Friday, January 7, 2011

2011: New Year's Resolutions at Eat'n Park

Another year has passed us by, and it just wouldn't be right if we didn't ring in 2011 with our New Year's resolutions! Here's what you can expect our contributors to be working on and blogging about this year.

Regis Holden, Senior Director of Culinary Services

With a new year comes new goals and new challenges, and with the right amount of hard work and a little luck, new successes. Looking back at 2010, I am very pleased with the progress I made in meeting my resolutions, and I’m excited to share my focus for the coming year.

First, I’ll continually be looking for ways to make our menu selections just a little healthier. For starters, we plan to reduce the sodium content of our menu selections by focusing primarily on three items: turkey, bacon, and cheese. These three ingredients can be found in many of our recipes, and by sourcing and testing a high quality, low sodium replacement, we will be able to add a health benefit to our guests, while maintaining the great taste you expect in our food.

As you probably already know, we are very committed to accommodating our guests with special dietary needs. Two years ago, we introduced a groundbreaking allergen program that provides a higher level of comfort to guests with food allergies when they’re dining in our restaurants. We have even sourced gluten-free buns for those suffering from celiac disease. As a continuation of that program, look for us to test and introduce a great gluten-free dessert that will be universally enjoyed by all of our guests.

Last year, we launched our new LifeSmiles program, which is aimed at helping families make healthy choices. As a part of that program this year, I’ll be working with the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank to conduct cooking demonstrations at local farmers markets. I’ll also be working with local schools to help improve the nutritional value and quality of student lunches through our Chefs in Schools program.

Finally, on a personal note, I have three goals. The first is to make more of an effort to get to Manhattan to visit my son. It really isn’t that far to travel but I only made it to the island twice last year to visit. My next goal is to learn a little more Spanish. My daughter has been dating a new guy from Cuba and it would be nice to know what they are taking about behind my back. Lastly, I promised my wife that we would reinstitute our “date night” and be sure to have dinner out at least once a week.

That’s it for me. I think that 2011 is going to be the best year since 2010, and I hope that you and yours enjoy this year to the fullest.

Regis

Jamie Moore, Director of Sourcing & Sustainability

Last month, I sat down to reflect on the months that had passed, and I made resolutions for the coming year. I’m excited about one of my personal goals (more on that later), but I’m REALLY looking forward to implementing one of my professional goals: helping Eat’n Park become a better steward to the community by implementing a full-scale recycling program.

You may not realize it, but the majority of restaurants in the tri-state area (not just Eat’n Park) aren’t currently recycling. At Eat’n Park, we have been recycling cardboard at all of our restaurants since the early 80’s, but we’ve never focused on incorporating bottles and cans into the mix.

One of the biggest reasons for that had to do with having to separate bottles and cans. As of last year, most of the hauling companies (BFI, Allied Waste, Waste management, etc…) required that all recyclable items be separated into individual recycling bins. If you’ve ever been in the back of a restaurant, you know that space is a major concern. Though it may seem like a weak excuse, this was a major hurdle that we just couldn’t get over – until now.

Several of our haulers now allow us to co-mingle our recyclables into one container – which makes recycling simple and easy! So, starting in February, we will have 35 our restaurants recycling not only cardboard, but bottles and cans as well. We hope to have 90% of our locations fully recycling by the end of the year. The other 10% of them will happen as soon as their municipality starts offering a recycling program; if they don’t offer it, we can’t do it.

I’m looking forward to kicking off this program – it’s just one more way for us to reduce our impact on the environment.

Now, on to that personal goal…As I get older it’s harder to stay in shape, so I felt it made sense to learn something new that focused on my health. During the winter months it tends to be a little harder to find a cardiovascular exercise - I enjoy cross country skiing, but snow isn’t always on the ground in Pittsburgh. So, I needed to find a more dependable source of winter exercise.

I live in small town outside of Pittsburgh, and though I pass by tennis courts on my way home from work everyday, I’ve never taken advantage of the facilities. So as I was jogging the other day, I decided to stop and take a closer look. As I looked out at the courts, I noticed a smaller type of court that looked very similar to a tennis court, but it was on an elevated aluminum deck with 12’ high walls all the way around it.

It turns out that the court is used to play platform tennis, which is a cross between tennis and racquetball. The base of the platform has a heating system beneath the deck to melt ice off the surface, allowing you to play outdoors in all weather conditions. Eureka! I knew this sport was for me, since I grew up playing racquetball. So in early January my first lessons will begin. I’m excited about learning a new sport but even more excited about finding something I can do in the winter months.

Happy New Year!
Jamie

Kevin O’Connell, Senior V.P. of Marketing

It’s a new year, which means time for some new resolutions. Last year, it was about healthy eating for me and sticking to the Eat’n Smart menu when I have my daily lunch at Eat’n Park. I did pretty well and have definitely lost some pounds in 2010. Mission accomplished!

So, what’s next? Well, we have something even bigger in 2011 … the 25th anniversary of the Smiley cookie. My resolution for 2011 is celebrate Smiley’s big anniversary as if he has been around for 50 years! The Smiley Cookie was introduced at Eat’n Park in 1986, and today it’s hard to imagine that Eat’n Park actually existed at some point without Smiley. We have lots of plans to celebrate throughout the year (most are top secret right now), but we’ll keep you updated!

As for me personally, I’d like to exercise more in 2011. Eating healthy is only half the battle, and I want to win the war!

I hope you have a wonderful 2011 and succeed in all of your resolutions. If you have time, stop by Eat’n Park and wish Smiley a happy 25th! I’m sure it will make him smile (and me, too).

Kevin
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