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jCarbonara
Joe Carbonara

Labor Lessons

Real growth continues to be hard to come by for the foodservice industry. In fact, overall customer traffic was flat through the first quarter of 2016, according to The NPD Group, a market research firm covering the foodservice industry. Revenues and customer traffic may be inching along, but one area growing at breakneck speed is labor costs.

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jMartinez
Juan Martinez

Post NRA Thoughts: My Labor Costs are Killing Me! What Can I do About It?

The National Restaurant Association’s annual trade show has come and gone to much fanfare. From what I saw and read, the participation was phenomenal. We were able to bring our full consulting team from all of our offices and even made time to break some bread together.  This year, I also participated in a panel discussion that explored unit economics  and was moderated by Steve Romaniello, managing director of Roark Capital.

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jStiegler
Jerry Stiegler

Food Delivery Up, Meal Kit Potential and More

What’s up with meal kits? More consumers are having restaurant meals delivered but there’s a catch. Dunkin’ Donuts cuts a major deal with BJ’s Wholesale club. These stories and a whole lot more This Week In Foodservice

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Highlights

Chain Innovators: Anna's Tacqueria

It's not just the West Coast restaurant chains that are on the cutting edge of the green movement. For Anna's Taqueria, which has six locations in the Boston area, environmentally friendly business practices have been standard since the chain was founded by owner Mike Kamio in 1995.

Anna's TacqueriaIts green initiatives have been implemented, not at the expense of the operation, but for its benefit. "It has to work for Anna's, our customers and the environment to be a win-win situation," Kamio says.

Its focus on green starts with the menu, which includes freshly prepared food with ingredients purchased from local purveyors.

From a green perspective, the chain gives special attention to its disposables. For example, Anna's serves cold specialty drinks in biodegradable cups made from corn flour. And the chain's extensive recycling program includes cans, plastic and glass. Managing the recycling program can be a labor intensive process. Staff collect and clean soda bottles before taking them to a local recycling center. Anna's also has separate collection bins for cardboard recycling.

"We bring about 2,000 pounds of recyclables to the recycling center twice a week," Kamio says.

When Kamio saw a restaurant utilizing the heat produced from a refrigeration unit to help warm up the eatery in the winter, he implemented a similar setup using an ice machine at one of Anna's locations.

"We utilize an ice machine that blows hot air inside the restaurant to keep it warm during the winter," he says. "A hood over this unit vents the hot air outside over the summer, saving energy and air conditioning costs."

The chain also utilizes a diesel truck that runs on used vegetable oil. "We converted a standard diesel truck in 2005, which we use to go to the local vegetable market, club store and recycling center," Kamio says.

Diesel fuel is required only to start the truck and after that vegetable oil runs the engine. This has decreased the need for diesel fill ups to only three times annually.

Kamio continues to look for other ways to decrease his carbon footprint and implement green initiatives. He is currently working with a paper supplier to replace bleached napkins with brown and will soon convert lighting to more energy-efficient systems.

"We always have environmentally friendly initiatives in the works," he says.

Fast Facts

  • Year founded: 1995
  • Headquarters: Boston
  • Menu specialties: Burritos, tacos, quesadillas, Mexican plates
  • Service model: Quick service
  • Units: Six
  • Typical location: Urban, in proximity to public transit
  • Average unit size: Varies by location

Key Players

  • Founder and Owner: Mike Kamio
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