In hockey, a good game plan can take a team only so far. The individual skaters on the ice need to play up to their potential and be aware of opportunities like a loose puck or a goalie’s weak side. Canadian hockey icon Don Cherry knows this, and it’s the same basic philosophy followed by the chain of casual-dining restaurants that bears his name. According to owners and licensors Darrel and Chris Painter, Don Cherry’s Sports Grill has been successful not only because of its connection to one of Canada’s most popular public figures, but also because the company gives its individual locations a winning game plan and the autonomy to take advantage of their own opportunities. 

Hotels understand that to attract guests, the primary focus must be comfort. There is a lot that goes into that, of course – the quality of the room and furnishings, the level of service provided and the availability of amenities, to name a few. This goes beyond a good night’s sleep, and Atlific Hotels understands that meeting the needs of guests’ stomachs is a major part of an overall quality experience. 

In business for more than 50 years, Atlific Hotels owns and/or manages more than 60 properties throughout Canada. The company’s goal is to improve “each hotel’s top-line marketplace performance while delivering long-term financial benefits to property owners.” It works with brands such as Hilton Worldwide, Marriott Hotels & Resorts, InterContinental Hotels Group, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Choice Hotels and Best Western. Atlific Hotels was named Company of the Year in 2009 and one of the Top 50 Shining Stars in 2012 by Hotelier Magazine, and its food and beverage operations play a large part in that success.

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.”

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