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Do You Have A 20,000 Dollar Idea?

Have you ever dreamed of starting your own restaurant? What concept do you think would be the most successful? Would you serve specialty cocktails, micro brews, wine, coffee or all four? How big would the kitchen be? Would you have a brick and mortar establishment or a mobile food truck? Would breakfast, lunch and dinner be on your menu or just dessert? What would the name of your dream restaurant be? Would your restaurant have a great view or be located in a trendy dining area? Where would you go to hire your employees? Will your restaurant be seasonal or open year round?

Becoming a restaurant owner is always fun to dream about but what if you got one chance to make your dream a reality? Would you do it?

Tundra Restaurant Supply has just launched its first ever “Dreamstaurant Contest”. This contest offers a unique opportunity for one lucky winner to realize their food service dreams. From October 1st throughDreamstaurant Logo December 31st you can enter to win a $20,000 restaurant design and equipment/supplies package for your dream restaurant concept. Jeff Katz, the VP of Tundra Design Group – Former Principal of Katz Company, will help the winner design their dream restaurant space and pick the best equipment and supply package for their concept. The equipment and supplies packages will include products from Cambro, T&S Brass, Comark, Robot Coupe, Mercer Cutlery, Star Mfg and Nor-Lake refrigeration.

Tundra will also be offering $500 shopping sprees to two home chefs who enter the best kitchen ideas. This is a great opportunity for foodie bloggers, residential cooks or anyone else who is passionate about cooking get commercial grade supplies for their home.

Kelly Liken

The contest will be judged by a panel of judges including Chef Kelly Liken, Chef Ian Kleinman and Jeff Katz.

Chef Kelly Liken owns and operates Restaurant Kelly Liken in Vail, CO – an Open Table Diner’s Choice Winner in 2012. Chef Kelly hails from Pittsburgh, PA but has always thought of herself as a “small town girl at heart.”

She graduated first in her class at the Culinary Institute of America, was a finalist on Bravo’s Top Chef in 2010, a two-time James Beard semi-finalist, and has been called one of America’s most promising female chefs.

Ian Kleinman

Chef Ian Kleinman is a pioneering molecular gastronomist and owner/operator of The Inventing Room , a unique catering and food entertainment company based in Denver, CO.

Chef Ian has been cooking since the age of seven, when he helped out on the line at his father’s restaurant in Breckenridge, CO. Since then he has worked behind the scenes at many popular Denver restaurants, including O’s Steak & Seafood, The Rialto Cafe, and Rattlesnake Grill.

Now that Tundra can get you through the first step of opening your dream restaurant, is it time to pull the trigger? Do you think you have the creativity and determination to be a restaurant owner? If so, sign up for the Dreamstaurant contest. There is a chance you could WIN!

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Tundra & The Future Leaders Of The Food Service Industry

This past Monday Tundra Restaurant Supply was honored to be a part of a seminar at the International Culinary School in Denver, Colorado.

We got Justin Christman and Johnny Fimple of the Hard Rock Café in Denver plus Joe Sinopoli of Stoney’s Bar & Grill to come in and talk for over an hour to over 40 culinary students about the challenges and rewards of starting and managing a restaurant.

The seminar was titled From Dream To Reality: What It Takes To Start Your Own Restaurant and as most of the students in the class were very close to graduation they took an immediate interest in what these seasoned restaurateurs had to say.

Tundra is looking forward to organizing future learning and leadership opportunities as a way to give back to the culinary community in Colorado.  This truly is only the beginning.  As many have long observed, it can be very difficult to succeed in the food service industry, and as Tundra has long realized, our success directly depends upon the success of the future leaders of the food service industry – hence why Tundra will continue to arm those leaders with the best knowledge available.

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Tundra Is Feeding America This 4th of July!

Feeding America is the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief charity.  Their mission is to feed the hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks and to increase awareness in the fight to end hunger in America.

Give A Meal is a promotional campaign sponsored by Feeding America.  The goal is to provide meals directly to families in need – and for 1 in 6 Americans, that need is very real every day.

The 4th of July has always been about remembering the foundations upon which this country was built.  And a pillar of that foundation has always been the view that America is the “land of plenty” and the “land of milk and honey.”  Tough economic times have shaken that foundation, and that’s why Tundra is supporting Feeding America this 4th of July – to help restore the promise of a plentiful bounty to all Americans.

Help Tundra feed America this 4th!  For every order we receive online between now and Thursday, July 5th, we will donate 8 meals to the Give A Meal initiative sponsored by Feeding America.

There’s never been a more urgent need for basic necessities for struggling American families.  Together we can help make a difference this 4th and get back to something America has also been known for: generosity.

Happy 4th of July!

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Why Tundra is Your Salad Bar of Product Awesomeness

Tundra Restaurant SupplyTundra’s new product selection is like your favorite salad bar of products because:

You like everything chilled! We recently added 95+ True Refrigeration units that will not only add efficiency to your establishment but also add a clean, fresh look that will have True Refrigerationyour customer’s gawking in no time! True offers luscious stainless steel refrigerators and prep tables, retro merchandisers and back bar coolers that will, without a doubt, not break the bank because guess what? You get free shipping on all True units!

Greens are good for you! Tundra’s new eco-friendly disposables are just the ticket for customers who need to take their leftovers back to the home front. Eco-Products brings the whole kit and caboodle to the table! They manufacture renewable resource and recycled content cups, plates, bowls, food containers, utensils, shopping bags and much more. Now, not only could you prevent food waste, you could prevent disposable waste too!

Gotta have something to snatch up those croutons! That’s why G.E.T. Melamine dinnerware and supplies joined the Tundra family. With a product line of over 2,300 products, G.E.T. offers hundreds of quality serving solutions. The dinnerware comes in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, colors and designs geared toward meeting the diverse needs and images of food service establishments around the world. In addition to melamine dinnerware, G.E.T. offers fast food trays, hardwood high chairs, serving trays and tray stands.


Nothing beats bacon bits! With Pitco & MagiKitch’n cooking equipment you can sizzle your little buns off! We would be shocked if you could not find a Pitco fryer or Magikitch’n charbroiler, griddle or outdoor catering unit that didn’t exceed your expectations. These bad boys shoot for quality, performance and durability in the kitchen.  You can’t beat that!

Can’t eat salad without a great seat! Grosfillex offers hundreds of outdoor and indoor seating combinations with styles and colors that will wow your guests in seconds. But not only does Grosfillex manufacture commercial dining furniture; they have lounge and deck options too!  You can get anything from umbrellas and chaise lounge chairs to barstools and tables. And the best part is that everything is weather resistant and durable for the everyday ware and tare of a busy restaurant.

Don’t forget the wet wipes! Tundra has really stepped it up by bringing Boulder Cleaners into the lineup.  Boulder Cleaners are 100% natural cleaning products that cover all of the bases including all-purpose cleaner, dish liquid, hand soap, shampoo, glass cleaner, bathroom cleaner, granite + stainless steel cleaner as well as laundry detergent. So don’t forget to scrub up your buffet and prepare for the next heat of people. Turn ‘em and burn ‘em with Boulder Cleaners.

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6 Ways Tundra Is Like Your Best Server

Tundra Restaurant SupplyAs a restaurateur, entrepreneur or restaurant manager you know who your all-star employees are. These are the servers, cooks, hostesses and back waiters who you can count on to work extra hours, cover shifts, provide the best service and go above and beyond.

Here at Tundra we work hard for you to make sure you can easily order what you need, when you need it, with the best experience possible. Tundra is like your best server in 6 distinctive ways:

1. We love working doubles! Our Boulder, CO showroom is open from 7:30-5:30pm MST daily. Not local? No problem, our website features over 50,000 restaurants products and is always open! Many of our items ship same day, our pricing is competitive and our customer service can’t be beat!

2. We deliver your order fast! Our shipping and receiving team is top-notch. Any in-stock order placed by 5:00 pm. MST will be shipped same day. We have 5 warehouses across the country to ensure timely shipments of all orders placed online.

3. We have an awesome menu and we know every dish on it! Our online catalog has grown to over 50,000 products so we’re confident you’ll find what you need. Plus, our customer service department is fully stocked with expert service agents ready to assist you with any questions you may have.

4. When you snap your fingers, we respond! We recently added Live Chat to our website which gives you the opportunity to engage with a real-life customer service agent anytime during your online shopping experience. We’ve found Live Chat is benefiting you in a variety of ways:

  • Provides instant communication.
  • Live chat boosts customer confidence, providing a reassuring shopping experience.

5. We care about your experience! Since 1990 Tundra has grown with a single purpose: “We respond immediately to solve the needs of our customers, so that they can sustain and grow the relationship they have with theirs”. We take our values seriously and live them everyday.

6. We take care of our regulars! Like many restaurants you often take your most frequent customers for granted. Tundra offers an exclusive VIP program which emails you useful information and tips about the food service industry and offers you the best deals. Sign-up is easy and free!

Tundra will continue to be your reliable source for restaurant supplies, equipment, replacement parts and more. Our customers are the most important piece of our business and helped us grow this far – we’ll continue to work hard for you, offering cutting edge technology and programs to help you grow your business.

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Restaurant Replenishment: Don’t Get Caught With Your Pants Down

Restaurant ReplenishmentEver noticed the paper towel dispenser spinning uselessly in your restaurant’s bathroom, ventured into some dark back storage area to retrieve a new roll, and discovered – to your horror – that replacements were nowhere to be found?

Stuff runs out. Stuff needs replacing. And there are much, much worse things that can (and probably have) happened in your restaurant than forcing customers to return to their table with wet hands.

Ever fired up a fryer a few hours before the dinner rush and watched the pilot poof out time after time?

An even more enjoyable scenario is the fryer burner that refuses to cut out when the oil reaches temperature – making for an oil bomb just waiting to go off.

Common parts and components in all kinds of restaurant equipment will die on you at some point. The worst part is, you can’t just run out to the store and get a replacement. Parts are a whole different animal, and that’s why you should really think about keeping some common parts on hand so your equipment doesn’t leave you hanging out to dry.

Some common parts that are really, really nice to have around:

You can also learn how to troubleshoot and fix common problems with common restaurant equipment by reading these Back Burner articles.

Ever completely forget to change out the water filter cartridge for your ice machine, steamer, or beverage equipment? Nothing beats white scaly mineral deposits building up in your equipment and making beverages taste funny.

Water filters need their cartridges replaced every six months. If they don’t get replaced then minerals in the water don’t get filtered out, and when those don’t get filtered out those minerals don’t get filtered out they leave scale in the water lines of any piece of equipment that uses water, and after awhile that water starts tasting bad.

Even better, that scale can cause breakdowns and void warranties. So don’t get caught with your pants down: replace those water filter cartridges when you’re supposed to.
Ever been in the depths of a busy dinner rush and walked in back to grab a couple water glasses and found a stack of empty glass racks? Have you then proceeded back to the dishwashing area and been forced to grab a couple steamy hot glasses right out of the washer?

Glasses, dishes, flatware, and bar supplies all break, disappear, and just simply wear out. Being short a few glasses is maybe not as bad as an overheating fryer, but believe you me it’s also not a problem you want to have on a consistent basis. Replacing common supply losses is just one more area where you have to be on the ball or you will get caught with your pants down.

Tundra knows how busy you are.
That’s why we’ve developed a simple way for you to make sure simple products are always available. If you buy common replenishment and replacement products from us, we’ll send you a simple reminder a few months down the road, letting you know it’s probably time to stock up again on whatever it is you bought last time.

We’re not trying to be pushy – just helpful. A note in your inbox with a quick link to the products we’re pretty sure you need might be just the thing that saves you from a pants down moment later on.

So keep an eye out for your friendly reminders from Tundra. And definitely don’t get caught with your pants down.

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Starting A Restaurant? Avoid Epic Fail

epic fail architectureBringing a restaurant concept from dream to reality is one of the most stressful, mind-boggling projects any restaurateur will attempt in their career.  There are literally thousands of things, dozens of people, and weeks of work that must fall into place to make a restaurant opening successful – and that’s not even thinking about the money.

If you’re thinking about opening a restaurant or even remodeling your existing establishment, here are the top 5 things you should consider in order to avoid EPIC FAIL:

1)  Get The Business Plan & The Money Out Of The Way First – Don’t start looking at spaces, lining up contractors, and getting yourself deeper into the rabbit hole of preparing for opening day until you absolutely have your ducks in a row when it comes to the money.  You know what they say – money talks and you-know-what walks so don’t start talking until you’ve honed that business plan until it’s razor sharp and convinced some smart people (preferably of the banking variety) to put some real money down.  Learn more about writing a good restaurant business plan here.

2) Assemble Your Team & Define Roles It’s never too early to start assembling the team of people who will run your restaurant.  Getting them lined up early means they’re involved from the start and able to help you down the road when the going gets rough.  This is also the time to determine the role your investors will play – and this is important because you’ll be surprised how much people have to say when their money is on the line.  Make sure you understand how much they will be involved before you start getting too many cooks in the proverbial kitchen.

3) Don’t Skimp On Design – Putting together a clear schematic of the entire floor plan of your restaurant before you start is crucial to a proper build-out.  Most aspiring restaurateurs hire an architect to help them convert a commercial space into their dream concept – but even more important is to find a restaurant designer who can either work with your architect or design the space from scratch for you.  A designer with food service experience is essential to your success because there are many considerations that come into play when designing a restaurant space that are not part of a typical commercial space (food safety, anyone?) design.  See how Tundra can help you with professional design services.

4) Don’t Buy Equipment & Supplies Piecemeal – It’s entirely possible that you’ll be able to save a little cash here and there by shopping around for the equipment and supplies you need for opening day and buying up what you need when you find the absolutely lowest price.  The downside to piecemeal is that you’re going to be very, very, very busy in those few months leading up to opening day, and if there isn’t someone paying attention to the big picture when comes to buying exactly what you need, then you’re going to find yourself scrambling to fill gaps when you start firing up the kitchen for test runs.  See how Tundra can help you with equipment & smallwares packages.

Then what happens is you expedite stuff you need yesterday and all your savings go to overnight shipping.  Don’t do it piecemeal.  Get a complete opening package and let someone else worry about making sure you have every single tool you need, from an 8 burner range to color coded tongs.

5) Don’t Start Marketing On Opening Day – There’s nothing quite as exciting for customers as walking buy a new restaurant space before it opens.  What will they serve?  How will the atmosphere be?  When you’re the new kid in town you have a unique opportunity to win over a lot of customers fast.  Don’t forget that while you’re trying to take care of everything else that comes with opening a new restaurant.  Get active on social media, contact the local press, and share your restaurant opening story with potential customers to build buzz.  Get more marketing tips here.

Okay!  Ready To Get Started?  Tundra Can Help!

Tundra has a long history of supporting entrepreneurs in the food service industry.  For years we have handled complete smallwares & equipment opening packages for restaurants large and small.

Starting in January, however, our suite of restaurant opening and remodel services just got a whole lot better.

That’s because Tundra brought Jeff Katz – a restaurant designer with 30 years of experience – on board to head up our new Tundra Design Group.  Jeff has worked with restaurants all over Colorado and across the U.S., including internationally known establishments like Matsuhisa and local gems like The Kitchen Cafe.

Here’s what the Tundra Design Group can do for you:

  • Refine your concept and clarify operating procedures
  • Develop schematics so you can see design options visually
  • Help you select the right equipment and smallwares that fit your operation
  • Collaborate with your architect or use our own resources to develop construction documents
  • Manage your equipment package, from purchase to installation
  • Provide a complete smallwares and table top package

From start to finish, we’re here to help you make your restaurant concept a reality!

More about Jeff Katz

More about Tundra equipment & smallwares packages

With over 50,000 products, a dedicated equipment and smallwares package team, and long-standing relationships with the top vendors and manufacturers in the food service industry, Tundra has all of the resources you need to start a new restaurant, from concept to reality!

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The Trials Of Going Green: Tundra Revamps Its Waste Management System

Tundra Restaurant SupplyWhen Tundra discovered that a waste management snafu had resulted in office recycling bins getting thrown in the trash early this year, we decided a complete waste management audit was needed, and fast.

The lessons we’ve learned in the past three months have been both illuminating and hard won, and that’s why we’d like to share them with you now – so that your road to maximum waste management efficiency is a little easier.

Waste management efficiency – “Wow,” you’re thinking, “that sounds like a really fascinating thing I’d like to drop everything to learn more about.”

Well, as Tundra discovered, there really are some things going on here that could be costing your business money and customers, so if those two things are important to you then by all means read on and learn more about Tundra’s lurid tale of trials and waste tribulations.

The first challenge we faced was simply learning how our current waste management operated.  Different people here at Tundra handled different parts of the system, and they were not always communicating effectively with each other.

Recycling & Composting At Tundra

Luckily, Tundra’s pricing analyst Jordan Scampoli was ready to take on the challenge of completely revamping how Tundra manages the waste it produces.

“Just by understanding the waste stream here at Tundra we were able to realize some pretty awesome efficiencies.  Even though costs didn’t go down – in fact they rose, although not a lot – for us it was about the social multiplier: a little bit of effort and cost resulting in a lot of waste reduction.”

Right off the bat we discovered that although Tundra had arranged for trash pickup 5 days a week, the dumpster out back was almost never full.  Cutting pickup down from 5 days to 2 days a week immediately translated into substantial savings, not to mention reduced emissions and fossil fuel usage from fewer garbage truck visits.

Easy win, sweet.

Recycling and composting, however, turned out to be a much harder nut to crack.  It soon became apparent that introducing a compost and comprehensive recycling program that included hard-to-recycle materials like the shrink wrap used to package pallets of product in the warehouse would not be cost saving or even cost neutral, even in a recycling-friendly city like Boulder.

Even so, Tundra decided that social responsibility was more important than cost savings.  We have a long history of giving back to our community that stems from one of the core values Tundra was founded upon – Share The Gains With Our People, Our Customers, and the Community.

So we forged ahead with a comprehensive recycling & composting program for the entire company, and as we did so more hurdles presented themselves.

The biggest obstacle lay with changing the daily habits of employees and educating everyone in the company about the difference between compostable and recyclable and which common trash items went where.

Composting Paper Towels - Easy Win

Composting Paper Towels – Easy Win

Our biggest success – at least from a waste reduction standpoint – came from transferring all the paper towel waste generated in the break room and in the bathrooms from straight-to-landfill to compost.  It’s an easy switch that everyone can easily make.

There will always be room for improvement when it comes to changing the way Tundraites think about waste and recycling and changing habits.  But the good news is that from just a couple improvement in the waste management system here at Tundra we were able to achieve measurable results – even if our costs went up a little bit.

And for most small-to-medium sized businesses, the tradeoffs with recycling and composting programs are going to be between ascribing to the values of social responsibility and community improvement and cost effectiveness.

Tundra’s waste management audit eliminated a lot of wasteful behaviors, redirected a lot of our waste into a more sustainable channel, and made the entire operation overall more sustainable and less, well, wasteful.

It took a combination of organizational support, a dedicated individual willing to put in the extra time to make it happen, and a strong set of community-based values to turn Tundra’s waste management system into something that can be legitimately called green.

Was it worth it?  Yes, a hundred times over.

The reality is that small and medium sized businesses just don’t produce enough waste to realize significant cost savings, but that doesn’t mean those businesses shouldn’t have a sustainable waste management program.

It just means you have to value social responsibility and community participation over costs.  And in truth it’s not like costs go up significantly.  For a little extra cost a lot of sustainability can be achieved.

And, as Tundra discovered, just by simply reviewing how the current waste management system worked we were able to identify several problem areas that were easily fixed and resulted in significantly less waste.

That in itself is our reward.

What are the trials and tribulations you’ve faced with managing your restaurant or business’ waste?  Share in the comments below!

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Is Your Recycling Program Really Working?

We’ve talrecycleked before on The Back Burner about the importance of greening your restaurant operation for two reasons: because customers appreciate it (and are beginning to expect it) and because frequently green practices mean cost savings.

Unfortunately recycling is not a practice that usually saves your operation money.  It is, however, one of the most visible ways to communicate to customers and staff that you’re serious about running a sustainable establishment.

Implementing a recycling program isn’t hard, but maintaining one can be deceptively tricky.  Tundra Specialties, the restaurant equipment & supplies company behind The Back Burner, discovered recently just how tricky a recycling program can be.

Tundra has had recycling receptacles distributed throughout our office space for several years now, but it was only recently that we discovered something had gone awry.

A few years ago we switched from one sanitation company to another, and during the transition the dumpster for recyclables was removed by the old company and the new company never replaced it.  That meant that when the cleaning crew emptied recycling containers there was only one dumpster to throw the recycling into, and everything in that dumpster went straight to the landfill.



Jordan Scampoli, Tundra’s Pricing Analyst & Sustainable Operations Coordinator

The cleaning crew works in the evenings when nobody is here in Tundra’s office headquarters in Boulder, CO, so there was little opportunity for them to communicate to our staff that recycling and trash was going to the same place.  The warehouse staff knew something was wrong because they regularly dispose things directly in the dumpster, but again, there was little opportunity for communication between them and the people managing our new sanitation company.

It wasn’t until Jordan Scampoli, Tundra’s pricing analyst and newly minted Sustainable Operations Coordinator started digging into the recycling program that we discovered the mix-up.

“We got a little complacent about the recycling program and we just assumed things were working as they always had,” he says.  “Now we know better and we won’t let it happen again.”

Tundra has renewed its commitment to being a sustainable part of the Boulder community, and thanks to Jordan’s passion we have someone who will make sure that commitment is honored.  Plans are already in the works to add compost receptacles and hard-to-recycle materials like packing Styrofoam and pallet wrap, and new employee training programs are also planned to make sure each new receptacle is used appropriately.

“Failing to sort recyclables and compostable stuff appropriately can ruin an entire recycling program,” Jordan says.  “If too many contaminants are found in a bale of recyclables at the recycling center then the whole thing goes straight to the landfill.  It’s so important to sort properly and know what is recyclable and what is not.”

Your operation can learn from Tundra’s mistake!

Simply putting out a few recycling bins in your restaurant doesn’t make for an effective program.  Sure, it might look good to have those three arrows in a triangle next to your trash bin, but if you’re not following through with proper staff training and making sure someone is responsible for the program as a whole you might just end up with two trash cans.

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Tundra Goes Full Service

In an effort to communicate more effectively to our readers about the company that makes all this possible here at The Back Burner, we are launching a new series of posts here highlighting Tundra and the things this company does very well.  We hope you enjoy learning more about Tundra!

Tundra acquired the Katz Design company recently and brought owner Jeff Katz on board here in Boulder, CO to manage a new restaurant design department.

Woo-hoo! Right?  Wait, what does that mean?  Well, Tundra is now a full service client for businesses in the food service industry.  That means we can get you equipment – any kind of equipment, no matter how weird or exotic (trust us, we’ve seen some pretty crazy requests before!).  We can get you supplies – you name it, we’ve got it, from floor drains to forks to furniture.  In fact, we’ve got a whole department that specializes in getting you exactly what you need for a new restaurant opening or a remodel.

So wait, where does this Jeff guy come in?  Jeff is an expert in restaurant design with over 30 years experience in the industry, a degree from Cornell’s prestigious School of Hotel Administration, and a well-known book, “Restaurant Planning, Design, & Construction – A Survival Manual for Owners, Operators, & Developers.

These credentials means he can offer something that up until this point Tundra has not been able to: top quality design help for new and remodeling restaurants.
Combining Tundra’s unique ability to supply a comprehensive package of products needed by a new restaurant with the Katz Company’s ability to design and build beautiful restaurant spaces means Tundra can now offer food service entrepreneurs a full service, start-to-finish opening or remodeling package all in one place.

Add in Tundra’s ability to replenish supplies, provide replacement equipment parts, and sell new equipment after a restaurant opens its doors, and now you’ve got a full service company in every stage of the life cycle of restaurant.

Learn more about Tundra in this Boulder Daily Camera article.

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