Thursday, February 28, 2013

Midwest Winter Cold, the Dawn of Commercial Refrigeration, Beer and Rapids Wholesale

Rapids Wholesale Marion Headquarters in Winter

Here at Rapids Wholesale we have a unique view on cold.  We have branches in the Midwest and upper Midwest, right off the prairie. Frigid winter winds can chill us to the bones but can’t bring us down.  We’re tough, hardworking folk, known not only for our willingness to share a cold pint with a stranger, but also for our keen ability to sniff out opportunity.  And over time we’ve come to discover that COLD certainly has it’s advantages.

Wintertime in the Midwest is one of the primary reasons the ice and and beer industries thrived in the early years of our nation.  Cold winters with thick frozen lakes produced all the ice we needed.  The earth provided us with limestone caves to keep it frozen for extended periods of time, even as the seasons changed.  Everything fell perfectly in to place for the beer barons like Captain Frederick Pabst whose Milwaukee brewery employed Rapids' founder Harry Ribble who later went on to invent the world's first direct draw beer dispenser.

Harry Ribble invented the Direct Draw Beer Dispenser 

As more and more immigrants were drawn to our little piece of paradise, they brought their own ideas of the perfect pint with them.  Collectively, our beer tastes eventually switched from English style ales and stouts to the Bavarian style lagers and pilsner beers which utilized a different bottom fermenting, cold brewing technique.  Eventually, our thirst for these new brews grew stronger and as the population continued to increase, we needed a more efficient way to continue production of lager beers long into the summer months.  

At the same time another challenge was facing brewers and other industries like the meat packing and dairy folk, who were becoming more and more dependent on prolonged cold for their production.  The ice we had been harvesting was increasingly being found to be tainted and polluted; an unpleasant side effect of the industrial revolution.

The first known demonstration of refrigeration is accredited to William Cullen at the University of Glasgow way back in 1784.  He proved the theory, but was lacking at that point a practical purpose.  After nearly a century of experimenting with and tweaking the designs we now have stumbled upon a viable commercial use of refrigeration.  To keep our beer, beef and cheese from spoiling.

Until this point, the technology was primarily used for cooling sickrooms.  John Gorrie developed a cooling system to help in the treatment of those unlucky enough to catch the yellow-fever.  Gorrie went on to be granted the first US patent in 1851 after switching gears to experiment with ice making.  And according to the same article we found on the wikipedia, from1870 to 1891, nearly every brewery in service was using commercial refrigeration machines.  All resulting in the birth to commercial refrigeration!

Things have changed a bit since then.  Check out the newest designs in commercial refrigeration and how to order the unit you need from Rapids website in this cool little video.  We even braved the winter cold to bring it to you!  What devotion, Ha!

It's mind-blowing to see how far we have come!  Today's refrigeration technology is truly amazing and here at Rapids Wholesale we supply all the best brands including TRUE and BEVERAGE AIR to name just a couple.  Apart from bar refrigeration equipment to keep your brew cold, we also carry a huge supply of walk-in refrigerators, refrigerated display cases, commercial kitchen refrigerators, glass and plate chillers and ice machines.

If you need any help choosing equipment for your place, give us a buzz!  We're here to help!

Remember, at Rapids Wholesale, Your bottom line is our top priority!



Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Rapids Associates Gain Expertise on New Products and Going Green at NAFEM Show

Recently Rapids Wholesale associates received education and hands-on experience at the North American Association of Food Manufacturer’s annual food equipment and supplies show. This event, held in Orlando, Florida, helped Rapids associates learn about energy efficiency, gain in-depth product knowledge, and strengthen their relationships with manufacturers.

Check out this time lapse video one of our key suppliers Manitowoc posted of the event from their perspective.  We found it on their youtube page.  It's pretty cool!

Time Lapse Video of NAFEM 2013 by Manitowoc

Rapids sent 17 sales and support associates from Minnesota, Iowa, North Carolina, and Missouri to the largest food service show in the industry, hosted by the North American Association of Food Manufacturer’s, or NAFEM. These associates may be better equipped than ever to help customers learn about energy efficiency and cutting edge products. 

Rapids associate Robert Wiltgen attended the show, where he got a better feel for the newest models of equipment Rapids carries. 

"When we design projects, we can suggest those to customers."

During a demonstration, Wiltgen got a closer look at a new oven made by Blodgett and Pitco, as well as a taste test of steak prepared in the new model. Wiltgen said going to the show helped him solidify his relationship with key Rapids’ suppliers. This may help him provide better customer service by working with manufacturers more closely on future projects, he said.  

The NAFEM show also helped Rapids associates who passed a rigorous exam to become Certified Food Service Professionals advance the standing of their certifications.   

Troy Little, a Certified Food Service Professional on the sales staff at the Marion Rapids location, said seeing and touching new products at the show enhanced his understanding of the equipment he explains to his customers. Experiences like this help him supply his customers with the exact items they need.  

“We’re better prepared to educate our customers” Little said.  

Several associates also attended Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Certification classes. These associates learned ways to reduce waste, stay green, and help customers qualify for tax rebates and other incentives. Rapids Wholesale is an Energy Star approved Distributor Partner, which means we carry products that allow customers to earn Energy Star incentives. 

Opportunities like this help Rapids associates better the environment and educate customers on green energy topics.

Written By Holly Hines

Monday, February 18, 2013

Condiment Caddy Bar Advertising Trick from Rapids Wholesale

Click here for Rapids Wholesale Bar Supplies

Is your bar properly stocked?  Here at Rapids Wholesale we understand that a properly stocked bar has more than just a large selection of beer, wine, liquor and mixers.  Profitable bars owners make sure their staff is equipped with all the proper tools necessary for slinging drinks and pushing pub grub.  When assessing your new bar’s needs, the sinks, washers and blenders are obvious.  But the small-wares like bottle openers, proper cutlery and the often overlooked condiment caddy need to be addressed as well. 

A bar is not a bar without the little things like the condiment caddy or condiment rack.  It’s a simple storage and organizational device that allows for you to keep together and easily transport utensils, ketchup, mustard, steak sauce, salt and pepper and all the other bits your customers will likely request to enjoy their meals!  If your bar is going to serve food, you need to provide your customers with these essentials.  But while you're at it, why not have it be your silent salesman and spokesman as well?  While customers are waiting for your staff to take and prepare their orders, more and more of them are pulling out their smart phones to pass the time.  Put YOUR message on that phone!  And use a condiment caddy to get it there.

Though designs of condiment caddies differ, consider caddies that allow for a little table side advertising.  Many will allow for you to attach postcard sized ads right on top of them.  Check with your food and beverage vendors to see if they can help you design and produce these powerful little marketing cards with or even FOR you!  Likely they’ll want their product name on your table, but make sure it benefits your establishment as well.  This is prime advertising real-estate.  Use this space to promote an up-coming event, new dish, or special in the kitchen.

If your establishment has a website or uses social media like Facebook, this is an awesome place to print off a QR code linking your customer's smartphone to your bar or restaurant!  A QR code is a lot like a bar code that can be scanned by smartphones and will direct that phone to a place on the internet, like your online menu or facebook page!  Consider a promotion where if they scan the QR code to direct them to your social media site and then "check in," they can get a discount off their tab.  Not only will this point their friends toward your store online, they might even show up in person, knowing they'll find good company at your bar when they do!  Its a win - win - win!  All you have to do is "search" the interwebs for "QR code generator" to create your own custom code and copy your code to your advertising card.

Rapids Wholesale QR code

Please be careful when selecting a condiment caddy.  I’ve seen a few bars that use empty cardboard six pack cases to hold condiments.  This is okay (I guess) if you have zero budget, but these aren’t built for everyday use and abuse.  One table spill, and the next time your staff (or God forbid a customer) picks up the caddy, everything will end up on the floor.  Also, it’s often difficult for your customers to fish the salt and pepper shakers out of them as the sides are too tall.  And, in all honesty, they can make your bar look cheap!  Do you want your customers thinking, “well heck, if they’re skimping on getting me the ketchup, where else are they cutting corners?”

Find the selection of condiment caddies along with all the other Bar and Beverage supplies you need, and how to order them from Rapids Wholesale’s website in the above video.  Grab a condiment caddy and with this little QR code marketing trick, increase your bottom line!

For tips be sure to subscribe to our little blog here or punch in your email on the right to receive updates as we create more awesome content.


Paul at Rapids Wholesale

Monday, February 11, 2013

Beer Supplies & Draft Beer Equipment from Rapids Wholesale

Click here for Rapids Wholesale Beer Supplies

Our friends from Perlick, in business since 1917, offered us this tried and true wisdom from their unique view of the Foodservice and Hospitality industry.  They note you will always find more PROFIT poured at the bar than cooked in your kitchen.  And draft beer is the MOST PROFITABLE adult beverage sold.  So, if you want to make more money . . . sell more beer!  Sounds easy doesn't it?  Well it certainly can be, but where many bar and restaraunt owners may struggle is in managing the efficiency and quality of how you get that beer to your customer's eager lips.  Mastering this process of distribution and presentation, from ice cold cans or bottles to glycol long draw systems, results in satisfied, repeat customers and bulging bottom lines.

The easiest beer delivery system is a cooler packed with bottles or cans.  Although easier to install than draft systems, they are rarely as profitable.  To insure the highest quality and efficiency, look to quality beer coolers from our vendor parnters Perlick, TRUE, Beverage Air, and Turbo Air.  Sure it is possible to use a standard consumer refridgerator, but rarely are they built sturdy enough to support the load of inventory you will need or the frequency of use.  They are not designed to keep bottles as cold with frequent opening and closing.  Your customers will likely complain about warm beer and you'll be replacing it inside of a year.  You still have lots of options with these affordable beer coolers.

Find Top Load Coolers Here

Top loaded bottle coolers offer higher capacity with the same footprint as a standard cooler because you can stack your product.  Also, there are no doors to swing out and clip the ankles and knees of your service staff.  Open doors can present a trip hazard in a smaller working space like behind a bar.  And your bartenders won't have to bend over as far to grab the product from the top.

Find Display Coolers Here

Display coolers can be used to highlight specialty products.  Although the glass doors are more expensive to produce than solid doors, this can provide a relatively inexpensive merchandising and advertising option.  Let the product's unique packaging advertise itself!  It also allows the service staff the ability to quickly identify a product for speedy retrieval.  Be sure to have your staff always face the stock in these coolers before and at the end of every shift.  A properly faced and stocked display cooler will garner repeat customers when they see their favorite brand is always readily available in your establishment.

Find Beer Dispensers Here

Keg coolers are beer dispensers that resemble back bar coolers, but they hold kegs of beer instead of bottles and cans.  You can find them in sizes that will hold anywhere from one to five kegs at a time.  Equip them with proper beer towers and beer faucets, attach the proper tapping gear and CO2 and you have a complete keg beer dispersal system.  

A big advantage of using a draft beer dispenser is that you can generally store and chill a tapped keg of beer inside a good-quality unit for a very long time and the beer will remain in perfect serving condition.  As long as the lines remain properly cleaned, there will be no change in the taste.

Long Draw systems allow for the kegs to be stored back in walk-in coolers, out of the way.  They require a little more setup to make sure the beer can travel the greater distance and remain cold.  For more on how Rapids Wholesale can help you with whichever beer distribution system makes sense for your place, check out this video!

Also remember that proper serving temperture of beer is between 38-42F.  Kegs are usually delivered too warm and need up to 18 hours to bring down to the perfect serving temperture.  Dirty glassware can  greatly affect the way draft beer pours.  Bubbles will stick to grime on the sides of the glass.  Dust and dirt will cause rapid foaming and obviously affect the taste of the brew.  Foam is 25% liquid, and when your staff is dumping unnecessary foam, they're dumping profit down the drain.  Glass rinsers lubricate and cool the inside of the glass to ensure a better pour.  Serve with a smile!



Paul at Rapids Wholesale

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

So, You Want To Open A Restaurant...

So, You Want To Open A Restaurant...
Good for you! Owning and operating a restaurant or bar can be rewarding. Overcoming challenges and exploiting opportunities makes the hospitality industry an addictive environment for the right individuals. Rapids has been there for many entrepreneurs as they have considered this big step toward independence.

When it comes to the tools of the trade, smallwares are the foundation of any food service enterprise. Smart operators realize that consistency in everything from portioning to presentation to prep is important in driving repeat business. The basics such as measuring cups, tongs and spatulas help create signature consistency.

If that sounds like a lot of importance attached to a collection of plastic and metal bits and pieces, think about it this way: these are the products that will be reached for most often in any facility. A set of measuring cups will get touched more often each day than an oven handle. Portion control utensils such as spoons and ladles can mean the difference between profit and loss. Smallwares are important, their cost and acquisition should occupy an appropriate amount of planning and procurement time.

At Rapids we have a series of smallwares checklists created around several of the more popular venues. When we specify the equipment list for our design / procurement contracts we use lists just like these to make sure we don't miss anything. We think that they will make a great starting point for anyone in the planning stages of opening a restaurant, so we have made them available on our website.

When using a checklist like those listed below don't be afraid to edit and substitute. These lists are based on recommendations in type and quantity, not brand and price. Having a set of kitchen floor plan drawings along side will be helpful too. Where a list might suggest two 36" dunnage racks your floor plan might dictate that a 36" and a 48" pairing is a better fit. No pre-published equipment list can anticipate every need or desire, but our lists make for a great starting point!

Browse and download these lists, write up a lot of questions, then give the folks in our catalog sales department a call and let Rapids help you refine your needs. Or go directly to the Rapids Wholesale website and compile a sample order for budgeting purposes.

Choose the closest list type to your restaurant concept:

Monday, February 4, 2013


Welcome to the Rapids Blog! This is our home for e-Newsletter content, editorials, tips and techniques and all of the other information provided by Rapids.

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