Point of View

Content with a point of view from foodservice operators, dealers, consultants, service agents, manufacturers and reps.


Founded in 2008, The Big Salad offers countless customizable salad combinations as well as build-your-own sandwich, soup and wrap options. With locations throughout Michigan, the chain now plans to open 100 stores in metro areas across the country within the next 10 years. Growth will occur largely through its franchise model, in place since 2012.

Independent, often family-owned, businesses, served as the cornerstone of the foodservice equipment industry for decades. But not a day seems to go by without a national player buying a smaller company. And that includes the service agent community.

Eatsa, founded in 2015, is a self-serve foodservice concept that allows customers to order their meals and, by code, access a food locker and pick up their pre-ordered meal. This amazing concept strives to meet the demands of on-the-go customers and a mobile marketplace.

It’s March and that can only mean that the FE&S awards season is underway. In this issue, we highlight some of the very best examples of creative tabletop installations across five industry segments. Our team of independent judges curated a list of winners that exemplify the best in current trends across a variety of foodservice applications.

Instead of suggesting that a tabletop looks old or dated, the better option is to use the term refresh. It is far less offensive when approaching the topic with operators.

Take a multigenerational family-owned business — one that hires nice people from the Midwest who generally come predisposed with a customer-centric, friendly attitude and a strong work ethic. Combine that company with some progressive management ideas promoting company-wide transparency, entrepreneurship and empowering employees throughout the organization with the authority and resources to make sure the customer is always satisfied. What do you think you’d get?

When John Varner joined EMR in January 1978, his industrial background was well-suited for the company. As the company transitioned to specializing in foodservice equipment, Varner found himself installing the first conveyor oven in a large pizza chain back in 1983. “Although the foodservice equipment segment was foreign to me initially, as time went on, it became a great fit, and I’ve been here ever since,” he says.

Field Supervisor, Hawkins Commercial Appliance Service, Englewood, Colo.

“It’s surprising how many backyard mechanics are out there — and electricians and plumbers that don’t realize how something should be installed.”

Although he now has almost three decades as a service tech under his belt, Hawkins Commercial Appliance Service’s Kevin McCaw got into the business through his love of cars.“My neighbor across the street got me into hot rods. I went to automotive school after high school, then worked for a couple of shops,” he says.

As the principal, creative director and guiding force of DMAC Architecture P.C., Dwayne MacEwen builds beautiful, functional spaces. Notable restaurant projects include Chromium at Chicago's Midtown Athletic Club, the upscale ambience that comes with fine dining at Michael Jordan's Steak House and the eclectic contemporary presentation that fits the menu at Roka Akor.

Cliff Baker has worked for Singer Equipment Company’s M. Tucker Division for more than 20 years. He is also the founder of A Need We Feed, a nonprofit volunteer-run organization. Volunteers cook food in commercial kitchens, package them in individual portions and then deliver hot, fresh meals to first responders and others in need.

Troop Café operates like any other restaurant — almost. While we serve great food, our actual mission is to train U.S. military veterans in foodservice and hospitality with the end goal of transitioning them to jobs in the hospitality/foodservice industry.

Kitchens are notoriously noisy but they don’t have to be. Small steps in facility design and equipment selection can greatly reduce noise levels. Foodservice designers can lead the design team toward strategies for creating quieter kitchens. Keeping noise levels low increases kitchen staff productivity, reduces accidents and allows for mindful eating in the dining room. New building standards such as the WELL Building Standard from the International WELL Building Institute suggest certain decibel levels.

We have a trifecta of great events on the horizon. It all starts in May with our annual Dealer of the Year and Industry Awards Gala, which coincides with the National Restaurant Association's annual trade show, which takes place May 19-22 in Chicago.

No one and no company can stay the same forever. Without growing and flexing all the time, we become stagnant, a path that inevitably limits opportunities. Getting comfortable with change and bringing something to the table that promotes growth are imperative not only to success but to the very survival of all companies in the foodservice industry.

Having a solid information technology (IT) infrastructure and a top-of-the-line technology platform continues to become increasingly important for all foodservice operations.

In the last three years, Whitewater, Wis.-based Toppers Pizza has doubled in size to an 84-store chain, 21 of which are company owned and the rest franchised. Founder Scott Gittrich created a systemwide partnership with Feeding America to provide food to hungry families in need, and the chain's franchisees additionally participate in many local-level charitable activities.

Joe Christina, CEO of Church’s Chicken discusses the variety of changes to this quick-serve restaurant chain in the last few years. Church’s Chicken now has more than 1,600 restaurants in 27 countries  and international territories.

As a woman who has worked closely with men in male-dominated industries for more than three decades, you can believe the #MeToo  movement holds some resonance for me.