Arctic Spotlight: Catalina Evans of ACityDiscount

We recently sat down with Catalina Evans of ACityDiscount Restaurant Equipment & Supply to discuss her story, their successful business, and why ACityDiscount trusts Arctic for their cooling needs.

Please briefly tell us about the ACityDiscount story and how you came to join the team.

“I am the digital marketing manager for ACityDiscounts. We are fortunate enough to be celebrating our 50th anniversary this year. We are a third generation family owned business and we began with our founder, Bill, who is the current CEO’s father. He had experience in the restaurant industry and saw a need for restaurant equipment dealers in the Atlanta metro area, so he started the business by selling mainly used equipment back in the 70s. Shortly after John, our current CEO joined the team and he is the second generation. He helped bring the showroom aspect of the retail business together back in the mid to late 70s. Then in the 80s is when we started growing more and saw that his niche worked. So, he began to expand the showroom business and then in 1978 we actually went from City Discount to ACityDiscount in order to optimize for the Yellow Pages. In the 80s, we began selling larger equipment, griddles and dishwashers ranges. We expanded the business and then in the 90s, when the Internet kicked off, and that was when our ecommerce sales started really taking off. We partnered with eBay to begin selling on their marketplace. We scaled back on the showroom side, the retail side, and really ramped up the e-commerce. After seeing the success that we had through the eBay marketplace, we began to create our own ecommerce platform. That is where the birth of began. In 2011, we moved to our current showroom, which is a 60,000 square foot showroom and located in Norcross, Georgia. We hear a lot of great feedback from both vendors and customers that can actually come in and see the equipment and see what we’re doing to showcase the different manufacturers that we sell on our platform online and in store. Finally, here we are. We’re in 2023, celebrating our 50th anniversary and super excited to still be in the business. 

As far as my role in the company, I started back in 2011, right when we moved into the new showroom in the marketing department. I helped create our grand opening and have been with the business, specifically within the marketing and merchandising department ever since then. Now I’m the digital marketing manager, I work really closely with James in our merchandising department. He does most of our purchasing. We decide together what lines we are going to promote during each quarter, and we use both of our different talents to put those two together and come out with our marketing campaigns throughout the year.”

There is a lot of talk regarding the economy and consumer sentiment.  What have been areas of strength at ACityDiscount over the past year or two?

“I think what sets us apart from the competition is the fact that we display our phone number prominently. It’s not just a click here, and then if you have an issue, here’s an email that you can use to contact customer service. Our sales staff, along with our customer service staff, have years of industry knowledge and a lot of them have come from either a chef background or have worked in some capacity in a restaurant or a bar catering. We use that to our advantage to answer not only the questions post sale, but also presale, know what to ask, know what kind of needs that customer may need because they may not need that large ice machine. I would say our online presence is also one of our strengths. We are pretty nimble as far as the changes within something like a Google algorithm change, we can take our team, take our strengths and figure out that this is how we need to apply these changes so then we could get ahead of the curve as far as our competition and our online presence.”

How does ACityDiscount stand out? How is the organization different from others in the Restaurant Supply space?

“Well, we are a family owned business. We put the customer first. We always say that we treat them like royalty because by doing that, then they continue to come back. You know, there’s a lot of competition in the market and we know that. Our strength is our people, so we take that knowledge that we have internally and we like to share to help guide the customers to basically help them live out their dream.”

Are there any special plans or initiatives for ACityDiscount in the coming year or two that you would say are exciting for the Foodservice customer base?

“Absolutely! Our largest and fastest growing department is our design and consulting department. We are currently expanding that department on a consistent basis. We really enjoy going out and seeing the customers, their vision, and making that a reality.  We do that by first going on site, reviewing their plans, seeing if they already have existing plans. We might make some tweaks or offer some opportunities for optimizing the space. If we’re drawing it from scratch, then we of course ask them what they need and make sure we’re asking the right questions. We’re really proud of the work we’ve done so far in the last couple of years since we began that department, and we’re excited to see what the future holds.

Working with Scott Carter at Arctic, how critical is the Regional Sales Manager to the success of your sales team?

“Oh, it’s an absolutely crucial role. I’ve seen Scott’s presentations several times throughout the years and he’s got a wealth of knowledge and he’s very personable. I’m able to get a hold of him, pick his brain, send him either to a customer or if we need a sales person to reach him directly, he’s always available. That’s an essential part of our business, so we appreciate the partnership there.”

ACityDiscount has a big day coming up!  Please tell us about your 50th Anniversary and what it means to the company as a whole. Are there any special plans regarding how the team will be celebrating?

“Firstly, it’s been an honor to be in the industry for 50 years. There’s a lot of competition, like I’ve mentioned earlier, and unfortunately there’s a lot of companies that aren’t as lucky or as fortunate as we have been to have the staff. We have tenured employees of 10-20 plus years, so we really value that in our team members. Our chance to work directly with customers for the last 50 years has been an absolute honor. There’s also challenges there, but we like to think that we learn from each one and we can only get better from those opportunities. As far as how we celebrated goes, on July 9th there was a Double-A baseball game for the Gwinnett Stripers. We had an opportunity to rent out the major suites and invite all of our employees, their families, friends, and vendors to come join us in celebrating and thanking our employees. We’re also going to have a 50th anniversary party on October 20th and we are going to invite our vendors and have a ton of food, fun, and games for everybody to enjoy and help celebrate the 50th anniversary for the third generation family owned business that we have.”

If you could sum up ACityDiscount in 30 words or less, what would you say the company is all about?

“We are a proud third generation family owned business. We’ve been in business for 50 years, and selling restaurant equipment is not just what we do, we make dreams happen. We take care of our customers and our employees, and we really value the fact that we can help people achieve their goals in the food service industry.”

Thanks for taking the time to sit down and chat with us, Catalina!