Dinner In The Sky, another in our series looking at some of the more unusual eating establishments around the globe. This one is different because it is situated around 150 feet in the sky!
This one is present in around 60 countries. Starting in Belgian in 2007, David Ghysels who owned a marketing company and Stefan Kerkhofs, a bungee jump organiser partnered to create an aerial based dinner for the Jeunes Restaurateurs d’Europe association.
This led to them being contacted by people from around the world who wanted to replicate the experience. They decided to go down the franchise route.
By 2009 Dinner In The Sky they were operating in more than a dozen countries including China and Canada.
Michael and Janeen Hinden discovered the concept at a trade fair in 2008. They tested the concept at a New Years party, and eventually put the plans in motion for a permanent location in Las Vegas. Costing $4 million the location was to have a ground based restaurant as well as the high flying set up.
Another American chain tracing their history back over 100 years. Starting life as a nickel hot dog stand in Coney Island in 1916, the chain bears the name of it’s co founder, Nathan Handwerker. Nathan started the business with his wife Ida. The hot dog recipe they used was her idea, with her grandmother creating the secret spice sauce.
Although they were Jewish, their produce lacked rabbinic supervision and the meat wasn’t kosher, they advertised it as ‘kosher style.’
Handwerker was an immigrant who arrived in New York and found work at Feltman’s restaurant in Coney Island.
Going Into Business For Himself
One legend has it that Eddie Cantor and Jimmy Durante, the ‘singing waiters’ encouraged him to start his own restaurant. The official company history doesn’t mention this, but it’s a nice story. The couple spent their life savings of $300 to start the business.
When he launched he undercut his former employer who was charging 10c for a hot dog. Nathan’s came in at 5c!
At the time, food regulation wasn’t really a thing, and hot dogs were considered cheap fare. Handwerker had customers dressed in surgeons smocks eating at his place, presumably surgeons would only eat good food.
Nathan’s son Murray drove the expansion of the chain. A second branch in New York was added in 1959 and a third in 1965. By 1968 the company had gone public.
The family sold the chain to a group of private investors in 1987, at which point the chain was franchised and expanded rapidly. They acquired Kenny Rogers Roasters and Miami Subs Grill.
By 2001 Nathan’s Famous had 24 company owned units, 380 franchised units and 1400 stores in 17 foreign countries around the globe.
They signed a deal with major league baseball in 2017 to become the official hot dog sponsor.
The original store had remained open 365 days a year since its inception, until being forced to close due to hurricane Sandy, but six months later it was repaired and reopened.
One quirk is that the original store still served fried frogs legs which has been on the menu since the 1950’s
Hot Dog Contest
On the 4th July Nathan’s Famous hosts an annual hot dog eating contest. Starting in the 1970’s the contest sees contestants trying to eat as many hot dogs as possible in 10 minutes. The current record holder is Joey Chestnut with 76 hot dogs and Miki Sudo with 48 and 1/2 for the ladies.
There are few burgers as iconic as the Big Mac. Indeed there are few products as iconic full stop.
“Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame-seed bun” as the jingle goes. Our hero burst onto the scene in the 1960’s, but it’s birth wasn’t a smooth one.
Michael James ‘Jim’ Delligatti
Our hero was a WWII veteran by the name of Michael Delligatti, or ‘Jim’ as he was known. Jim, opened his first franchised McDonalds in 1957 in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. A successful store saw him eventually opening just short of 50 stores.
Jim, found that his key customers weren’t entirely satisfied by the burgers he served. After a hard shift in the local steel mills, they wanted something more substantial. Local diners tended to sell big sandwiches, and it was this he took as his inspiration.
The Boss Says No
Hard to believe given its superstar status. At first, the higher ups in the McDonalds organisation were reluctant to stray from their established formula. McD’s worked because it was a standard offering across the nation. Wherever you went, you knew exactly what you were getting, because they all tasted the same.
Jim, refused to back down, and eventually in 1967, he was given the green light to create his masterpiece. They did have one condition though, he had to use only products which were already in use at McDonalds. Being the maverick, though Delligatti replaced the existing burger buns, with a double sliced sesame-seed topped bun.
The Big Mac Is Born
After coming up with its signature secret sauce, he launched his creation at his Uniontown store for the price of 45 cents.
At its launch though it wasn’t called the Big Mac. It was at various times called the Blue Ribbon Burger and the Aristocrat. Enter the second of our hero’s in the story. A young advertising secretary, Esther Rose is widely credited with coming up with the name Big Mac.
The burger was a roaring success. So much so that the bosses at McD’s performed a 180 degree turn and decided to roll the creation out nationwide.
Today’s Big Mac, is pretty much the same as its original version. Though the secret sauce has been tinkered about with over the years, but evidentially was restored to its original recipe in 2004.
As part of our ongoing efforts to expand our services, especially for larger events. We have added a new Spanish Churros unit.
In the past we have added churros making equipment to various of our existing catering units. This one has been purpose built especially for high volume events, although it will work just as well at a wedding or smaller event.
High Capacity Churros Making Kit
To partner with our new unit, we selected a range of kit from J L Blanco, one of Spain’s leading manufacturers of churros making equipment.
High yield circular fryers were added in both electric and gas versions, allowing us the ability to operate with low power generators where necessary, or utilise the higher throughput of the electric fryer when adequate power is avialable.
Automatic Churros Dispenser
To partner with the fryer we selected a fully automatic dough dispenser. This dispenses, measures and cuts the extruded dough to the correct length, dropping a pre selected number of churros into the fryer at the touch of a button giving our churros box a super high yield potential.
Of course knowing the propensity of electronics to cease working at the most inconvenient of times, we also added a manual dispenser, allowing us to do it the old fashioned way.
Birmingham Cathedral Market
The first outing for the new churros box was the cathedral Christmas market in Birmingham. A 5 week stint serving churros at the festive event proved the units worth.
Although the unit is perfectly at home with smaller events, it is designed primarily for larger events and festival, where it can operate constantly at high speed for hours on end. If you are planning a major event, or just have a lot of hungry guests then this is the way to go.
We have provided churros for a few years now. Originally baked churros, using a split baker, a bit like our waffles on a stick machine. Due to repeated requests, we eventually added traditional deep fried churros maker. This was using a single hand cranked extruder and a deep fat fryer, seconded from our burger units.
Our First Machine For Deep Fried Churros
TBH, this worked perfectly well. It wasn’t the fastest thing in Christendom, but for most events of 150 or so guests it was perfectly adequate. And as most of our jobs were paid corporate events, people were content to wait for their churros.
Upgrading To A Retail Set Up
Now No1 daughter, decided that she was going back to our roots, and dipping her toe in the fickle waters of retail. Thing is in retail, what you can earn is directly tied to how fast you can cook and serve. To this end, we looked at who were probably the world’s leading authority on Spanish Churros. Yup, the Spanish.
Talking to a contact that deals a lot with Spanish Showmen, he reported back that most of them had a thing for churros maker kit from the venerable company of José Luis Blanco.
Established in 1958 the company has been producing some of the worlds most highly rated churros machinery for over 60 years.
Auto Or Manual
That was the question, auto dispensers are good, require less staff training, and in the hands of the inexperienced are quicker than manual. The drawback is they use computers. Which when they work are very good. When they don’t they aren’t.
We decided that we would take the hit on productivity, to trade it against reliability. Manual has much less to go wrong, and losing one good day due to a malfunction would more than wipe out the extra from making a few more portions every minute.
We went with the 5 litre manual churros maker, which is the largest Blanco make.
Blanco 5 Litre Dispenser
I duly ordered this, and winced. It was bloody expensive. Like more than my first car expensive. However, when it turned up I had to say it was a work of art. I could just about lift the thing. It was like fusing a Rolls Royce with a Swiss Clock. Catering equipment porn.
Adding The Fryer
We also needed a fryer. The little fish and chip fryers, were not only big enough for high capacity. They also didn’t have the theatre of swirling the oil around the circular pan a la Spanish style.
So we talked to Blanco and ordered a high capacity electric fryer. Trouble was, it seems there is a bout a three month backlog waiting for delivery. As No1 daughter had decided to book the new churros cart into Christmas at The Cathedral in Birmingham, which happened to be only five weeks away, this wasn’t really going to work.
Blanco Electric Fryer
Additionally this thing takes 56 freaking amps to run it. We could have gone overboard and got the bigger one, which takes 125 amps, but we don’t have a private bloody power station to run it. Well, OK we do have a range of generators which can, but 125 amps jeez.
Enter liquid petroleum gas. Or LPG as it is commonly referred to. Churros fryers are also available as gas powered alternatives. Blanco do these as well. With the same waiting time so we were no further forward.
Enter Churro Sur. Another supplier, that evidently isn’t in the top tier, but still well regarded. They offered to have a gas fryer to us before the start date of the market on 15th November.
Churro Sur Gas Fryer
This company also produces diesel powered fryers. We opted to stick with gas. There is enough hate being spewed about diesel powered stuff from the enviro brigade without us being picketed for being a churros polluter.
Starting in Japan (where else would a totally quirky theme start), the concept of a ‘blind restaurant’ saw a non profit organisation called SIEN, and Higan-ji, a virtual Buddhist temple created by Japanese monks join forces at Ryokusen-ji, a temple in Asakusa to introduce a blind or ‘black’ restaurant.
The concept is, that dining is carried out in complete darkness. The theory being that with the lack of sight, your other senses are heightened, and becomes more of a sensual experience.
Dans Le Noir
Translating as In The Dark. This is a chain of restaurants spread through Europe and also with some locations in Africa and New Zealand. They offer the experience of dining in the dark, with your serving staff being blind or partially sighted.
Blacked Out Windows Of A Dans Le Noir
The food is typically higher end fare, think 5 star rather than local café. Another benefit is the relationships with your dining companions. You have no idea who you are talking to, so the conversation tends to be without preconceived notions.
This is definitely on our bucket list to try.
In the meantime if you need food you can actually see, then check out our gourmet burgers.
The first in our series about some of the weird and wonderful burgers out there. The ‘slider’ comes from White Castle, who are generally accepted to be the earliest burger chain in the good ole USA.
Launched in 1921 by Billy Ingram, selling small square hamburgers ‘so easy to eat’ they were dubbed sliders. the idea was you ‘bought em by the sack.’ They were designed to be bought in bulk, more of a bite sized burger than a full on meal.
Inspired by the burger that started it all, the original White Castle Slider. Caramelised onions, cheddar cheese, tomato, lettuce and pickles.
Holes In The Burgers
One unusual feature of the sliders, are the five holes in the patty. This serves the dual purpose of cooking the pattie quicker, as they are usually piled high in the steamer, and allowing the flavour from the bed of onions they are cooked upon, to permeate throughout the stack.
Chicken and Waffle Slider
They now have a range of different sliders, not only in the typical burger bun, but in between waffles or toast.
This one comes with crispy chicken breast, topped with bacon and sandwiched between two Belgian waffles.
French Toast Slider
Or how about this one, Cinnamon swirl French toast, with egg, American cheese and sausage or smoked bacon.
White castle sliders are considered to be one of the most influential burgers in history, kickstarting an entire fast food industry, along with innovations such as standardised food production across the whole chain, and the kitchen as a production line.
Another in our look at Burger chains of the world. This time, in the South American nation of Argentina, famous for Evita Peron, football and trying to take over small British protectorates in the South Atlantic.
Creation in 1974
Alfredo Lowenstein, ex owner of Quickfood, who happened to be the parent company of the renowned Argentine hamburger supplier ‘Paty’ joined forces with the Las Lenas tourist complex to launch Pumper Nic.
In 1975 Pumper Nic became the first franchise organisation in Argentina. They expanded quickly to a total of 70 outlets, and a $60 million annual turnover.
Unfortunately this rapid growth meant they quickly outstripped their ability to supervise the franchisees, leading to wide variance in the quality of food between the different outlets.
Their signature dish was a sandwich with an egg between the patties called the Mobur. They also promoted their famous ‘Dos Por Uno’ or two for the price of one burgers. Fries were called Frenys. Another prime offering was their Jaque, or ham and cheese sandwich.
Their original logo was based upon Burger Kings logo, who as it happened didn’t operate in Argentina at the time. However around the late 80’s Burger King launched into the Argentine market, and a resulting lawsuit led to the company not only changing its logo, but also shortening its name to Pumper.
The original, almost Burger King, Logo
Into The 90’s
Eventually in 1990, Lowenstein handed the business to his sons Diego and Paula. Sadly they had little interest in continuing the business. Eventually they sold the chain in 1995 and associated themselves with the Wendy’s chain.
The following year, the franchise system collapsed, and the new owners were unable to turn things around. By 1999 Pumper Nic declared bankruptcy, bringing to an end an early Argentine success story.
We are always looking for new lines to add to our comprehensive line up of catering options. A German sausage cart is one that has been suggested regularly. We have always done hot dogs, or Frankfurters, as they are commonly known, so technically we already do German sausage. But we have never added a full line up with Bratwurst etc.
So, that is going to change. We were recently contracted by a major corporate client to provide lunch for five days at the opening of a new warehouse. The stipulation was something different everyday. We finished on the last day with Bratwurst and fries. This went down a storm, so we decided to add a full German sausage experience to our menu.
The initial offering is gonna look something like this;
The famous German sausage, whose name translates as pretty much ‘Fried Sausage.’ This is probably the most popular of the offerings, and what many consider as the typical fare.
Although fans of the frank might argue the point. Equally well known, and also hailing from Germany, this one tends more often in this country to go by its alternative name of hot dog.
Basically the aforementioned bratwurst, chopped into bite sized portions, then slathered in curried ketchup.
Basically a sausage with chunks of cheese inside, a fabulous combination, well it is if you happen to like cheese and sausages.
These will all come with a selection of typical condiments such as mustard, German ketchup etc, oh and the traditional sauerkraut, which happens to be finely chopped cabbage fermented by various lactic acid bacteria which gives it a distinctive sour taste.
If you want to book a German sausage cart for your event, check our service out!
Using food trucks for brand activation offers several benefits that can help businesses engage with their audience in a unique and memorable way. Here are some of the advantages of incorporating food trucks into your brand activation strategy:
Increased Visibility: Food trucks are mobile and can be strategically placed in high-traffic areas, allowing your brand to reach a larger and more diverse audience. They can be present at events, festivals, or locations that are relevant to your target demographic.
Novelty and Unique Experience: Food trucks provide a novel and unique experience for customers. People are often drawn to the idea of enjoying delicious food in an unconventional setting, which can leave a lasting impression.
Interactive Engagement: Food trucks offer opportunities for interactive engagement. Customers can watch their food being prepared, interact with the staff, and provide instant feedback. This interaction can foster a deeper connection between your brand and your customers.
Social Media Buzz: Food trucks are highly shareable on social media platforms. Customers often share their food truck experiences, including photos and reviews, which can create organic buzz and word-of-mouth marketing for your brand.
Sampling and Product Promotion: Food trucks are an excellent way to offer samples of your products. This is particularly effective for food and beverage brands, but it can also work for other types of businesses. Sampling allows potential customers to try your products, increasing the likelihood of conversion.
Branding Opportunities: Food trucks can be branded with your company’s logo, colors, and messaging. This serves as a mobile billboard for your brand and enhances brand visibility.
Cost-Effective Marketing: Setting up a food truck can be more cost-effective than traditional advertising or brick-and-mortar retail spaces. It allows you to reach your audience without the overhead of a physical store.
Flexibility and Adaptability: Food trucks offer flexibility in terms of location and menu. You can adapt your offerings and the truck’s location to suit different events or changing customer preferences.
Data Collection: You can collect valuable customer data through interactions at the food truck. This information can be used for future marketing efforts, helping you better understand your audience.
Cross-Promotion: Collaborating with other food trucks or businesses can lead to cross-promotion. This can help you tap into each other’s customer bases and expand your reach.
Community Engagement: Participating in local events and festivals through a food truck can demonstrate your brand’s commitment to the community and enhance your brand’s reputation.
Experiential Marketing: Food trucks offer a tangible and sensory experience. Customers can taste, smell, and see your products, creating a more memorable and sensory-rich brand activation.
Innovative Marketing: Using a food truck is an innovative approach to marketing that can set your brand apart from competitors and demonstrate your creativity and willingness to try new strategies.
Incorporating food trucks into your brand activation strategy can be a creative and effective way to connect with your audience, increase brand visibility, and foster positive brand associations. It offers a dynamic and engaging approach that can leave a lasting impact on potential customers.