Customer Stories

Peaks and Pines Café: One Owner, Two Unique Restaurants

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Unique needs and ambitious goals helped motivate this owner/chef partnership to switch to Shamrock Foods.

How many restaurants can boast of being on top of a mountain – and how many distributors would climb the mountain of service to win (and keep) their business?

Owner John Fritch and Executive Chef Frank Decker are well aware that their restaurants at the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway are blessed with out-of-the-ordinary advantages. And challenges.

“Our Shamrock Foods specialists have made doing high-volume business easy – being a one-stop shop for all items and always on time for delivery. These are very important to us, as it cuts costs.”John Fritch, Owner

What’s more, Peaks is fine dining, while Pines Café is cafeteria style, so a distributor that can inspire confidence in supplying both ends of the spectrum is crucial for the Fritch/Decker team.

With a hyper-reliable distributor in their corner, a third venue will be opening soon, and the team is also looking to expand food and beverage operations to other clients in business dining, convention and sporting venues “that want a new, fresh approach to providing guests with high-quality food products at a reasonable price.”

Why did you ultimately decide on Shamrock Foods for this world-class destination?

John Fritch: I was looking for a family-owned operation with the same customer service standards as we have – one that offers the highest quality possible. People come from all over the world to experience the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.

“It is our mission to make this a memorable all-around experience. Shamrock Foods’ relationships with local farms and suppliers help us achieve that goal.” John Fritch, Owner

And several months in, if I’m looking for a specific product or need to find anything, all I have to do is ask [District Sales Representative] Alex Del Campo and it’s taken care of; I don’t have to worry about it.

Can you tell us a little more about the “do-or-die” logistics?

Frank Decker: All orders need to be here at or before 6 a.m. That makes it a challenge to get deliveries here, taken off a truck, put on carts and loaded onto a tram car so they can be sent up the mountain before the first public car goes.

Alex, [Sales Representative] Mickey Herrera and everyone at Shamrock Foods helps make this happen. Alex has even helped unload the truck to make sure everything gets up the mountain in time.

Speaking of scheduling, how do you handle the staff end of that?

JF: We schedule off our labor budget created by forecasted sales. The schedule is entered into the Point of Sale System so it can be carefully monitored.

Give a shout-out for a few Shamrock Foods products you like.

FD: Gold Canyon® Gourmet Angus Beef Ribeye because it’s aged to perfection and amazing. Sidewinder fries because they stay crispy and the flavor is great. And Heritage Blend mixed greens – we use as many of the Markon® products as we can because they’re consistent and always top quality.

What are the best-sellers at your current venues?

FD: For Pines Café, we sell a lot of our housemade chili and BBQ pulled pork sandwiches. We marinate our pork shoulders overnight and slow cook them until we can shred them by hand.

In Peaks we sell a lot of burgers and our Miso Marinated Salmon; the miso-based marinade gives it nice caramelization and great flavor. It’s served on top of sautéed spinach and shiitake mushrooms with tomato saffron broth.

“For Pines, we listen to what our guests like and what items sell. For Peaks, I’ll run specials or try different ideas out on special menus. If we get positive feedback for certain dishes, we add them to the menu.”Frank Decker, Executive Chef

Willie Boys is your next venture, with a focus on great BBQ, burgers and music.

JF: And bar-type appetizers! My reason for opening Willie Boys is to provide high quality BBQ while enjoying some of the best Rock and Country acts in our area. Music has become a big part of the desert valley, as we’re home to festivals such as Coachella and Stagecoach.

The history of Willy Boys’ one-of-a-kind location – with its 1930’s gangster connections – adds to the nostalgia.

When hiring we’ll look for qualified, outgoing people to create a fun, rural country feel, a place where people go to have great food, enjoy a drink and hang out.

Any changes or additions to marketing strategy as you add Willie Boys to the mix?

JF: We’ll focus on more local advertising targeting Los Angeles to San Diego, and of course our desert communities.

We use all forms of marketing for operations at the Palm Springs Tramway as we’re a destination for visitors from all over the world.

Finally, how did you get involved in foodservice?

JF: I’ve had a passion for the F&B industry since I was 15 years old. With experience in luxury hotels, corporate restaurants and major food operation companies, it was time to venture off on my own.

FD: I took architecture classes in high school, but when I got to CAD drafting in college, found I couldn’t sit behind a desk all day. I saw a commercial for CSCA Le Cordon Bleu and checked it out.

Even as a little kid I was always in the kitchen with my mom. She still has the first recipe I ever wrote.

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