Celebrate National Dessert Month

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

oct-national-dessert-monthOctober is National Dessert Month and features a number of specialty days sprinkled throughout, including National Angel Food Cake Day (October 10), National Pumpkin Pie Day (October 12), National Chocolate Cupcake Day (October 18), and National Boston Cream Pie Day (October 23). With desserts taking center stage all month long, there’s no better time to showcase your restaurant’s tastiest treats and satisfy every sweet-toothed patron that walks through the doors. Here are a few ideas for organizing and presenting your dessert offerings for the month.

By seasonal fruits

Incorporating seasonal fruits into different dishes is a great way to shake up the dessert menu while taking advantage of the freshest produce available. Apples, pears, figs, and cranberries are all in season, so get those apple pies, poached pears, homemade fig bars, and cranberry coffee cakes into your True Refrigerator display case to attract attention and drive after-dinner sales.

By nationwide popularity

Another idea for celebrating National Dessert Month is to provide customers with a selection of the most popular desserts as ranked by nationwide surveys. According to one such survey, current favorites include apple pie, carrot cake, cupcakes, and Jell-O. You can even present these desserts in countdown fashion by beginning with the No. 10 entry (cheesecake), keeping it on offer for a few days, and then progressing down the list until you get to No. 1 (fudge).

By customers’ expectations

If you serve a more traditional minded customer base, then simply meeting their expectations might be the smartest way to approach National Dessert Month. This could mean keeping extra servings of chocolate mousse in the refrigerated display, whipping up a sizable batch of tapioca pudding in a commercial cook pot, or making sure everyone’s favorite pumpkin pie is always in abundance.

By the calendar

As mentioned above virtually every day in October celebrates a different confection, so if you’re striving for variety in your dessert menu, just follow the calendar. Doing so will take you through everything from Apple Betty to Yorkshire Pudding, brandied fruit, caramel apples, and frappes, a journey that is certain to appeal to conventional and adventurous palates alike.

Whether your restaurant is already well-known for its desserts or you want to focus on popularizing this part of your menu to help increase revenues, you should be excited for October. Take advantage of National Dessert Month by using the above ideas to celebrate all things sweet and gooey with your customers!

Get Your Grill On: Lighter Options for your Spring Menu

Tuesday, April 12th, 2016

With spring in the air, it seems that everyone suddenly has a hankering for freshly grilled foods. And while nothing beats a classic burger charbroiled to perfection on a Globe broiler with cast iron radiants, it’s always a good idea to offer your customers a variety of mouthwatering options to choose from. So as you put the finishing touches on your seasonal menu, consider adding these lighter selections that can be prepared on your commercial grill.

grilled foodStarters and sides

Kick things off and whet your customers’ appetites by making these popular starters and sides available on your spring grill menu. All of the food listed here can be customized by mixing, topping, or serving with your own special sauces, seasonings, cheeses, and dips:

  • Shrimp
  • Clams
  • Vegetable kebabs
  • Buffalo wings
  • Whole bell peppers
  • Corn on the cob
  • Potato wedges
  • Artichoke hearts

Main dishes

The great thing about these items besides how easy they are to whip up—just brush with some olive oil before grilling and add salt, pepper, or other seasonings to taste—is that they can be served on bread as a sandwich or on a plate with sides. Either way, your customers will love the result and clamor for more, so be sure to stock up accordingly:

  • Lean pork tenderloin
  • Swordfish
  • Turkey burger
  • Meatballs
  • Thin crust pizza
  • Quesadillas
  • Flank steak
  • Farm-raised pheasant
  • Boneless leg of lamb

Sweet treats

Customers might not be used to thinking of sweets and desserts coming off the grill, but these light and tasty treats will change their mind in a hurry.

  • Fruit, including apples, peaches, pineapple, strawberries, mangoes, and bananas
  • Any variation of S’mores (chocolate or flavored chocolate spread and marshmallows sandwiched between graham crackers or cookies)
  • Grilled ice cream
  • Miniature pastries filled with any of the fruits listed above
  • Grilled pound cake with fruit or whipped cream topping

If you’ve been using your grill only for traditional food like burgers, steaks, and chicken, it’s time to break out of that pattern and offer up something fresh for spring. Choose your favorite ideas from this page, test out a few recipes, and get ready to wow your customers with a new menu.

 

Tips to Help Your Food Truck Survive Winter

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

According to industry experts, food truck operators can expect revenues to drop off by nearly 50% in winter. That’s a huge decline, especially if the truck is your sole source of income.

Does this mean you should put your vehicle into long-term storage and get a different job until warmer weather returns? Maybe not. Try these tips to help your food truck survive the winter slump:

  • Change your menu to suit the season: Cold weather calls for warmer and heartier fare such as soups and stews, as well as hot drinks like espresso, tea, and cocoa. These items can easily be prepared and kept warm with the help of one of the multi-quart table top kettles we have at ShortOrder.com, and will attract customers who otherwise might not be willing to brave the elements.
  • Team up with another business: Is there a bar or winery in your area that doesn’t serve food? If you specialize in desserts, is there a coffee shop that doesn’t offer sweets? Contact those business owners ASAP and try to work out an arrangement in which both parties can benefit.
  • Consider catering: Catering is another popular winter option for food truck operators. Though these jobs might be on a larger scale than you’re used to dealing with, if you’ve got the time, equipment, and personnel, it could be worth your while to check into catering holiday parties, business events, school functions, and social occasions.
  • Try direct delivery: You know those office complexes and buildings you regularly service during the warmer months? That’s an established base for your business and shouldn’t be given up just because the customers don’t want to wait around in freezing temperatures for their food. Talk to the office manager and see if you can arrange a direct delivery service for orders placed before a certain time each day.
  • Be on the lookout for special events: Many cities and towns have winter festivals or other special outdoor events that can provide you with extra income opportunities. Check out your city’s events calendar (and those of neighboring towns and suburbs) and hit as many as you can.

Surviving the winter decline is a challenge familiar to every food truck owner and operator, but viable solutions do exist. If you haven’t done so before, try one or more of the revenue-generating ideas listed here so you can keep your business up and running all year round.

2016 Food Trends – Should You be Trendy?

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

Last month, the National Restaurant Association came out with the top food trends of 2016. Many of the trends involved local sourcing and environmental sustainability, which was similar to the trends in 2015, and the year before that, but they note that trends tend to evolve slowly over time. Trends that are more lifestyle changes, like environmental sustainability, are even more slow to evolve.

In case you didn’t see the list, we posted it here for you:

Top food trends 2016

Now that you know what’s “trendy”, do you choose to jump on this bandwagon or stick with what you’re already doing? Some of this decision will be based upon what your restaurant is like. Are you focused on home-cooked comfort food? Some people say, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” That might be true, but you might benefit from sourcing your meat and vegetables locally. You might already be doing this. (Aren’t you trendy?!) If not, and you decide to start sourcing locally, there are considerations. If you’re sourcing locally, you’ll have the freshest food – and you’ll want to keep it that way! You might need to add additional refrigerated storage. Ideally you’ll only order what you need in a short time-frame, so maybe an undercounter refrigerator is all you need to add to the mix. If you’re going to be busy, you might add a bigger two door reach in refrigerator. Keep in mind, many vegetables do not need to be stored in the refrigerator. So, maybe you just need to add a few more shelves. Easy! Your food will taste fresh and you’ll be helping your local community – it’s a win-win!

What about healthful kids meals? Should you say out with the chicken tenders and in with whole grain pasta? I’m pretty sure chicken tenders aren’t your only dish that requires a deep fryer! If so, I say make the change and save the space in your kitchen! Parents love the option of having healthier items to choose from on the kids menu, so even if you keep the fried chicken, consider adding more healthy choices. Adding a new menu item that uses stuff you currently have on hand should be a quick change that could increase your business!

The tenth trend is house-made/artisan ice cream. While delicious, do you have what you need to keep your ice cream frozen? While you probably don’t need an 8 flavor ice cream dipping cabinet, you might need additional freezer space. You’re not going to be able to feed a lot of guests on 1 quart of ice cream. Better free up some space before you’re forced to serve artisan cream.

Number sixteen, ethnic-inspired breakfast items – we’re hoping that’s a fancy way of saying “breakfast tacos!” Here in Texas, we have tacos for breakfast. lunch and dinner. We feel like the rest of the country is seriously missing out. If there ever was a trend to latch onto, this is the one! What’s it doing way down at number 16 anyway? This one should be number one!

Last, but not least is food trucks. I know here in Austin we’ve been eating out of food trucks for years! It’s a great, affordable way for aspiring chefs to get their start. Wanna jump on this trend? (warning: shameless plug ahead!) ShortOrder.com has all the equipment you need to get started, and has outfitted quite a few of these restaurants on wheels. This trend is another one that needs to stick around. It’s an exciting change to the restaurant industry and a way around the financial roadblocks that are often found when trying to achieve your dreams of restaurant ownership.

What other trends are you seeing that didn’t make the list? Join the conversation on our Facebook page!

3 Ways to Spice Up Your Fall Menu

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

Restaurant Fall MenuAs it gets colder, customers’ taste buds start to beg for something warm and comforting. Out with crisp summer salads and barbecued meat, and in with the soups and baked goods. However, standard recipes can become stagnant over time, so it’s important to spice things up every once in awhile. Here are few ideas to help inspire your autumnal menu.

1. More Soup For You

When it’s cold, there’s nothing better than a warm cup of soup. However, it doesn’t take long for a simple soup du jour to become a bit boring. Branch out from traditional favorites like chicken noodle, and introduce some new flavors to your menu. Butternut squash is seasonal and super easy to prepare, a chorizo and white bean stew is a fresh take on a classic recipe, and spicy harvest chipotle chili gives a favorite fall comfort food a little kick. To get your restaurant ready for the season, try these bowls for a warmer color scheme. (more…)

School House BBQ: To Be Or Not To Be

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

BBQ RibsRecently, a friend of mine asked me about turning a piece of property he has into a restaurant. To be clear, he doesn’t have a passion for foodservice per se, he is a successful operator of several assisted living facilities. The property he owns was purchased with the ambition of opening a new assisted living facility. He sees this endeavor as a “fun” investment. I thought I would comment on the thought process people go through as they look into opening a restaurant. In this case, the plan is to open a tap house and restaurant.

The property in question is a school house that is 106 years old. It sits on 2.5 acres in a well-populated midwest suburb near a major city. The first step was to take the idea to the city to see if they would support changing the use of the property from assisted living to a foodservice establishment. Not only was the city enthusiastic about the idea, they sent my friend to look at a tap house in a nearby large city. They said, “If you can do something like this, we’ll be your best customer!” With that hurdle cleared, now the real work could begin! (more…)

Best In Class Equipment

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

Each year Foodservice Equipment & Supplies (better known as FES) Magazine polls their subscribers and asks them to evaluate equipment and supplies manufacturers on seven characteristics. The seven key factors are:

  • Product Quality
  • Product Value
  • Product Design and Aesthetics
  • Service and Support
  • Sales Representation
  • Product Inventory and Availability
  • Product Information Availability

 

The results come out each in October. You might be shopping now, and if you can’t wait until October, here are the top performers from 2014. (more…)

3 Questions To Ask Before Buying A Commercial Range

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

ShortOrder_Range-Garland-h284Whether you’re looking to broil, fry, grill, or simmer, commercial ranges offer an array of cooking choices in one piece of equipment. As one of the most useful tools in the kitchen, finding the right commercial range for your restaurant is important. How many burners do you need? Will you want griddles? Before investing in a range for your commercial kitchen, ask these 3 questions:

How much output do you need from your range?

There are two basic types of commercial ranges: restaurant duty and heavy duty. Restaurant duty ranges—the most common choice—work great for most commercial kitchens. They are made to stand alone, with durability and easy use in mind. Additionally, restaurant duty ranges are less expensive than their heavy duty counterparts. For kitchens that require high volume usage, a heavy duty range is the best option. However, these ranges typically cost more up front and are more expensive to maintain. (more…)

Stop, Watch and Learn

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

Line Cooks In Restaurant KitchenSince I’m in the biz, I can’t stop watching and analyzing operations in restaurants… often times to my wife’s dismay! I look for missed opportunities and often suggest to the managers a slight change that might make a big difference. Recently, I was at a diner where my family and I enjoy dining on a regular basis. The place is always packed on the weekends and the speed of service is… fair. The food offsets the wait for a seat and the time it takes to get served. The diner is an open-kitchen operation. You can sit at the counter and watch the sausage being made. A couple visits ago, the place was a madhouse. Customers were waiting, the kitchen staff was arguing and the food was moving slowly and with little accuracy. Remakes were clogging the already bogged down line.

In the hour or so I waited for my food, I drank coffee and watched the craziness, I noticed something. The font on the tickets was too small! The confusion in the back was being greatly increased because the tickets were hard to read. The staff had to actually pull the tickets off the rack and hold them up to their eyes to see what they said. On top of that, everyone had reading glasses on their heads. They needed two hands to read each ticket! (more…)

About Commercial Microwave Ovens

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

Commercial Microwave OvensIt’s the most wonderful time of the year… or at least the busiest! For many restaurants, the holiday season brings in lots of hungry families. Whether they’re tired from shopping all day or they’re in town for a family visit, they all come in to your restaurant ready to EAT – and fast! Many times, the quickest way to get the customers what they want is with a commercial microwave, and you’ve never needed it more than the holiday season.

Has your microwave picked the worst possible time to call it quits? Or are you just in need of an upgrade? Make sure you’re shopping for the right microwave oven for your needs.

Commercial Microwave Oven vs. Residential Microwave Oven

If you’re running a commercial kitchen, you might be tempted to save a few bucks and run up to the local small appliance store and grab a residential model. Be warned, there are a few reasons why the extra money is worth the investment! (more…)

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