It’s much easier to count the number of years Dick’s Last Resort has been in business – 30 – than it would be to calculate the number of jokes made, napkins thrown, silly party hats worn or laughs and smiling faces induced there. “We’re all about having fun,” says Ralph McCracken, president and COO of the Nashville-based casual dining restaurant group. “Dick’s is unique from any other concept – there’s nothing else like Dick’s, and all of our locations are a bit different from one another.” 

The brand, which operates 16 locations across the United States, attracts large, multigenerational groups of family members, business associates or friends who are out for a special occasion – such as a bachelor or bachelorette party – or just a general good time. Fun-loving and outgoing front-of-house greeters and servers guide and enhance the experience in numerous ways including making jokes, placing party hats with tailor-made sayings on guests’ heads and starting paper napkin-throwing “battles.”

In tropical climates, there is nothing quite as refreshing as an ice-cold lager beer. With that in mind, Carib Brewery Ltd. produces two of the major brands in the market – Stag and Carib Lager. “Our brands revolve around consumers rather than a specific occasion because of the variety we produce,” Managing Director Gabriel Faria points out. “Most of our product usage is centered around conviviality. What this means is that when we look at the range of products and brands – from beer to stout, shandys, ginsengs and malta – you will see that they are focused on occasions that people want to and do remember, for the fact that they had good times with friends and family.”

Among the brands that Carib Brewery Ltd. produces are Stag Lager Beer, Carib Lager, Mackeson Stout, Malta, Smalta and Ginseng (nonalcoholic drinks) and Shandys, a blend of beer and one of four flavors – lime, ginger, lemon and sorrel, a fruit popular in Trinidad around the Christmas holidays. The brewery also produces under license for local and export consumption international brands including Guinness, Ginseng-Up, Heineken beer and Smirnoff Ice.

It takes a lot for a restaurant concept to distinguish itself in the marketplace. Fortunately for California steakhouse chain Tahoe Joe’s, it has no shortage of elements that make it stand out from the crowd. Whether it’s the unique look of its alpine ski-lodge themed restaurants, the always-from-scratch cooking, the high level of hospitality or its signature menu items, Divisional Vice President David Glennon says “Tahoe Joe’s offers guests an escape from the typical steakhouse experience, and that’s been an essential component of its success for nearly two decades.”

Since it was founded by a Fresno, Calif.-based restaurateur nearly 20 years ago, Tahoe Joe’s has expanded to 10 locations throughout California. Although the Tahoe Joe’s concept can best be described as polished casual, Glennon says the company considers any steakhouse – no matter the price point – to be its competition. “When we deliver on what our guests count on us for – our scratch-made entrée’s, hand-crafted cocktails and our hospitality – it’s an experience that’s tough to beat,” he says.

A recent merger between two Quebec, Canada-based food industry equipment suppliers will enable both companies to expand their market reach. Sipromac, a 30-year-old food packaging and processing specialist, in March 2014 acquired Picard Ovens, a 60-year-old bakery and pizza oven manufacturer. “We were attracted to Picard because of its history and the unique products it has developed,” says Vincent Tourigny, a shareholder in the unified company who also serves as its CFO. “We saw this merger as a great opportunity for two like-minded companies to come together.”

The union of the two companies will enable both to gain market share and attract large high-end grocery chain customers such as Whole Foods, which has started to use the ovens in some of their bakeries. 

Whenever people adopt healthy lifestyles, changing their diets is a major part of that. Studies have shown that drinking juice is linked to a healthier diet overall, according to the USDA, and some juices are nutrient-dense beverages with vitamin C, folate and potassium. Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice Co. is not only concerned with contributing to healthy lifestyles, but also providing the highest-quality, best-tasting juices. This is what has allowed the Florida-based company to win many awards and gain a loyal customer base. 

“Our purpose is to unite our individual gifts from God in establishing Natalie’s as a transparent food source and a global symbol of clean-label nutrition, while providing American jobs and supporting Florida farmers,” the company says. “It is our family’s responsibility to enrich the lives of those we come in contact with through our award-winning, quality citrus juices and our excellent customer care.”

Competing against Cleveland’s premier hospitality brands, the food and beverage operations of the InterContinental Hotel and Conference Center rise to the challenge of offering creative and innovative international cuisines with the latest technology. Located on the campus of the Cleveland Clinic and owned by that institution, the Intercontinental Conference Center boasts 295 guest rooms, 75 club rooms, 27 luxury suites, 16 corner suites and seven suites on an all-suite floor.

The conference center can seat 650 people in 35,000 square feet for banquets and also offers offsite catering. “From a banqueting standpoint, the types of cuisine are pretty much worldwide,” Food and Beverage Director David Schoeffler says. “We have a lot of international chefs and cooks here. Our executive chef is German, and has worked all over the world. So his ability to create dishes from the Middle East or Europe or South America is very strong because he has a good base of sous chefs that work with him that can execute them.

When Lovie Yancey created the biggest, juiciest hamburger anyone had ever seen in 1952, she knew there was only one name for her company: Fatburger. “It started off as a small hamburger shack with great burgers that were made right in front of you,” Vice President of Operations James Newell says. “Lovie started a hamburger stand right next to her house using only fresh ingredients. It was a walk-up restaurant and earned the nickname the last great hamburger stand.” 

Since its inception 62 years ago, the Beverly Hills, Calif-based company has grown to more than 150 locations worldwide. The Fatburger menu offers its signature burgers that range in size from a small third-of-a-pound beef patty to an XXX large with four beef patties. All burgers come standard with mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato, pickles, relish, onions and mustard. Add-ons such as cheese, bacon, chili, eggs, grilled mushrooms, guacamole, grilled onions, jalapenos and yellow peppers are also available. 

The traditional steakhouse is one of the cornerstones of the American restaurant industry, but until recently its image had remained somewhat mired in the past as the nation changed around it. Bill Humphries, a long-time veteran of the restaurant business, sought to update the steakhouse concept to cater to the nation’s changing demographics. The result was Eddie Merlot’s, a chain of steakhouses that honors the tradition of the steakhouse while breathing some new life into it for a more diverse clientele. 

Humphries, who was the first franchisee for Subway in Indiana and served for 20 years on the sandwich chain’s board of directors, says he began to pay close attention to the steakhouse market while doing research for Subway. He says he saw an opportunity for a different style of concept because overall steakhouses were focused on serving the same demographic they had back in the 1950s and 1960s. “Back in the 1990s, the steakhouses were very clubby, with lots of cigar smoking,” Humphries says. 

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