Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Grocers Get Away - Day Two

Chicago is one of my favorite cities to visit. 

I've had the opportunity to attend the Kehe Specialty Distributers Food Show in Chicago  for many years.  Every time I go, I intend to do something different than I've done before.  And this trip, with Associated Wholesale Grocers, has a totally different agenda than the food shows would provide.

This is day two, Thursday.   Our trip coordinator, Marie, has informed us of several other stores that we can explore. There is a Trader Joes and also a Whole Foods not too far from our hotel.  Additionally, I was very interested in seeing the market in the Hancock Building. 


Only businesses occupy The Hancock Building up to the 43rd floor.  There is a reception area and market on the 44th floor, and all the floors above there are residences until you reach the 95th floor with the Signature Room Restaurant. 




One floor above the restaurant is the Signature Lounge.  And one floor above that is the Observatory complete with an outdoor "Skywalk".  The Observatory has Chicago history on all the interior walls.    



The Market on the 44th floor has been a Potash Market for the last five years.  Owner, Art Potash, met us on Day one, at his State Street Potash Market.  He was Mr. Hospitality, and was even agreeable to showing us his store in the Hancock building.  This store is only open to residents and employees of the building.  This store is only 5,000 SF, but has a remarkable variety of products. 




As we enter, there's fresh flowers and a well stocked Produce section.  Workers transport product from their store just a couple blocks away.  They have vertually no backstock.


An extensive Deli section has cold luncheon meats and cheeses.

And many prepared Meals as well.





 
A full case of fresh salads, and a hot deli section are ready for lunch Patrons.


Additionally, there is an extensive salad bar including a choice of four different soups.   



 

I love the view.  We learn that the previous store proprietor had covered the windows with his freezers.  The first thing Art knew he was going to do was open the area to see out the windows, also allowing the natural light into the room.   There are 4 or 5 tables to sit and enjoy the view and have a bite to eat, here on the 44th floor.

Thank you again, Art Potash, for your hospitaity!




After this morning's store tour, we decide on a bike tour with Bobbie's Bike Hike.
Leaving from the Chicago River Bike shop, we toured Streeterville, the Gold Coast, Old town, Lincoln Park, and the Lakefront.




This is Hugh Hefner's very first playboy Bunny Mansion. 
Above the door, at that time, was a sign that read, "If you don't swing, don't ring."   In 1941, the building was sold to the next door Illinois Institute of Technology for $1 (One dollar).  It was then used as a dorm for students as was known as Heff Hall.


It's Considered good luck top rub Lincoln's shoe, and since mother is hoping to visit the new Casino later, let's rub his shoe.


Next on our tour is St. Michael's Cathedral.  This Cathedral in German town was destroyed in the Great Chicago fire and subsequesntly built back by German communities donating materials from around the world.

This three hour bike tour was fun, educational, and not difficult at all.
Our guide, Ian, was excellent.
At the end of our bike tour we visit one more really cool market, 
Fox and Obel at 401 East Illinois Street. 
I've been here before and I really want to show it to Rich Carr, another participant in our grocer group. 


It was here that I first saw the backlit shelving that I loved so much.  Also they have a dry aged meat cooler that we were very excited about.  The decor is very inviting. and they have a lot of specialty products.
Look at all these candies.

They have a very wide variety of prepared foods which is very popular in all the large citites we visit.  Just take it home and warm it up.   They have a wonderful bakery, a deli off to the side for sitting and eating.  And newly added this trip, I saw a formal dining area and also an outdoor dining area.



We sat outside and enjoyed a glass of wine and light appetizers.
I love Chicago!

Enough of work, now we play. 
We went to two St. Louis Cardinals vs Chicago Cubs ballgames at Wrigley Field.  Friday, we were guests of Kraft Foods and we sat in the Rooftops on Sheffield Street.  We saw a winning game!!! Awesome!  Thank You, Kraft Foods!!! 

And Saturday, I had bought tickets for mother and I inside the stadium.
This was a losing game, but still fun!

I absolutely LOVE our tour coordinator, Marie Lewis.  She lives and works in Oklahoma City, so we dn't get to visit as much as we would like.  But we are sisters, and soul mates.  Thank you, Marie, for all you do for us!

 

 Next stop!  Boston and Martha's Vineyard in October.  Yay!!!





   


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Super Veggie Salads



At Harter House Supermarkets, We're all about Salads!!!

Summer is salad season — the time for lighter meals that don’t require much cooking but do stir up plenty of pleasure once they hit the table. I love to have fun while creating a good summer salad. That means experimenting with all kinds of wonderful veggies, cooked and raw.

I recently had guests for lunch. I served quiche and a vegetable salad made from grilled zucchini, yellow squash, red peppers and red onions. I added chopped fresh parsley, tossed it with a simple vinaigrette and served it over a bed of dark leafy greens. Delicious!

Do you remember the salads of “yesteryear”? They were made from a few simple variations on the lettuce, tomato and cucumber theme, and not much else. This definition of “salad” from dictionary.com proves my point. A salad is: “a usually cold dish consisting of vegetables, as lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers, covered with a dressing and sometimes containing seafood, meat, or eggs.” I have to wonder what year that was written?


These days, salad seems so much more sophisticated! Good thing I discovered the definition by the Encyclopedia Britannica Online: Salad is “any of a wide variety of dishes that fall into the following principal categories: green salads; vegetable salads; salads of pasta, legumes, or grains; mixed salads incorporating meat, poultry, or seafood; and fruit salads….” Now, that’s more like it!

When you start building your savvy summer salads, remember to use an assortment of vegetables, raw and cooked, for greater flavor, different textures and a wider range of nutrients. For hearty main meals, round out your salads by tossing in whole grains, legumes or your choice of protein such as chicken, shrimp, eggs, tofu, cheese or nuts.





Here are some ingredient ideas for building super veggie salads:


  • Summer squash, grilled, lightly steamed or raw – sliced or shredded

  • Varieties of onions, red, white, yellow, sweet Vidalia, green scallions and spring onions

  • Grilled eggplant, radicchio, endive, cabbage leaves and even lettuce

  • Assorted tomatoes, including both yellow and red varieties

  • Cauliflower and broccoli florets

  • Green beans — try the slender French version

  • Artichokes, hearts of palm and canned water chestnuts

  • Peppers — green, red, yellow, orange — and jalapenos

  • Carrots, corn and peas

  • Asparagus

  • Beets, red or yellow, are great; par-boil then slice and grill for great flavor. Or grate them and use raw.

  • Potatoes and sweet potatoes

  • Bite-size pieces of kale, collards, Swiss chard and baby spinach

  • Bok Choy – try grilling the baby version

  • Cucumbers are fine; try the English or seedless variety

  • Mushrooms

  • Fennel and garlic scapes

  • Fresh herbs such as basil, parsley, cilantro, chives and any others you love

  • Fruit: Pineapple, oranges, watermelon and other melons, berries, cherries, apples, pears, kiwi, peaches, plums and nectarines are delicious in salads, as are tropical fruits such as mango and papaya.

Salads are one of the most versatile ways to enjoy a wide assortment of fresh vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, proteins, herbs and seasoning in one dish. While they can be served cold, room temperature or warm, veggie salads are always best eaten fresh. Unless your recipe specifies otherwise, don’t put the dressing on until ready to serve.

Do you love a good, crisp summertime vegetable salad? Got a favorite? I would love to hear!
Come by Harter House and World Flavors for everything you need for your healthy salad!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Grocer's Get-Away to Chicago


What is a Grocer's Get-Away or a Grocer's Safari?  A group of grocers come together for the purpose of exploring grocery businesses to discover, "What they are doing right." 

Our purpose is getting new ideas and seeing what's new.  We view displays, d├ęcor, retail items, etc., to bring back and implement in our own stores. And we have utilized this knowledge in many ways over the years, everything from handi-wipes that sanitize the shopping cart handles to "How to successfully implement a Dry Aged Meat program."  


My favorite project, that utilized elements we had seen in our tours, is our World Flavors Section at Harter House on Republic Road. This back-lit shelving was one of my favorite features we brought to our World Flavors Market.


The education department, at Associated Wholesale Grocers, will usually plan two outings a year.  Our most recent trip was Chicago, July 24 to July 29, 2012.  I'd like to share  some of my experiences with you.  

We start at the Drake Hotel on the corner of Michigan and Lake Shore Drive.  Our coordinator, Marie Lewis, secured this famous hotel for our stay, which included a breakfast voucher for each morning at the Drake Bros. Restaurant. I highly recommend this elegant historic hotel.




Our first store tour Wednesday was State Street PotashMarket.  The wood signage outside and signage inside is eye appealing.  I really like the pictures on the walls of family members dating back to circa 1950.  I have some similar pictures of my dad I would love to share with our customers.  The owner, Art Potash, greets this group of  __ grocers, very happy and proud  to share his history. 












I notice heavy duty plastic juicers with the lemons and limes.  I notice on top of his cooler cases he has cooking items such as serving bowls, etc. Potash Market was 2011 Retailer of the Year and he announced it on a vinyl sign hanging in his store.   



 
The deli is spectacular.  His meat case reminded me of Harter House, full service.  One unique item I liked was the whole stuffed chickens.






In the freezer is spectacular LED lighting, definitely on our Harter House to-do list. 
  I liked their comment box, "How did we do today?  We would love to know." 




Second stop was a Walgreens.
"Why?", you say.
Keep in mind this store is just off Michigan Avenue in the heart of downtown Chicago.


This two story Walgreens has a very nice lunch deli for the thousands that work in this area and visitors.  Two sushi chefs made delicious looking fresh rolls. 



Their pastry case was very impressive.  I can't help but notice the Spinach and Swiss Croissant.
This store has a 6 dispenser frozen yogurt machine
with your choice of toppings.  The liquor department has a "Virtual Bartender" machine, a touch screen providing beverage recipes.  I've seen this before, many years ago before smart phones were popular.  We liked it better then.

I notice on the walls,  Instead of "milk" & "eggs", their wall signage says, "Eat Well".

And once again, a large picture in their store front window displays an old picture of a "Walgreens Drug Store" ice cream truck. 
L
astly, I notice their  "Chicago Proud" wall art.  I love an inviting decor.  It shows a professional style and uniqueness.





Our third store was a new  Walmart Express.  Marie, why was this store on our list?  Well, they're popping up everywhere.  This store does not have any bells & whistles.  It's new.  It's clean.   It does have sky-lighting in the ceiling which offers natural lighting.  I like this feature on this sunny day.    As we leave, I notice a "Red Box" DVD rental.  I might like to have a "Red Box" to offer to my customers. 




Our fourth and final store today is Mariano's Fresh Market. 

As we enter we are greeted by a wall sign that says,
"Shop Well, Eat Well, Live Well".   Produce displays in the front windows are unique.  It looks nice.  

 I take pictures of their produce department because it's very impressive. 
 This store is lovely. 

Next we have a "Hearth Baked Pizza" section next to the "Create Your Sandwich" section.  This pizza looked Yummy.  I refrained!  


The bakery, again, was outstanding. This is a large store, with large departments and it's full with lots of variety in every department. 





I notice the cupcakes.  These are not ordinary cupcakes.  They are large works of art. 
W
e can do this too!! 
And,
I love the "Mariano's Fresh Market" stickers on their own fresh baked items. 

Next, I'm drawn to this wonderful cheese section. I love the display case.  It's  full, with lots of variety.
  I really like the product description cards. 


 
I notice cheeses, cranberries, nuts and dried fruit on the serving board, I'm sure was prepared and deli wrapped in this store. 





Their meat department is awesome.  I take lots of pictures. 


 
I love the extensive sausage display. 
 










There is a variety of specialty fresh burger patties, such as Pepper Jack & Bacon Burger & Jalapeno Cheddar Pub Burger.   I could go on and on.  Basically, I really like this store.  As we prepare to exit I notice the employee uniform.  Everyone is wearing black slacks, a white shirt, and a black neck tie.  It is very sharp looking.  And lastly, I notice the baby grand piano in the front of the store.  An employee tells me that they have someone playing often, and at other times it is a player piano. 















What fun and an educational day.
Tomorrow Barbara & I get to see more!

~Shelly Kauffman