Known for serving original and bold Mexican flavors since 1969, Taco John’s has grown from its first restaurant in Cheyenne, Wyo., to creating quick-serve Mexican food in an original way while also supporting many local communities.  

Today, Taco John’s operates and franchises more than 400 quick-service restaurants in 25 states, making it one of the largest Mexican quick-service restaurant brands in America. It continues to grow across the country. 

St. Louis Bar and Grill sells more than 1.3 million pounds of wings annually. With 50 locations throughout Eastern Canada, the franchise has become a local favorite wherever it sets up shop. Its menu of wings, ribs, burgers and sides along with a number of secret-recipe sauces have won over the taste buds of many, especially is proprietary dill sauce recipe. Its affordable prices also make it stand out among the crowd. The restaurant has developed weekly specials that keep guests coming back for more. The chain emphasizes that there are many factors at play in its success. 

The most important recipe for foodservice companies or restaurants might not even involve anything edible – it could be the combination and arrangement of all the vital equipment that makes up the kitchen. Without the right equipment in the right configuration, restaurants and foodservice companies can’t deliver the dishes their customers visit them for, and that’s why having a trusted supplier of customized kitchen equipment is just as important as having the right source for ingredients. 

For many years, major foodservice chains such as Chipotle, Red Robin and Papa John’s have relied on QualServ Corp. to provide them with the recipe for an efficient and highly effective kitchen. President and CEO E.J. Morrow says QualServ has built a solid reputation as a supplier that understands the foodservice industry and provides a complete, integrated solution to clients’ kitchen needs. 

Most foodservice operations specialize in a style of food, whether it be fast food, quick casual or white tablecloth. But the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in West Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley offers all types of food in its eight venues, including ethnic specialties.

“I’ve been in the casino business a little over 20 years,” Vice President of Operations Jim Boutcher relates. “I’ve seen the food and beverage part of the business really change from something that was necessary to something that our guests want. A lot of guests come here just to dine. We are an amenity for our guests – we consider ourselves a destination resort.”

Not many Mexican-inspired culinary experiences can trace their origins back to an enterprising Norwegian, but Jimboy’s Tacos isn’t just another taco stand. The company has a legacy that dates back to Jim “Jimboy” Knudson’s small trailer on Kings Beach in Tahoe, Calif., in 1954. Built on a signature taco that is known for a perfect balance of flavors and textures along with a Parmesan-dusted stone ground corn tortilla, Jimboy’s Tacos today includes approximately 40 locations in California, Nevada and Texas. 

“The ground beef taco that my father created is the product that made us famous,” President and CEO Karen Knudson-Freeman says. “It is our signature item and it is very unique. To this day, we do our own R&D on product development.”

Based in Missoula, Mont., HuHot Mongolian Grills has become one of the fastest-growing Mongolian grill concepts in the nation. The company was founded in 1999 and is celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2014. Through a growth strategy that includes a combination of corporate and franchised locations, HuHot is striving to optimize internal operations and differentiate itself through fast, customer-oriented service and fresh, healthy food. 

“We are a growing, national chain of create-your-own Mongolian grill stir fry restaurants,” COO Jeff Martin says. “Our guests enjoy dining in our restaurants, selecting from fresh ingredients and having meals cooked right in front of them with all of the theatrics and flair.”

Los Angeles-based Grill Concepts has called class into session with its newest concept, Public School. The gastropub delivers an education in the art of food and beer. The concept was launched three years ago when it converted the bar area inside one of its Daily Grill locations in downtown Los Angeles into a testing site. 

“Looking back, it was probably the best decision we made in launching Public School 612 – we were able to test the décor, the food, the ambiance, the beers – everything without actually opening a full restaurant until we were ready,” Senior Vice President of Operations John Sola says. 

A fully functioning winery offering high-end culinary and cultural experiences with intimate concerts, food and wine classes, private events and fine-dining options sounds like a venue exclusive to wine country – but it’s not. “We built something very unique,” says Michael Dorf, owner and CEO.

As a music venue owner, Dorf knew how to put on a good show, but it was his passion for wine that inspired him in 2008 to create City Winery – Manhattan’s first fully operational winery, restaurant and performance space. “I caught the bug for winemaking in 2004 and thought it would make a great theme for building a music venue in New York,” he says. “On some level, I like to say we are operating a fancy lemonade stand and figured out that the trick to bring people to the lemonade stand is putting on a good show.”

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