Family Owned Buffet Jill Caldera ft Freds Market Video

Hi Lakelanders and those new to
Lakeland, welcome! I’m Jill Caldera and today I am highlighting Michael Johnson
with Fred’s Market. Hello, Lakeland! So Michael tell us your story. So my
grandfather the year my father was born in 1954 he decided that he wanted to
retire from truck driving because he wanted to be home with his family so he
came back to Plant City. He opened a gas station and it slowly
evolved from there. Grandma would go in and cook him lunches
and everybody you know saw him eating food could smell the food and so just
slowly evolved from that. Wow that’s awesome!
Just smell good food cook some more. Yeah and grandma is all about taking
care of people you know, she’s a southern belle so southern hospitality
so you know she always wants to provide and feed everybody and you know so it
was just a natural progression I guess. And what year was that? 1954, okay
So we are celebrating 65 years. So Michael what is your role here at Fred’s
Market? I’m one of the owners. Fred’s my father. I’m the baby. So, I am
the third generation. My grandparents started the restaurant concept. My
grandmother still works in Plant City at our first store so yeah born to the
family. Born to the family. So, what brought you guys to Lakeland? Well, we
originated in Plant City. So we were just looking for communities that
kind of mirrored that small-town feeling good values and like we live next
door so it’s kind of an easy option for us. So, you have Plant City and you
have Lakeland. Are these your only two locations? We have Riverview and Lake
Mary. Those four are all Fred’s Market and then my brother has a barbecue
restaurant right next door to our location in Plant City.
Okay okay. So five restaurants two concepts. Interesting, very nice lots of
food, yummy. Lots of barbecue. Do you guys share your recipes? We do. We do batch
cooking so I can give them to you but you got to be good at math so our recipe
feeds a hundred people so you probably want to make that much food but no I’m
willing to give it to you if you want to take that risk and do the math but yeah
absolutely I giving them out all the time and Dad is kind of semi-retired but
he likes to take on projects so his his next project is to write a recipe book
so one day it’ll be for families of four or six you know there you go there
you go. Speaking of foods, what do you guys do with the leftover food? So
everything’s made from scratch so because of that we can utilize a lot of
the leftovers you know most of our vegetables and our proteins that we have
some leftover at the other night, our cooks can turn those into our homemade
soups. So, we have two soups every day the change so most of it goes into that but
things like bread we make our bread pudding with that so because everything
is made from scratch, we’re able to cost utilize ingredients across the board. We
don’t have very much waste at all really. So, I’m looking on here on the table and it says
it mentions a blue plate. What’s the concept behind that? So I got to give
credit of that idea to Dad you know all of our dishes are classic southern
dishes. People crave them all the time so he was hearing people make the comment
very often you know I love Fred’s food but I just I can’t eat that much so
instead of having to come in and pay for an all-you-can-eat experience he created
the blue plate so essentially it’s it’s a literal blue plate that the server
brings you, you go up to the table once put whatever you want on that on that
thing on that plate it’s no over piling there’s no additional plates or bowls,
but it’s our lowest tier food option just based upon appetite so
people are able to come in and get a meat and three sides and not have to pay
for an all-you-can-eat so people come in to the restaurants every day a lot of
times they come in twice a day or three times a day because our menu changes
we’ve got two daily specials every day that change so it’s it’s really a good
option if you just want to come in and just enjoy the food but not I feel like
you have to eat so much in order to get your money’s worth.
No gluttony. We take that we take the thinking out for you we take this
self-control out for you. Easy peasy. You said sometimes people come here
twice or even three times a day. You don’t kick them out? No you know some
people will even time it just right they’ll come at the end of breakfast and
stay and get a plate of lunch as well so you know we welcome it. You just paid
a lunch price and you’re good to go. The food you have so many recipes that
sounds like in so many dishes do you guys make it all from scratch we have a
couple dessert items that we don’t make from scratch like ice cream
and no-sugar-added pie but everything everything else is made from scratch so
you have breakfast, lunch, and dinner you have all these recipes and all these
dishes. Do you guys make everything from scratch? Yeah, we there’s a couple dessert
items that we don’t make like ice cream but other than that yeah everything’s
everything’s made from scratch. Our cooks do a wonderful job put a lot of passion harder in everything we make. That’s a lot of food so you must have an awesome staff
behind you yeah we have wonderful employees. Plant City has been there 20
years and we had we just started celebrating 20 year anniversary for a
lot of our cooks, a lot of our employees in all positions our first cook and our
baker here in Lakeland have been here since day one a lot of people that have
been here for a very long time and that’s that’s very unusual for the
restaurant industry It says about you guys a lot about you
guys as a company because they could go anywhere and they stay with you so
that’s I mean we we put our employees first. We treat them like family we do
everything we can to make sure that they feel that way that’s important for us as
people but also in business you know we treat them like we want them to treat
our guests and I think it I think it I think it trickles down well it shows
yeah so what’s your favorite dish my favorite dish is probably the fried
chicken that’s probably one of our most popular dishes that we’re known for
but every day we have three items all day breakfast, lunch, and dinner
fried chicken peach cobbler and fried green tomatoes so those are definitely
three things that people think of us for but Thursday is my favorite day because
I can take mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, a cornbread dressing, turkey and
crunchy fried steak and mix it all together with some cranberry sauce and I’m good. Thanksgiving every day every day every
Thursday every Thursday but they’re they’re all family recipes so grandma
you know she travels to all the stores and the first thing that she goes to
make sure it’s like on point is the skillet cornbread she makes that at home
for us all the time it’s one of her personal favorites so yeah she’s always
she was doing quality control on that everywhere. Now, that we’re rolling into
holidays, do you guys have any seasonal dishes? We do some seasonal desserts we
like a Thanksgiving fall dessert but we do we do these catering packages for
Thanksgiving and for Christmas so basically you’ve come and pick up food
for ten folks it’s all cooked you just stick it in the oven day of no mess, no
fuss, no dishes to do and we do like a roasted turkey breast and a special
dessert for that nice during the holidays yeah you can claim it anyways
exactly I take it all home then I put it in my dish and I heat it up and I’m a great
chef just like that. The secret’s out! We’ve been serving a lot of people for a
very long time so we’ve had some some famous folks come in George Bush came to
Plant City okay and then we do the catering for the
Strawberry Festival every year so we feed all the other entertainers so the
famous people have in our southern food Like who? Reba, Willie Nelson nice
Martina McBride. So you’ve you have four stores and another family restaurant
barbecue. Do you guys have any plans to franchise in the future?
Probably not, you know people a lot of times look at the restaurant industry
like it’s like it’s easy but there’s there’s a lot of moving parts to our
kitchens there’s so much food so many different recipes it’s it’s a it’s a
very big undertaking especially in comparison to most concepts so I think
it’s something that we want to protect and just keep in the family maybe one
day but I don’t see happening anytime soon you know we’re
still just trying to every day improve on on things you know find better ways
to serve our guests so that’s that’s really our main focus not so much franchising. That’s awesome! Whatever you know it’s close to your heart yeah absolutely
so any other fun facts that you want to let us know about? Yeah another fun fact
grandma and pop started the concept so grandma’s still in the restaurant five
days a week and my brother’s oldest son he’s 14 now so he works in the
restaurants too so right now we got four generations working the restaurant so I
think that’s pretty cool that’s pretty amazing I know my grandma wouldn’t be
working at that age so but it shows the heart and the dedication. Keeps her young too.
You know, she’s 92 and she’s the one that goes and picks other people up
to take them to the doctor you know typically you got to go need help to some other things the doctor so you know I think I think getting out and moving and being
with people and you know her heart isn’t serving people so being out there
working and seeing people everyday that she cares about that keeps her going
passion that’s good. So on the buffet there’s a lot of food, do you have any
unique items? Yes, a rutabaga so I don’t know any other restaurant where you can
go and get rutabagas I got people asking me all the time what is it rutabaga
so it’s a root vegetable it’s kind of hard to describe it’s similar to like
it a turnip I would guess but the way we prepare it you know it’s got
chicken stock and white pepper and sugar so it’s savory and sweet
it’s got that earthiness that a root vegetable has but very good so you never
had one let’s do it let’s try it it smells really good but I love her I
love I love that flavor that is really good but out of everything that we
prepare I would say this is probably the biggest labor labor of love I don’t have
you ever cut a rutabaga but it’s it’s difficult it’s very difficult so to cut
a case a day is it’s time-consuming but you know I think it shows in the product
it’s worth it it’s really good really really good I’m sold
so if someone wants to try your delicious food where do they go?
You can visit any of our locations everything’s online
We have our Facebook and our Instagram with all our specials going on
promotions so check us out. Thank you. Thank you. Bye.

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