Center of the Plate Blog

Industry Musings

Archive for January, 2010


Just another example of how we help

Our own Chef Jeff Merry recently worked with the folks at Common Market Restaurants based in Quincy, Mass. Greg McDonald the owner was very interested in developing a gluten-free menu for his customers as the requests kept coming in for these types of dishes.

Chef Merry worked side by side with Greg and what came out of it was a series of new gluten-free options for the Quincy-based operation. As Greg points out, he is seeing a great interest in his new menu; Greg’s story was featured last week in the Patriot Ledger newspaper. You can read it here:

Chef Merry listened to what Greg’s issues were and what he ultimately wanted to achieve and from there, researched the menu items as well as all the recipes for Greg. The result is a great list of options for customers that suffer from Celiac Disease.

Just when you think that AGAR is just a wholesale food distributor, you see a great story like this. The value we work hard every day to give our clients over and above just delivering food and supplies to your door is what we do best. With the test kitchen, national brands to offer you and great exclusive brand such as Nautifish, you can see that we’re more than just a food distributor.

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Get Your Piece of Valentine’s Day Business

Years in the wholesale food distributor business have given me a little insight into what happens on the front line. One trend I have noticed that holds strong is people still like to go out and celebrate Valentine’s Day. We tell our independent restaurants that we serve here that it is better to be prepared than to miss out on a great night of business.

This year Valentine’s Day is on a Sunday, which lends potential to a generous amount of diners in your restaurant from the moment you open until closing time…maybe even a few reservations! Valentine’s Day diners on a weekend day may be looking for a late lunch, early dinner or just a few drinks so make sure your restaurant takes the time to prepare and promote.

Typically white table cloth restaurants advertise Valentine’s Day specials but many times smaller independent establishments do very little for the holiday. This can potentially keep them off the list couples may review for a fun night out. Even though a couple may favor Mexican food, if their favorite restaurant does not seem to be celebrating Valentine’s Day they may be more likely to dine at a restaurant featuring a more festive holiday atmosphere.

It is important to draw diners into your establishment to get their business. Putting a little effort into advertising and/or promoting your restaurant’s Valentine’s Day specials can make for a busy day and strong bottom line. You can be creative without breaking the bank.

A few special menu items and a good imagination may be all you need to bring diners into your restaurant. Other suggestions to consider are:

-Prepare a special Valentine’s Day menu: A few meals with a holiday twist that are perceived as a value can fill a diner’s stomach as well as their heart.

-Include a few kids’ menu ideas for the occasion that couples can’t get a babysitter.

-Giving customers a takeaway memento like a rose or chocolate candy adds to their romantic ambiance and can help make their night memorable.

A little preparation, creativity and a little help from AGAR can help keep your restaurant at the top of the list when couples are choosing a restaurant to visit.

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I’m Here to Help

I don’t often promote myself but as we enter 2010 I want independent restaurants to know that I’m here to help. That’s what I do here at AGAR. I help. The last two years mostly have not been too kind to the restaurant industry but we like to think if you’re working with AGAR and you’ve had a chance to meet with our team and possibly have a visit in our Test Kitchen, you may be doing much better than others.

It is a clear goal at this New England Wholesale Food Distributor to help and advocate for the independent restaurant. Our team members here are specialists in a number of areas whether its pizza/sub shops, Chinese cuisine, steakhouses and pubs or our ever-growing Nautifish seafood line. Working with these folks is a clear advantage when you’re trying to put people in the seats.

And then there’s the Test Kitchen where you’ll find me. On any given day, you’ll find me working with a chef or an owner of one of many outstanding independent restaurants here in New England that AGAR works with. We work together to hammer out any number of issues whether its food costs, new menu items, or just spicing up and old menu to reflect current times. We can show you new products and help complement existing products you already use.

One year ago a video was done of me. It gets into my professional history and lets people know just how AGAR and the Test Kitchen can help them. Take a look and then call us to arrange a visit. I look forward to seeing you soon.

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