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Author Archive | Kelsey Ellis

How Does Tundra Decide to Bring in New Products?

How Does Tundra Decide to Bring in New Products?Cara Schlarb, Director of Product Marketing at Tundra, is the go-to-person for vendor relationships and product standards. She’s responsible for ensuring that the more than 60,000 products we sell are the best products available for our customers. And, of course, she’s also responsible for staying atop of industry trends so that Tundra continues to offer the best new products available.

So, this made me wonder, how do we decide to bring in new product lines? And for that answer, I had to ask the person in charge, Cara.

How does Tundra decide to bring a new product line in?

Like most industries, new products are constantly being introduced to the market. I follow several factors when considering offering a new product line.

The good, better, best philosophy is how I navigate through new products. I want to make sure that every product that comes in is needed by our customers. Yes, we are in the business of selling restaurant supplies, parts and equipment, but to do this well we have to ensure we offer a product regardless of price point. Following the good, better, best science allows us to thoughtfully add products to categories.

How do you feel we successfully accomplish this?

Good partnerships and good value are vital. Tundra will only work with brands that support their product lines; this means that the ‘after purchase’ support needs to be top-notch. For example, if a customer purchases a $5,000 oven they can trust the brand to follow-through with its warranty. Good value is also significant – we’ve all heard the economy is starting to recover, but as a nation we’re still looking for value. Tundra strives to offer products that improve the customers’ business. Fair pricing and quick lead times play into good value as well. Improving efficiency and quality are the top attributes when sourcing new products.

Any secret weapons on discovering the best products?

You have to always be listening – customer feedback is huge. In an age where customers voice their opinions and concerns on social media outlets, you have to be there to listen to that. It’s important for our product team to see this feedback and make decisions based on what customers are saying, not just industry news.

However, we also have to research industry trends for innovation and uniqueness of new products. The restaurant industry is constantly evolving and Tundra has to make sure we offer the products the end user needs to stay up with customer requests.

And finally, my team and I attend industry trade shows to search for new products that could offer something different, unique, helpful and efficient for our customers.

Even with Tundra’s stringent guidelines, we offer an amazing selection of products for restaurant operations. We strive to offer the best of the best at every price point.

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Keep Up Restaurant Catering Opportunities, Even After the Holidays

Keep Up Restaurant Catering Opportunities, Even After the Holidays

During the end of the year holidays restaurants are in full swing, but catering to large groups is often times limited to only this time of year.  Yet there’s plenty of other opportunities that can continue to bring in revenue – from wedding receptions and birthday parties to business luncheons and other corporate events, catering for larger groups is an amazing prospect to keep business booming year-round!

Serving the Masses

Wedding receptions are renowned for being a catering affair and a great opportunity to bring on new business, but there’s advice to regard before advertising for such a large group:

  • Know what to advertise: food is cooked on-site, parking is readily available, fewer rules around serving alcohol, experienced staff, customizable menu options and rental fees are typically lower than at event halls and conference rooms.
  • Restaurants are typically more accommodating to a variety of different sized groups.
  • Make sure your restaurant website explains your catering abilities, include appetizing photos of events you’ve hosted, customer reviews, price lists and large group information.

The number of people dining out for holidays and celebrations continues to grow year after year because it saves them time (no cooking and cleaning at their own homes), it’s simple and they can actually enjoy friends and family throughout the celebration.

And don’t forget, the holidays aren’t just once a year; in fact, Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day are the most popular holidays for dining out (outside of the end of the year holidays, of course).  Your restaurant can capitalize on this by featuring catered holiday buffets – but your website should be advertising this year-round, and don’t forget social media to help generate buzz!

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What in the Heck are Wobble Wedges?

Wobble Wedges: Fix any wobbly table, fountain, or toiletWhat in the Heck are Wobble Wedges?

The curse of the wobbly table has happened to everyone. Have you ever sat down to eat at a restaurant, leaned on the table, and immediately slid sideways because the table isn’t level? Annoying isn’t it? Wobble wedges were invented to fix this problem.

What is a Wobble Wedge?

Wobble Wedges are a modular system of stack-able,  non-slip, tapered-leveling shims. Made in the USA, Wobble Wedges are available in four interlocking sizes, in both soft and hard plastic.

Hard Wobble Wedges support up to 2,000 pounds and are recommended to fix shaky tables on carpeting, uneven concrete floors and outdoor surfaces. Hard Wobble Wedges are also ideal for heavy-duty food service equipment.

Soft Wobble Wedges are flexible leveling wedges that can easily conform to the shape of whatever they support. Their rubber-like texture creates a firm grip on slick floors. Soft wobble Wedges are ideal for restaurant tables set on slick floors, and are great for silencing rattling water pipes.

What in the Heck are Wobble Wedges?

Standard Wobble Wedges have 5 columns and 32 rows of deep off-set ridges on both sides of the wedge. Under load, these deep off-set ridges oppose each other at as many as 144 points which eliminates both horizontal and vertical slipping.

Creative Uses for Wobble Wedges

These table wedges are excellent at stabilizing tables, bookcases and more. Did you know Wobble Wedges can also:

  • Be a Bottle & Can Opener: Can’t open a can lid? Use a Soft Wobble Wedge, wrap it around the lid and twist it off.
  • Ice Scraper: Take an extra Hard Wobble Wedge and keep it in your car for scraping off your car windshield.
  • Non-Marring Pan Scraper: Use a Hard Wobble Wedge to clean a crusted fry pan or pot that was left on the heat too long – the wedge will not mar the pan surface.
  • Shoe Repair: Use an extra Wobble Wedge as a Shoe Glue spreader to repair loose soles, shoe inserts or flapping heels.

The versatility and functionality of Wobble Wedges set them apart as the professional, go-to table levelers. For 25 years, Wobble Wedges have provided restaurants and cafes a quick and easy fix to uneven tables.

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What is FDA Food Grade Caulk?

What is FDA Food Grade Caulk?FDA food grade caulk is a food safe sealant that comes in a variety of colors: clear, aluminum, white, black and red. This sealant’s primary purpose is to keep moisture out of unwanted places, and since it doesn’t cause food borne illnesses when it comes in contact with food and drinks, it’s the preferred caulk for kitchen and restaurant appliance repair, including sinks, ice machines and stainless steel walls.

The different colors of FDA food sealant help with different types of repairs:

  • When sealing an ice machine or ice dispenser we recommend using the FDA Food Sealer in Clear. Sealing around the entire ice machine base will ensure no liquid will leak out and possibly collect in unwanted areas.
  • White and Black fit in standard caulking guns and are able to stand-up to a wide range of temperatures: -85º to 400º F.
  • Stainless steel is a popular building material in residential and commercial applications. The Aluminum Colored FDA Food Grade Caulk is the perfect solution for patching nail holes, gaps or cracks in stainless steel appliances.
  • If your application requires sealing an area where there will be high temperatures, we recommend using the Red FDA Silicone Caulk. The Red Silicone Sealant can withstand a max temperature of 400º F and will fit in most standard caulking guns.

FDA food caulk is NSF listed and U.L. recognized making it safe to use around all food operations. Food safety in restaurants is taken very seriously by health inspectors and the FDA – using the right tools for the right applications will keep your restaurant in good standing.

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10 Foods to Avoid Serving at Your Catered Event

What to Avoid

You’ve done your research, negotiated costs, picked a venue, planned and organized the party timeline and sent out invitations for the big event – phew, the last step is to plan the menu. You probably have a good idea of how to make the menu stand out, and what your guests will enjoy, but did you know there are foods that should be avoided when it comes to catering?

10 Foods to Avoid Serving at Your Catered Event

Here’s our list of top 10 foods to avoid at catered events.

  1. Odor offending foods. Anything that causes bad breath or bad bodily functions should be avoided at large gatherings, including, garlic, onions, cabbage, beans, curry and overly fishy foods.
  2. Mess Making Foods.  Sure, chicken wings and spaghetti are delicious, but unfortunately, these types of foods can be messy. We recommend offering foods that are tasty, yet easy and mess-free.
  3. Dairy Rich Foods. Today’s culture experiences a variety of food allergies, and  dairy sensitivity is one of the most common ones. Dairy rich foods can lead to bloating, gas and cramps – all symptoms you want to avoid at a party. Avoid offering too many creamy dishes, ice cream, etc.
  4. Gluten Rich Foods. Gluten doesn’t effect everyone in a negative way, but it is another type of food that is known to cause bloating and cramps in many people. Make sure to offer plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits for guests that may be affected by gluten.
  5. Extremely Spicy Foods. Just like any other food sensitivity, people have different spice tolerances. When serving food to large groups it’s safer to keep things simple and mild. And if you must add extra-heat, try serving it on the side!
  6. Raw Meats or Eggs. The last thing any host wants to cause is food poisoning. Avoid serving raw meats or eggs of any kind. Make sure the foods being served have been safely handled by the caterer.
  7. Heavy Foods.  Whether you’re celebrating a marriage, graduation, birthday or corporate event you certainly don’t want your guests falling sleep after the meal. We suggest avoiding heavy foods like mashed potatoes, casseroles, turkey and carbohydrate-rich foods.
  8. Fried, Greasy Foods. Foods like pizza, French fries, donuts, fried chicken and other fatty foods slow digestion, leaving your guests feeling sluggish and tired.
  9. Artificially Sweetened Beverages. Most diet sodas and sugar-free drinkscontain sugar alcohol which can be hard to digest, leaving party guests uncomfortable, bloated and lethargic. We recommend offering water, natural teas, lemonade and (in moderation) red and white wines.
  10. Too Much Alcohol. Enjoying a couple of alcoholic beverages at any celebration can put the entire party in a great mood, however, one too many can lead to disaster. As a host we recommend not making the bar or alcohol serving station center stage. Always offer healthy drinks and water.

As a party host, it’s important to know your guest profile and guest preferences to allow for the ability to create an appetizing, exciting menu for all to enjoy. Incorporating seasonal/fresh items, selecting a menu that fits the event and anticipating special dietary needs will ensure a successful celebration.

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What’s Popular Right Now: 2013 Inventive Catering Trends

Catering involves an immense amount of preparation and planning – there is pressure, tight timelines and long days. Between all of the commotion, caterers have to find a way to stay on top and beat industry competition. We’ve laid out three popular trends going into 2013. Knowing what your customers want ahead of time is going to make you and your business standout.

1. Is that an art display?

What’s Popular Right Now: 2013 Inventive Catering Trends

With media outlets like Food Network and the Cooking Channel, food has become more than just something we eat in order to survive. We are entertained and intrigued by food, which is why; foodie and recipe blogging is one of the fastest growing blog types. Other areas we’re seeing increase in popularity are social sites like Pinterest, which helps to showcase the art of cooking, while creative food displays at weddings, corporate events and parities get people excited about the food they will consume – The old saying goes, ‘you eat with your eyes first’.

2. Locally Sourced Food

According to the National Restaurant Association (NRA), locally sourced meats secured the No. 1 spot on the top menu trends for 2012. Locally sourced foods have gained popularity over the last few years and for good reason: local food production supports the growth of local communities, creates local jobs and is more environmentally friendly than food produced by large corporations.

The general public is becoming increasingly more educated about food and where food comes from. The desire to eat healthier and boost local economies is only one reason why we don’t see this trend dropping off anytime soon. Caterers have the unique opportunity to work directly with local farms to buy product that are cost effective, fresh and leaves a smaller carbon footprint.

What’s Popular Right Now: 2013 Inventive Catering Trends3. Tasting Menus & Small Plates

Fine dining establishments around the world have perfected the tasting menu concept. Caterers are also getting in on this idea by offering hors d’oeuvre-size dishes with classic and modern spins. Enjoying several different culinary creations is probably the number one reason why tasting menus are becoming popular for catered events. Being able to provide variety and seasonal foods allows more of your guests to be satisfied.

Tasting menus are also great options for hosts with guests who experience food allergies and food sensitivities and small plates can be more affordable than traditional sit down meals, as well as, more flexible. With today’s culture being on the go, small plates and tasting menus allow guests to enjoy delicious foods while socializing.

The Catering Business is Tough

And the competition is keen, that’s why knowing what today’s consumers want (and expect), is vital for winning an event bid. Get to know your local farmers or visit a farmers market, think smaller plates and mini bites, create something pleasing to the eye and you’ll be ahead of the competition going into next year.

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QR Codes: Does Your Restaurant Need One?

QR Codes: Does Your Restaurant Need One?

Regardless of what industry you’re in, participation in mobile advertising is becoming necessary to remain competitive with today’s smart phone technology. QR codes [quick response codes] are one way restaurant owners can quickly spread the word about their services, promotions and news.

What is a QR Code?QR Codes: Does Your Restaurant Need One?

A quick response code is a two dimensional barcode originally designed for the automotive industry. QR codes have become popular in a variety of industries due to its large storage capacity compared to standard UPC barcodes. A standard QR code consists of square dots arranged in a square pattern on a white background. These codes can store virtually any sort of data.

QR Codes Benefits:

Quick response codes can be put on virtually any sort of advertising; including posters, banners, napkins, disposable cups and menus. In addition, QR codes can be placed on billboards, buildings, flyers, taxi cabs, subways, trains and buses.  These codes can be used to provide a variety of information, including pictures, videos, menu items, promotions, events and coupons. Customers access the content from QR codes through smart phone apps like Red Laser and Barcode Scanner.

Restaurants that embrace mobile advertising will thrive in today’s electronic society. QR codes are free to set up so no matter what size restaurant you own QR codes are another tool that will set you apart from the competition.

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5 Ways to Grow Your Business Starting Today

Customers are always looking for good food, good service and good value. These 5 business growth tips will help you fill your restaurant, remind existing customers why they love dining at your restaurant and bring in more revenue!

5 Ways to Grow Your Business Starting Today

  1. Start a Rewards Card Program: Reward cards are a great tool to attract repeat business. This tool allows you to apply  iscounts for repeat visits and add credit based on a percentage of total bill. A simple, economical way to start a rewards program is offer a punch card. If you operate a coffee shop, pizza shop or deli shop punch cards can be an easy way to ensure repeat business.  Example: buy 9 coffees and get the 10th for free!
  2. Host Promotional Nights: Everyone loves a classic burger or taco night at a discounted price. Promotional nights are a free way to give customers something to talk about. Remember to always focus your event around your restaurant theme. If you operate a fine dining establishment make sure the event is classy, if you own a local taco shop make sure the event is family-orientated. Ideas for promotional nights are endless, think of how you can incorporate your local community with your event.
  3. Use Local Farmers & Vendors:  Local farmers, vendors and suppliers are an independent restaurant owner’s friend. Such vendors are always looking for community exposure. Ideas include, offering your restaurant in exchange for reduced costs, a win-5 Ways to Grow Your Business Starting Todaywin for both parties. Local farmers and vendors imply to your guests a local connection with the surrounding community.
  4. Get Social! Social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are perfect promotional outlets for independent restaurant owners. These outlets allow you to announce coupons, promotions reward programs, relationships with local vendors, new menu items and anything else you wish to let your customer base know about. Not to mention these media channels are FREE.
  5. Treat Your Customers Like Gold: Customer service is everything in the food service business. Treating customers well and accommodating their requests are keys to creating repeat business. Customer service also encompasses a clean, inviting and comfortable dining experience.

Remember every restaurant concept is different, if you try one tactic and you don’t see the results you’re expecting try something else. Keeping costs down while marketing a successful business takes time; these tips are things you can start today.

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Street Food 101: Benefits of Starting a Mobile Food Service Business

Street Food 101: Benefits of Starting a Mobile Food Service BusinessThe earliest street food vendors trace back to ancient Greece where small fried fish were first to make the menu. Today, a new generation of street food enthusiasts are lining up at food trucks. Affordability and flexibility are just a few benefits of starting a mobile food service business. If you happen to be an entrepreneurial spirit a food truck business could be the perfect fit.

Professionally trained chefs and home chefs alike can open a food truck for much less than a traditional restaurant operation. Ask existing food truck owners and they’ll tell you there is no set formula for determining how much it will cost to start a food truck business. However, research has shown that the medium price for starting a mobile food business runs anywhere from $75,000-$100,000 (this depends on location and state). This price includes essentials like the truck, permits, licenses, kitchen equipment and supplies, marketing and promotional needs, disposables, food ingredients and payroll.

Food service experts suggest the increased interest and revenue from the food truck business is largely associated with a slowed economy. People are seeking affordable lunches, breakfasts and snacks. Not to mention the convenience; food trucks quickly serve up hot, healthy meals.

Mobile food service businesses typically have lower overhead and require fewer employees than restaurants and can easily be moved from one location to another if one location does not generate enough revenue. These key points make starting a mobile food truck business great for someone who is entrepreneurial.

Before deciding on what types of food you will sell it’s always a good idea to develop a budget and business plan. A few things to think about:Street Food 101: Benefits of Starting a Mobile Food Service Business

  • Startup financing
  • Time commitment: full or part time
  • What are your ideas? How will you carry them out?
  • Who do you envision as your customers?
  • How will you get to your customers?
  • Finally…what type of cuisine will you serve?

Food trucks can be found across the country in a variety of flavors from grilled cheese and cookie trucks to tacos and pizza trucks, mobile food trucks are a viable food service business that is expected to have huge growth over the next few years.

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Flavors of Fall: Pumpkin, Apple and Sweet Potato

Tasty, easy and budget friendly fall recipes to try at your next party, catered event or restaurant menu change.

Aw…the familiar flavors of apple, sweet potato, pumpkin and spices like cinnamon and nutmeg are enough to make anyone settle in for a cozy evening at home. It’s clear, Tundra Restaurant Supply is obsessed with food service products, and we carry everything from baking sheets and commercial refrigerators to pint glasses and salt & pepper shakers. In our effort to bring more to the table, we’re featuring a couple of rich, flavorful recipes we thought you might like to try!

Pumpkin Cheesecake BarsFlavors of Fall: Pumpkin, Apple and Sweet Potato

These cheesecake bars are quick, easy and undeniably tasty. Give them a try at your next catered event, party or to simply share with family and friends.

Crust Ingredients

  • 20 creme-filled chocolate sandwich cookies (Oreos are great)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Filling Ingredients:

  • 2 8-oz. packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line an 8-inch-square pan with foil so that foil overhangs sides. Mist with cooking spray.
  2. Make crust: Process cookies in food processor until ground. Pulse in butter. Press evenly into pan. Bake until firm, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool slightly.
  3. Make filling: With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth, about 2 minutes. Beat in pumpkin, then eggs, 1 at a time. Beat in vanilla, flour, spice and salt until just combined.
  4. Pour mixture into pan. Put pan on a large rimmed baking sheet; place in oven. Pour hot water into baking sheet until it’s nearly filled. Bake until cheesecake is set around edges but jiggles slightly in center, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove pan from sheet; cool completely on rack. Cover with plastic wrap. Chill until firm, at least 3 hours.
  5. Cut into bar sized servings.
  6. Enjoy!

Recipe is courtesy of My Recipes.

Classic Sweet Potato PieFlavors of Fall: Pumpkin, Apple and Sweet Potato

Perfect pie recipe for beginner home chefs or on-the-go professionals!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups peeled, cooked sweet potatoes
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 stick melted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 cup milk
  • 9-inch unbaked pie crust
  • 3 egg whites

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. For the filling, using an electric hand mixer, combine the potatoes, 1 cup of the sugar, the butter, eggs, vanilla, salt, and spices. Mix thoroughly. Add the milk and continue to mix.
  3. Pour the filling into the pie crust and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
  4. Place the pie on a rack and cool to room temperature before covering with meringue.
  5. For the meringue, using an electric mixer beat the egg whites until soft peaks form; beat in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar 1 tablespoon at a time. Continue beating until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is glossy and stiff, but not dry. With a rubber spatula, spoon the meringue onto the pie, forming peaks. Make sure the meringue touches the crust all around.
  6. Sprinkle with a pinch of granulated sugar.
  7. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until delicately browned.
  8. Cool, serve and enjoy!

Recipe courtesy of Food Network.

Apply & Grape PieFlavors of Fall: Pumpkin, Apple and Sweet Potato

Use red grapes to achieve a deep purple color – great for any fall setting!

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour plus more for surface
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening

Filling:

  • 3 pounds tart, crisp apples (such as Pink Lady), peeled, quartered, cored, thinly sliced
  • 1 pound red grapes, halved
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Vanilla ice cream (optional as a topping)

Directions:

For crust:

  1. Pulse flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Add butter and shortening; pulse just until coarse meal forms. Add 1/3 cup ice water; pulse until dough forms clumps, adding more ice water by teaspoonfuls if dry. Gather dough into a ball; divide in half. Flatten into disks, wrap in plastic, and chill for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.
  2. Roll out 1 dough disk on a lightly floured surface into an 11″ round. Transfer to pie dish; press gently onto bottom and up sides of dish. Trim dough flush with edge of dish, leaving no overhang. Freeze until firm, about 10 minutes. Add scraps to remaining dough disk; roll out on parchment paper to a 12″ round. Slide paper with dough onto a rimless baking sheet and chill in refrigerator.
  3. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line dough in pie dish with foil or parchment paper. Fill foil with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until edges are just beginning to turn golden, 25-30 minutes. Remove foil and pie weights. Return dish to oven; continue baking until crust is dark golden all over, about 20 minutes longer. Transfer pan to a wire rack; let crust cool completely.

For filling:

  1. Mix apples, grapes, sugar, and flour in a large saucepan; stir to coat. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until fruit is translucent and juices are thickened, 30-40 minutes. Let mixture cool to room temperature.
  2. Preheat oven to 375°F. Transfer fruit to crust. Remove remaining dough from refrigerator. Using a decorative cutter, make a pattern in center of dough, leaving a 2″ plain border; reserve cutouts. Invert dough over fruit in crust; peel off parchment paper. Trim dough along edge of crust, leaving no overhang. Arrange reserved dough cutouts decoratively over top crust, pressing lightly to adhere. Place pie on a baking sheet.
  3. Bake pie until crust is golden brown and juices bubble, 50 minutes-1 hour. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  4. Enjoy!

Recipe courtesy of Epicurious.

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