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.

VE School Show

Van Eerden School Show 2017

On Friday, August 18th, Van Eerden hosted their annual School Show at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi. This event showcased the best products that meet school requirements. The days leading up to the event took lots of hard work, but employees felt the show went off without a hitch. Dozens of school lunch officials took the floor as many of Van Eerden’s vendors sold some of their best products.

The School Show

To start the day, members of the MOR schools attended a meeting held by some of the most knowledgeable school lunch distributors around. For three hours school officials got to learn more about school lunches. Topics included menu planning, changes to nutritional requirements and a recap about what is expected in school lunches in Michigan. The meeting featured several presentations that engaged and captivated the audience before they took the showplace floor.

After the meeting, the food show floor opened up to MOR school officials as well as other schools the company services. The food show floor filled with smells of potatoes, cookies, fresh produce and more. Vendors also had the opportunity to speak one on one with those creating the school lunches, providing them the chance to make sales on their items. School officials were able to taste some of the food showcased. In addition, they could take a few samples home with them to try later.

Overall, the show was a huge success. Vendors left happy as they made sales to sales representatives and school officials. School officials left confident, knowing they will make the right choice on what to serve the kids at lunch. Employees at Van Eerden left satisfied that the show was a huge success for everyone in attendance. Finally, school can start in a few weeks with the assurance that they will provide the best school lunches.

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.

Van Eerden North Show

On April 25th, Van Eerden hosted the North Show Food Show at the Little River Casino in Manistee, Michigan. Just as Northern Michigan thrives this time of year, so did the North Show. With the conference center filled with customers, everyone at the show could feel the excitement in the air.

North Show WelcomeNorth Show Preparation

Preparation for the show began weeks in advance. In fact, as soon as the last show wrapped up, planning and preparation began for the North Show. With just a little over a month, so much had to get done. As the purchasing team worked negotiated with vendors to provide excellent deals for customers, the marketing team worked to secure a location, décor and door prizes. Before we knew it, the show was just days away and we were set for success.

The day before the show, many Van Eerden employees made the trip up to Manistee for final preparations. From the moment the doors opened, everyone worked hard to ensure the show would run smoothly. At about 6pm the night before the show, everyone called it a night and could not wait for the following day’s show.

The North ShowNorth Show Food

Many of the Van Eerden customers that attended the show are seasonal, meaning they are only open during the summer months. As the Michigan tourist season kicks off in May, these customers could not wait to see what the show had to offer. Vendors sampled products focused towards seasonal eats, as well as new and exciting products. Customers and vendors alike said that the show had more energy than any other show they had attended. Sales increased, excitement grew and every left ready for the summer season.

Still, two weeks later, everyone is seeing the success from the Van Eerden North Show. Orders continue to come in from “Hot Deals” put into place and shipping will start very soon. As customers open their shops this summer, they will remember what they sampled during the North Show, and share it with customers of their own. It is safe to say, the North Show was a success for all.

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.


Mardi Gras

Celebrating Mardi Gras with Food

Mardi Gras has roots in Christianity, Roman paganism and French history. The Romans celebrated fertility with the beginning of spring, but early Christians transitioned the festival to mark the prelude of the Lenten season. These Mardi Gras Creole foodcelebrations continued through the Middle Ages in France. As the French explored the New World, they settled and named the land “Point du Mardi Gras” to commemorate the celebration. This location is known today as New Orleans. Although a two-week celebration, most festivities take place the day before Lent, otherwise known as “Fat Tuesday”.  Hundreds of years have passed and Mardi Gras ranks as one of the most celebrated festivals in the United States.  Along with traditions such as masks, beads and parades; Mardi Gras is also famous for its delicious food.

Traditional Mardi Gras Food

Cajun and Creole foods dominate Mardi Gras menus. These cuisines mix traditional French foods with the meats, vegetables and grains available in Louisiana. Dishes like gumbo, crawfish etouffée and po’boys demonstrate how these cuisines come together to create the flavors people love. Often named the child of bouillabaisse, gumbo combines different meats, vegetables and broth to create a stew-like dish, served over rice. Gumbo has become one of the most popular dishes served during the celebration. Crawfish etouffée is also a stew, combining the Louisiana shellfish with a more French style cream cooking. A po’boy combines the cuisines by setting fried shrimp (a southern favorite) in a hearty slice of French bread.

While these dishes are most famous, other Cajun and Creole dishes gain popularity during Mardi Gras festival. For those unable to make the journey to New Orleans, restaurants everywhere can serve up traditional Mardi Gras dinners.  Consider creating a dinner special for the celebration, or the week leading up, highlighting these traditional flavor-filled New Orleans meals.

 Mardi Gras beingnetsMardi Gras Desserts

In addition to savory foods, Mardi Gras celebrates through drinks and desserts as well. Native to France, beignets made their way to New Orleans.  Similar to donuts, these fried puffs of dough are sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and generally consumed with coffee. In addition to beignets, serve King Cake; the most traditional Mardi Gras dessert. King Cake combines brioche bread with cinnamon date filling, topped with icing and purple, green and gold sprinkles. According to tradition the cake holds a baby figurine. Whoever holds the slice that contains the baby will have good luck for the coming year.

To drink, serve Milk Punch. This simple drink is popular in both New Orleans and the Deep South.  king cakeShake milk, bourbon and vanilla with ice for a delicious cold drink. Top with cinnamon or nutmeg for a little extra kick. Beignets, King Cake and Milk Punch can all be found on a variety of Mardi Gras menus.

Although Mardi Gras celebrations and parades take place in New Orleans, any restaurant can serve traditional New Orleans food. Create a special menu featuring Cajun and Creole foods to highlight these unique New Orleans flavors. Consumers are very likely to splurge on this notorious “Fat Tuesday”. Create a delectable dessert menu as your customer will feel less guilty about ordering something sweet. This Mardi Gras, make sure your customers know they can celebrate with their favorite New Orleans foods at your restaurant.

Super Bowl Sunday

Super Bowl Sunday Restaurant Ideas

Super Bowl Sunday Ideas

Just a few days remain before the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots face off in the biggest football game of the year. Super Bowl Sunday almost always guarantees a restaurant crowd every year. In addition, customers almost always plan to spend a little more money than usual. ShiftPlanning’s  David Galic weighs in on Super Bowl sales and restaurant deals, as well as how to attract a crowd. Galic even discusses how to attract both the stay-at-home viewers and the non-football enthusiasts.  Whether the Falcons or the Patriots score more points this Sunday, your restaurant will still be a success!

To learn more about restaurant planning for the Super Bowl, read here.

save the date

Save the Date for the Van Eerden Spring Show

Save the Date

Get great ideas and save money at the VE Spring Food Show on March 8th.  Register with your Van Eerden sales representative, and come to the DeVos Place in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  Save money while you have a great time.  Save the date and talk to your VE representative about the Spring Food Show on March 8th.

Van Eerden Fall Food Show 2016

Every year, Van Eerden hosts an assortment of food shows across the state. This year’s Fall Food Show brought in hundreds of customers as a last hurrah of the food show season. We held this year’s food show at Soaring Eagle Casino on October 11th and featured new items, promotions and a Holiday Party the night prior. A total of 179 vendors in took the booths and hundreds of customers attended. With so much action the casino walls buzzed with excitement during the entire the two-day event.