Lansing Show

Lansing Show- Van Eerden Fall Food Show 2017

Van Eerden hosted their fourth food show of the year, the Lansing Show, at the Lansing Center on Tuesday, August 22nd. The show highlighted various products from dozens of vendors which allowed customers from all over the state to see the latest and greatest items. With the utilization of great conversations and fantastic technology, this show might have been the greatest show yet!

As usual, preparation for the Lansing Show started months in advance, as soon as the previous show closed up. The marketing team planned various decisions, such as location, theme and layout far ahead of time. Next, the Van Eerden team choose new items, hot deals and showcased items. Finally, they booked hotel rooms and Van Eerden employees and vendors started to arrive to set up. The day before the show included lots of hustle and bustle as final preparations finished up.

The Lansing Show

Doors opened to vendors and employees at 6am to start preparing the food they decided to serve. As the doors opened to customers at 9am,  the scent of fresh bacon, hot cookies, seared lamb filled the food show hall. Vendors had a plethora of food available to sample. There was something to taste for everyone of any diet.

With the assistance of the MealTicket software, the show provided more opportunity than ever. Vendors could check-in customers, order samples, book cases on the spot and show great deals on a handheld ipad. This made the show more interactive than ever and vendors and customers alike enjoyed the

opportunity. By the end of the day, the Lansing Show had more check-ins and cases booked than any show before it.

At the end of the day, customers, employees and vendors feel exhausted but excited at the same time. Each individual left the show with a success, be it cases booked, a great deal, or a profit earned. As Van Eerden employees packed up, they could only image the success they can create at the next food show.

Fourth of July

Fourth of July Food Trends

The Fourth of July is right around the corner, which means it is time to celebrate America’s birthday! Independence Day is commonly celebrated with food. Since most employers give their employees the day off, they are ready for the most relaxing summer day possible. Get your restaurant ready with food and drink that will draw customers in to celebrate the holiday.

Traditional Fourth of July Cuisine

When thinking about summer holidays and food, people tend to think of All-American classics. Backyards soon fill with celebrations of barbecue, picnic sides and icey cold beverages. In fact, customers generally pick the same foods to make every year based off of tradition. In a survey performed by Instantly, 34% of respondents stated they pick their food choices based off of tradition. What exactly are traditional Fourth of July foods? The list includes barbecued meats, potato salad, coleslaw, potato chips and apple pie. Traditional American flavors drive consumers’ food orders; serving these foods at your restaurant will surely draw a crowd.

Popular Food and Drink

People do not tend to argue on what foods they consider traditional American cuisine. However,  some consume certain All-American foods more commonly than others on July 4th. In the same Instantly survey, hamburgers drove the most sales as 43% of consumers choose to eat a hamburger on this holiday. Other common main dishes to order are barbecue chicken and shrimp. Traditional side dishes reigned supreme as customers consumed the most potato salad and corn on the cob.

After dinner, consumers stick to the All-American apple pie. Other common desserts include classic summer favorites such as fresh berry cobbler and root beer floats. For the customer who does not have to return to work the next day, many take the opportunity to drink more than the usual weeknight. Beer is a very common alcoholic drink among Americans, especially craft beer in Michigan. This year, however, customers are now gravitating towards a newly popular summer drink. According to Specialty Food News, Rose, a light red wine has grown in popularity by 53% this year. Rose is expected to be a heavy seller this Fourth of July, especially amongst the Millennial generation.

This Fourth of July, take into consideration what will draw a crowd to your restaurant this year. Driven by traditional American foods, customers will likely order popular American cuisines when dining out. This will continue through desserts and drinks as customers sit back, relax and enjoy the holiday while dining at your restaurant.

french fries

Consumers Increase Their Love of French Fries

French fries may just be America’s favorite comfort food. They have been around for years and you will find it hard to meet someone who despises the fried potato. Even with recent efforts and trends to increase healthy eating, French fries are still on the rise and are even known to increase profits in restaurants. Why the continuous increase? No one can know for sure, but their variations and allergy-friendliness make them a go-to for many consumers.

French Fry Varieties

In recent years, the loaded French fry; fries with toppings; has seen a recent surge on menus. In fact, according to Technomic, loaded fries have increased 23.6% since 2012! This increase is only expected to continue. The most common toppings on loaded fries include bacon, cheese and ranch dressing. Similar to loaded fries, seasoned fries have increased in popularity. Frequent seasonings, besides salt, include hot sauce powder, cinnamon sugar and garlic. Customers are also craving different types of fries like sweet potato fries or tater tots. In fact 57% of consumers would order sweet potato fries if they were an option.

French Fries and Food Allergies

French fries are also very friendly in many food-specific diets. Although potatoes are considered a carb, they do not contain grains or gluten and can be consumed by the gluten-free or celiac diet followers. Potatoes are also dairy free and nut free, making them very allergen friendly. Be aware that different toppings and coatings can change the allergens of the French fry so always label the menu appropriately.

As you plan your menu, consider adding French fries as both a side and an appetizer. Customers are increasingly ordering fries and love seeing them on a menu. Try a variety of French fries, including loaded fries, seasonings and sweet potatoes. Your customers will love ordering French fries at your restaurant.

 

Memorial Day

Spend Memorial Day Out at Restaurants

Memorial Day is a day to celebrate our nation’s veterans and fallen soldiers. While many parades and events take place to commemorate this holiday, families often use this day to kick-off summer and usually do so with a backyard barbecue. While everyone loves a backyard barbecue, here are great ways to entice customers to your restaurant.

Service Our Military

As Memorial Day celebrates our country’s military, so should your restaurant! If you use any signage at your eatery, show that you are celebrating Memorial Day. Use language like, “thank you US military” or “honoring our nation’s military members” on your Memorial Day banners, special menu or coupons. In addition, entice military members by offering discounts or special promotions. Give active members or veterans with discounts or specials such as 10% off their bill or a free appetizer or dessert with valid ID. Military customers will love these promotions.

Bring the Memorial Day Barbecue to Customers

Most Americans receive this holiday off from work, so they may want a day off from cooking as well. Advertise to your customers that they should take the entire day off and leave the cooking to your restaurant; they may be more willing to choose you over the competition. As many consider Memorial Day the beginning of summer, they may want to enjoy the day outside if the weather is nice. Open up your patio if you have one so customers can enjoy the sun. Offer take-out and delivery as well so people can enjoy your restaurant’s food from their own backyard.

As Memorial Day approaches, consider how to bring customers to your restaurant. Advertise to military members by offering free or discounted food items when they show their ID. Show that you appreciate their efforts towards our nation by displaying your thanks in various signage. For those enjoying the day off, bring them in with delivery or take-out options and let them know to leave the cooking to you. This Memorial Day, your restaurant will shine among American consumers.

rolled ice cream

Ice Cream Trends for Summer

As summer rolls around, consumers begin to crave ice cream. Whether for a dessert, a snack or a splurge, there is nothing better than cool creamy treat on a hot summer day. However, ice cream is trending away from the simple cup or bowl. As new food trends emerge, ice cream has begun a makeover and the options are plentiful.

Flavor and Texture Twists

For the most part, toppings consisted of syrups, chocolate chips, nuts and whipped cream. Now, you can find almost anything on top of your ice cream. Favorites include matcha balls, cereal and cheesecake or brownie chunks. Cones are even dipped in these toppings. Flavors have updated as well. New, trendy flavors like balsamic strawberry, green tea, and “black ice cream” have emerged. In addition, the Thai trend, rolled ice cream has hit the United States and is growing in popularity every day.

Ice Cream Cones

Gone are the days of the sugar cone, even the waffle cone is revamped. This summer, taste the difference with a new variety of cones. The bubble cone, which according to the trend report, The Things, originated in Hong Kong in the 1950’s and has made its way to the United States. This cone is essentially a puffy waffle cone. The bubble cone provides a soft texture for consumes, making the first bite much easier. Another twist on the cone is a doughnut cone. A doughnut cone is exactly what it sounds, a doughnut. These fried cones are sweet and rolled in cinnamon sugar to provide the additional sugar rush you crave! Some consumers call these cones churro cones, and a creamery in San Francisco makes their own; calling them Chimney Cones as they resemble a chimney.

Wild Milkshakes

Milkshakes have taken the most extreme route, and even emerged as a top trend for 2017 according to the National Restaurant Association. The flavor and texture of a milkshake is one of a kind, but add these extreme toppings and you can uncover a whole new world. One of these wild milkshakes, known as a “freakshake” tops a milkshake with yet another dessert. The milkshake sits in a Mason jar, then topped with whipped cream and a cookie, slice of cake or a brownie with other additions like marshmallows, pretzels and animal crackers. The other wild milkshakes are similar. These towering milkshakes are mixed with candies, cookies, pretzels, syrups and more. To add to the extreme, the towering milkshake is then topped with whipped cream, candy and cookies. Talk about a sugar overload.

Ice Cream Sandwich

Everyone loves an ice cream sandwich and now, there is even more reason to love them. Customers have craved creativity, as cookie and ice cream flavors have divulged beyond vanilla and chocolate chip. Now, customers want a chocolate cookie with mint ice cream, or a snickerdoodle with carrot cake ice cream. However, some consumers have nixed the cookie for a different type sandwich. Consumers now want this creamy dessert sandwiched between brownies, cakes, pies and donuts. The flavors and combinations are almost endless.

This summer, take your ice cream to the next level. Offer customers the latest trends such as rolled ice cream, churro cones or “freakshakes”. Summer provides an excellent time to promote these exciting trends. During the hot summer months, customers will be more willing to order this sweet treat, especially if it contains wild toppings and flavors. Your guests will be coming back for more when you serve these ice cream twists.

 

Mother's Day family

Dining Out on Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is this Sunday and restaurants everywhere will fill with families celebrating mom. In fact, almost half of all Americans will dine out on this holiday. To stay ahead of the competition, as well as the crowd, consider these ideas when serving Mother’s day customers.

Mother’s Day Foods

For families with children, offer many options for your diners. Remember that Mother’s Day tends to be a family outing as opposed to a date night, so meals catered towards children should be on your menu. For mom, plan something special. According to the National Restaurant Association, moms splurge on Mother’s Day. The most frequently ordered dinner is seafood. In addition, since Mother’s Day always falls on a Sunday, many will celebrate with brunch after church. Add to your breakfast or lunch menu specials including stuffed French toast, steak or crab cakes. Moms will certainly be more willing to indulge in these items during her special day. Offer take-out options as well. Many families may want to enjoy time together at home without having to cook.

Mother’s Day SpecialsMother's Day Dessert

To entice customers to your restaurant to celebrate, offer deals and specials. Often, restaurants will promote Mother’s Day with a discount for mom. Restaurants can also attract customers by offering a free desert or add-on item for moms. Try a creative approach by offering not just delicious food, but give each mom a flower such as a carnation as a thank you for coming. To ensure your Mother’s Day customers will return again, give mom a coupon for her next visit. A coupon is a great way to show your appreciations while retaining loyalty to your restaurant.

Mother’s Day is a day families love to get together and eat. This year, celebrate mom with great specials, discounts or offers at your restaurant. Offer mom delicious food for all meals and give her an option for splurging. Whether you say “thank you for being a mom” or offer a discount, be sure to show moms everywhere that you care on Mother’s Day.

Cinco de Mayo meal

Cinco de Mayo in Restaurants

Although not the most celebrated holiday in Mexico, Americans love to observe Cinco de Mayo. This year, the holiday falls on a Friday, increasing the likelihood of honoring the fiesta for most Americans. Since many individuals will not have to wake up early for work, they will celebrate longer into the night. Most Americans go out for Cinco de Mayo, bringing restaurants more business than the average day.

What to Eat on Cinco de Mayo

On Cinco de Mayo, customers will likely order Mexican cuisine, even if they are not dining at a traditional Mexican restaurant. As an appetizer, consumers love ordering chips and salsa, or chips and guacamole, especially on this holiday. In fact, the California Avocado Commission states that Americans consume 81 million avocados on Cinco de Mayo. Currently, avocados are trending upwards in consumer preference; expect your orders of guacamole to increase!

As a main dish, there are many options for guests to choose from that relate to Mexican cuisine.  Tacos, enchiladas and burritos are very popular among American consumers. For a more authentic taste, consider substituting corn tortillas for flour tortillas. If you are looking for a sandwich option, the torta is a great choice. A torta is a Mexican sandwich, usually on a crusty white sandwich rolls. Tortas can be filled with anything from chicken to steak and avocados to scrambled eggs. Whether you choose one of these dinners or all, any of these options make a great feature for Cinco de Mayo.

What to Drink on Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is also one of the most well-known holidays for drinking. The most common drink for consumers on this day is a margarita. Feature this drink as a special, or add new margarita flavors to your menu. Customers may even splurge on top-shelf tequila. For those looking for a less-sweet drink, Mexican beer is a great choice. No matter what your customers choose to drink, they will certainly enjoy celebrating at your restaurant.

Desserts on Cinco de Mayo

Although not well-known in the United States, there are many delicious Mexican desserts to highlight on Cinco de Mayo. For those looking for something rich, a caramel flan; similar to crème brulè; or cajeta is the perfect option. These two caramel desserts present the customer with authentic Mexican flavors and a creamy and smooth texture. For the chocolate lovers, Mexican chocolate pudding makes a great dessert. While the dark is rich and sweet, a hint of cayenne adds a hint of spice. For those searching for a more traditional dessert, include fried ice cream on the menu. This mixes an American classic with the cinnamon and corn tortilla flavors of Mexico. There is a dessert for everyone on Cinco de Mayo.

This Cinco de Mayo, cater to your customers preferences. Consumers love authentic foods and flavors and will most definitely come out to celebrate if they know Mexican flavors will be highlighted at your restaurant. Whether you choose to feature guacamole, enchiladas, margaritas or flan, you will surely see success at your restaurant at Cinco de Mayo.

Easter

Traditional Easter Meals

Every year, Americans gather around to celebrate the Easter holiday. Although the holiday itself is Christian, many non-Christian Americans participate in some type of celebration. In fact, an estimated 80% celebrate in some way, shape or form. Most commonly, families and friends get together around a table, 15% dine out as well. Whether they gather for a brunch after church or a large family dinner, make sure your restaurant is prepared.

Easter Brunch

Common among households with young children are Easter eggs. These eggs, usually decorated the week prior, make an easy breakfast item. In a restaurant setting, serve different types of eggs, and leave the decorated variety for decoration. A delicious way to serve eggs in spring-fashion is through asparagus or spring greens quiche. On the sweeter side of breakfast, try to incorporate eggs in French toast; a brunch classic.

Easter Dinner

Although served most commonly on Good Friday, hot cross buns are one of the most traditional holiday dishes. These sweet buns are filled with currants or raisins and topped with icing in the shape of a cross to symbolize

Jesus’ death. Another common bread served during the holiday is Italian Easter bread. Shaped as a wreath to symbolize the crown of thorns worn by Jesus; the Italians placed colored eggs on the outside and baked with the bread. Adding these breads to the menu is a way to serve traditional meals at your restaurant.

As a main dish, ham or lamb is the traditional meat of choice. The Hebrews always sacrificed a lamb. However, as they converted to Christianity, they continued celebrating with Lamb. As time passed and migration continued in the United States, eating lamb became less common. Slaughter occurred in the fall and with lack of refrigeration, curing of meat took place. The only meat available during this time was the cured ham, hence the new tradition.  Highlighting ham or lamb on a menu is a great way to attract customers to your restaurant.

Easter Dessert

Although nothing has developed throughout the years as a traditional Easter dessert, many sweet treats are common at the table. Many families eat cakes and pies, especially with fruity flavors since the holiday usually falls at the arrival of spring. Chocolate bunnies are ever popular in Easter baskets. Incorporating smaller versions of the bunnies as cake decorations is also a great way to include this Easter classic.

As Easter Sunday rolls around, think about adding traditional dishes to your menu. Customers will likely dine all throughout the day as brunch and dinner are both common meals. Whether you serve Easter bread or hot cross buns, lamb or ham; your restaurant patrons will surely enjoy the holiday.

VE Spring Show

Van Eerden 2017 Spring Show

This year’s Van Eerden Spring Show was a huge success and an event to remember. With almost 1000 guests, over a hundred vendors and aisles of VE Spring Showfeatured food, the show was a hit. The show took place in Grand Rapid’s own DeVos Exhibition and Performance Hall. Since this show would be the biggest in Van Eerden history, we had to plan an even bigger and better event than ever before. As customers from all over the state walked the aisles, we knew we had a success on our hands.

Preparation began months in advance, almost as soon as the fall show was over in October. For 2017, we decided to have one big show instead of two smaller shows so we had to bring the wow factor. The decision to bring the spring show to Grand Rapids was easy, as we enjoy hosting customers in the city that started it all. Booking the hotel and exhibition hall was easy, deciding the theme and layout, not so much. As the time passed, the show came together and before we knew it we started set-up for the VIP party the night before.

VIP Party at the Spring Show

On March 7th, we transformed the ballroom into a “Party in the Park”. Decoration started as early as 9am and within a few hours the park was complete. Rustic tables, overhead string lights and music filled the ballroom as customers entered in their formal attire. Dinner options were plentiful. Multiple vendors served a variety of dishes including tuna tartare, smoked salmon, roasted chicken, colorful salads and more. For dessert, customers consumed anything from chocolate cake to boozy ice cream. Even at closing time, the park still buzzed with excitement. No one wanted the party to end.

The Spring Show Main Event

At 6am the trucks rolled in and set-up began. Vendors took their booths while employees started organizing the main market. This year’s show featured new software, presentations and aisles of food. As guests arrived, they saw a huge display of a market, featuring fresh fruits and vegetables and a variety of seafood. Since Van Eerden started as a produce food truck, the market theme fit. Our customers felt equally impressed. Nick Trahair, from AmericInn, states, “I was very impressed with your show.  Much like your company – it was organized and everyone had a great attitude and very helpful and welcoming”.

This Spring Show became more innovative with the inclusion of MealTicket. This new software allowed customers to register online, book items in advance and check-in electronically with vendors. Tracking the success of the show was easier as well. With live updates, sales reps could see which customers made purchases throughout the day.

Each hour the center stage hosted a variety of presentations, all regarding the latest trends in the food industry. Presentations included topics on incorporating eggs to an all-day menu, vegetables, healthy eating, the beverage revolution, new Asian cuisine and waste reduction. Each presentation lasted a half hour and left guests with many new ideas. In addition, customers could visit the Sweet Street food truck, or visit on of the many vendors to try their latest food items.

As the show came to a close, customers and vendors both could feel the success of the show. Once the customers left, we donated any leftover food to the Grand Rapids food bank. Although everyone felt exhausted, we knew we put on a successful event for everyone involved. As much work as the show is for all, we at Van Eerden are more than happy to see it unfold.

 

St. Patrick’s Day Meal

Traditional St. Patrick’s Day Foods and Celebrations

Although not a national holiday, the United States holds huge celebrations around St. Patrick’s Day. This holiday, held on the anniversary of St. Patrick’s death, commemorates the famous Irishman. St. Patrick was known for his noble missionary work in Ireland and some historians believe he introduced the island to Christianity. Nowadays, many of America’s largest cities hold St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and parades. On March 17th, Americans everywhere dress in green, drink beer and eat Irish food. In fact, many American celebrations are larger than the Irish celebrations. In order to attract customers to your restaurant, create your own St. Patrick’s Day celebration.

St. Patrick’s Day Origins

Interestingly enough, the Irish did not make this holiday a major celebration until the 1970’s. Before, they simply attended church in the morning and returned home to a large family dinner of cabbage and bacon. The Irish immigrants celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in the United States beginning in the 1700’s. In 1845, when the Great Potato Famine hit Ireland, many more immigrants ventured to the United States. Seen as a nuisance, the Americans portrayed Irish immigrants as drunken monkeys when celebrating the holiday. Years later, these immigrants discovered their political influence through their large number of people. The Irish-Americans used St. Patrick’s Day parades as a showcase of strength and became a must-attend event for political candidates.

Traditional St. Patrick’s Day Food

By the mid-1900’s, St. Paddy’s Day developed into a major celebration for all Americans. While residents of Chicago turn the river green, many cities hold parades and restaurants serve traditional Irish meals and beer. The most famous meal, corned beef and cabbage, became popular when Irish immigrants could not afford bacon. They turned to corned beef, a cheaper yet flavorful substitute for bacon. Although not as common, serve bangers and mash for the non-cabbage fans. As a side dish, serving a variety of potatoes in addition to Irish soda bread gives a nice Irish touch. For those of legal age, serve Guinness, Ireland’s most famous beer. For dessert, add whiskey to a chocolate cake or make bread pudding with leftover soda bread.

To celebrate St. Paddy’s Day at your restaurant, add Irish specials to your menu. Many consumers have never made traditional Irish dishes and often take this holiday as an opportunity to eat Irish fare. In addition, meals like corned beef and cabbage take hours to prepare, hours that customers do not want to spend cooking. Take this holiday as an opportunity to serve your customers delicious Irish meals.

Throughout the years, St. Patrick’s Day has developed into a massive Irish tradition that Americans love to celebrate. Whether through parades or food, consumers are constantly looking for a way to enjoy the holiday. Add Irish meals like bangers and mash, corned beef and cabbage and soda bread to your menu for the celebration. When you serve your customers traditional Irish foods and drinks you will certainly drive traffic to your restaurant on St. Patrick’s Day.