the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. This week more progress was made when the USDA announced the new standards for school nutrition. Some of the changes include more fruits and vegetables, only only offering fat-free or low-fat milk and basing calorie counts on a child’s age so they get the accurate portion size. For the full report, read the USDA’s blog.
Restaurants Adding To Menus
This week seems to have had quite a bit of news with restaurants adding to their menus. Here are few of the places mentioned:
Starbucks: Beer, wine and additional food items (i.e. hot flatbread)
Taco Bell: Breakfast with items such as egg or sausage burritos, hash browns, Cinnabon and coffee
Vancouver Restaurant Sells One Expensive Hot Dog From The Canadian Press, Read Article
Depending where your restaurant is, what the occasion is etc., a typical price for the standard hot dog can be anywhere from $1 to $3. Sometimes you might hit an event where it’s more expensive. However one Vancouver restaurant has developed a hot dog that really has stepped it up–in both toppings and price. According to a HuffPost Food article from The Canadian Press, DougieDog Hot Dogs has created “The Dragon Dog” which consists of items on the hot dog such as cognac, Kobe beef and lobster. All at a pretty penny, of course… it’s only $100. There’s much more to this hot dog, visit Huff Post Food to read all about it.
Restaurant Super Bowl Deals Out
From Nation’s Restaurant News, Read Article
There are certain events the restaurant industry can benefit from and the Super Bowl is definitely one of them. According to the National Restaurant Association, approximately 48 million Americans will order takeout or delivery while watching the big game and 12 million will go out to a restaurant. NRN went into some detail looking into some of the special deals going on. Be sure to let us know what your restaurant is doing below! Read more on the NRN website.
Indianapolis Foodservice Impacted by the Super Bowl From Central Restaurant Products, Read Blog
Image: Indianapolis Super Bowl Press Center
For most cities across the U.S., Super Bowl Sunday is a big day. But for Indianapolis, they’re actually getting 10 big days! This year Central’s hometown of Indianapolis is hosting Super Bowl 46.
There’s a lot that takes place in a city when a Super Bowl is coming to down and it dramatically affects all businesses–foodservice industry especially. Central talked to different restaurants, food trucks and other organizations to get the scoop and a behind the scenes look on what it takes to prepare for the big game (and all that comes with it).