December 2017 Culinary Depot Blog Posts

    6 of the Best Food Factories to Visit in the U.S.

    6 of the Best Food Factories to Visit in the U.S.


    While it’s unfortunate that Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory doesn’t exist and cannot be visited, there are still hundreds of other food factories that can be visited. These factories offer educational tours, delicious free samples, and unique experiences that won't soon be forgotten. The following list includes 6 of the best food factories to visit in the U.S. 


    Hershey’s Chocolate World – Hershey, PA


    hershey's chocolate world


    The closest thing to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, Hershey’s Chocolate World provides free 30-minute tours that concludes with, of course, free chocolate. Known as Hershey’s Chocolate Tour, the tour takes place on an indoor train ride that features singing cows. It also offers an educational lesson about how cocoa beans found in rain forests are turned into the delicious Hershey chocolate you know and love.

    Other attractions in the Hershey’s Chocolate World building include a historical timeline that outlines the innovations made by Hershey’s throughout the years. Candy lovers will also have the opportunity to participate in a create-your-own candy bar program. For those interested in the finer aspects of devouring chocolate, the Chocolate Tasting Experience allows hungry visitors to see, smell, and taste a wide range of different types of chocolate.

    For a more comprehensive Hershey’s experience, hop aboard the Hershey Trolley Works. The ride lasts one hour and covers the story of founder Milton Hershey. The trolley visits his birthplace, home, and other relevant sites. Conductors relay a glut of interesting information while also sometimes singing for your pleasure.


    Herr’s Snack Factory – Nottingham, PA


    herr's snack factory tour


    The legendary pretzel and potato chip company offers visitors a free tour that lends insight on how Herr’s has perfected its production process. The tour will cover how tortilla chips are seasoned and also give you a first-hand look at the machines used to make potato chips. Knowledgeable guides and an educational video inform you about everything you’d want to know about the company and its process. Lasting for one hour and making stops in three separate buildings, the tour eventually concludes in a gift shop that contains several unique souvenirs. Each person on the tour receives a free bag of potato chips and might even get to taste a few warm chips fresh off the conveyor belt.


    Tabasco Pepper Sauce Factory – Avery Island, LA


    tabasco pepper sauce factory


    Located in the bayou of Louisiana, the Tabasco Pepper Sauce Factory is situated on a 170-acre jungle that sits atop a natural salt water dome. The surrounding area is home to alligators and other wild life, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for a sighting. A tour of the Tabasco Pepper Sauce Factory shows visitors how the company’s tabasco sauce is made, bottled, and shipped. It also exposes them to the white oak barrels, in which spicy sauce is aged until it’s ready for consumption. Tour guides and educational videos make up the rest of the experience, covering any questions visitors might have.


    Pez Visitor Center – Orange, CT


    pez visitor center


    With 4,000 square feet to explore, the Pez Visitor Center in Orange, Connecticut is the ultimate for fans of Pez candy. Admission is free, and visitors can go on self-guided tours and get clear views of the Pez factory’s production room via clear windows. In addition to being able to watch a video that demonstrates how the candy is made, visitors can also play interactive games, learn about the history of Pez, explore a large collection of unique Pez dispensers and memorabilia, and even make their own candy. If you think Pez tastes great right out of the wrapper, you need to discover how delicious it’s right off the conveyor belt! A gift shop offers a wide range of Pez candy and unique merchandise.


    Jelly Belly Visitor Center – Fairfield, CA


    jelly belly visitor center


    Home of the Jelly Belly jelly bean, the Jelly Belly Visitor Center in Fairfield, California offers visitors a chance to learn about the magic that goes into flavoring jelly beans. A free, 40-minute walking tour allows you to better understand the process of creating jelly beans from scratch. While it might not seem like such a big task, it takes over a full week to make a single jelly bean. There are also several videos that explain the process.

    For jelly bean enthusiasts who want to know everything, a far more comprehensive one-hour paid tour called the Jelly Belly University is available. Accompanied by a guide, groups of six dawn gloves, lab coats, and hair nets then venture into the heart of the factory. These tours require reservations and aren’t available on weekends or holidays.

    Perhaps the crown jewel of the Jelly Belly Visitor Center is its candy store. Offering samples of every Jelly Belly jelly bean in existence, the store has a flavor for everyone. Mix and match different combinations to see what flavors best blend together. After you find whatever jelly bean(s) you like most, make sure to bring enough home that they’ll last you until your next visit. There are a myriad of other souvenir items that are also worth checking out.


    Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory – Waterbury, VT


    ben & jerry's ice cream factory


    The legendary ice cream pioneers allow visitors to take a 30-minute tour of the factory for a peek at how their product is made. Other highlights of the Ice Cream Factory include the Flavoroom, which gives hungry ice cream lovers free samples of the Flavor of the Day, and The Flavor Graveyard, which lets you take a trip down memory lane and try old Ben & Jerry’s flavors that are no longer being mass produced. A Gift Shop and full-service Scoop Shop are also on the premises. Hours of operation for Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory vary depending on the time of year, so be sure to check the website before making a trip. 

    5 Mountain Restaurants with Jaw-Dropping Views

    Written by: J. Vigotsky


    While many people prefer to escape frigid winter weather by traveling to tropical climates, others embrace the winter season by spending time in the snow-covered mountains. Activities like skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing are great ways to take advantage of the seasonal shift in climate. And when you’re exhausted from the all the strenuous exercise, you’ll likely be eager to check out a local restaurant for some much-needed food. But not all mountain-side restaurants are created equally. The following list includes 5 mountain-side restaurants that have spectacular views. 


    Piz Gloria – Murren, Switzerland


    piz gloria


    Piz Gloria provides diners with a stunning 360° view of the Bernese Alps. Situated 9,744 feet above sea level and atop Schlithorn summit, the restaurant overlooks the Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau. Patrons take a 32-minute aerial cableway to ascend Schlithorn summit and arrive at Piz Gloria. Spinning on its axis, the restaurant makes a complete revolution once every 45 minutes and showcases over 200 surrounding mountain peaks. Outside the restaurant is a skyline view platform that gives patrons clearer views of surrounding mountains. A location for the James Bond movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Piz Gloria commemorates its rich history with a 007 Walk of Fame. A skyline top shop offers visitors every souvenir they could want.


    Flagstaff House Restaurant – Boulder, Colorado


    flagstaff house restaurant


    The Flagstaff House Restaurant sits atop Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder, Colorado and is family-run by Don Monette and his sons. Situated 6,000 feet above sea level, the restaurant is a great choice for winter- and wine-lovers alike. With a wine cellar that has over 15,000 bottles, the Boulder establishment has received the Wine Spectator’s Grand Award every year since 1983. The award is given to restaurants that have one of the 10 best wine lists in the world. A meal can be quite costly at The Flagstaff House Restaurant, so be sure to scout out the menu beforehand.  


    Allred’s Restaurant – Telluride, Colorado


    allred's restaurant


    Located at the top of a free gondola, Allred’s Restaurant is an amazing 10,551 feet above sea level. Views of the spectacular box canyon leaves diners in awe as they attempt to eat amongst the beauty. A warm wood décor is complimented by large overhead beams and elegant antler chandeliers. Most food at Allred’s Restaurant is locally sourced from within Colorado, including the Bourbon Marinated Elk Loin and the classic Rack of Lamb. Perhaps the most amazing part about the restaurant is you won’t have to break the bank to dine there. A gourmet burger with a side of fries is available at the bar for a very reasonable $10.


    Edgewood Restaurant – Stateline, NV


    edgewood restaurant


    Boasting a view that overlooks Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada mountains behind it, Edgewood Restaurant was chosen as one of OpenTable diners’ “100 Most Scenic Restaurants in America for 2017.”  Edgewood matches its traditional French cuisine with a diverse wine selection to give diners a fully satisfying experience. If you’re not too busy taking in the outdoor surroundings, you might just notice the restaurant’s impressive high ceilings, unique lighting pattern, and elegant lodge feel. Dine at the right time and you can catch the sun setting over the lake and mountains.


    Eagle’s Eye Restaurant – Golden, Canada


    eagle's eye restaurant


    Located 7,700 ft. above sea level, Eagle’s Eye Restaurant is part of Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. The restaurant features a relatively simple dinner menu that offers entrees like rib eye steak, beef tenderloin, and pesto pasta. Sandwiches include a vegetarian wrap, vegan burger, and Alberta beef burger. The lunch menu is a bit more extensive, offering a variety of spiked hot beverages and other drinks. But the restaurant’s main attraction is its breathtaking view that overlooks Terminator Peak. Open for dinner on Friday and Saturday nights, Eagle’s Eye Restaurant recommends that diners make reservations in advance.  


    Not everyone will have access to the listed locations, but it’s always nice to see what’s out there. If you want a similar experience to dining at one of these restaurants, pick a local ski or mountain range and find a restaurant close by. Just making the drive and appreciating the beauty of a snow-covered mountain will help make winter seem just a little less cold. 

    8 Ways to Keep Your Restaurant Thriving During the Winter Months

    Written by: J. Vigotsky


    With the official start of winter less than two weeks and outside temperatures dipping below freezing, it’s time for restaurants to prepare for the harsh winter months. Cold weather and snow mean diners will be less likely to leave their homes and more likely to pass on trips to their favorite restaurants. Luckily, there are steps restaurant owners can take to give customers extra incentive to remain loyal throughout the cold, dark days. The following list includes 8 ways to keep your restaurant thriving during the winter months.


    Cold Weather Discount


    Cold Weather Discount


    Nobody likes leaving a warm home and trekking out to a restaurant in the cold and potentially snowy weather. Consequently, it becomes the responsibility of restaurant owners to give diners a little extra motivation. One idea is to offer discounts when the outside temperature dips below certain thresholds. For example: if it’s below freezing, offer a 5% discount. If it’s below 20°F, give customers a 10% discount. Below 10°F? How about a 15% discount? The temperature thresholds and discount percentages will vary depending on where you’re located, but a promotion like this has potential to get people excited for dining out in the cold.




    pizza delivery in snow


    Sometimes there’s just nothing in the world that will convince diners to leave the comfort of their homes and make a trip to your restaurant. During times like these, a delivery service can prove to be key. Even if you don’t usually offer delivery or need to employ more drivers, the extra business you bring it and the goodwill you earn among customers will make it well worth it.

    When choosing delivery drivers, try to recruit someone whose vehicle boasts either all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. These types of automobiles thrive in snowy conditions and should ensure the safety of your driver as well as the food being delivered.


    Seasonal Menu Items


    soup - seasonal menu items


    There are a few things to keep in mind when designing a winter-time menu. On one hand, you’ll want to cut back on less popular items that don’t generate significant revenue. But at the same time, you might want to expand your menu by adding special winter treats that’ll help bring hungry customers in from the cold. Items like hot soup and stew are winter favorites that never go out of style. Maybe add a few different flavors hot chocolate to your menu or expand your tea selections. These little menu tweaks can give diners enough reason to brave the cold and enjoy a night out at your restaurant.


    A Warm Temperature Guarantee


    warm temperature guarantee


    There’s nothing worse than coming in from the cold to dine at a restaurant, only to realize you still need to wear your heavy jacket to keep warm. The fear of this happening makes certain patrons even less likely to brave the cold in pursuit of a delicious meal. To combat this issue, your restaurant can provide customers with a warm-temperature guarantee. Simply promise customers through social media and other marketing channels that your restaurant will always maintain a temperature of at least X degrees throughout the winter. If a customer knows your restaurant will be at least 68°F, they’ll be appreciate your thoughtfulness and be more likely to dine at your restaurant.   


    Altering Business Hours


    restaurant business hours


    Overhead is expensive. If the amount of business your restaurant does is taking a significant hit as a result of the change in season, it might be in your best interest to explore changing your business hours. Employees might not love the idea, and a few customers might not be crazy about it either. But if you’re wasting money by remaining open early in the morning and late at night, then cutting back your restaurant’s hours might be your best option. If you decide to go this route, make sure to update your listed hours both online and in your restaurant.


    Holiday Parties


    holiday party


    Another idea is to make your restaurant a destination for local businesses that are looking for somewhere to host holiday parties. Whether they want to rent out your entire restaurant or just book a large table, these parties can be great sources of revenue and are definitely worth pursuing. Since the businesses will be spending a significant amount of money, you’ll want to cut them special deals on your meals and drinks. Doing so will help attract more parties and encourage planners to return later as repeat customers.


    Happy Hours


    happy hour


    More than half the battle during winter is convincing customers to come out to your restaurant in the first place, and happy hours are designed to do just that. Even if you have happy hours throughout the year, consider extending them, expanding offerings, or improving your deals during the winter months.


    Vacation Nights


    vacation night


    One of the best ways to bring diners to your restaurant is to offer something unique. While winter’s a popular time to vacation and visit hot climates, not everyone can go on a trip. You can take advantage of this by decorating your restaurant with props and pictures that help people feel like they’ve traveled to a tropical island. For instance—have a “Hawaii Night” by hanging pictures of beaches while playing Luau music. Greet each new customer with a Hawaiian leis necklace and a hearty, “Aloha.” While it might not be Hawaii, there’s a good chance it will help your diners forget about the cold weather for a couple hours. If you’re not so interested in hosting a Hawaii night, there are plenty of Caribbean islands that are also great options.


    While the methods listed above can help your restaurant maintain a steady stream of business during the winter months, there are certainly more ways to keep business booming. Have a brainstorming session with some of your staff members and see what else you can come up with. 

    10 Real Restaurants as Seen on TV and in Movies

    Written by: J. Vigotsky


    When tuning into to watch your favorite movie or TV show, you’ll undoubtedly come across at least a few scenes that take place in bars or restaurants. While some of these scenes are actually filmed in studios, a significant number take place in real bars and restaurants that you can be visited and dined in. The following list includes 10 real restaurants you’ll recognize from movies and TV shows, and lets you know where to find them.


    Tom’s Restaurant – “Seinfeld”


    Tom's Restaurant


    Perhaps the most recognizable restaurant in the TV universe, the exterior of Monk’s Café is actually New York City’s own Tom’s Restaurant. While cropping out part of the restaurant’s bright-red neon sign initially helped conceal the restaurant’s true identity, it didn’t take long before the secret was out. Located on the corner of W 112th St., Tom’s Restaurant is a popular tourist attraction and pays homage to the legendary sitcom by featuring a variety of Seinfeld paraphernalia on its walls. While scenes inside the restaurant were shot in a Hollywood studio, there’s no denying the impact that brief shots of its exterior had on the popularity of Tom’s Restaurant.


    Holsten’s – “The Sopranos”


    10 Real Restaurants You’ll Recognize from Movies and TV - Holsten's


    In the most iconic scene from what is arguably the greatest drama in television history, it’s a small ice cream shop in Bloomfield, NJ that plays a starring role. Holsten’s, an old-fashioned ice cream shop that doubles as a diner, is the location the final scene in The Sopranos’ tension-filled finale. Today, Holsten’s wears the honor with pride, showcasing pictures of the show’s cast and highlighting the booth sat in by the Soprano family. The ice cream shop was also a spot where fans of the show gathered to mourn the sudden death of actor James Gandolfini in 2013.


    L Street Tavern – “Good Will Hunting”


    10 Real Restaurants You’ll Recognize from Movies and TV - L Street Tavern


    Boston locals Matt Damon and Ben Affleck had been hanging out at the L Street Tavern long enough to know it was the perfect location for a movie scene. Located in the South End neighborhood of Boston, the tavern served as a night-time rendezvous spot in “Good Will Hunting” for Damon, Affleck, and a couple of their friends. Although the bar has undergone a significant face lift since the movie was made 20 years ago, the L Street Tavern is still thriving in the same location.


    Johnie’s Coffee Shop – “The Big Lebowski” and “Reservoir Dogs”


    Johnie's Coffee Shop


    While this coffee shop closed its doors for good in 2000, it still stands proudly as a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument. Making appearances in two legendary movies as well several other films and a couple music videos, Johnnie’s Coffee Shop was renamed Bernie’s Coffee Shop in 2016 when it served as a campaign office for Bernie Sanders’ presidential bid. Although it no longer serves coffee, Bernie’s Coffee Shop still attracts visitors for its place in film history and its beautiful graffiti murals that helped raise awareness for Bernie Sanders.


    Polidor – “Midnight in Paris”


    One of two restaurants on this list located outside the United States, Restaurant Polidor is found in Paris, France. A historic restaurant, the place was founded all the way back in 1845 and is renowned for being frequented by writers like James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, Jack Kerouac, and more. Woody Allen used the restaurant with great success in 2011’s “Midnight in Paris,” a movie about a writer who travels back in time and meets his heroes from the past. Today, the restaurant remains popular—especially among local university students.


    Top Notch Hamburgers – “Dazed and Confused”


    top notch hamburgers


    This classic drive-in is located in Austin, TX and served as just one of the many locales in 1993’s cult classic “Dazed and Confused.” Built in the 1970s, Top Notch Hamburgers was the perfect hang out spot for teenagers in the movie—which took place in 1976. Today, the restaurant still offers drive-in style dining and is well-known throughout the city for its tasty fried chicken and charcoal-grilled burgers.


    Kat’s Deli – “When Harry Met Sally”


    katz's delicatessen


    As if the legendary Katz deli in Manhattan doesn’t garner enough attention for its delicious sandwiches, the location can also be seen in several films and TV shows. The deli’s most popular appearance occurred in a scene with Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan in the romantic comedy “When Harry Met Sally.” A sign even hangs in the Deli, informing diners of the exact booth where the famous “I’ll have what she’s having” scene was shot. 


    Twede’s Cafe – “Twin Peaks”


    twede's cafe


    Known as the Double R Diner on “Twin Peaks,” Twede’s Café is located in North Bend, Washington and was previously known as the Mart-T Café. Less than 45 minutes from Seattle, the small-town restaurant features the gorgeous backdrop of local Mount Si. Twede’s Café makes almost everything from scratch and prides itself on upholding the reputation it has on Twin Peaks. This means the café serves a delicious, classic cherry pie and a “Damn fine cup o’ coffee.”


    The 101 Coffee Shop – “Swingers”


    the 101 coffee shop


    This old-school diner has a funky 1960s vibe and was the perfect place for characters in the 1996 comedy classic Swingers to grab late-night meals. True to the movie, The 101 Coffee Shop is located in Hollywood and open daily until 3AM. The restaurant was also featured on the HBO show “Entourage” and prides itself on using fresh ingredients procured from the Hollywood farmer’s market. If you’re stopping by for a meal, you can’t go wrong with the popular Cajun Catfish and Eggs. 


    The New York Bar – “Lost in Translation”


    the new york bar - tokyo, japan


    Contrary to its name, this bar is actually located on the 52nd floor of the Park Hyatt in Tokyo, Japan. With a gorgeous view that overlooks the city, The New York Bar features live jazz every night—just like in the movie. But before making the 52-story trek up to this opulent bar, be aware that drinks won’t come cheaply, and there’s a cover charge if you arrive after 8PM (7PM on Sundays).