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Middleby Acquires Firex Srl

The Middleby Corporation announced the acquisition of Firex Srl. The company is a leading manufacturer of steam cooking equipment for the commercial foodservice industry. Based in Sedico, Italy, Firex has approximately $20 million USD in annual revenues. “The Firex acquisition extends our product offerings in steam and sous vide cooking, categories which continue to grow due to health benefits and enhanced food quality,” said Selim Bassoul, CEO of The Middleby Corporation. “Firex products are highly innovative and include automated features allowing for reduced labor, increased capacity and standardization of cooking processes. We see expanded opportunities for growth as we introduce Firex products in the U.S. to complement our current equipment lineup and in the international markets leveraging our infrastructure and customer relationships globally.” – Source: The Middleby Corporation.

 The Impact of Music in Restaurants

Do you think the music you hear in a restaurant matters? And how much does it matter? Interior design strategies are vital for any successful restaurant. Menus, lighting, seating layout, materials, and colors all combine to deliver a great customer experience and to bring the brand to life. Of all sensory inputs, we respond quickest to sound. It’s the sense that reaches the brain first and functions as an organizer for the rest of our senses. Whether we realize it or not, sound guides our choices every single moment. So why are sounds and music so often overlooked as part of the design strategy? Primarily because nobody has tested exactly how music that matches a brand influences sales, emotions, and guest experience. Until now. Our research shows that brand-fit music can enhance a restaurant experience, make guests stay longer and spend more money. – Source: The National Restaurant Association.

Middleby Acquires Ve.Ma.C. Srl

The Middleby Corporation announced the acquisition of Ve.Ma.C. The company is a leading designer and manufacturer of handling, automation and robotics solutions for protein food processing lines. The company is based in Castelnuovo Rangone, Italy and has approximately $15 million USD in annual revenues. “This acquisition extends our capabilities related to automation and robotics, providing for further opportunities to integrate our existing food processing equipment offerings. We can now provide more comprehensive end to end solutions for our customers with reduced labor, increased capacity and greater operating efficiency,” said Selim Bassoul, CEO of The Middleby Corporation. “We are very excited about Ve.Ma.C. as a key addition to our portfolio as we continue to evolve our platform of fully automated solutions.” – Source: The Middleby Corporation.

Brinker to Take on 250 Apprentices

The Dallas-based casual-dining restaurant company, which owns and operates the Chili’s Grill & Bar and Maggiano’s Little Italy chains, said the plan is part of its partnership with The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation to provide on-the-job education and training to the next generation of the industry’s workforce.

The plan is to offer these team members additional skills, management training and other opportunities that advance their careers and incomes. “Our apprenticeship program provides education and training opportunities to create a more defined career path for millions of Americans who work in restaurants, foodservice and hospitality,” said Educational Foundation executive vice president Rob Gifford. “With support from companies like Brinker, together we’re working to build a well-trained workforce that meets the needs of our labor-intensive industry.” Rick Badgley, Brinker’s senior vice president and chief people officer, said participating in the apprenticeship program is one way the company is trying to bring more experienced and well-trained employees into the industry’s workforce. “The restaurant industry is known for being a stop along the way in most people’s careers,” he said. “We will be in jeopardy if we don’t show team members a clear path to long-term growth. That’s why Brinker is trying to lead the way.” Badgley added that the company is determined to prepare the apprentices for their futures and rewarding careers. “By partnering with the NRAEF, we are able to take our current internal apprenticeship program and provide team members with official industry credentials, which are transferrable. This will give them a foundation of industry accomplishment for next steps.” The apprenticeship program, the first of its kind in the restaurant and hospitality industry, was created in 2016, in partnership with the American Hotel & Lodging Association. Funded by a $1.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, the program debuted last year. The DOL renewed its funding commitment for the program earlier this year. The NRAEF and AHLA plan to have 1,000 participants enrolled in HSRA by year-end. – Source: The National Restaurant Association.

Marfrig Global Foods to acquire 51% stake in National Beef

Marfrig Global Foods, one of the world’s largest animal protein producers, has reached an agreement to acquire a 51% stake in National Beef Packing Co., L.L.C. for $969 million. Based in Kansas City, National Beef is the fourth-largest beef processor in the United States with slaughtering capacity of 12,000 heads of cattle per day and annual sales of $7.3 billion.

National Beef is controlled by Leucadia National Corp., which owns a 79% interest in the company. Once the transaction is concluded, Marfrig Global Foods will become the world’s second-largest beef processor with sales of $13 billion. Marfrig said the acquisition of National Beef fits into the company’s strategic plan, achieving two key objectives. First, the deal consolidates Marfrig’s position in the beef industry. National Beef exports to 40 countries, including Japan, which is a market currently closed to beef exports from Brazil. “The acquisition of National Beef represents the realization of a unique opportunity,” said Martín Secco, chief executive officer of Marfrig. “With the transaction, we will have operations in the world’s two largest beef markets, will gain access to extremely sophisticated consumer countries and will be able to grow while maintaining rigorous financial discipline.”

Second, the transaction is expected to improve Marfrig’s leverage ratio. Marfrig said it will consolidate 100% of the results of National Beef following the transaction’s closing. In 2017, Marfrig said its total debt corresponded to 4.55 times its EBITDA, a ratio that will fall to 3.35 times following completion of the transaction. In addition to the acquisition of National Beef, Marfrig said it has taken other steps to deleverage, including the decision to sell Keystone Foods, a supplier of value-added food products to the food service, retail, convenience and industrial industries. The sale of Keystone Foods and acquisition of National Beef is expected to help Marfrig achieve its goal of reaching a leverage ratio of 2.5 times by the end of 2018. “The acquisition of National Beef reflects our sustainable growth strategy,” said Marcos Molina, chairman of the board of directors of Marfrig Global Foods. “From now on, we have become the Brazilian company of the sector with the best financial health, proved into the lowest rates of leverage.” Marfrig said National Beef’s key executives will remain in place, led by Tim Klein as c.e.o. Meanwhile, the board of managers of National Beef will consist of nine members, including five nominated by Marfrig, two by Leucadia and two by the other minority members. “We are pleased to remain a significant shareholder in National Beef and to partner with Marfrig and the company’s management team in its continued development,” said Rich Handler, c.e.o. of Leucadia and Brian Friedman, president of Leucadia. National Beef has two slaughterhouses located in Dodge City and Liberal, Kas., and accounts for approximately 13% of total U.S. cattle slaughtering capacity. Once the transaction closes, Leucadia will transfer control to Marfrig and remain a minority shareholder in National Beef, with a 31% interest. The U.S. Premium Beef, an association of American producers, will hold 15% and other shareholders with the remaining 3%. Leucadia and the other investors have agreed not to sell their shares in National Beef for at least five years. – Source: Food Business News.

Former McDonald’s CEO Invests in Veggie Fries

Farmwise, L.L.C., maker of fries, rings and tots made with vegetables, has closed a $4.5 million financing round led by Cleveland Avenue L.L.C., the venture capital firm founded by former McDonald’s Corp. chief executive officer Don Thompson. Founded in 2014, Boston-based Farmwise uses a blend of vegetables, legumes and potatoes to produce its Veggie Fries, Veggie Rings and Veggie Tots. The company experimented with more than 300 recipes before arriving at its current offerings. Farmwise products are all gluten-free and Non-GMO Project verified.

“As parents of three daughters, we’re focused on creating healthy products that we’re proud to serve our own family,” said Cristina Peters, co-founder of Farmwise. “Veggie Fries, Tots and Rings are a parent’s dream — crispy, fluffy and delicious with an exceptional nutritional profile.” Veggie Fries come in four varieties: Carrots with potatoes and white beans; broccoli with potatoes and white beans; cauliflower, chickpeas, red peppers and potatoes; and kale with potatoes, white beans and Tuscan herbs. Veggie Rings are available in two varieties: Butternut squash with sweet potatoes and white beans; and cauliflower with white beans and onions. Veggie Tots come in three varieties: Broccoli with sweet potatoes and white beans; cauliflower with potatoes and chickpeas; and beets with potatoes, carrots and white beans. “Our Cleveland Avenue investment philosophy is to search for emerging companies that have potential for mainstream success across multiple channels,” Mr. Thompson said.  “What Dave and Cristina have achieved in just four short years is impressive, and we look forward to helping Farmwise further accelerate their growth.”

Farmwise joins Beypnd Meat, Drink Maple, Bhakti, Farmer’s Fridge and SomruS in Cleveland Avenue’s investment portfolio. Joining Cleveland Avenue in the investment round was Home Market Foods, Inc., a protein company that markets frozen meatballs under the Cooked Perfect brand and frozen chicken under the Fire Grilled brand. – Source: Food Business News.

White Castle Introduces Impossible Burger Sliders

White Castle will debut the Impossible Slider — a variation on its iconic mini-sandwiches using the plant-based Impossible Burger — at 140 locations in New York, New Jersey and Chicagoland. The move makes the 400-unit hamburger chain, based in Columbus, Ohio, the largest restaurant group to serve the meat alternative. “Innovation has been core to everything we’ve done at White Castle since our founding in 1921,” said White Castle CEO Lisa Ingram, in a press release. “The fact that we are the first fast food chain to offer the Impossible Burger to our loyal customers epitomizes our history of being on the ‘bleeding edge’ of a rapidly evolving industry.”

The Impossible Sliders will be topped with smoked cheddar cheese, pickles, onion, and served on the brand’s signature bun. Each slider will cost $1.99 and can be purchased as part of a combo meal. The Impossible Burger’s creator, Impossible Foods, developed the “bleeding” burger — designed to closely mimic the texture and appearance of ground beef — from water, wheat protein, potato protein, coconut oil, and heme, a protein found in meat. The company’s goal is to create meat and dairy substitutes made entirely from plants, with a smaller environmental footprint than animal-based products. Vegetarian options have served White Castle well in the past, Ingram told NRN last year. “When we introduced our veggie slider and our black bean slider, we had customers coming in that don’t normally eat White Castle at all and were really excited to have vegetarian options at a QSR,” she said. Ingram has not been afraid to mix things up at the nearly 100-year-old family owned business. “We’ve done more product development in the last eight years than we’ve probably done in the last 80,” she said during the interview. “Most of those things are not products that we would have had 20 years ago but they are very, very relevant and desired by consumers today,” Ingram said.

Other menu introduction in recent years have included fruit smoothies, onion chips, Belgian waffle breakfast sandwiches and grilled chicken sliders. According to Jamie T. Richardson, a White Castle VP, the partnership with Impossible Foods was a natural fit. “They’re relatively brand new and changing the world, and they remind us of ourselves in our youth,” he said. “For us it’s about evolving taste and not just checking a box, but giving people different options,” Richardson said. “While the heart and soul of our business has been the original slider, customers are constantly telling us that they want more options.” The Impossible Burger is available in about 1,200 restaurants nationwide including at such brands as Fatburger, Umami Burger and Hopdoddy. The Impossible Burger made its debut at chef David Chang’s Momofuku Nishi in Manhattan in 2016. – Source: NRN.

Chipotle Pledges to Reduce Food Waste at Landfills

Chipotle Mexican Grill outlined several programs aimed at diverting 50 percent of its food waste from landfills by 2020. The pledge, announced Monday, is an expansion of existing efforts at the Denver-based chain. Chipotle’s more than 2,400 restaurants have already diverted 40 percent of food waste bound for landfills. The company outlined programs that will help it reach the 50-percent goal including training staff to minimize food waste during kitchen prep, expanding in-store recycling and composting programs, and performing waste audits.

The audits, for example, have led to the replacement of plastic wrap with reusable lids to reduce the amount of plastic material sent to landfills. Operationally, the restaurants will adjust the amount of food needed for prep based on individual unit sales. Chipotle also is expanding its food donations. By 2020, it expects 80 percent of its restaurants to participate in the Harvest Program, which donates food leftovers to local organizations. Caitlin Leibert, head of sustainability, said the company’s waste diversion goal of 50 percent is “ambitious” but crucial to the brand’s “Food with Integrity” ethos. “We remain deeply dedicated to bringing guests great tasting food while upholding Chipotle’s values and commitment to food made with respect for the land and environment,” Leibert said in a statement.

In a 2016 sustainability report, Chipotle outlined other major planet-friendly programs including introducing compostable burrito bowls at all locations by 2018, ensuring 100 percent of its restaurants are recycling by 2020 and reducing average energy consumption per restaurant by 5 percent by 2020. The food waste reduction goals come as Chipotle continues to shake off declining sales and traffic tied to several food-borne illness outbreaks in 2015 and 2016. Its turnaround effort, as it embarks on its 25th anniversary this year, includes hiring new leadership.  In February, Chipotle tapped Brian Niccol to lead the company as CEO, persuading him to leave Irvine, Calif.-based Taco Bell.  The following month, Chipotle named another Taco Bell alum, Chris Brandt, as chief marketing officer. For the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, Chipotle’s same-store sales increased 0.9 percent, which the company partially attributed to menu price increases. Chipotle is slated to announce its first quarter results April 25. – Source: NRN.

Panera Recalls Cream Cheese Amid Listeria Concerns

Panera Bread Co. has recalled all of its 2-oz and 8-oz cream cheese products sold in its U.S. bakery cafes. The recall comes on the heels of a finding in which samples of one variety of 2-oz cream cheese from a single production day showed a positive result for the presence of Listeria monocytogenes. Panera said tests on cream cheese samples manufactured both before and after the production run in question have all come back negative. The recalled product includes cream cheese with an expiration date on or before April 2, 2018, and only includes product sold in Panera Bread’s U.S. bakery cafes. “The safety of our guests and associates is paramount,” said Blaine Hurst, president and chief executive officer. “Therefore, we are recalling all cream cheese products sold in the U.S. with an active shelf life. We have likewise ceased all manufacturing in the associated cream cheese facility. Only one variety of 2-oz cream cheese from a single day yielded the positive result. Our intent is to go above and beyond for our guests.” – Food Business News.

Conagra Brands and Koch Foods Recalled a Total of 254,000 lbs. of Products

The US Dept. of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced on April 11 that Chicago-based Conagra Brands Inc. is recalling approximately 135,159 lbs. of Salisbury steak products (containing poultry, pork, and beef) that may be contaminated with extraneous materials, specifically bone. The problem was discovered after the company received several consumer complaints and three reports of minor oral injury associated with consumption of this product. The family-style, heat treated, not shelf stable Salisbury steak and brown gravy products were produced on March 10, 2018. The following products are subject to the recall: 27-oz. carton containing plastic shrink-wrapped packages containing 6 pieces of “Banquet FAMILY SIZE 6 SALISBURY STEAKS & BROWN GRAVY MADE WITH CHICKEN, PORK AND BEEF – GRILL MARKS ADDED” with lot code 5006 8069 10 05 and a ‘Best by’ date of Sept. 1, 2019 printed on the package. The packages include the USDA mark of inspection with establishment number “P-115” located on the side panel. The items were shipped to retail locations nationwide. The FSIS also reported a recall of approximately 119,480 pounds of beef rib-shaped patty products that may be contaminated with extraneous materials from Koch Foods Inc.’s Fairfield, Ohio processing plant. Some product may contain plastic. The fully cooked, not shelf stable rib-shaped beef patty with BBQ sauce products were produced on July 8, 2016. The following products are subject to the recall: 30-lb. bulk boxes containing 6 plastic shrink-wrapped unlabeled packages of “Fully Cooked Rib-Shaped Beef Patty with BBQ Sauce” and identified by case code “67329” and lot number “JTM 16190” on the label. The products are labeled with establishment number “20795” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to distributors nationwide for institutional use. The problem was discovered when the company was notified about the issue by a customer. Koch Foods notified FSIS of the possible contamination on April 5, 2018. There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. FSIS is concerned that some product may be frozen and in consumers’ freezers. – Source: Meat & Poultry.

CEO Paul Macaluso: It’s Time to Reinvigorate Krystal

In Paul Macaluso’s early days as Krystal CEO, he spoke with customers and heard pretty uniform responses. Guests have fond memories of the brand, all over the country. That was true even for those who hadn’t dined at the 86-year-old brand in a while. But it’s this second point Macaluso pinned to the drawing board. What’s causing customers to lapse at the Atlanta-based chain, founded in 1932 on a downtown street corner in Chattanooga, Tennessee? “It’s about reinvigorating the relevance of the brand,” Macaluso says. “Making sure it stays top of mind. Giving people a reason to come back. And I think that is really what’s exciting for me, because once we do that, I think we will see people come back really quickly, and have a reminder about what’s so great about the products.”

Macaluso assumed Krystal’s CEO role April 2 after Omar Janjua left to join 179-unit Taco Bueno. He arrived from FOCUS Brands, where he was president of McAlister’s Deli, after a decorated five-year run with the parent company of McAlister’s, Auntie Anne’s, Carvel, Cinnabon, Moe’s Southwest Grill, and Schlotzsky’s. Macaluso, who was promoted to the president spot in December 2016, started as vice president of marketing for Moe’s and worked his way into a position as senior vice president of brand marketing strategy, leading the collective marketing for the company’s six brands. Before that, his 25-year career included stops at YUM! Brands, where he started as a general manager at Taco Bell before rising to management. He then led brand strategy, menu development, and product marketing for Burger King Corporation and Sonic Industries. Macaluso, 48, says this diverse career prepared him for his ultimate goal—to be a CEO of a major restaurant company. It’s one of the key reasons he jumped to Krystal. The burger chain’s nearly nine decades of customer reverence was another.

A large part of Macaluso’s career centered on marketing, especially in the past decade or so. And he grew up in Central Florida, a region where Krystal doesn’t exactly lack for exposure. This all stirred up an opportunity Macaluso recognized for what it was: rare, but also uniquely challenging. “I’ve spent the last few years at fast-casual brands that were younger and up-and-coming, and it was a lot about introducing into new markets and explaining what the brand is and trying to drive that initial awareness and usage,” he says. “And that’s definitely not what we have to do here.” The 364-unit brand’s sales dropped more than 6 percent in the past two years. Until those figures turn around, and restaurant-level profitability rises, Macaluso says growth won’t be discussed. He pictures a 12–18 month window where he hopes Krystal can boost top- and bottom-line financials, as well as make changes to the company’s internal culture. “We need to get sales up and get people talking about the brand,” he says. “Selling new deals to franchisees becomes really easy at that point. Right now I wouldn’t want to go out there and do that. It’s a tough sell right now. We’ve got to rebuild brand relevance.”

Currently, Krystal is about 25 percent franchised. When Macaluso was at McAlister’s, the chain opened its 400th unit April 2017 in Cedar Hill, Texas. Macaluso has several early initiatives in the works. To start, it’s about celebrating the chain’s strengths, and making sure customers are keeping those details in mind. “Really it’s just breaking through to customers and staying top of mind. That comes through better creative, and just being really tight about what our brand positioning is and how we’re going to be differentiated and distinctive in the marketplace,” he says. “Breakthrough creative that gets people’s attention.” One place to start: taking an edgier, more flippant approach to exposure. Moe’s is a great example. The Mexican chain is known for its offbeat personality, social vibe, and ability to connect with guests across multiple mediums. Heck, it’s even looking for a chief taco officer right now. In Macaluso’s vision, there’s no solid reason Krystal can’t thrive in that space. Frankly, it’s built to, with famed late-night deals and large-box orders. “We’re a challenger brand. We can be edgy. We can be fun. We can be irreverent. And those things haven’t really been the case,” he says. Krystal is also spending the vast majority of its ad spend on traditional media. Macaluso wants to transition to the digital side. “We just need to be in front of people when they’re thinking about food or when they’re hungry. It’s just not TV anymore,” he says. “Certainly not predominantly TV anymore.” “For sure on social,” Macaluso adds. “There’s something inherently social about this brand. The big party packs. The late-night business that we already do extremely well. This brand lends itself to social gatherings, and it doesn’t really play a big part today in social media. We definitely have an opportunity there.” Another unique characteristic of Krystal is its community-focused DNA. The chain is located in a lot of communities across rural America some brands wouldn’t even consider. It’s made Krystal a local force, both from a dining destination angle and as a potential employer of choice. “It’s a huge part of something the brand stands for that I don’t think we really get credit for,” he says. “That’s on the top of my list in terms of making sure we leverage that in a way that benefits the brand and benefits the popularity of it and the notoriety of our brand. We want to make sure we’re getting credit for all the great work we’re doing in that area. We’ll have a balance of doing the work, and also talking about the fact that we’re doing the work. There’s a way to do that appropriately that lets people know and helps them join in.” In February, The Krystal Foundation announced its second anniversary of awarding schools grants. The foundation launched its first application window the year before. Since then, the brand hosted three application windows and issued $53,184.56 in grants to 25 schools, organizations, teachers, and non-profits. In addition to providing funding and grants for S.T.E.A.M., the Krystal Foundation remains dedicated to keeping extracurricular activities alive in the areas of culinary arts, music, and sports. “There’s a great foundation we’ve started here in the last few years,” Macaluso says. – Source: QSR.

Larry Singleton has perfected the art of the old country score

When Larry Singleton was 10 years old, he begrudgingly accompanied his mother and father, Kathleen and Don Singleton, on their weekend forays buying and selling antiques. He would help his parents unload and set up their wares at flea markets near and far from their hometown of Lebanon, Tennessee, where they owned an antique shop called Spider Web Antiques. But at that time in Singleton’s life, he wasn’t really into the thrill of the hunt. Although his mother did persuade him to start collecting pocketknives, he admits, “I wasn’t all that crazy about old stuff.” But “old stuff” has shaped Singleton’s life—and he has come to embrace it.

Since 1979, he has been in charge of furnishing every single Cracker Barrel Old Country Store in the nation with authentic memorabilia from our nation’s past. Today, there are 650 Cracker Barrels in 45 states, with roughly 1,000 antique items per location. Singleton manages the chain’s 26,000- square-foot décor warehouse, which houses some 90,000 American artifacts, all of them found, cleaned, repaired, barcoded, and organized by Singleton and his staff of five. Among those curiosities are rustic tools dating back to 1700s New England, metal gas station signs from the 1950s, original black and white family portraits, antique china, baby carriages, and vintage toys. In other words, all of the items you’ll find on display at your local Cracker Barrel. Those obsessed with shows like American Pickers and Antiques Roadshowmight wonder how Singleton landed such a dream job. The answer? “I inherited it,” he explains. “That’s the only way you can get this cool of a job.” In the late 1960s, Danny Evins, a Shell Oil distributor and Lebanon resident, reached out to Kathleen and Don to see if they could help decorate a restaurant he was opening off Interstate 40. Just over a decade after the U.S. Highway Interstate system was introduced in 1958, Evins’s concept flew in the face of the cookie cutter fast-food restaurants that had popped up along the highways. This establishment would serve down-home fixin’s whipped up by local cooks and the decor would harken back to the days when every town had its own general store. The Singletons agreed to Evins’s offer, and in 1969, they decorated the very first Cracker Barrel Old Country Store with old-timey finds like farm tools and advertisements. Over the years, Evins expanded the Cracker Barrel universe, opening another and then another—all of them decorated with the Singletons’ antiques.

In 1979, Kathleen got sick, and so her son stepped up to the plate, leaving his construction job to join the family business. By that point, there were 19 Cracker Barrel Old Country stores located across the U.S. Singleton’s father began showing him the ropes that he may have missed as a kid, taking him to flea markets and auctions around the country, and introducing him to dealers and helping him build a network. “I’ve always kind of joked and said I’m really good at finding it and dragging it in,” he says of his four decades spent scavenging the country for pieces of Americana. In the beginning, he was going to markets like Renninger’s Antique and Farmers’ Market in Pennsylvania, the Brimfield Antique Show in Massachusetts, or First Monday Trade Days in Canton, Texas. But eventually, dealers, collectors, and fellow scavengers started reaching out to Singleton directly, especially when they had items they wanted to sell in bulk. “We were one of the few that would buy a 100, or 200, or 500 of something over the years,” says Singleton. “People would get in these old buildings and warehouses and find 1,000 signs or 200 old cans.” This method of accumulating vintage treasures came in handy when the pace of Cracker Barrel store openings started accelerating to about 40 or 50 restaurants per year. These days, the pace of growth is a more manageable 8 to 10 stores a year. Back in the early days, the Singletons would store their finds in Larry’s grandparents’ bedroom. Today, the collection has outgrown the Singleton home—the tens of thousands of items are meticulously categorized and housed in Cracker Barrel’s decor warehouse, located at the company’s Lebanon headquarters. So what’s the oldest (and rarest) piece in the CB collection? A portable pantry from the 1800s. “It was the kitchen when people were traveling out west,” says Singleton. “It went on the back of wagons, so you’d keep all of your flour, your coffee, your sugar in this decorated piece. It’s just a really neat piece that I’ve probably only seen three or four of over the years I’ve been doing this.” So what’s Singleton’s secret to scoring so many incredible antique finds? “Get to know the dealers,” says Singleton, who now lives in the Shell Oil gas station from which his parents used to operate their antique shop. “One thing I’ve always learned is that the dealers want to tell you everything they know about the piece. Listen to them. Listen to where they found it. If you’ve got a question like, is this real, or what’s the date, you know the person to get in touch with. – Source: Country Living.

Cinnabon Fills Brand President Role

Kristen Hartman has been promoted to brand president at Cinnabon, Inc., a subsidiary of Focus Brands, Inc. Ms. Hartman will be responsible for the brand’s strategy and continued business growth. Ms. Hartman joined Focus Brands in 2012 as vice-president of marketing. In 2015, she was promoted to senior vice-president of global marketing for the snack brands and most recently has been senior vice-president of brand marketing strategy. Prior to joining Focus Brands she spent 16 years with Burger King Corp. She received a bachelor’s degree in finance from The Ohio State University. “We are thrilled to have Kristen step into the role as president of Cinnabon,” said Kat Cole, chief operating officer of Focus Brands and president of North America. “With her business expertise, love of the customer and passion for the brand teams, we are excited for her to lead Cinnabon through its continued growth.” Based in Atlanta, Cinnabon operates nearly 1,400 franchised locations worldwide, primarily in high-traffic venues such as shopping malls, airports, train stations, travel plazas, entertainment centers and military establishments. – Source: Food Business News.

Industry Veteran to Llead Applegate

John Ghingo has been named president of Applegate Farms, L.L.C., a subsidiary of Hormel Foods Corp. Most recently, Mr. Ghingo was president of plant-based foods and beverages at the WhiteWave Foods Co., which was acquired by Danone. Previously, Mr. Ghingo held several marketing leadership positions at Mondelez International. He is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and has a master’s degree in business administration from New York University Stern School of Business. Gina Asoudegan, Applegate’s senior director of mission, will advance to the role of vice-president of mission and innovation strategy. She joined the company in 2006 as director of communications. In her expanded role, she will oversee product innovations developed to create a consciously scaled supply chain, according to the company. “I’m confident that John’s understanding of the complexities of the natural and organic food space, combined with his passion for brand building, will inspire the Applegate team to reach new heights,” said James P. Snee, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Hormel Foods. “In order for Applegate to succeed, mission and innovation must be inextricably tied, and that’s why Gina’s new role at Applegate will ensure that the Applegate mission, Changing the Meat We Eat, will continue to thrive.” – Source: Food Business News.
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Fish City Grill Names Dave Orenstein President

Fish City Grill has named Dave Orenstein to the long unfilled positions of president and chief operating officer, the company said. Orenstein most recently served as president of the fast-casual Snappy Salads Enterprises. Both companies are based in Dallas. Orenstein will also oversee Fish City’s second casual-dining concept, Half Shells. “I’m thrilled to be joining such a great organization with incredible food and passionate fans and team members” Orenstein (left) said in a statement. “The people-first culture is like no other and truly separates Fish City Grill from the field.” Prior to his time at Snappy Salads, Orenstein served as CEO of Lone Star Steakhouse & Saloon, as president of On the Border when it was owned by Brinker International Inc. and as regional director of operations at Brinker’s Chili’s Grill & Bar. Orenstein also owned his own restaurant in Atlanta.  “We are excited to bring on a leader with such great experience and great integrity,” said Bill Bayne, Fish City Grill’s co-founder and chief seafood officer. “Dave’s strength at growing concepts and his understanding of how critical it is to promote and nurture the culture of the company makes him a great fit for us as we grow.” Fish City Grill, known for its neighborhood connections and rotating chalkboard specials, and Half Shells have a combined 19 locations in Arkansas, Florida, Oklahoma and Texas. – Source: NRN.

Johnson Controls Acquires Triatek

Johnson Controls announced it has acquired the assets of Triatek®, a manufacturer of innovative airflow solutions for critical environments across the globe. With the purchase of the Norcross, Georgia-based company’s portfolio, Johnson Controls is adding to its offering a range of HVAC airflow control systems that help healthcare and other critical research facilities reduce the spread of airborne contaminants and chemicals. Environments where critical treatments or research are conducted, like healthcare facilities and laboratories, need to meet stringent air quality requirements,” said Tyler Smith, general manager, specialty products for Johnson Controls. “With the acquisition of the Triatek portfolio we are able to bundle Triatek products with our current building automation and HVAC products and services to provide complete end-to-end solutions for critical spaces.” The Triatek product line includes air valves, fume hood controls, and room pressure controllers, in addition to the FlowSafe® line of fume hoods and fume hood retrofit solutions. All products are designed to seamlessly integrate into a facility’s building automation system, helping to increase energy efficiency, minimize utility costs, improve ease of maintenance, and enhance the overall safety of critical environments. “This acquisition not only gives Johnson Controls leverage to better serve customers in the building automation and HVAC markets, but it also opens up the Triatek portfolio of innovative HVAC airflow solutions to a broader set of customers in a wider range of facilities,” said Triatek CEO, Jim Hall. – Source: ACHRNEWS.

Belzona’s Training and Distribution Center Opening Ceremony

Belzona celebrated a 66th anniversary in the industry this year, and shows no signs of slowing down, with the grand opening of a brand-new Training and Distribution Center situated at their head office in Harrogate, England. The new £6 million facility will more than double Belzona’s current distribution area floor space, with 12 metres of usable height, adding around 4000 pallet spaces and 166,100 cubic feet of total floor area. The new training area features a new fully equipped presentation suite as well as a new practical training/demonstrating classroom, showing Belzona’s continued focus on training and raising global application standards. In 2017, over 40 courses were delivered to over 175 delegates from distributorships located around the world.David Blackwell, engineering director at Belzona Harrogate commented; “Here at Belzona we believe that training is vital to success. Training empowers people to meet the demands made of them in the work environment and prepares them for the unexpected situations that life will throw at them. Belzona’s practical training courses are designed to enhance the theoretical aspects of Belzona solutions by placing them in a practical context.” The official opening ceremony of the Training and Distribution Center took place on the 5th of April. This included a ribbon cutting ceremony by Belzona’s president, Joel Svendsen. Further adding to the celebrations, the Mayor of the Borough of Harrogate, Councillor Anne Jones visited to support the local company. – Source: theNEWS.

Source Refrigeration & HVAC Opens New Technical Training Center

Source Refrigeration & HVAC has announced the opening of its new 12,000-square-foot Technical Training Center located at the company’s headquarters in Anaheim, Calif. The new facility, which was relocated from Chino, Calif., will host training for more than 300 Source technicians annually as well as tailored programs for key customer groups. The training center includes a full grocery store set-up, featuring low-temperature cases, medium-temperature cases, walk-in coolers, all leading brands of energy management system (EMS) controls, self-contained cases, and an equipment room with two operating racks. The center was also enhanced with the addition of desiccant dehumidification, packaged HVAC systems, and construction training areas. Source’s internally-developed training curriculum which consists of both classroom and hands-on learning includes eight levels of service technician training, construction training, and leadership training. “No one else in the commercial refrigeration and HVAC industry is as committed to the training and development of their technical field teams as Source is,” said CEO Bruce Buchholz. “The result of this investment is the best technically trained field team in the industry, which allows us to provide the best solutions for our customers.” Buchholz further explained that locating the center at the headquarters facility enables more direct engagement and communication between technician-trainees and corporate staff. “This new training center demonstrates first-hand to our employees and customers our commitment to technical training, which ultimately means better quality service for our customers,” said Buchholz. Source Refrigeration & HVAC works with customers whose refrigeration and HVAC systems are mission-critical to their business operations. – Source: the NEWS.

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