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. 

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. 

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.”

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