Tag Archives: NRA

Celebrate National Food Safety Month Year Round

Did you know that September is National Food Safety month? If you did not, it’s probably because a successful restaurant operator knows that food safety is important every month…every day…and every hour. Their customers and employees expect it.

2014 is the National Restaurant Association's 20th year of National Food Safety Month

2014 is the National Restaurant Association’s 20th year of National Food Safety Month

According to the NFSM website, the event was created in 1994 by the National Restaurant Association to heighten awareness about the importance of food safety education. Each year has a different theme and for 2014 they highlight ‘20 tips for 20 years of National Food Safety Month‘ through videos, posters and training materials.

Step By Step; Week By Week

All the materials are based in  ServSafe® Food Safety Training Programs and broken into four weeks of general themes: Week 1: Cleaning and Santiizing Week 2: Cross-Contamination Week 3: Time-Temperature Control Week 4: Personal Hygiene Week 5: Allergens Operators can use the videos and quizzes on the site to educate their employees about the issues in simple terms. For example, a week 1 video on Cleaning and Sanitizing explained how bar surfaces where drink garnishes are cut need to be treated the same as a kitchen food prep surface. The video continues by showing the steps to safely treat that surface. http://youtu.be/m8RT3JOUqXo In week 2, the quiz asks a question to remind employees to always store fruits and vegetables above meats in the refrigerator to eliminate the possibility of cross-contamination from meat juices. Future weeks will also include poignant topics, including a video where people with food allergies talk about the dangers of allergic reactions from cross-contaminated or non-labeled ingredients in restaurant dishes.

An allergen kit includes separate utensils to use when working on an order with a specific allergen concern.

An allergen kit includes separate utensils to use when working on an order with a specific allergen concern.

More Information and Tools

Want to get your staff more involved in the program this month? Download the full 5 weeks of content in a PDF, or view the week-by-week activities on the NFSM website. And remember, Central Restaurant has all the supplies and tools your food service establishment needs to keep your employees and customers safe. Check out our selection of cleaning supplies, temperature control and allergen awareness, including the San Jamar Saf-T-Zone system to avoid cross-contamination.

Food Trend Blog

Top Food Trends at NRA 2014

Another NRA Show is in the books. If you attended, we hope you had a great show! The Central team had a chance to settle down from the excitement and share with you some of the top trends we saw coming out of the show.

Gluten-Free Foods

One of the biggest trends at NRA was gluten-free options. Of course, it has been gaining momentum for a couple of years now, but seeing what some companies are doing is really cool. Take for example, Kiki’s Gluten Free Foods. They introduced a gluten-free deep dish pizza, which a few years ago would’ve been unheard of. And Deya Gluten Free is making a gluten free flour where the main ingredient is dried egg whites. These new options should make life for people with Celiac disease or gluten allergies a lot better.

Natural Ingredients

As we start to see a more health-conscious consumer, it’s only natural to see healthier options being introduced. We saw a ton of healthy options, from burgers made with veggies and chia seeds to milk made with quinoa. Another popular trend was brands advertising products made with no genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or corn syrup.

Better-For-You School Options

There are several companies trying to develop healthier options for school systems. According to Food Business News, exhibitors such as Skeeter Nut Free were introducing snacks that meet the USDA’s Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards that go into effect July 1st. In Skeeter Nut Free’s case, they introduced single-serve bags of graham crackers that are 100% nut free. Other exhibitors, such as Hormel, are offering options such as the Fuse Burger, which combines ground turkey with spinach, brown rice, roasted onions and dried cherries, to deliver a burger with a favorable nutrition profile.

Which trends did you see at NRA 2014 that stood out to you? Let us know in the comments section below.

Foodservice Industry Week in Brief: September 7

Looking for some of the week’s top information? Check out these five stories from the foodservice industry from September 3-7.

Restaurants Gear Up for NFL Season

From Various Sources

Football season kicked off on Wednesday and basketball is just around the corner.  Thankfully this year restaurants don’t have a lockout to worry about and can continue with their usual plans and marketing strategies.  NRN reported Buffalo Wild Wings plans to “invest heavily in marketing to football fans,” adding the chain has brought back it’s official fantasy football league.  They’re also running a new contest, the “Pick ‘Em Challenge.”  Then also, Eater discovered what one Dallas pizzeria offered for the NFL season kickoff game (Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants).  Take a look…

…What Do Customers Want?

From Various Sources

Foodservices have to be on their toes at all times to make sure they remain current and meet their customer’s expectations.  Trends change, taste palates change–even the way a dining room or serving area is set up changes based on customer’s needs.  NRN spoke with NDP Group Analyst Bonnie Riggs who said fast casual dining, healthful and light foods, kid’s meals, innovative beverages and retail are some of the aspects of the foodservice industry most important to customers.  So what about customer service?  Larry Magid, contributor for Forbes.com, posted an interesting read–his 10 rules for restaurants.

Darden Restaurant Inc. Faces Lawsuit from Employees

From Reuters

Darden Restaurant Inc. (Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse, Red Lobster, The Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52 and Eddie V’s) was hit with a lawsuit on Thursday September 6 from their own employees.  According to Reuters, the lawsuit accused them of “violating federal labor laws by underpaying workers at its popular eateries across the country.”  Rich Jeffers, a spokesman for Darden, said they do take the issue seriously but that they didn’t have any record of complaints.

Registration Open for 2013 NRA Show

From National Restaurant Association

Registration is now open for the 2013 NRA show.  The show will be held May 18-21 at McCormick Place in Chicago, Ill.  “Early bird” registration is available through November 6, and can save attendees up to 60 percent. Also, those who register before October 26 will be entered into weekly $150 American Express gift card drawings.  “The event is the restaurant and hospitality industry’s premier trade show and an opportunity to gain inspiration from renowned experts, innovative suppliers, celebrated chefs and tens of thousands of industry professionals,” they said.

Central Rolls Out Latest Promotion

From The Central Blog

This week Central released our fall 384-page catalog, which features an exclusive promotion.  We’ve teamed up with Star Manufacturing to provide lowest prices and free shipping on all Star equipment.  It’s a great opportunity for those in the foodservice industry who are in the market to buy griddles, charbroilers, hot dog equipment, countertop fryers, popcorn poppers and conveyor toasters.  Be sure to check out the promotion.

Foodservice Industry Week in Brief: 8/31

Looking for some of the week’s top information? Check out these five stories from the foodservice industry from August 27-31.

Hurricane Isaac Could Mean More Bad News for Farmers

From Chicago Tribune, Read Full Story

Over the last couple weeks we’ve continued to see the effects of the drought on the nation’s heartland and have heard many speculations as to how it will impact food prices.  According to U.S. Drought Monitor, updated last on Thursday August 30, many states are still categorized at the D4 level, the most intense type of drought on the scale.  This may change over the next few days as many Midwest states will receive much needed rainfall with the remnants of Hurricane Issac.  However according to a Chicago Tribune article, an agricultural meteorologist said the remnants will stall crop harvests and could cause some localized damage.

National Restaurant Association to Kick Off National Food Safety Month

From Food Safety Month, Read Full Story

“Be safe, don’t cross-contaminate” says the National Restaurant Association, who kicks off their 18th annual National Food Safety Month on September 1.  NFSM is an annual NRA campaign that brings more awareness to food safety.  Through the campaign, NRA offers a variety of tools for restaurants such as training activities and posters.  All materials are free and can be found on the Serv Safe website.

Registration Has Begun for the US Pizza Team Trials and American Pizza Championship

From United States Pizza Team, Read Full Story

Does your pizzaria have something special that others don’t?  Do you have a special technique that puts you ahead of your competition? You can use all the skills that make your pizza place special at this year’s US Pizza Team Trials and American Pizza Championship.  According to the U.S. Pizza Team website, “The U.S. Pizza Team was established in 2000 as a vehicle to further promote the pizza industry and independent pizzerias through friendly competition, live and televised performances, team and individual appearances and more.”  They added attending team members gain a sense of camaraderie with others providing an overall positive outcome for customers.

Last Chance to Sign Up for September’s Dine Out For No Kid Hungry

From The Central Blog, Read Full Story

For restaurants, both independent and multi-units, looking to increase sales and raise money for a great cause, Share Our Strength’s Dine Out For No Kid Hungry™ is the perfect fundraiser.  Dine Out For No Kid Hungry enables restaurants to donate a portion of sales to help end childhood hunger.  There’s no registration fee or minimum donation amount to join and Share Our Strength has literally done all the work enabling restaurants to get started quickly with little effort on their part.  While the official week for the event is September 16-22, Share Our Strength® welcomes and encourages restaurants to participate anytime and for as long as they’d like during the month of September.  The last day to sign up is Friday September 7.  Register today!  Contact Share Our Strength Senior Manager Jessie Sherrer at 202-478-6505 with questions.

Labor Day Weekend Restaurant Sales and Promotions

Looking to dine out this weekend?  We’ve looked all over the web and found some deals going on this weekend so you can dine out, boost restaurant sales and save some money at the same time.

Bahama Breeze Italian Grille: $10 Burger and Beer

Baskin-Robbins: Buy One Cone, Get One Free

Buca di Beppo: $10 Off Dine In and To Go Orders

Burger King: $1 Real Fruit Smoothies

Caribou Coffee: $2 Breakfast Sandwiches or Oatmeal

Carrabba’s Italian Grill: $10 Off and $5 Off of Purchase

Denny’s: Free ‘Nana Bread Pancake Puppies with Entree Purchase

Macaroni Grill: Buy One Entree, Get One Free

Mimis Cafe: $5 off Purchase of $15

On The Border: Free Order of Original Queso

Pizza Hut: Spend $20 or More and Get Free Medium Pizza

Quiznos: Buy One, Get One for $1 and $1 Off Select Menu Items

Red Robin: Facebook Offer–$5 off $20 Purchase

Sonic: Half Price Breakfast Burritos on September 4

Subway: $5 Footlong Faves

National Restaurant Association Show Recap

One of the foodservice and hospitality industry’s largest events, the National Restaurant Association Show, recently wrapped up after a busy four days (May 5-8) at McCormick Place in Chicago, Ill.

McCormick Place is the perfect venue for an event as large as the NRA Show, with 2.6 million square foot exhibit halls and ceilings up to 50 feet high.  The show uses every inch of space they reserve, with many booths tightly squeezed in together.  Then there are the thousands of people bumping into each other as they go from booth to booth to see the latest and greatest products and taste different foods and beverages.

This year the event took up two of McCormick Place’s massive halls and was comprised of around 1,856 exhibitors of the foodservice and hospitality industry.

Attendees and Exhibitors

What’s great about the NRA Show is anyone from a company can attend and get a meaningful experience as it provides several learning and networking opportunities–whether it’s a company’s buyer or member of a marketing department.  As you walk through the event and glance at different badges, you truly see the several different types of people that come to visit the show.

While attendees gain product knowledge and learn about other companies, exhibitors get a just as meaningful experience.

NRA said exhibitors are able to “connect with a massive group of high-level decision-makers and influencers from all across the foodservice and hospitality industry.”

As a bonus, NRA said after the show, those who attended plan to spend an average of $429,600 with exhibitors they connected with.

Schedule and Events

This year’s show had a jam packed schedule with the show floor being open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. (except only open until 3 p.m. on the last day) and various events, attractions, educational sessions and demonstrations.

The show also held the International Wine, Spirits and Beer Event on May 6-7.

On Sunday May 6, the show’s keynote speaker was President Bill Clinton, founder of the William J. Clinton Foundation.  According to a Chicago Sun-Times article, a large portion of his one-hour speech pertained to childhood obesity.  He also praised the NRA for their commitment to children’s health initiatives.  (Read the article for more information).

This year was the first year for the Inaugural Operator Innovations Awards, “a program for commercial and non-commercial operators who transform the industry with their extraordinary creativity and commitment.” Winners were announced at the Destination: Celebration event on May 5.  (Check out the nominees and the winners).

Social Media

As there are thousands in attendance or interested in the show, social media helps to keep everyone involved, whether they are attending or not.

Social media was heavily used and enabled everyone to stay connected via NRA’s Facebook, Twitter (also using #NRA2012), LinkedIn, YouTube and Flickr accounts.  People were also able to subscribe to the show press room’s RSS feed.

Those who weren’t able to attend or want to re-live certain events can benefit from all of NRA’s different social media platforms for videos, pictures and more.

Central’s Experience

Central has had a presence at the NRA Show since 1983, which is two years after we opened. Product Consultant Steve White has been attending the show on and off since 1988—and to the left is a photo of all his different badges from over the years.

It was Central Product Consultant Karin Romani’s first year attending the show and said it was a really great learning experience.

“I ate my way through the show,” she said, as everyone at the show does. “But I learned about the new NSF-2012 rules going into effect in November (that will affect slicer manufacturers for one thing).  And I got to see a few new models of fryers and ranges at the American Range booth—fryers with a built in filter that filters continually while frying.  (I also saw) a commercial range that has a pilot light like a residential range that turns off between uses rather than staying on continually like most commercial ones.”

Romani added she saw a new line of flash freezers that she had been looking into for a customer.

“It was really nice to be able to see so many things in one place,” she said.

That essentially is the best way to describe the show—everything in one space with tons of innovative products.

Next year’s event will be at McCormick Place again, from May 18-21.

If you attended the NRA Show, please let us know what you thought! What were some of the favorite products you saw or food items you tried?

Foodservice Industry Week in Brief: January 13

Looking for some of the week’s top information? Here are five stories from the foodservice industry for the first week of the new year, January 9 through January 13.

Image: Drummerboy/MorgueFile

Twinkies Bankrupt?
From Los Angeles Times, Read Article

One of the most popular topics discussed, posted and tweeted about this week has been the fate of the Twinkie. Maker of the Twinkie and other treats such as Donettes, Ding Dongs, Mini Muffins and Zingers, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  This isn’t the first time the brand has filed, according to the LA Times, they had filed back in 2009.  Read more on the LA Times website.

President Bill Clinton Announced Keynote Speaker for NRA Show
From National Restaurant Association, Read Article

This week the National Restaurant Association announced President Bill Clinton will be the keynote speaker of this year’s National Restaurant Association, Hotel-Motel show.  The show will be held in Chicago at McCormick Place on May 5-8, with President Clinton speaking on May 6.  NRA said he will “share insights into his presidency and his current work with the William J. Clinton Foundation.”  Read the full article here.

Image: sideshowmom/MorgueFile

Braille on…Burgers?
From HuffPost Food, Read Article

Every once in awhile a restaurant will put together something very interesting that’s also helpful for their customers.  HuffPost recently reported on Wimpy, a South African fast food chain, is putting messages in Braille on their buns!  They listed an example being “100% Pure Beef Burger Made For You.”  Read more on the HuffPost website.

Indianapolis Food Trucks Gearing Up for Super Bowl
From Mobile Cuisine, Read Article

Indianapolis has been busy preparing for the Super Bowl–especially foodservice establishments.  One of the pieces of the giant Super Bowl puzzle is food trucks.  With many coming into the city and walking around, food trucks will play a very important role. Recently, it’s been announced there have been trucks chosen to park around Indianapolis’ Monument Circle while Super Bowl events are going on.  Mobile Cuisine recently posted an article with a few quotes from participating food trucks, read more on the Mobile Cuisine website.

Central’s Latest Master Catalog to Drop Tuesday Jan. 17
From the Central Blog, Read Blog

On Tuesday Jan. 17, our latest catalog will be hitting the streets.  Our catalog is 384 pages and we’ve added in over 900 new products.  For this catalog, we teamed up with Vulcan, one of the world’s largest commercial cooking equipment manufacturers, for an exclusive promotion: the lowest price on products as well as free shipping.  Read more on the Central blog.