This Young Restaurant Firm Sells Equipment Cheaper Than Any Newcomer Has Before

SUPERADUPERA

Supera LLC, a new food service supply outfit headquartered in Denver, already offers a catalog of over 700 products, which is a ridiculous quantity when you consider that this company debuted back in August of 2013, i.e., thirteen months ago; i.e., they’ve been around for 1.1 years after you round up.

And their catalog isn’t just some five-and-dime selection of assorted pie tins and dinky plastic trinkets either — Supera sells refrigerators and freezers and water filters and stand-up floor fryers and, sure, smallwares too, stuff like frying pans and ladles and even those little, like, metal things, you know, those pointed upright metal things that’re placed along the line for cooks and servers to stab their completed tickets on, and then when one gets fully buried in tickets, you have to pick it up and like wrest the entire bundle of tickets off it all at once… the name’s on the tip of my tongue…

Anyway, the important thing, the take-home point here, is that Supera sells a lot of different products and, more importantly still, they sell these products at a lower price than almost anyone else.

So how exactly has Supera amassed such a diverse, cost-efficient catalog within a mere 1.083 years? Well, frankly, they didn’t so much begin as a garage-band-level company as they did a restaurant equipment supergroup — a handful of equipment veterans realized that if they teamed up they could cut prices through reduced redundancy. And this affordability-by-means-of-consolidation is why us food service wonks are so giddy over such a young company — high-quality equipment rarely comes this cheap.

— Spindles!

Those pointy, stabby, metal things: they’re called ‘spindles’, as in the thing that pricked Sleeping Beauty’s finger. Right, so if you need to buy an, er, spindle or something bigger like, say, a refrigerator or fryer, something whose price tag plays a major role in your decision-making, you should browse through Supera’s line of products where you’re likely to find a well-made, inexpensive model of that one thing that you’re looking for.

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People ♥ J.E.S. – Join The ♣ Already

Recently, when we received our 1,400th perfect rating over at customer review aggregate ShopperApproved.com, we figured, “What’s the harm in maybe collecting screenshots of our favorite reviews and sending out a good-natured, old-fashioned PR release?” Well, as it turned out, the harm there was: negligible. So, here we present our short compilation of ShopperApproved reviews written by actual opinionated customers like—but not exactly identical to—you!

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Whew! Luckily, we’re available to help procrastinators barely meet their deadlines year-round! And if you’re one of those manic, can-only-open-public-doorknobs-with-a-bleached-hankie types, we can likewise expedite your very special Christmas supplies and have them delivered to you just in time for Halloween.page-6(2)page-12(1) “Very nice” “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers” “My mother thanks you. My father thanks you. My sister thanks you. And I thank you.” “High Five!”
—Borat, Blanche DuBois, George M Cohan, and Borat, respectively.page-6(2)page-13(1)We’re all grown adults, but you guys are starting to make us blush…page-6(2)page-17(1) There don’t exist enough air quotes in the world to convey my skepticism that this review was in fact written by real-life person “Anonymous Customer” and not by JES employee Carl, available at phone extension 117.page-6(2)page-14(2)Ha! THANKS FOR CHOOSING JES RESTAURANT EQUIPMENT!page-6(2)page-13(2) Say again?page-6(2)page-5(1)You know what, Joseph? We could not agree with you more.

We truly respect our customers’ opinions on our service—feedback from you guys is obviously always welcome. If you want to see this list of reviews in its entirety, you can go to ShopperApproved.com, or visit ResellerRatings.com or BetterBusinessBureau.com for even more real-life, firsthand impressions.

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How to Remove Common Stains from Restaurant Booths

It’s easy to see why restaurant furniture designers have moved away from upholstering their booths in cloth to upholstering them in vinyl. Modern vinyl fabric, which honestly is barely recognizable as a plastic anymore, duplicates the skin-like plushness of leather while costing restaurateurs much less to own. And since vinyl repels water, most of the spills absorbed by cloth upholstery simply rolls off these seats. However as you’ve probably found out for yourself, vinyl is less than 100% impenetrable to stains. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the best cleaning techniques to undo vinyl’s most common blemishes, including solutions for ink, blood, scuffs, gum, rips, rain, the sun, & crumbs.

Ink

Restaurant BoothThat new streak across your booth: do you know whether it came from a ballpoint pen or rollerball pen? It makes a difference. Rollerball pens, pens whose ink will blot when pressed against a piece of paper—think Uni-ball pens or Pilots—use water-based inks, which take more time to set into vinyl than their oil-based counterparts. With rollerball stains, just wipe down the booth with dish soap and water, and then dry.

Stains that come from Bics and most click-pens will take a few extra steps to lift but they’re not invulnerable. Act quick and follow these steps:

  1. Wipe down the upholstery with water and dish soap (Sometimes that’s all it takes.).

  2. Dry the area.

  3. Lightly dip a cotton swab or cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and rub the area clean, carefully avoiding other parts of the seat.

  4. When rubbing alcohol fails, you can use hydrogen peroxide as a more powerful solvent, but be cautious as this will discolor the vinyl if left standing for too long.

  5. Soak the affected area in a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution for thirty minutes and then wipe away.

Bloodstains

A speedy response to spilled blood will give it less time to ruin your upholstery. If the blood hasn’t dried or set into the booth yet, clean the spot away with a wet, soapy rag. Otherwise follow the steps below—and please, don’t forget to wear gloves.

  1. Add a teaspoon of dish soap and a tablespoon of ammonia to a spray bottle filled with cold water.

  2. Since ammonia causes the dye of some vinyl fabrics to fade, test the mixture on a hidden part of the upholstery and check for discoloration.

  3. Excepting any discoloration, spray the solution over the bloodstain and let it stand for 3 to 5 minutes.

  4. Most of the blood should have lifted. Gently scrub away the rest with the corner of a dry cloth.

  5. Wipe the ammonia solution away with a water dampened rag and dry.

Crumbs

A nearly surefire way to keep booths presentable is to just clean the darn things already. As soon as your guests leave the table, send a busboy over there to gather dishes and wipe down the seats. We know this is Restaurant 101 stuff, but when you and your busboys get lazy, bacteria will start to grow between the cracks of your restaurant booths. Eventually some guest will complain about a bad smell and you’ll have to crawl into the booths yourself and scrape out colony after colony of bacteria. Regular wipe downs and weekly once-overs with a vacuum hose will keep crumbs, and by extension bacteria, at bay.

Shoe Scuffs

Scuffs can be easily removed from restaurant booths using Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, the same product that people use on linoleum floors. It’s not expensive but if you just can’t spare the extra time or money, synthetic turpentine works almost as well.

  1. Clean the booth with dish soap and water, and then dry.

  2. Using synthetic turpentine or mineral spirits, lightly sponge the affected area with care. Rubbing too hard might damage the vinyl.

  3. Dry up all solvents when finished.

  4. Wash the booth with soap and water again and dry.

Sunlight & Rain

SunlightImagine one of those old poolside lounge chairs whose seat and back were made from rows of taut rubber straps. Remember those? If you left one of those chairs outdoors for too many summers in a row, the rubber straps would become faded and cracked and hard. Though vinyl is better suited to the sun and the rain than cheap rubber, too much exposure to the elements will make your furniture hard and brittle like those old poolside chairs. You can prevent UV and water damage to your booths by treating them with a vinyl conditioner every month or so. It’s basically like suntan lotion for your booths.

Chewing Gum

Some either careless or passive-aggressive guest has stuck a wad of gum to the cushion of your booth. So now what? Well, try this—

  1. Press an ice cube against the gum until it hardens.

  2. With your fingernail or a dull knife, carefully chip away as much of the gum as you can.

  3. After scraping most of residue away, remove the remnants by lightly dabbing a rag of synthetic turpentine or mineral spirits over the leftover specks.

  4. Dry up all the solvent when finished.

  5. Wash the booth off with soap and water and then dry.

Rips, Cuts, & Tears

Upholstery RepairCompared with stains, scuffs, and chewing gum, a cut in your vinyl upholstery will require a much more complicated fix. Your cheapest option is to buy a vinyl repair kit and use it to cement the tear closed. With vinyl repair kits you pour a liquefied plastic onto the cut and press down on the slowly-congealing liquid with a sheet of grain-textured paper, which you then hold in place until the plastic has hardened. Unfortunately no matter how careful you are, the repair will be noticeable—the new texture won’t match the old one, and the color is always a little off. But there’s not much else you can do. You can’t stitch it. That’d be noticeable and, besides, the rip would quickly spread. You definitely can’t ignore the problem. The best option is to reupholster, but if you don’t have the time or the money for that, vinyl repair kits are really your best option.

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How JES Helped a Local Bar Recover From a Catastrophe

A Blessing in Disguise

Last winter, during an overcast and subfreezing afternoon, a neon sign hanging inside Sports Break Grill & Bar threw a fluke spark, and within a few minutes, half the barroom was overrun with flames.

“To be honest, the fire was a blessing in disguise,” said Kevin Prater, co-manager of Sports Break, a bar that in recent years had become a headache. “For a waitress to pick up her food, she’d have to run to the back of the building, through the kitchen door, all the way to the back side of kitchen, and around the expo line before she’d finally see the food. Then of course she’d pick up the customer’s food and turn around and go all the way back. Our waitresses were running two miles for every meal.”

In his kitchen, the cooks and servers were regularly bumping into each other. Behind his bar, the bartenders fought over limited taps. Kevin had known for years that the flow of the place just didn’t work, but renovations were continually pushed back. That January fire didn’t just scorch the taps and bar stools; it turned 23 years’ worth of complacency into a dustpan-sized pile of ash.

Sports_Break

A disaster or an opportunity?

As he and the other Sports Break managers surveyed the remains of their charred bar, there was no argument to whether they should rebuild—despite its tangled layout, Sports Break had been their shared baby. The real question was: do we build it back the way it was or do we buckle down and build it as it ought to be?

The answer seemed obvious. That next morning Kevin woke up, climbed out of bed, and dug out the phone number to J.E.S.

 

The Right People for The Job

JES_Charts_Design

Scott’s Charts and Diagrams

Scott Clifton is a tall, gentle guy—quick to a joke, quick to admit a mistake. Though he’s now the general manager of J.E.S. Restaurant Equipment, he began his career by designing small restaurants across the Atlantic coast. Investors would call him up, describe their dream restaurants, and Scott would drive however many miles to meet with them and help assemble their new kitchens. A client might be an old pro, already aware of what exactly he needed, and Scott would assist him with stuff like HVAC regulations, municipal permits, and tricky installations. Sometimes the clients were vague with their conceptions. They’d seem like the sorts of people who could sit down in a barber chair, and when asked what kind of haircut they wanted, would respond, “Don’t matter to me, just make it look good.” In cases like these, Scott had almost free reign to create his ideal kitchen, a kitchen with flowing corridors, couched equipment, and open, ergonomic prep areas.

The Sports Break managers had worked with Scott before and they chose him specifically to remake their burnt down bar. “Scott was phenomenal,” Kevin told us afterwards. “Any time we called him up, he was right there for us. Totally hands on. A true Johnny-on-the-spot.”

The New Bar Die, Assembled by Sports Break's Waitresses

The New Bar Die, Assembled by Sports Break’s Waitresses

J.E.S. was involved in every step of the redesign process from initial blueprints to pricing to ordering to final installation. The owners of Sports Break drew up a Christmas list of the things that they wanted for their new bar—a F.O.H. waitress station, a customer service stand, a blender station, a to-go counter—and they trusted Scott to make it all come true.

For the bar itself, they chose to go with a Glastender Bar Die construction. Scott argued—and the managers agreed—that this construction would best serve their particular restaurant. “Bar dies,” Scott explained, “are these modular, interlocking panels that fit together and act as the wall of a bar. Now the cool part about these things is that they have the bar equipment built right in. If you want a sink in your bar, you buy a panel with a sink attached; if you want a, I don’t know, an ice-well, you buy a panel with an ice-well attached. They don’t stand on legs: they’re bolted right into the floor. That’s hugely advantageous. No cracks, so they don’t smell up the place the way Woodwalls do—with these things, beer bounces right off…”

The Cook Station

The Cook Station

After the schematics were drawn up and a team of J.E.S. service agents had bolted the bar dies to the barroom floor, Scott began work on the kitchen. “It’s terrific,” Kevin later told us. “Scott created this flow that allows waitresses to come into the kitchen, dump their dirty dishes in the sink, flow around to the expo line, pick-up a new plate, and go right back out through the door.” The service agents lugged refrigerators, ovens, sinks, and worktables into the kitchen and installed them all without a hitch.

The now-finished kitchen gleams with stainless steel. Because of its expert layout, everything a cook or server might need is centralized within arms’ reach—ingredients, cups, spices, and glasses are always visible and on the ready. Kevin didn’t get a bar kitchen; he got a restaurant kitchen. “I’ve been in this business for 35 years, so being able to put something in place according to a vision that I’ve developed over the years, it’s been… it’s been a treat.”

Taps  The New Taps  Bar  IslandNew Booths  Kitchen  Kitchen  The New Kitchen

A Bar Reborn

This Friday, Sports Break in Greenwood celebrates its grand reopening. Before the fire, it had three taps; now it has twelve. Before the fire, the waitresses were counting miles; now they’re counting meters. Before the fire, customers always seemed to be waiting on something; now they’re happier than ever before. When Sports Break called JES up, they asked for state-of-the-art everything—futuristic wait stations, futuristic appliances, futuristic bar taps. But when you step through the door for the first time, it doesn’t feel like the future: it feels like right now. It feels like the beginning of a good night.

Sports Break Grill & Bar

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Vive la France! We have Revol Porcelaine!

Revol mini stew pot

If I mention French porcelain, you envision pink flowers on a traditional Country French plate.  Revol Porcelaine is NOT that French porcelain.  Google the phrase “French porcelain” and you’ll find several companies selling examples of said plates.   Revol France has its headquarters in Saint-Uze, where the Revol brothers started their business and created Revol porcelain in 1789, during the French Revolution.  Revol USA is located in Alpharetta, GA.  Very few companies on the planet are thriving after 225 years, let alone still owned by the founding family, but Revol is.  They’ve outlasted governments.  What makes a business so enduring?

Joseph-Marie and Francois Revol noticed white streaked kaolin deposits on the ground after a storm.  The discovery led them to build a stronger line of cookware.  First and fore-most, innovation means longevity.  In its eleventh generation, the company pursues the same path of making dishes better than they were made before.  Olivier Passot took the reins from his father Bertrand in June, 2007 and continues the tradition of ingenuity.   Revol’s white porcelain pieces were originally built to be restaurant ware.  They don’t absorb liquid, oil, odor or bacteria, so they’re completely hygienic.  They’ve been baked at 1320 C (2408 F), so extreme temperatures aren’t a concern, and neither is chipping or scratching.  The line goes from freezer, to oven or microwave, to table, and then to the dishwasher.  One dish contains the meal from the time it’s made until the time it’s consumed.  Now you’re imagining a 200 year old company making dishware that’s nearly invulnerable, so you’re not seeing those flowered plates, but are you picturing the sort of dish you might find in an archaeological dig?  That’s your second misconception.

The Grande Classiques Collection’s classic white favorites are still available, but they’re a more modern traditional style, complimenting both classic and contemporary dining venues.  The Eclipse line of bakeware stylish and long-lasting.  The warmth of its reds combined with the elegance of its blacks would be beautiful and fitting in either Italian or Asian restaurants.  Basalt is an interesting collection made of porcelain slate.  Revol describes the look as “noble and natural”.  The risks associated with natural slate, scratching and chipping, are avoided with this rugged line which lends itself to serving everything from appetizers to desserts.  Solid & Likid Collection, with modern art forms, DOES look like a museum exhibit,  but not the one that’s 200 years old.  Upscale and cutting edge, it transforms even simple meals into elegant dining.

solidlikidbudvase

Revol Porcelaine is a stellar example of “old meets new” with a level of integrity designed to endure like the company itself.  Vive la France!

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Never Reveal Your Secrets: How Ice Makers Maintain The Freestyle Illusion

The Magic Inside A Glass Of Coke

Coke_FreestyleIn 2006 Coca-Cola ran a commercial that imagined the inside of a vending machine as a magical, motorized ecosystem where small creatures prep each bottle of Coke before it’s eventually dispensed. Dust bunnies slobber condensate on the bottle; an industrial fan shreds snowmen into ice flakes, which then blow and stick onto the bottle’s glass; a climactic parade with brass band playing, fireworks exploding, and confetti swaying downwards marches the Coke along a miniature Main Street before sliding it ceremoniously down the vending chute.

—If only.

This advertisement showcases a key aspect of Coca-Cola’s appeal: people yearn to suspend their disbelief. The Coca-Cola Freestyle, while less fantastical and more science-fictional than this advert, is based around the same marketing principle. Consider its design. The customer sees only its touchscreen controls mounted within a single-case enclosure. With the press of a finger, a specific drink—one of a hundred forty-six options—materializes. Remember in Star Trek?—the replicator? I guarantee you that the USS Enterprise’s replicator, a machine that could instantly create anything its operator desired, was a major influence on the Freestyle’s design. It’s genius marketing: Coca-Cola took the tired act of dispensing soda and transformed it into a sci-fi miracle.

The Power of Prestidigitation

Coke Freestyle

Behind The Scenes

If you own a Freestyle, you know that this miracle is nothing more than a sleight of hand. The only substantial difference between a Freestyle machine and a conventional soda fountain is syrup concentration. Whereas traditional soda fountains pump in relatively un-concentrated syrup from 5-gallon bag-in-box stockpiles, Freestyle machines use small flavor cartridges that squirt a single, highly-concentrated drip of soda into each customer’s cup. It’s a matter of 5-gallon boxes versus compact flavor cartridges. That’s it. The sleek, plastic enclosure? Smoke. The front-mounted, touch-activated screen? Mirrors.

Most people aren’t yet privy to how Freestyle machines work. Relentlessly hopeful when it comes to futurology, the general public has been hoodwinked by the Freestyle, by its screen, by its rounded corners, and by its stainless steel docking bay. We just can’t resist technology. From USA Today: “Fast-food chains that have installed Freestyle […] have seen an average 6% to 8% increase in beverage purchases”. Coke’s magic trick succeeded, and even  its critics can’t deny the facts—Freestyles are good for business.

Maintaining The Illusion

There’s a problem, though: Freestyles aren’t sold with ice makers included. If you want ice to come out of your Freestyle, you have two options. (1) You can regularly get one of your employees to grab a step ladder from the back, grab a bucket from the back, fill the bucket up to the brim with ice, waddle with the bucket to the Freestyle in the front of your store, set down the ice bucket, unfold the step ladder, pick up the ice bucket, climb up the step ladder with ice bucket in hand, lift the lid at the top of the Freestyle, lift the ice bucket filled to the brim with ice up and above the Freestyle, dump the ice from the ice bucket into the Freestyle, close the lid, descend the ladder, go to the back, put it all away, and repeat this process several times every day, in the front of your store, in the presence of your customers—it’s loud; it’s messy; it’s time-consuming; it’s unprofessional. Or.

Or (2) you can, instead, install a ice maker on the top of your Freestyle. Coca-Cola has designed their Freestyle machines so that ice machines can be easily attached to their tops. Most restaurant owners with traditional soda fountains buy mounted ice makers like these anyway to avoid the loud, messy, time-consuming, unprofessional problems above. But owners of Freestyle machines have an additional reason to outfit their soda dispensers with ice makers. They have the Magician’s Code to uphold.

Lugging an ice bucket into the middle of your store during a lunch shift and climbing a wobbly step ladder to dump ice into your supposedly space-age Freestyle ruins the machine’s mystique. It reveals the Freestyle as a regular old soda fountain with pumps and gears and nothing new to offer. With an ice machine installed on top, however, the Freestyle becomes totally self-contained and can operate according to its reputation. If you pay the $3,600 a year to lease out a Freestyle without installing the optional ice machine, you’re undermining your purchase and, ultimately, wasting your money.

Choosing Your Assistant

Ice_Machine

The Indigo IY-0524A

Manitowoc Ice Incorporated is a sixty-year-old company that manufactures no-nonsense ice machines. Two of their units, the Indigo IB1094YC and the Indigo IY0524A, were designed specifically for the Coca-Cola Freestyle. The former unit (~$4,000 after rebate) can produce 1000 pounds of ice per day, but you probably don’t need that much. No, we recommend the IY0524A (~$2100 after rebate), a self-contained, self-regulated, energy-efficient, low-cost, medium-production Industry Leader. This ice maker quietly hums along all day, automatically dropping ice into your stylish Freestyle without any outside assistance. The Indigo IY-0524A features a 24-hour preventative maintenance and diagnostic feedback system that constantly monitors when your Freestyle needs ice and when the Indigo can power down. You can set the unit so that it runs only during the day or only during peak hours. Anything that you could reasonably want from an ice maker is provided by the Indigo.

The Freestyle is far from perfect, far from delivering its implicit promise. But it is the future. Those flavor cartridges, while revolutionarily meek,  allow for more options within a smaller space. When you purchase an ice machine for your Freestyle, you add substance to these illusional, pumiceous machines and you add depth to your present, very real business.

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Opening Your Own Restaurant. (How It’s REALLY Done.)

So you want to open your own restaurant.  It’s a more popular field than ever before because less people are taking time to cook.   Maybe you’ve seen that perfect old building being remodeled in town, and envisioned it fully of happy diners expounding on your brilliance.  Seems like a good place to start?  Wrong answer!  There’s a logical process to opening your own restaurant, and it doesn’t start with the cutest old building you’ve ever seen.

menu

Begin with your smallest, but most important piece of restaurant equipment…the menu.  If you don’t know what you’re going to cook, you’re not going to know what sort of equipment you need to cook it.  (If you can afford one of everything, you may skip the rest of this blog and call us immediately.)   If you only want to start out with the equipment you need, write down a menu.

After your menu’s completed, seriously, this would be a good time to contact J.E.S Restaurant Equipment, because the next thing you need to plan is purchasing equipment.  Once you know what you need to prepare the dishes on your menu, you can plan a lay-out (flow) for your kitchen which will allow for cooking in a time and cost efficient manner.  You’ll need to decide whether this will be a full-service restaurant, a take-out restaurant, or a counter service sandwich or coffee shop.  All these decisions will help determine your need for square footage.

Knowing what sort of equipment, how the flow works, and how much square footage is needed, NOW you can consider that cute old building.  Simply put, will it work?  Also, you might want a traffic study.  How much traffic will be passing?  Is it the sort of traffic that’s stopping to eat?  Can you offer easily accessed parking?  Answering these questions can be vital to the health of your business, and need to be a part of the decision for your location.

Elizabeth's

Having chosen your location, contact your local Health Department with your plans for approval.  (It’s wise to keep them updated throughout the steps of your process from this point forward so you won’t be surprised by delays due to unmet requirements.)   Begin choosing décor.  Furniture, lighting and front-of-the-house flow can now be wisely planned and chosen.

As you’re getting closer to opening, marketing becomes important.  If you’ve chosen your location wisely, people already see that something’s happening, which means you’re generating curiosity.  It’s time to choose a marketing strategy so people know when you’re opening, what you’re serving, and what sort of environment to expect.  Introduce yourself.

A “soft opening” before your Grand Opening is helpful.  This can last a few days or a few weeks.  You’ll want to hire staff prior to your soft opening, and it’s a good idea to hire about 50% more people than you need, because one thing the soft opening will reveal  is which of them will stay.  Those first days of serving family and friends provide an opportunity for working out any glitches.

blue-and-red-oval-open-led-sign

If you follow these steps in order, and you follow sound business logic as well as your heart, the Grand Opening of that cute old building will be the start of something big!

 

——

Need to quote a whole restaurant from furniture to fixtures? Get a full restaurant equipment quote at JES Restaurant Equipment.

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Stadiums Need Kloppenberg, because Ice Bergs are Hard to Find.

Think over the events you’ve attended.   Where were the largest ones held?  Mine were in stadiums.  Think about your stadium purchases.  (Don’t think long.  You could buy a small car with what you’ve spent.  That might make you weep.)  What’s the one thing you’ve purchased at every event?  Based on the length of the lines, you’re like me.  You bought something to drink, most likely for several people.  Like me, you may have wondered if those cups came with an optional diving board.  Have you ever thought to multiply the number of cups by the number or people you see holding them?  Next time, after the event, look around.  Hundreds of them are everywhere.  Each contained ice when it was sold.  Stadiums unquestionably have a need for ice storage no one else has.

ise-advantage-thumb-small

Recently I had the honor of introducing you to a new line, Kloppenberg.   If you remember that, you know they make stainless steel laboratory furniture.  You might not realize they make another line as well.  These are humongous ice bins, made to the same exacting standards as laboratory furniture.  Kloppenberg is giddy to customize an order for you, whether you’re in a medical facility or a stadium. They make ice bins so large you can purchase a serious ice machine, such as one of the high output Ice-O-Matics, store it in a central location, and add shuttle carts, so that ice can be transported easily to any vendor on the concourse.

My experiences with ice storage are rooted in a background of restaurant management and vertical challenge.  I’ve never reached the bottom of an ice bin, and have always wondered if Cro Magnon Man might be frozen down there.  He isn’t at the bottom of these bins, because the chutes are.  That’s right, gravity does the work, and gravity’s the law!  No one has to shovel several hundred, or thousand, pounds of ice into a shuttle.  Park the shuttle under the bin, and wheel it away when it’s full.  Yes, scoops and paddles are available for those who prefer, but a stadium is larger than that.  You need tons of ice in a hurry, and Kloppenberg doesn’t care how much you need.  They’ll customize an ice bin to any size you ask, and make it to the highest medical standards of precision and quality.

Now about that diving board…

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An Obvious Way To Advertise That Restaurant Owners Often Ignore


SignIf your restaurant’s front doors open over a busy downtown sidewalk, you own a plot of property that is appropriate for advertising’s most populist canvas, the A-frame sidewalk chalkboard. Come on—how can you not love these chalkboards? They’re an irresistible, unconventional, customizable pedestrian flytrap. And I assure you, there are at least three aspiring painters or poets or typographers working for you already who would kill to play with a stub of chalk every morning before lunch. Sure, chalkboard signs are analogue—old media—but so what? Neil Young put it best on Rust Never Sleeps: “…It’s old, but it’s good…”

Since before YouTube and AdWords and viral marketing, signboards have been around: they were here before the Taco Bell Chihuahua, the Budweiser Iguanas and the Doublemint Twins; they were here before the word Apple meant a type of computer, before Coca-Cola begot New Coke, before New Coke begot Coke Classic; they were here before an Italian actor, dressed as an Indian chief, wept about American highway litterbugs; they were here before slogans and jingles and greasy spokesmen became synonymous with Madison Avenue—before Ovaltine buried decoder rings in jars of gray chocolate dust, before the Marlboro Man appeared suddenly in a puff of smoke; signboards have been around since before Pears Soap, before Common Sense, before the Mayflower brochures; they were here long before Amerigo Vespucci, the greatest ad man of all time, publicized himself by franchising two continents; they were here before the printing press existed; they were here before books existed; they were here before the English language existed—way way back, a very very long time ago, during the early days of the Middle Kingdom of Ancient Egypt, a group of businessmen painted hieroglyphics onto giant papyrus posters and introduced history to the concept of outdoor advertising.

Mad MenCentury after century, entrepreneurs have relied on signboards to garner more business. In 200 BC, Alexandria had a population of around 300,000 people—the size of current day Pittsburgh—and the only way shopkeepers could lure in new customers was to affix papyrus advertisements to the stone walls outside their stores. These businesses succeeded and their ideas traveled. A Song Dynasty-era copper sheet, embossed with the words “Jinan Liu’s Fine Needle Shop”, is the oldest known advert that has survived to the present day. Jinan Liu couldn’t have known that 1,300 years after his death people would still be discussing his fine needles, but such is the power of advertising! By 1000 AD, sign boards had become ubiquitous. In the Middle Ages, most people couldn’t read, so cobblers, millers, and blacksmiths would etch images associated with their trade (shoes, bags of flour, anvils) into the wooden boards that hung above their doors. But by then, the signboard was already ancient. Several 9th century advertising experts told business owners to ditch their signage. “They aren’t social enough,” the experts said, “Invest in a town-crier. That’s where the future’s headed.”

There is no way to conceptualize how many inventions and conventions from the past 4,000 years have gone extinct. Only a select few—hammers, livestock, fences, pottery, shoes, signs, etc.—have survived. To even think that signs were once invented is ridiculous. It’s so simple a concept, so fundamental, that we can hardly imagine a world before the storefront sign was born. And like all fundamental tools, signboards serve a multitude of purposes:

  1. They reinforce brand awareness
  2. They associate your business with a landmark
  3. They attract impulse customers
  4. They give your brand personality.

So if you don’t already own one, and if you’re humble enough to admit that you don’t know more than four thousand years worth of human history, consider buying a $90 chalkboard sign today before they go out of style.

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Low Country Boil With The Folks At JES

Some weeks back, Eric swore that he would treat the whole company to a Low Country Boil, and yesterday, finally, he lugged a pair of propane tanks into the warehouse and fired up a big, round metal pot brimmed to the lid with red potatoes, sausages, fresh shrimp, and half-cobs of sweet yellow corn. An hour before closing-time, that spicy shrimpy smell had drifted from the warehouse into our office and hovered, cruelly, right in front of our faces. If you called us last night and we sounded a touch distracted, well, I apologize.

Once six o’clock arrived, we all skittered into the warehouse, grabbed some tongs, obscured our plates, and took our suppers to a makeshift dining room that had sprouted up in the middle of the store. We sat down and stuffed our cheeks. Utensils were abandoned. Paper towel rolls were unspooled. By the end of the night, a heap of husked shrimp exoskeletons had piled to the top of the garbage bin. And guess what—we enjoyed it! Us southerners aren’t ashamed of our appetites.

Anyway, pictures tell better than words. Here are a few shots from last night’s get-together

Food

A colander of ripe taters.

Chef Eric

Chef Eric stirs the ol’ Carolina Cauldron.

Heaven

It tasted even better than it looked!

Gettin' Da Goodz

“Are you ready for this?” Eric asks the world.

Such a happy family

The very photogenic JES team sits down for a family dinner.

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