Monthly Archives: March 2013

Burkett Colleague Connect

Burkett Colleague Connect is back and this month we introduce our National Sales Manager, Nathan Beucler. Keep reading for a short interview with Nathan about what it takes to be in sales at Burkett Restaurant Equipment.

1. How long have you worked for Burkett Restaurant Equipment? I have been with Burkett Restaurant Equipment & Supplies since January 2, 2013

 2. How did you get involved in Sales? My very first job at 16 was in sales (FootAction USA) and loved the personal interaction.  Almost every job I held dealt with the public or had some personal interaction that allowed me to fall in love with the concept of customer satisfaction. Having happy customers is more important to me than most would imagine.  My entire schooling was focused on business; with a degree in Professional Sales and Information Systems, working with a tech savvy company makes it even more of a joy today.

 3. How would you describe Burkett’s Culture in three words? Leadership, Customer-Focused, Professionalism

 4. How do you differentiate Burkett from other equipment dealers? Burkett is constantly striving to be at the top when it comes to technology and customer support.  The working environment is filled with fun yet serious coworkers that are all about customer service.  We are here for the right reasons, not just a paycheck.

 5. What is the most significant challenges sales managers face in this economy? Customers tend to use the saying “you need my business in this economy”, well, this economy has not totally destroyed the foodservice industry.  People are still going out to eat; servers are still breaking dishes and equipment still needs to function at 100%.   We offer products that will fit just about any budget and can deliver quickly to keep customers operations going without missing a beat.

 6. Are there any sales management skills or behaviors that are more important today than in the past? If so, what are they? Sales Managers are constantly striving to motivate the sales team to be their individual best.  Being a sales manager is not all about selling or being the best salesman on the floor. Your best sales managers are those that work WITH the sales team to help them succeed.  A sales manager is not successful unless the sales team is successful. Keeping focus of the ultimate goal of customer’s first can be difficult, especially when personal emotions run strong. Many times, you have to take the personal emotions out of the equation before you can make a critical decision.

 7. In regards to sales performance, what are you goals for Burkett for 2013? 2013 brings all new challenges for Burkett. We are working on some sales incentive programs that will help add value to the products that we offer to customers. One of our goals is to reduce the amount of returns. To achieve this, our sales staff is becoming more educated on each individual item and will be a wealth of knowledge to each customer. By consulting each customer and asking the right questions, we will be able to recommend a product that will better suit the customer based on functionality, not always based on price. By consulting with customers, we will be building a stronger relationship with each of our customers/partners. We’re not here just to take orders; we want each customer to see us as a resource and partner in their business for the long term!

Four Hot Cocktail Trends for 2013

I found myself in a precarious position this weekend while celebrating a friend’s birthday. I was at a loss for what drink to order. I venture from the grape so infrequently that I spent a good five minutes staring blankly at the bartender and another 10 minutes scavenging for a drink menu and asking my friends what to order.

As an old friend pointed out to me, things have changed since I was a young lady. Kids these days are no longer tossing back Washington Apples and Lemon Drops. They’ve been replaced by flavored vodkas and…well, flavored vodkas. Never one to fall behind, I had to know, what’s on trend for 2013?

Craft Beers and Microbrews “Everybody is drinking Belgian Quads now. St. Bernardus ABT 12 is one of our tops sellers” said Haley Sabin of World of Beer, St. Mary’s. Inspired by the Trappist brewers of Belgium, a Quadrupel is a Belgian style ale with a bold flavor and a high ABV. “Don’t forget to serve it in a Trappist glass” adds Sabin. The beer is brewed in a monastery by monks. The required glass (which resembles a chalice) works well with the complex abbey ales.

Food Inspired Cocktails According to Chad Gensler, a local bartender in Toledo, food inspired cocktails are also on trend. “Shots and drinks that taste like different types of food seem to be a fan favorite” says Gensler. “Particularly the breakfast shot (Jamison, butterscotch schnapps and a chaser of orange juice), it tastes like pancakes.”

Rum Yep, it’s making a comeback. “RumChata has been a favorite with the ladies” adds Gensler. RumChata is a cream liqueur that is made from a blend of five-time distilled Caribbean rums with Wisconsin dairy cream and flavored with cinnamon, vanilla, and other flavors. “You can mix RumChata with Loopy vodka to make it taste like fruit loops. Or mix it with honey-infused whiskey to make a nice little Honey Nut Cheerios cocktail” said Mr. Gensler.

Rum will also be featured in the always-popular daiquiris this year. Of course, these aren’t the daiquiris of spring break’s past; gone are those frozen, overly-sweet concoctions.  In 2013 you’ll see more “dressed-down” daiquiris that often consist of no more than three ingredients. Stick around, I’ll be making some in a later blog post.

Shrubs Finally, drinking vinegars, or “shrubs” are having their moment in the sun. In the days before electricity, and refrigeration, fruits like strawberries and blackberries were mixed with sugar and vinegar as a way to preserve the fruit. The addition of alcohol to extend that preservation was a delicious surprise. Shrubs are on the rise again and they’re surprisingly versatile. For those teetotalers out there, alcohol isn’t required to make a shrub the perfect pick me up for a hot summer day. You’ll find a great tutorial for making shrubs at home here.

5 Ways to Make Your Restaurant Kid Friendly

This weekend I met some friends out for lunch at a local restaurant. Much to my delight, they brought along their adorably chubby, 14 month old son. Of course, it is MY delight to have a cute baby for me to snuggle while I’m enjoying a nice meal. However, anyone that has actually taken a child to a restaurant or been seated next to a child knows, it’s not exactly a delight if the restaurant isn’t kid friendly.

While we were dining, I picked up both positive and negative attributes of our local establishment when it came to serving customers with children. While your restaurant might not want to scream “kid friendly” from the rooftops, it’s important to give special attention to your tiniest patrons. Below you’ll ready my list of five must-haves for kid friendly restaurants.

  1. Changing stations in ALL restrooms.  I experienced this first hand this weekend. After seriously devouring a handful of chicken breast, my friends’ Little Peanut needed a diaper change. Dad graciously accepted responsibility for this task, but quickly returned when he realized the only flat surface for him to change a diaper was the floor. I’m not sure whose brilliant idea that was, but I left a tip with the hostess on the way out. The Donna Reed era is over; let’s get a changing station in the men’s room too.

  2. A Bread Basket over crackers. On a busy Saturday night, try as you may, it’s hard to get your kitchen to pump out kids meals ASAP. So, as any intelligent restaurateur would, you offer a few packets of crackers to tide over the kiddos. Unfortunately, saltine crackers are easy prey to tiny hands. What’s not? Warm, crusty bread.  As a mother, there’s nothing like having bits of cracker burst open across the table to make you feel like a horrible guest. As a former server, there’s nothing worse than trying to vacuum up those tiny pieces of cracker under the table. Here’s my advice, offer a bread basket to families once they’re seated. Or consider re-tooling your menu to offer kid friendly appetizers or sides that can be brought out quickly.

  3. Crayons, paper tablecloths or activity place mats  This seems fairly obvious, like the hallmark of kid friendly establishments; cups of crayons sit proudly on each table ready to be worn to nubs, or at least scribbled for 10 minutes before being quickly discarded to the floor or a crack in the booth. This brings us to my next tip…

  4. Get the food out, fast. The first 10 minutes at the table are crucial to families. Kids get hungry and bored quickly. Managing that little bit of time is akin to watching a pot of water start to boil over. Work with your waitstaff to ensure they offer to bring kids meals out first to families with small children.  All parents appreciate speedy service.

  5. Offer kid friendly events on certain days or during non-peak hours. The restaurant I worked in during college had a magician every Wednesday night. It was broadly advertised, not only in our store, but also in partnership with the zoo and other kid-focused businesses. Every Wednesday, the atmosphere would transform to a fun, laid-back, eating environment. Offering this type of event is a great way to get families into your restaurant without the stress of keeping the kids under control. This is better for everyone – kids, parents  and other diners.

NAFED 2012 Sales Growth Achiever Award

The National Association of Food Equipment Dealers (NAFED) presented Jameel Burkett, President and CEO of Burkett Restaurant Equipment with a 2012 Sales Growth Achiever of the Year Award on March 6, 2013. NAFED is a cooperative buying organization with 58 Food Service Equipment Dealers.

This award was given to the Burkett team in recognition of their outstanding performance in the marketplace. Since 2009, Burkett has more than doubled their group purchases, and that growth has continued into early 2013. In a brief acceptance speech, Mr. Burkett thanked the NAFED members and gave a few words about what has driven Burkett Restaurant Equipment’s growth.

The NAFED Sales Growth Achiever of the Year award was created to encourage, promote and recognize outstanding performance and growth among NAFED members. Congratulations to our Burkett Team!

6 Tips for Planning a Nutritious Menu

farmers-marke-fresh foodsIt seems like the entire country was waiting with baited breath for NYC’s super-size drink ban to go into effect. Alas, in his last minute ruling, State Supreme Court Justice Milton Tingling dismissed the law. He explained the city’s Board of Health was only meant to intervene “when the City is facing imminent danger due to disease” despite Mayor Bloomberg’s protests that obesity is an epidemic.

All of the news and rhetoric regarding the sugary drink ban stuck out to me. Our society is inundated with health foods. With magazines, celebrities, and daytime talk shows boasting about the latest fad food – I’m looking at you goji berries – how do foodservice providers keep up?

Over the past decade, we’ve seen many foodservice operators commit to addressing obesity by revamping their menus to accommodate a more health-conscious society. A movement that started out as the addition of four or five gourmet salads on menus has more recently expanded to healthy appetizers, entrees and desserts. So what’s the key to planning a nutritious menu with enough variety to please picky eaters? I did a little research and found some great tips from the Idaho State Department of Education’s Healthy Menu Planning Guide. While this is geared toward child nutrition programs, the tips below are universal enough for any foodservice establishment:

  1. Strive for Balance: Balance flavors by incorporating sweet, tart, sour, savory and slightly spicy in the same menu. It will keep those taste buds awake.
  2. Emphasize Variety: Include a wide variety of foods day to day; change up the courses you serve. Include different foods and prepare them in a variety of ways, and include an unfamiliar food periodically.
  3. Add Contrast: Think about texture of foods as well as their taste and appearance. Keep in mind fluffy, crunchy, crisp, and smooth textures. Avoid having too much of the same type of food in the same meal.
  4. Think about Color: Avoid using too much of the same color in the same meal. Remember that fruits and veggies are great for adding natural color to side dishes as well as entrees.
  5. Be Aesthetically Pleasing: Consider eye appeal, think about the total presentation. By envisioning how you’ll present the meal on a plate you can ask yourself, “Would I enjoy eating this?”
  6. Dietary Guidelines for Americans: Keep in mind these guidelines developed by the Department of Health and Human Services and Agriculture when planning your menu

I’d love to hear back from you. Have you faced any challenges trying to incorporate healthier menu items?

4 Reasons Why Induction Cookers are Worth the Investment

Cooking is an art form. It’s a delicate balance of making a mouth-watering meal, trying not to severely burning yourself or someone else, and containing the inevitable splatter, burn, and subsequent scrubbing – and this is just what happens in my kitchen.

Of course, there is a way to decrease these issues, and that is with induction cooktops. With induction ranges, veggies are sautéed faster, the water boils sooner, and errant flames are a thing of the past. While induction technology isn’t a secret, it’s still a rare find in most kitchens in America. This is mostly because of the expense, but like all technology, the price is decreasing and chefs and restaurant owners are taking notice. Here are some benefits that make induction cooktops worth the investment:

Speed. Induction cooking uses electromagnetism to heat pots and pans, and does so as quickly as a commercial gas range, with the convenience of an electric cooktop. Cooking food takes less time, simply because an induction cooktop generates heat directly in the pan. Where other stoves heat food indirectly by applying an open flame or a hot surface to the bottom of cookware, induction cooktops use electromagnetism to cut out the middleman and heat inside the cookware itself. (see this video for more on how induction cooktops work).

Efficiency. And I mean efficiency in a number of ways. Induction cooktops use less energy (90% more efficient compared to gas ranges), do not require a natural gas hookup (much like a refrigerator, can be plugged into any dedicated outlet), and produce immediate heat generation so your food cooks faster.

Safety. Here’s a simple equation, no flame = no fire. Because the surface of the cooktop is heated only by contact with a pan, induction ranges typically aren’t hot to the touch. In most induction cooktops, the pan responds almost immediately to temperature changes, so turning off the heat cools the pan.

Cleaning. Easy clean-up, the ultimate goal of every chef, whether residential or restaurant. As stated above, induction cooktops rarely get super-hot. Thus, spills and splatters won’t burn to the top, resulting in Olympic style efforts to clean them. A simple swipe of a sponge or cloth is all it takes.

Opening a new restaurant? Remodeling your kitchen? I encourage you to consider induction cooktops and ranges. Check out our selection at Burkett Restaurant Equipment.

Three Essentials for Employee Engagement

Did you know your employees set the tone for your restaurant and your brand? Did you know that fully engaged employees can reduce costs by making fewer mistakes, have increased productivity, and reduce turnover? Engaged employees make work awesome.

Unfortunately, according to a recent study by MSW Research and Dale Carnegie Training, only 29% of employees are engaged. That statistic is not awesome. What is left of your employee population is disengaged, and disengaged employees are unproductive employees.

So what can you do to increase employee engagement in your restaurant? According to the study, What Drives Employee Engagement and Why It Matters, there are three key drivers: Relationship with immediate supervisor, belief in senior leadership, and pride in working for the company.

1. Relationship with Immediate Supervisor An employee’s relationship with his or her direct supervisor can heavily influence that employee’s feelings and productivity. The study states, “The attitude and actions of the immediate supervisor can enhance employee engagement or can create an atmosphere where an employee becomes disengaged.” While this isn’t a new notion, the ability to retain valuable employees has a significant impact on your bottom line.

2. Belief in Senior leadership The ability for senior leadership to effectively communicate and interact with employees in a way that consistently builds trust and rapport is crucial to your success.  According to the study, “employees said that believing in the ability of senior leadership to take their input, lead the company in the right direction and openly communicate the state of the organization is key in driving engagement.”

3. Pride in Working for the Company Aligning company values and an individual’s values, both in terms of their importance and execution, offers a level of connection and appreciation employees feel they have and receive from your company.

Focusing on trust, honesty, and positive relationships with managers isn’t new, but it does apply real data AND reinforces employee engagement practices for restaurant owners hoping to motivate their workforce.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments what other successful employee engagement initiatives your business has implemented.

Build a Better Wine List: Part Two

Wine bottlesAs mentioned in Part One of this series, below is my suggested list of must-have wines for the beginner winos out there. I’m a long time wine lover, so I’ve done my research. I’ve also cobbled together suggestions from the Wall Street Journal, Food & Wine, and The New York Times.
Here’s a fun fact, according to a survey by the Harris Poll, 62% of Americans buy wine. Even better, about 80% of that wine is consumed within 24 hours of purchase. This is great news for most Zinfandels, which in my humble opinion, taste best if you drink them in the checkout line. Trust me, they’re not made for a prolonged shelf life.

The list below is comprised of reasonably priced wines that should be present on every wine list. Some taste great upon purchase, and some will age with grace…not that they’ll be on your rack that long.


A perfect introduction to first time wine drinkers, Riesling is fruity and sweet. Germany offers great vintages, but I can’t mention Riesling without giving props to Chateau Ste. Michelle in Washington State. The winery has formed a partnership with Ernst Loosen of Germany’s Mosel, making their Riesling one of the best.

Cabernet Sauvignon

One of the big reds, Cabernet Sauvignon is rich and full-bodied. However, not all Cabernets are made for aging – in fact, about 90% won’t. There are some good though, like Fuse 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon that you can drink young and enjoy. Once you move up in scale, i.e. top grade Cabernet you can expect a 10 year bottle to really develop its full spectrum of flavors.


One of the most popular white wines available, you can’t go wrong with Chardonnay’s well-balanced flavor. Logan “Sleepy Hollow Vineyard” Chardonnay is a great California white. Aged with oak, the flavor is round, rich and creamy. If you can’t find that, try a mid-range offering from Mondavi or Beringer.


Syrah tends to be a bold wine with a peppery, smoky taste. They’re great paired with food that is slightly spicy. Most Syrah is sold with a bit of age, so there’s no need to be choosy. Food & Wine magazine provides a great list of American Syrah and Petite Sirah.


I’m of French heritage, so it’s practically my birth right to believe champagne does not get better with age. However, I celebrated my 30th birthday this year with my parents and a bottle of bubbly from the back of their cellar. To my surprise and delight, it was delicious and rich in its age. Just the boost I needed to embrace the new decade of my life. I love Laurent Perrier 2002, however any California Champagne is a great addition to your wine list.


Despite the bad rep it got in the film Sideways, Merlot is one of the most accessible red wines. It can be paired with any medium flavored food, particularly beef and lamb. Try a Spanish Merlot like the 2000 Gran Toc Hill Reserva.

Pinot Noir

While I never used to favor this complex grape, Clos Du Bois recently hired a new winemaker (from my beloved Chateau Ste. Michelle) that has elevated their 2003 vintage, Marlstone onto my list.

Honorable Mentions:

Chianti, an Italian restaurant favorite, it’s an easy-to-drink wine that will complement your favorite pan of lasagna.
Dessert wines such as Sauternes or Moscato. Most of us confess to having a little sweet tooth, splurge on a Vintage Sauternes or a high end Moscato and you won’t be disappointed– these aren’t your mama’s wine coolers.

Build a Better Wine List: Part One

If you’re like me, wine plays a big role at picnics, cookouts, holiday dinners, date nights, and days that end in “y”. You probably have a good handle on grape varietals, food parings, and intensity. If you’re not like me, keep reading and learn how to build a better wine list for your restaurant, bistro, or bar.

A wine list, in its simplest form, is a sales tool. Alcohol is where the mark up is, and in some cases, the reason why a customer has even walked through your doors. A great wine list is helpful, organized, and user-friendly. Now, let’s begin!

Start by offering something for everyone. You don’t need an endless list of wines, but choose wisely among varietals, regions and price-points to suit all of your guests (Stay tuned for Build a Better Wine List: Part Two, where I give you a list of must have wines).

Most customers look at a wine list to find something interesting or something they recognize. Help them along by making your wine list organized and descriptive.

Providing a brief, textual synopsis of each bottle saves your servers time from having to explain each wine. It also saves them the embarrassment of not knowing wines well enough to explain them. Giving customers textual explanations like, “Bright fruit, silky with hints of cocoa” or “Full-bodied and intense, blackberry, with chocolate notes” allows them to sort through information they need without having to ask for it.

Give your wine list some direction. There’s no perfect way to organize your list, but think about listing your wines progressively by intensity, a useful tool for both connoisseurs and beginners alike.

Price your wine appropriately. Of course you want to sell bottles, but offer wine by the glass as well. Keep in mind; most glasses of wine are priced at $8, while bottles, which typically hold four glasses, are sold at $30. This can be an unexpected profit, and gives customers a chance to try something different without committing to an entire bottle.

Lastly, hold tastings and events. Offering wine tasting and food pairing events is a great way to bring in customers. Blog, tweet, and promote them on your website. Offer several wines accompanied by snacks or other well-matched items such as cheese or dessert. This gives your guests the ability to try something new without spending as much as they would for an entire entree and several glasses.

As always, Burkett Restaurant Equipment has everything you need to keep your establishment fully stocked. Check out our wine supplies here

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