What happens when you’ve had your fair share of the standard stadium food? The traditional finger food isn’t covering it anymore, and there’s been a push to get rid of the generic hot dog rollers in favor of the more upscale.
The challenge was put to one executive chef at Auburn, and the results are stunning. Andrew Johnson has accepted the challenge and changed the game in Auburn. This year, the football lovers are going to love on the new offerings.
A little of this, little of that has come into the Restaurant Row in Auburn. Cajun Kitchen, The Diner, The Butcher Block, and more. These new places offer a little of style and panache to people just stopping by to see an Auburn game.
Auburn has been treated to some wonderful food, because the chef has decided to “take the feature of a restaurant and make it bigger.” There’s plenty of opportunities here, whether you’re a hot dog lover or a hamburger connoisseur.
Each game has Fan vs. Food, where one of the delightful signature foods of one of the restaurants is put on display for fans. Habanero’s, a Mexican place, was working hard serving their Wholly Mole burrito – a 3 pound (!) burrito filled with plenty of burrito ingredients.
What are you doing for the next game? Are you bringing tailgate food, or are you changing the whole landscape of your stadium by demanding something new and fresh?
When you’ve got a passion, there’s nothing that stands in your way, and Bill King has a passion. He had a thriving sandwich shop, (which we hope was stocked with True Deli cases) that he recently shut down in favor of more liquid passion: soda.
Chances are, it started as an experiment. He decided to make a little soda for his sub and ice cream shop. That love of soda evolved to the point where those sodas were the “main reason why people came to the store.” It was only natural that he would take the next step and shift his business focus into that.
Now, Mr. King is looking for a permanent residence for his burgeoning soda empire. His company, Doggone Good Soda, makes sarsaparilla, strawberry, grape, red currant, and plenty of other sodas for consumption. He’s also able to create private label soda so that others can get into the soda game.
Giving up the True deli cases isn’t all bad. Mr. King is following his passion, looking for ways to sell his soda to the market. He’s got these sodas at specialty retailers and online, and they’re catching on with the others in his field. Does your restaurant have Doggone Good Soda in it?
Regardless of the push for good, clean, healthy food, we still love the fried food. In fact, we’re kind of jealous of those folks who are getting to go to the Texas State Fair and see the Star Countertop Fryers in action. There’s a huge selection of fried foods there – both old and new favorites are there.
It definitely doesn’t taste like chicken! We’re talking about the fried alligator. You can have that mixed with some jalapenos, onions, and garlic. Put that with cheese and a delightful remoulade, and you’re all good to go.
How about the carrot cake that gets breaded in some wonderful ingredients and then deep fried? Yes, you can have that too. That, and add in a little deep-fried peach action, and you’ve got it made.
One of the newest addition is the beer-battered buffalo. This dish has a bit of pepper, Corn Nuts, and some of the best beer-battering beer ever. It has a bit of bacon dust, and some chipotle dipping sauce. In other words, this is something that will make any Star Countertop Fryer proud.
Then, well, there’s bacon. There’s the bacon margarita, so there’s definitely something deep fried in the mix. Have a bit of the margarita with any one of the deep fried bites, and while you might gain weight, you’ll do it with a smile on your face.
Once upon a time, there were a lot more individual convenience stores. These would have gas and treats, but the makeup of the store was anyone’s guess. It was a pleasure to rifle through the row upon row of display refrigerators, finding just that one obscure soda that nobody else in the city had.
We’ve made our way to chain convenience stores now where everybody gets the same brand of display refrigerators, and there are no crazy things hiding in the back, no obscure items that the owner just wanted to try on a whim. It’s all regulated now, we could say. There are still some holdouts, however.
So, as you’re driving along and you notice this little rustic mom and pop convenience store, take a moment to stop in and investigate. You might be treated to the owner’s love of pickled pig’s feet and pork rinds. You might also find that they have an extensive supply of soda that isn’t necessarily run of the mill.
There’s really no telling. What we can tell you, though, is that these convenience stores and gas stations are some of the things which make up the heartland of America, the ‘something special’ that makes traveling to a place so wonderful.
How do some of the biggest and longest-lived restaurant change stay relevant over time? By listening to their franchisees and their customers. At the MUFSO conference, the CEOs of DineEquity, Denny’s, International Dairy Queen, Panda Restaurant Group, and Wingstop Restaurants all won the Golden Chain award and gave a talk about why they were so successful.
They attribute their success to actively listening to customers, employees, and franchisees, and articulating their brand values. For instance, Dairy Queen used to only serve ice cream, but they spread into burgers and other cooked items due to customer demand. Denny’s is updating their menus and operations to cater more to millenials, despite Denny’s reputation as a place that older Americans like to dine.
Denny’s in particular has backed social causes. At one point in their history they stopped caring about their social responsibility and it hit their bottom line. When they got a new CEO and addressed the problem and asked their franchisees and customers what their biggest concern was. The answer was hunger relief, so they’ve backed hunger charities like No Kid Hungry as their way of giving back to the community.
Regardless of whether you’re frying things in an Empura deep fryer, or using a soft serve machine to turn out frozen yogurt, all restaurants have to listen to the people they interact with in order to deliver the best restaurant experience they can. The winners of the Golden Chain award exemplify that.