At Bertucci’s Italian Restaurants, guests can watch their meals being prepared in an open kitchen, where the brick oven is the focal point. “Bertucci’s is a fun, lively environment that lends itself to families and groups of friends,” says Jeff Tenner, vice president and executive chef.

Even with more than 50 years of experience as a fishmonger, Aiden Coburn says he still learns something new about the industry every day. In fact, the director of quality control for The Fish Market – a California-based casual seafood dining chain – says he has to stay abreast of countless changes in the seafood business, ranging from government regulation to ever-shifting consumer trends to pricing in a recession.  “I began my apprenticeship 51 years ago, and I am still learning,” says Coburn, who moved to California from Dublin, Ireland, and joined The Fish Market in 1983. 

With the worst of the recession behind it, Shake’s Frozen Custard is ready to mark its 20th anniversary with new locations and tasty new frozen treats. The company, founded in 1991 in Joplin, Mo., will open a new franchise location in Auburn, Ala., in the fall, its second store there following an opening in late 2010. The Auburn locations represent new growth for the company. 

Regional variations can make all the difference when you’re talking about pizza. For example, a Chicago deep-dish pie can’t hope to compare to a New York-style slice in the eyes of some, but it’s hard to image either city dipping their pizza in maple syrup, as the Japanese have been known to do. That’s why Mario’s Pizza is the largest pizza chain in Trinidad and Tobago, according to Assistant General Manager Roger Harford – it can cater to the unique tastes of its customers. Even with fierce competition from the best-known chains in the industry, Harford says Mario’s Pizza continues to distinguish itself as Trinidad and Tobago’s favorite. 

A lot has changed since Chairman and President Larry Raikes and Vice President Mitch Raikes founded Larry’s Giant Subs shop 30 years ago. Disappointed with the quality of submarine sandwiches available to them in Florida, the two brothers longed for the hearty, robust subs they were accustomed to in their hometown of Buffalo, N.Y. 

For many firms, it can be hard to maintain success as they try to grow larger. The management at HuHot Mongolian Grills LLC has avoided this trap by creating a firm foundation to work from, Vice Pres­ident of Franchise Development Molly Vap O’Shea says. Some restaurant companies, she explains, will often add too many items to their menu or open so many locations that they cannot keep up. “We’re growing with a foundation [that keeps us] successful,” she asserts. 

Because bad news travels fast, the country and much of the world is well aware of the woes of the Motor City. But what’s not exclaimed in the news is Michigan’s strong agriculture industry. In 2009, Michigan ranked as the No. 1 U.S. producer in 11 different commodities including Niagara grapes and squash, according to the National Agriculture Statistics Service. And it has long been known as the No. 1 producer for tart cherries and blueberries. In 2009, Michigan supplied 74 percent of the country’s tart cherries and 26 percent of its blueberries. It’s also the No. 2 grower of apples and No. 1 for producing apple slices.  

Countless fast-casual pizza chains are known more for their gimmicks and marketing campaigns than their pizza. That’s not how Flippers Pizzeria has grown throughout central Florida. Instead of relying on flashy messages, the concept has grown to 11 locations throughout the Sunshine State by refusing to compromise on the quality of its ingredients. 

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