April 2017 Culinary Depot Blog Posts

    Smoothie Guide for Cafes, Restaurants, and Concession Stands

    smoothie bar


    As we approach the warm summer months, frozen smoothies will increasingly become sought-after commodities. Offering unrivaled refreshment and health benefits, smoothies are easy to make and can help your restaurant, café, or concession stand attract a wide range of customers. This guide will explain the subtle intricacies of making a smoothie and help you offer the best smoothies for your particular establishment.


    Types of Smoothies


    types of smoothies


    When someone thinks of a smoothie, they typically envision the classic fruit smoothie. Featuring a liquid base that’s usually juice or water, fruit smoothies can be made with strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, honeydew, pineapple, bananas, avocados, mangoes, oranges, and any other fruit you desire. Since they possess so much fruit, these smoothies tend to be very high in sugar. A good fit for nearly any foodservice, fruit smoothies are especially perfect for establishments that attract children.

    The vegetable smoothie is ideal for places like gyms that attract health-conscious consumers. These nutrient-dense drinks often feature leafy greens like spinach, broccoli, kale, bok choy, and collard greens. Other vegetables commonly found in these smoothies include asparagus, zucchini, rhubarb, cucumbers, and carrots. Keep in mind that vegetable smoothies often have a more bitter taste than fruit smoothies, and they can be off-putting to kids.

    A green smoothie is the perfect compromise between fruit and vegetable smoothies. A more recent phenomenon whose popularity has continued to grow, green smoothies contain a mixture of fruits and leafy green vegetables. These mixtures pack the dense nutritional punch of vegetables while also offering the sweet, delicious taste of fruit.

    If you want a shortcut to smoothie success, there are a variety of smoothie mixes that only require the addition of ice. These mixes are available with fruit, vegetables, or a combination of both. If you want to opt for convenience and go the smoothie mix route, be sure to equip your establishment with a quality commercial ice machine.


    Choosing a Liquid Base


    Smoothies always need a liquid base. Juice is probably the most popular choice, but water is great for reducing overhead costs and decreasing the amount of sugar in each smoothie. Possessing plenty of energy-inducing electrolytes, coconut water excels at hydrating and is ideal for pre- or post-workout smoothies. Other great base options include almond milk—which is rich in vitamins—and hemp milk—which is an excellent source of protein and omega fatty acids.




    smoothie additives


    Make sure your customers have the opportunity to have everything they want in their smoothies. Whether that means offering nuts or whey protein powder, carrying additives will help ensure your customers leave completely satisfied. Available in a wide assortment of flavors, whey protein can change the flavor profile of your smoothie in addition to providing nutritional value. Honey and syrup are great natural sweeteners for vegetable smoothies that might taste a little bitter. Chia seeds and flaxseeds are also commonly found in smoothies, as they’re both excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Many of these additives provide additional nutritional value and transform a smoothie from a refreshing snack to a satisfying meal. Be sure to also carry spices like ginger, cinnamon, and mint so you can achieve precise flavoring.


    Fresh or Frozen Fruit


    While fresh fruit seems like it’d be the better option for smoothies, frozen fruit offers several benefits that make it a superior choice. Frozen fruit is both less expensive and longer lasting than fresh fruit. Since the fruit is picked at the peak of its freshness and promptly frozen, the quality of frozen fruit is generally much higher. Lastly, using frozen fruit means you won’t need to fill your blender with ice cubes to attain an ice cold smoothie. Taken directly from your commercial freezer, frozen fruit alone will ensure your smoothies are refreshing as can be. Furthermore, your smoothies will be less watered down since you’re not using chunks of ice in addition to your liquid base.


    Smoothie Thickening Agents


    thick smoothie


    Thick smoothies are usually preferred over watered-down varieties. There are several thick agents you can use to ensure your smoothies boast the rich texture that patrons crave. The classic choice, bananas can thicken your smoothie while also serving as a natural sweetener. Avocados give your smoothie a healthy green glow and are perfect thickening agents for vegetable smoothies. Peanut butter, which is ideal for adding fat to your smoothie and making it more filling, is another great way to ensure the consistency of your smoothie is perfect. Other thickening agents include cottage cheese, yogurt, and chia seeds.


    Choosing the Right Blender


    If you’re going to be producing a large number of smoothies, you’ll want a commercial blender that can handle your establishment’s demand. Even though commercial blenders are more heavy duty in nature than residential blenders, they are still compact enough to conveniently fit atop counters. Commercial blenders possess bowl capacities of anywhere from 2.5 qts to 7 qts. So whether you’re operating a concession stand that also carries smoothies or a drink bar whose main offerings are smoothies, there’s a commercial blender that suits your needs.


    Naming Your Smoothies


    smoothie menu


    Make sure to give your smoothies appealing names that will draw the interest of customers. Anyone can name a smoothie based on what goes into it, so flex those creative muscles to differentiate yourself from the competition. Have a berry-rich smoothie? How about calling it, “Berry Bonanza.” Maybe advertise a green smoothie as the “Green Goblin.” The options are nearly endless. Just be certain to also list the smoothie’s ingredients on your menu so customers know exactly what they’re getting.




    The proper beverageware can help your smoothies look as good as they taste. Transparent glassware really allows the vivid colors of your smoothies to sparkle. And if you want to go the extra mile, insert a beverage parasol in each smoothie to help your customers feel like they’re vacationing on a tropical island!


    Offering smoothies is a great way to satisfy customers who crave a refreshing and nutritious snack or meal. A smoothie operation is relatively inexpensive—as its requirements are minimal. Especially great for year-round warm weather climates, smoothies can supplement your menu or be your main offering. If you haven’t already embraced smoothie-mania, now’s the time to do so!


    smoothie bar final

    Mother’s Day Restaurant Ideas

    happy mothers day


    Mother’s Day is the perfect time to show your mom, grandma, or any other female role model how much you appreciate her. And there’s no better way to do so than treating her to a delicious meal at an inviting restaurant. The most popular holiday for dining out, Mother’s Day falls on May 14th this year and offers a great opportunity for restaurants to bring in new customers. For a few tips and tricks that can help you maximize your restaurant’s business potential on Mother’s Day, continue reading.

    Mother’s Day Brunch


    mothers day brunch


    Since Mother’s Day brunch is just as popular as dinner, it’s imperative for restaurants to allocate the same resources to late morning and early afternoon hours as they would to the dinner rush. This means if your restaurant usually opens in the afternoon, it’d be in your best interest to alter your hours for Mother’s Day and open in the late morning. Also ensure your restaurant is equipped with enough chefs, servers, and bus boys to handle the influx of hungry customers. Furthermore, the kitchen should be stocked with even more food, drinks, and ingredients than usual.

    Brunch meals like eggs, oatmeal, pancakes, and waffles are generally inexpensive and offer greater profit margin than lunch and dinner items. Yogurt with fresh fruit is another popular option that’s a crowd favorite and easy to make. If you’re looking for a way to simplify your Mother’s Day operation, try offering a buffet-style set-up by using countertop buffet warmers. Depending on your preference, this allows your staff to serve customers or customers to serve themselves.


    Mother’s Day Dinner


    mother's day dinner


    It’s important for your staff to maintain its professionalism and enthusiasm during brunch and throughout dinner. If possible, consider giving your staff a longer break than usual so they can get sufficient rest between the brunch and dinner time rushes. This is especially applicable to restaurants that extend business hours for the holiday, since their staff will not be accustomed to working such long shifts.

    For a special holiday treat, utilize a unique dinner menu that features great deals and delicious delicacies. Ideally, the appetizers and entrees offered should be prepared in advance to ensure optimal kitchen efficiency. This will also help lead to quick table turnover and consequently maximize revenue. Regardless of the Mother Day specials you choose to offer, know your customers will appreciate you going the extra mile.


    A Small Gesture


    If you’re feeling generous, consider offering all the moms dining in your restaurant a special gift. Whether you decide to give flowers, assorted chocolates, a bottle of wine, or a free dessert of their choice, presenting each mom with a gift is a great way to ensure they leave your establishment brimming with joy and eager to tell everyone about their wonderful experience.


    Decorations and Seating


    mothers day flowers


    Since spring will be in full bloom for Mother’s Day, it’ll be easy to find beautiful flowers that create an enchanting atmosphere. Just make certain to display your flowers in a vase that does them justice. For dinner time, use candles to provide an alluring atmosphere for diners. If your restaurant usually has TVs playing, you might want to turn them off for the special day. This will make for a more intimate dining environment.

    The outside temperature will likely be warm on Mother’s Day, enabling you to utilize outdoor eating areas like patios. If you’re expecting a packed restaurant and have spare space, stock up on extra seating and folding tables to help ensure each of your patrons is served in a timely manner. Don’t forget to give your folding tables a little style by using a table cover.






    Since brunch and dinner time will both see large rushes, your restaurant should offer appropriate drink specials for the different meals. During brunch, you’re best-suited to offer glasses of Mimosas, Bellinis, Bloody Marys, margaritas, screwdrivers, Irish coffee, sangria, spiked iced tea, and various beers. When dinner time rolls around, switch the specials so they include evening drinks like wine, martinis, and manhattans.


    Getting the Word Out


    restaurant marketing


    You’ll want to inform your regular customers and other potential patrons of any Mother’s Day plans your restaurant has. The further in advance you make your plans known, the easier it is for people to plan. Posting detailed fliers in and around your restaurant is a great way to notify local residents of your holiday celebration. If possible, include special drink and food offerings on the flier that will appeal to patrons. Should the opportunity arise, servers and bartenders should relay the restaurant’s plan to customers.

    A more modern way to spread the word is by leveraging social media. Especially if you’re active on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, posting virtual flyers could be all you need to ensure your restaurant is packed all day and all night.


    Requiring Reservations




    By encouraging customers to make reservations in advance, you help ensure your restaurant’s Mother’s Day operation runs as smoothly as possible. If patrons show up to your restaurant hungry and ready to eat, they will not take it well if there’s an extended wait before they can be seated. In fact, they’ll likely be hesitant to return to your restaurant in the future. Make it clear through fliers, social media, and word of mouth that your restaurant is booking tables in advance of the holiday. When blocking out time slots, assume patrons will spend a few more minutes at a table than usual for the special occasion.


    Make this Mother’s Day a celebration people won’t soon forget. Since the holiday is such a busy time for restaurants, it’s essential not to fret about the number of customers you draw. Patrons will show up—if for no other reason than people eat out on Mother’s Day. So what really matters is providing a quality experience for each and every patron. Doing so can help ensure he or she will want to come back and spend future holidays at your restaurant.


    mothers day celebration

    Concession Stand Equipment, Food, and Drinks

    Written by: J. Vigotsky


    concession stand


    As the temperature heats up, seasonal concession stands will start opening for business. Whether you run a concession stand at a pool, fair, park, carnival, or ball field, it’s important to offer popular foods that consistently attract hungry customers. The following is a list of food equipment that’s commonly found at concession stands and can help your business thrive.


    Popcorn Machine


    One of the most profitable food items, popcorn has been a popular snack since the 1800s. Beloved by both customers and owners of concession stands, popcorn is both inexpensive and delicious. It’s also perfect for spectator sports—which is why popcorn is found at thousands of ball fields throughout the United States. If you want to offer popcorn at your concession stand, be sure to outfit it invest in a reliable commercial popcorn machine. Featuring built-in warmer lights that ensure your popcorn remains hot and delicious, electric popcorn machines conveniently fit atop counters and attract the attention of customers.


    Hot Dog Equipment


    hot dog machine


    No food is more intertwined with American culture than the hot dog. After all, the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest routinely draws thousands of spectators. If that’s not impression enough, over one million people watch the event from home on TV. Suffice to say—America loves hot dogs, and it’s only reasonable that your concession stand offers them by using commercial hot dog rollers or hot dog steamers. Some hot dog steamers conveniently come equipped with bun warmers that keep hot dog buns soft and warm. Rotisserie style hot dog broilers proudly display hot dogs to your customers.


    Pizza Oven


    Pizza is a perennial crowd pleaser. No matter who you’re with, it’s highly likely that everyone will be willing to split a delicious pie of pizza. That’s why it’s important for concession stands to include pizza with their food offerings. But it’s not enough to just have pizza—you want to show it off too! Capable of displaying two pizza pies while also keeping them warm, a heated shelf warmer is the perfect solution for concession stands. For cooking pizza, a compact countertop pizza oven is ideal for smaller stands that have minimal storage space. Make sure to also keep a pizza cutter on hand so you can cut individual slices.


    Cotton Candy Machine


    cotton candy machine 


    Beloved by sweet tooths everywhere, cotton candy is probably the food on this list that’s the most fun to eat. Kids love strutting around with a big stick of blue or pink cotton candy—showing it off for the world to see. If your concession stand is frequented by young kids, it’d be in your best interest to give them what they crave by investing in a cotton candy machine. To properly display freshly spun cotton candy to your customers, utilize a display stand.  


    Slushy Machine


    What’s better than cooling off with an ice cold slushy? Whether you prefer strawberry, cherry, grape, orange, lemon, or something else, there is a slushy flavor for everyone. These bright, sugar-rich concoctions can be easily made and distributed by using a commercial slushy machine. Especially if you operate at a pool or somewhere else kids go to relax, a slushy machine will make a great addition to your concession stand. Machines are available in several sizes, with some machines holding only one flavor and other machines holding up to three.


    Nacho Chip Merchandiser


    nacho chip warmer


    Invented in Mexico during the 1940s, nachos quickly spread throughout the southwest and eventually to the rest of the United States. Today, the dish is usually served as a snack or appetizer and has become a popular offering for concession stands. Whether you want to serve basic nachos with cheese or add beans, meat, and cilantro, a nacho chip merchandiser can help attract the attention of potential customers. In addition to bringing in business, these merchandisers also ensure your nachos taste delicious. These large glass boxes feature internal heating mechanisms that keep your tortilla chips warm and crunchy.


    Snow Cone Machines


    The ultimate in icey refreshment, snow cones are essentially shaved ice that’s been flavored. Snow cone machines—also known as commercial ice shavers—make it easy for concession stands to serve delicious snow cones to its assortment of customers. Make sure to maintain a steady supply of diverse snow cone syrup to ensure your customers’ satisfaction.


    Ice Cream Dipping Cabinets and Soft Serve Machines


    soft serve machine


    On blistering hot summer days, ice cream is the perfect snack to bring cool comfort to customers.  Concession stands have the option of offering soft serve ice cream, regular ice cream, or both. Offering soft serve ice cream requires you to outfit your foodservice with a commercial soft serve machine. Although most machines are full size floor models, our catalog also contains convenient countertop units. If you want to offer regular ice cream instead, you’ll need an ice cream dipping cabinet.  Many patrons to prefer to eat ice cream out of a cone rather than a cup. An ice cream cone holder can give you easy access to cones and make your operation run more smoothly. Commercial chest freezers are ideal for ensuring novelties like ice pops and ice cream bars remain frozen and delicious.


    Milkshake Machines


    Concession stands that offer regular ice cream might as well also offer milkshakes. Only requiring milk and ice cream, milkshakes can be prepared in all the distinct ice cream flavors your stand carries. Although vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry are the classic milkshake flavors, feel free to offer more unique milkshakes like banana, oreo, and mint—which is incredibly refreshing on a hot summer day. Compact milkshake machines occupy minimal space and can produce up to hundreds of delicious milkshakes per day.


    Commercial Griddles


    commercial griddle


    Add a few protein-rich offerings to your concession stand menu by carrying chicken and burgers. While there is a wide range of equipment that can cook these items, commercial countertop griddles are the best options for compact concession stands.  Perfect for cooking mouth-watering burgers and chicken, countertop griddles are available in a variety of sizes. Whether your concession stand is set up to use a gas or electric griddle, there’s a unit for you.


    Commercial Fryers


    Complement your chicken and burgers with delicious fried side dishes. Concession stand staples like French fries, onion rings, and mozzarella sticks are tasty and easy to make with commercial fryers. Units run on gas or electricity, and both countertop and floor model fryers are available. Make sure to equip your fryer with a perfectly sized fryer basket for optimal efficiency.


    Merchandising Refrigeration


    merchandising refrigerator


    Bottled water, soda, iced tea, lemonade, and juice can help quench your customers’ thirsts on sweltering summer days. Merchandising refrigerators can keep these drinks cold while providing clear views of what’s in stock. Available with anywhere from one to six sections, there is a perfect merchandising refrigerator for any size concession stand. Merchandising freezers also make great additions, as they’re perfect for holding ice, ice cream, ice cream novelty items, and frozen pizzas.


    Condiment Caddies and Racks


    What’s a hot dog without ketchup, mustard, and relish? Make sure your concession stand provides all the condiments necessary for customers to get the most out of their meals. Condiment squeeze bottles, salt and pepper shakers, and spice shakers. Condiment caddies and racks will help make organizing condiments easier than ever.


    Before your concession stand re-opens for the season—or has its official grand opening—make absolutely certain that it’s stocked with the equipment it’ll need to keep customers satisfied. The aforementioned items are great options, but a stand’s ideal menu and equipment will likely vary depending on what’s popular in its region. Make sure to tailor your foodservice business accordingly. 


    sunny concession stand