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O N T A R I O April 2017 | Vol. 32 | No. 3





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Twigg’s expansion is a family affair turned to her sons, who work as electricians in North Bay. “They’re putting their business on the shelf NORTH BAY, Ont. — As Twigg’s Coffee Roasters began to expand its presence through- for a little bit while they build in Sudbury,” she out Northern Ontario, founder Jennifer Twigg said. The Sudbury store will open this spring in didn’t have to look far for help with tackling a new retail development on Kingsway Boulenew growth. With three locations in North Bay, and an- vard. “We found a location we couldn’t say ‘no’ other in Sturgeon Falls, Ont., Twigg’s daughto,” Twigg said. “We’re in close proximity, and ters-in-law help manage the business. Now, Twigg’s is building a new location in the population had a lot of interest. It’s been in Sudbury, which once again will see family in- our plans for years to actually expand.” While Twigg’s existing locations seat about volvement. APPROVAL REQUIRED The enclosed proof is sent for your approval. We will not proceed with the job until the proof is returned. “It’s going to be an intense endeavor with 100 guests, the Sudbury store will be slightly DO NOT GIVE VERBAL INSTRUCTIONS. CHECK CAREFULLY! Beyond this point we cannot accept larger responsibilitywith for any errors. Alterations (otherseats than typo-in 2,800 square feet. about 130 everybody’s hands in,” Twigg said. graphical errors) will be charged extra. Mark proof “OK” or “OK with corrections” as the case may be, signing your name so we may know that the proof reached the proper authority. To construct the new location, Twigg Like its flagship location in downtown North By Bill Tremblay

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Bay, Twigg’s will continue roasting its own coffee beans. “It will be the exact same,” Twigg noted. While living in British Columbia in the early ’90s, Twigg was inspired by the burgeoning West Coast coffee industry. “We thought it was something we could do and bring to North Bay,” said Twigg, who is originally from Northern Ontario. The first Twigg’s Coffee Roasters opened in downtown North Bay in 1995. “We brought organic, Fair Trade, onsite coffee roasting here. We had to work at gaining customers and educating them to get where we are, but we did it,” Twigg said. Continued on page 7






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SIAL Canada to feature flavours from around the world TORONTO — When SIAL lands in Toronto, the food show will feature imports from 50 countries. The Canadian arm of the show, which rotates annually between Toronto and Montreal, will take place at the Enercare Centre from May 2 to 4. The original allotment of 240,000 square feet of floor space for 930 exhibitors sold out in March. In response, show organizers added 6,000 square feet and room for about 70 more booths. According to SIAL CEO Xavier Poncin, this means the show has seen continued growth since it changed from SIAL Montreal to SIAL Canada in 2010. Poncin expects 15,000 visitors to attend the three-day event, about 2,000 more than the last Toronto show in 2015. “As we are developing different things for this year, we hope that

we’re going to bring more buyers from all the sectors,” he said. SIAL’s focus is on retail, foodservice and food processing industries. While the food fair has always had a strong representation of international vendors and products, emphasis will be put on ethnic food with the SIAL Food Hub focusing on authenticity in multiculturalism. The keynote speaker will be Vancouver restaurateur Vikram Vij, who will speak about his journey from new Canadian to successful restaurateur and food personality. A panel of grocers, suppliers and industry experts will discuss key trends in the multicultural space. Gary Berman, managing director of C-Suite Consulting, will close the session with an overview of the multicultural consumer. “The SIAL Food Hub last year was more dedicated to the foodservice industry. This year, we adapted

the offer according to the strength of the city and one of the strengths obviously is the ethnicities,” said Poncin. For foodservice professionals, SIAL’s La Cuisine program will feature presentations on food to go, buying local and food waste. In light of the CETA agreement signed late last year, the European Union is this year’s region of honour. “We have the chance to have many pavilions from Europe to the show,” said Poncin. About half of the 1,000 vendors are from around the world, while the other half are Canadian companies. Quebec and Ontario make up the majority of domestic exhibitors, although there will also be pavilions for Western and Atlantic Canada. Poncin thinks the show will be particularly appealing to ethnic

restaurants and operators with an interest in the growing home meal replacement market. “We expect to grow, because we have a strategy around the fact that we are a one-stop-shop concept,” he said. “The DNA of SIAL is innovation, the international and the local.”

Ontario Restaurant News failed to include Confederation College in our feature on Preparing Hospitality Professionals in the February issue of the magazine. We regret the error.

CONFEDERATION COLLEGE Thunder Bay, Ont. confederationcollege.ca/program/culinary-management Tim Matthews, Program Coordinator Matthews@confederationc.on.ca 807-475-6529 Program Types: 2-year Culinary Management. What’s New/Focus: Graduates of Confederation College’s Culinary Management two-year diploma program work in some of the best restaurants and hotels in cities such as Toronto, Vancouver, Paris, Hong Kong, New York, Rio de Janeiro and Rome. Courses cover basic and advanced culinary skills, restaurant cooking, dining room service, butchery and garde manger, hospitality marketing and sales, wine and international cuisine and menu planning and design. The program also includes kitchen and restaurant management, cost control, finances and legal. Number of Hospitality Students: About 60 students in our culinary/apprentice programs with another 40 in our tourism program. About 20 per cent of student are indigenous and the curriculum includes indigenous cuisine.

April 2017 | 3


industry insight

Purchasing: you don’t have to do it alone or choice is right for your situation, invest the time to understand what is available and ensure any management and staff involved in ordering, are aware of these programs as well. It will likely be one of the best long-term ROIs you can get for a half hour of your time.

By Jason Cheskes


s an operator, it’s impossible not to be concerned about escalating costs. Aside from the usual market forces, inflation, the weak dollar, and uncertainty relating to the new leadership approach south of the border, there is another major factor: consolidation. When companies consolidate and get significantly larger, the pressure on their suppliers for better pricing can be dramatic. To remain profitable, suppliers need to make up lost margins, and they do so by increasing prices to those without purchasing clout, the independents and smaller entities. How do you combat this? Often, the most effective way is joining a Group Purchasing Organization (GPO). They act as consolidators of purchasing volumes and can exert leverage on suppliers, which should translate into better buying arrangements for their members. In a sense, they act to negotiate better deals than most operators could ever do on their own (and provide rebates). Everyone has different skills, but many who take on the role of “purchaser” in their restaurants do not understand the complexity of purchasing well in a manner that can be sustained. Additionally, not many would say they have plenty of extra time in their days, and yet the reality is, that time is required to understand a potential supplier and work with them effectively. Ask yourself: do you or your managers have the specific knowledge about the suppliers’ business models and all the skills required to negotiate each purchase you make effectively? Could that time be better used on generating business and running your operation? Group purchasing in the foodservice industry is meant to address these issues and give you an advantage. Ideally, utilizing these established relationships should save money in several areas of your business, and in some

Common purchasing mistakes:

cases, even be advantageous for many large operating companies. There are a host of reasons why restaurants may overpay even when aligned to these available programs. The most common reason is that the owner or manager doesn’t take the time to get to know the programs and vendors available to them, or that the group doesn’t really work well with their members to help them identify specific savings opportunities. Some operators just like to do their own shopping and make their own deals. Some believe they are better at buying than those arranging agreements for hundreds of operations, or may have had bad experiences with a brand or organization in the past and wrongly believes they are all be the same. There can also be a misconception that the relationship between supplier and operator will not be as strong if operating in conjunction with an established program. There are a number of organizations in Canada that help operators. Understanding which fits your operation best and delivers the most return, and actively participating in whichever one you choose, is a competitive advantage. While not every purchasing agreement

• Viewing vendors as adversaries to be “beaten.” • Assuming all offerings are equal and focusing only on price. • Expecting your distributor representative to give unbiased, and correct advice about working with a purchasing group. • Believing you are getting the best price because of a longstanding relationship with a company. • Being unaware of the procedures in place when dealing with a vendor to ensure they get the right answers (and pricing). • Thinking, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”


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My advice? • Talk to the people who are there to help you. You don’t need to follow their advice, but if you’re working with the right group, it will always be worth the time. • Read all the materials sent to you and ask questions if you don’t understand elements. • Manage your buying reputation. You may be surprised to hear it, but you likely have one and it undoubtedly affects how suppliers work with you. Jason Cheskes has been both an operator and a vendor. He is president of Above The Line Solutions, a company working with operators and suppliers for improved business relationships and outcomes. Cheskes established and operates the Superior Lodging Endorsed Vendor Program (SLEVP) for more than 200 affiliated hotels, supports the British Columbia Hotel Association’s Benefit Program, and has several other clients he advises on procurement.

EDITORIAL ADVISORY COUNCIL MICKEY CHEREVATY Consultant, Moyer Diebel Limited JORGE SOARES Director Food and Beverage Operations, Woodbine Entertainment Group TINA CHIU Chief Operating Officer, Mandarin Restaurant Franchise Corporation MARTIN KOUPRIE Chef & General Manager, The Globe Restaurant JOEL SISSON Founder and President of Crush Strategy Inc. CHRIS JEENS Partner, W. D. Colledge Co. Ltd. Joe Baker Dean, School of Hospitality, Tourism and Culinary Arts, Centennial College Graham Hayes Directory of Culinary/Corporate Chef, McCormack Bourrie Sales & Marketing & French’s Food Company Canada Jody Palubiski CEO, The Charcoal Group RON WALTERS Director of Marketing - Foodservice at High Liner Foods NICK VELOCE President and COO- Innovative Food Brands ONTARIO RESTAURANT NEWS VOLUME 33 · NO. 3 · April 2017 Ontario Restaurant News (www.ontariorestaurantnews.com) is published 12 times a year by Ishcom Publications Ltd., 2065 Dundas Street East, Suite 201, Mississauga, Ont. L4X 2W1 T: (905) 206-0150 · F: (905) 206-9972 · Toll Free: 1(800)201-8596 Other publications include the Canadian Chains Directory and Buyers’ Directory as well as:



May 2-4: SIAL Canada Show, Enercare Centre, Toronto. sialcanada.com



May 20-23: NRA Show, McCormick Place, Chicago. show.restaurant.org

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May 24-27: Canadian Association of Foodservice Professionals National Conference 2017, Niagara Falls, Ont. cafp.ca May 25-29: CCFCC Canadian Chefs Convention, Calgary. cdnchefsconference. ca May 29: Terroir Symposium, The Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto. terroirsymposium.com

June 29-July 2: Canadian College and University Food Service Association Conference, Halifax. ccufsa.on.ca Aug. 27-29: Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo, Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas. www.westernfoodexpo.com

Sept. 9-10: The Franchise Expo, International Convention Centre, Mississauga, Ont. franchiseshowinfo.com Sept.14-17: PEI International Shellfish Festival, Charlottetown Festival Grounds, Charlottetown. peishellfish.com

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4 | Ontario Restaurant News

Simcoe County restaurants remove straws from their menus BARRIE, Ont. — After answering a temporary call to remove plastic straws from their menus, several Simcoe County restaurants will continue with the practice. Don Kellett, owner of Donaleigh’s Irish Public House in Barrie, Ont., noticed a similar challenge while visiting British Columbia. He approached Explore Lake Simcoe to spearhead a local competition. “It’s something people can easily grasp on to, and it represents a commitment to environmental conservation,” said Aileen MacMillan, sustainable tourism project coordinator at Explore Lake Simcoe. “It’s not necessarily going to be the end of waste diversion efforts, but it has an educational component to it.” The challenged launched in January with 10 restaurants participating, agreeing to only provide straws upon demand. “The ones that responded positively saw it as a win-win situation,” MacMillan said. When the competition concluded six weeks

later, 18,000 straws were saved from the waste stream and nine of the participating restaurants decided to continue with the on demand policy. Other businesses are also showing an interest in adopting the policy. “It’s something that is taking on a life of its own,” MacMillan said. “A couple restaurants had started, but didn’t broadcast it. Another was already using compostable straws. It was a natural extension of what they were doing.” At Donaleigh’s Irish Public House, straws were once provided with every glass of water served at the 550-seat pub. Kellett stopped that practice in November, eliminating the use of 40,000 straws. “That’s 40,000 straws that aren’t in a garbage pit or worse, in our waterways,” Kellett said. “Straws are one of the biggest culprits for ending up in waterways. We have a social responsibility to do something about it.” For Kellett, eliminating plastic straws was another pillar in his business’s approach to

waste diversion. The pub also eliminated Styrofoam containers and recycles cigarette butts. “We wanted to do something and start different steps to become a greener restaurant and become more socially responsible,” he said, noting they now stock biodegradable straws, which are distributed on request. The policy was a marketing success for Donaleigh’s. “It was shared and sent all over the Internet, we had a lot of positive feedback,” Kellett said. “We’ve had no issues with it, 99.99 per cent of customers are on board.” MacMillan added the message is as important as the reduction in waste. “It sends a message that there are many simple small actions you can take without having to sacrifice,” she said. “It’s also a way for many of the restaurant owners to communicate their commitment to sustainability. “They have other practices in place as well.”

Know the difference between defamation and a negative online review TORONTO — In a world where customers are able to share their opinions with an unlimited online audience, restaurateurs should take proactive steps to ensure citizen reviews are addressed, particularly if they contain false information. Lorne Honickman, a partner with Brauti Thorning Zibarras LPP in Toronto who specializes in defamation, explained online comments now dominate his area of expertise. “Everybody’s a critic. They wake up in the morning and they’re going to be a food critic,” Honickman said. Whether or not the new breed of critics post negative or positive reviews, there are ramifications for what they have to say. For example, a 2011 study of Yelp.com by Harvard Business School found a one-star rating increase translates into a five to nine per cent increase in revenue. “You’d be surprised how quickly it could damage a restaurant’s reputation. It could happen literally within 24 to 48 hours,” Honickman said. “Depending how many people go to the site, it could end the business.” It is within a customer’s legal right to post a review explaining they didn’t enjoy the

food, service or atmosphere. “There’s nothing wrong with a customer saying they don’t like it, whether you agree with them or not,” he said. “This is life in 2017, and you’re going to have to deal with that. That’s the world we live in.” However, if the review contains false information, it crosses the line into defamation. If a customer explained their food was dry in a review, that’s their opinion and fair comment. If they said they tried to send the dish back, but staff refused, yet the interaction with staff never actually occurred, the review is defamatory. “It speaks to the attitude of the restaurant and is almost more damaging than the fact the food was dry,” Honickman said. The question of motive often arises in cases of defamatory reviews. Some customers may use the threat of posting negative critiques as a way of getting a free meal. Competitors may potentially also use reviews as a way to send clientele elsewhere. “You talk to owners of hotels and restaurants, that get defamed online, they always

suspect it’s their competitor,” Honickman said. “If someone hides behind a cloak of anonymity, we always wonder why.” Businesses taking legal action on defamatory comments may seek compensation or have the review removed from where it was posted. “Sometimes it doesn’t matter if it is taken down, it may be too late,” Honickman said. “First and foremost, if there’s something defamatory, you want it down.” Yet having a false review removed isn’t an easy task. Some websites refuse to take it down, while others offer the business owner an opportunity to respond. “If you go on Yelp, for example, they have a whole process of the hoops you have to jump through if you want to allege something is defamatory,” he said. Instead of going to the website, go to the defamatory post. Honickman recommends restaurateurs respond to the false review as soon as possible. “We try to get a response on immediately. Say it’s false and defamatory,” he said. “We try to mitigate the damages as quickly as we can.”

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April 2017 | 5

bring our users back more often,” Tosello said. Corporate chef Hans Sell worked in Cara’s corporate kitchen to launch the 32-ounce bowls, which added nine new toppings and required franchisees to purchase and make room for a rice cooker in their existing footprint. Harvey’s vice-president of operations Randy Head said the brand rejuvenation began in 2013 with new garnish counters. “Prior to that, Harvey’s was 50 years of stainless steel bowls on a counter,” said Head. “We recognized that times were changing and

we needed to change with them, so we convinced the franchisees to invest. “What that has done is allowed us a lot more opportunity to innovate than we had in the past; new food items and more options available to our guests.” Last year, Harvey’s expanded its beverage lineup with smoothies, slushies and frozen lemonade. “We always had a great milkshake program and this was kind of a complement,” Head said, adding the beverage category was one in which Harvey’s needed to improve. “It’s almost like table stakes now in QSR.” Harvey’s has about 270 units across Canada. While Ontario, Quebec and Alberta are its largest markets, the Cara-owned chain has stores in every province. Cara has invested in many of its brands, such as Kelsey’s and East Side Mario’s, with new designs and Harvey’s is also getting the renovation treatment. The chain recently introduced a new prototype at a standalone location in London, Ont. In addition to a new interior and exterior design, the kitchen received an upgrade with the addition of high-performance equipment. There are 28 renovations planned for this year. “We’re trying to conform to that look, trying to get as many franchisees on board, maybe even to do their renovation prior to when it was committed,” Head explained. This year, new locations – some co-branded with Swiss Chalet – have already opened in Brampton, Timmins, Ont., Dieppe, N.B., and Gander, N.L. “This year, we’re going to have north of 20 openings. Depending on how things go, it could be as high as 30,” he said. “We’re definitely in growth mode; we have a lot of sites in the pipeline.”

“We went to Italy and obviously enjoyed eating the food there and we started trying pizzas from different cities,” he said. “In Naples, we were just blown away by how good the pizza was. We ate it everyday for a week. We realized it wasn’t something we had before.” When he returned to Canada, Lussier began researching the Neapolitan style of pizza. “We figured out it was something fairly new to be doing, authentic Naples-style pizza. There were only a few places doing it in North America,” he recalled. Famoso’s fast casual approach to Neapolitan pizza began attracting interest from hopeful franchisees from across western Canada and Ontario. “We had interest from people in opening

one, so we decided to go the franchise route,” Lussier said. “We just built, built, built, every year. We were growing by double digit percentage increases every year.” While the Famoso brand is evolving, each location is still equipped with its signature customtiled, bell-shaped oven imported from Italy. The company also continues to import 00 flour and tomatoes from Italy. The 31st location will open in Kelowna, B.C., in June. With a strong presence in Saskatchewan and Alberta, Lussier would like to see growth in Ontario and British Columbia. However, he said growth is dependent on perspective franchisees. “We don’t choose the markets before we choose who we partner with,” he said.

Harvey’s tweaks menu to help target growth CONCORD, Ont. — With a new design and new menu items under its belt, Harvey’s plans to open more than 20 units in 2017. Billing itself as the “original fast casual,” Harvey’s is building on customized burgers with the addition of a build-a-bowl lineup. The new menu offering, introduced in March, starts with a base of salad, rice or fries. Customers can choose their protein, either chopped chicken or burger (original, Angus or veggie), and finish off their dish with a selection of toppings. “This is a category for us to broaden our

appeal,” said Harvey’s director of marketing Ally Tosello. “Our competition can’t replicate this, because they don’t have their own garnish counter.” Customization is a key differentiator for Harvey’s in what Tosello referred to as a “fragmented” QSR burger market. With health and wellness, as well as millennial diners in mind, customizable bowls are intended to drive new business and build on Harvey’s loyal customer base, she said. “This is opportunity to attract a new user or

Famoso celebrates a decade in business with 30th location VANCOUVER — Famoso Inc. is celebrating its 10th anniversary by opening its 30th location and expanding upon a new format for the brand. In May of 2007, Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria opened its first location in Edmonton. “We had a tiny restaurant with a pallet of flour in our back room,” said company cofounder Justin Lussier. “We just sort of got busier and busier as time went on.” In February, the Vancouver-based brand opened its 30th location in Regina, in the Eastgate neighbourhood of the city. The location is the third Famoso to open in Regina in two years. “We had a lot of success with the first Regina location, which is right downtown,” Lussier said. “We had a group want to open more locations, and we had some good real estate opportunities, so we decided to go the east end and north end of town.” The latest location is branded Famoso Pizzeria + Bar, and features a new design that will be present in all Famoso franchised locations moving forward. “These new restaurants have an island bar in the middle of the room with a lounge com-

6 | Ontario Restaurant News

ponent with high seats, and a restaurant component with low seats,” Lussier explained. “It’s still a fairly small footprint at about 2,800 square feet.” The original Famoso kitchens were equipped with a pizza oven and prep area. Under the new branding, the kitchen has expanded to include a six-burner stovetop and deep fryers. The new equipment lets Famoso expand its menu with wings, calamari, deep fried risotto balls and a pasta program. “That’s just really added an extra dimension,” Lussier said. “We’re still in love with the pizza we do, that’s number 1, but we felt variety was important for the experience.” To draw in a sports crowd and serve as a gathering place, the new design includes a central bar, numerous televisions and more beer taps to feature local beverages. “With the craft beer scene, we have rotating taps at all of our stores, we’ll get a lot of local brewers in and keep them rotating,” Lussier said. “It keeps it fun and interesting for guests and staff.” The groundwork for Famoso was laid in Italy, while Lussier was backpacking through Europe with his wife.

Hamilton: an oasis for new restaurateurs HAMILTON, Ont. — For restaurant consultant Jarrett Young, Hamilton’s hospitality sector has unlimited potential. After leaving his role as vice-president of operations for Oliver & Bonacini about two years ago, Young created BluePrint Hospitality, a consulting firm focused on smaller restaurant groups. “It lets smaller companies think like bigger companies so they can remain competitive,” Young explained. Jason Cassis, owner of Hamilton’s Aberdeen Tavern, was one of BluePrint’s first clients, recruiting Young to help tweak the restaurant’s operations. “Since then Jason and I have partnered and started a hospitality company to grow the restaurant scene in Hamilton,” Young said. “It’s flourished into something more permanent.” As Equal Parts Inc., Young and Cassis opened The French on King William Street in late 2016. “We identified a need for a French bistro in Hamilton,” Young said. The French joins HAMBRGR, FSH & CHP,

The Mule, Berkeley North, Rust City Brewery and Thai Memory on a restaurant-dense strip of King William Street. “King William is becoming quite the restaurant row,” Young noted. Chef Matt Beasley, formerly of The McEwan Group’s One, serves as executive chef to both The French and Aberdeen Tavern. “He works along side the chefs of each restaurant with menu development and food and labour costs,” Young said.

Hamilton’s hype Young sees Hamilton offering restaurateurs an opportunity unlikely to present itself in Toronto. “There is this awareness that a lot of chefs and hospitality professionals can make a living doing what they love here,” he said. “It’s almost impossible for a small restaurateur to open in Toronto.” Like its residential real estate market, commercial properties in Hamilton are more cost effective. “Since the rent is not as high as it is in To-

The Aberdeen Tavern. ronto, you are able to reallocate those funds to quality of food and service,” he said. “Aberdeen Tavern, The French and the majority of restaurants in Hamilton are serving food and service on par with some of the restaurants in Toronto.” He added the infrastructure in places within the city is more suited towards smaller restaurant with less than 100 seats. As well, interesting facades and interiors make full-scale renovations less necessary. “We’re not opening places that cost millions of dollars to build,” Young said. “It’s more the smaller independent restaurant owners looking

to Hamilton to start their own restaurant and have a staff of 10 to 20 instead of 50 or 75. It’s all scaled back.” While many restaurateurs are making the move to Hamilton, Young doesn’t believe the city is nearing its saturation point. Equal Parts Inc. is planning to open several more restaurants in the area in the next few years. “The city is really starting to create a name for itself, yet it’s just the beginning,” Young said. “I think the restaurant scene is really starting to become diverse, which is very important to the restaurant business. We want to help set a high benchmark for great dining in the city.”

Menu adapted to suit all dayparts Continued from cover Alongside its coffee, a staple at Twigg’s is its Montreal smoked meat on a bagel with house mustard. The meat is imported from its namesake city, while the Montreal-style bagels are brought in from Ottawa. “We have our core menu we’ve never swayed from,” Twigg said. “We’ve added to it, but never really changed our core menu.” Those menu additions were introduced to expand its offering across all dayparts. “We have a full breakfast menu. It’s all healthy, like fresh fruit, quinoa and a juice bar,” Twigg said.

The menu has also expanded to include tapas, flatbreads, as well as beer and wine. Before pursuing a Sudbury location, Twigg’s flagship store was expanded to accommodate a larger kitchen. “We’ve kind of gone into the dinner and after dinner late meals,” Twigg said. “We begin at 6 a.m. and offer things right until close.” After the Sudbury location opens, Twigg plans to find a second location in the city, before scouting Simcoe County for future expansion. “It’s always scary going into that unknown, but it’s really exciting,” Twigg said. “Hopefully Sudbury likes Twigg’s.”

April 2017 | 7


Avanti launches mobile order platform VANCOUVER — Avanti Commerce, the company behind Subway Restaurant’s entry into mobile ordering, has adapted its software for smaller foodservice operations. The cloud-based platform aims to allow brands to accept mobile orders placed while a customer is en route to a foodservice establishment. “You’re on the train on your way to your favourite coffee shop, you can place your order a few minutes ahead and when you get there, you don’t have to wait in line either to place an order or to make payment,” said Jason Strashek, Avanti founder and CEO. “We’re focused in that area, to ensure that the order gets down to the restaurant and that it’s fulfilled in an extremely timely manner.” Prior to mobile apps, Strashek was part of a venture capitalbacked company, Elaho Wireless (later called Ontain Corporation), which was exploring opportunities for mobile commerce in

the early 2000s. “Customers loved it. The problem was it was touchtone phone based and orders had to be sent down to the restaurant over a dial-up connection, which has its own reliability issues,” he said, adding the concept was premature given the infrastructure available. In 2010, after spending time consulting in payment and point of sale, Strashek saw the pieces falling together. “I said now is the time to really start putting the gas on a large-scale mobile commerce platform that allows a franchised brand to become a single brand,” he said. “You unify the brand so it’s represented to the customer as one brand.” With Subway Restaurants, Avanti started with catering orders. This laid the groundwork to move from accepting orders of large platters with a couple days lead time to allowing customers to order a few sandwiches for quick pick up.

“When Subway said, ‘We really need mobile ordering,” they already had it,” Strashek explained. In late 2016, Subway acquired the source code for its platform licensed for use within its own brand — and brought part of the Avanti team in house. This allowed Strashek to further invest in Avanti and make it available to others. “What was very clear was the amount of customized work for Subway, was not applicable to the vast majority of other merchants,” he said. “We knew that we had to keep the platform very agnostic, and we’re really glad that we did.” The Vancouver-based company spent about half a year building store onboarding and menu management tools. Now, it is being tested in the market. “We’re kind of in a great position, because we’ve already proven it,” said Strashek. “While we’ve got that great experience, we can now make it available to everybody else.”

Chowly moves into Canada CHICAGO — When Chowly co-founder Brian Duncan saw the manual work that goes into accepting third-party orders, he was inspired to create a solution. The former restaurant consultant assumed third-party online ordering solutions (TOOS) were integrated with a restaurant’s point of sale (POS). While on a food tour with a large chain in the United States, Duncan was surprised to learn that orders were manually input into the POS. “I asked, ‘If I could find a solution, would you be interested?’ She said, ‘Of course,” he said. “A couple of buddies of mine, who are my business partners, created this platform and we got our first client.” According to Duncan, Chowly now processes more than 10,000 orders a day from TOOS platforms, such as Just Eat, Skip the Dishes and Uber Eats. Following a recent seed funding round last year, Chowly is bringing the Chicago-based company across the border into its first international market. It’s first Canadian client, Edmonton-based Pizza Love, launched in early April. Duncan said Canada was a natural next step for the company, since POS systems are similar to those in the United States. In addition, there are number of restaurant and third-party delivery brands who operate on both sides of the border. The problem, said Duncan, is there are so many players in both POS and TOOS, they can’t all work together on integration. “Now the POS systems and the ordering solutions can simply

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From left: Brian Duncan, Sterling Douglass, Justin McNally and Joe Lawton. have the business relationship, while we’ll do all the grunt work … of integrating all the orders, updating menus, all that good stuff,” he said. In Canada, Chowly’s POS partners include MICROS Systems, Revel Solutions, SpeedLine Soultions and Montreal-based Lightspeed. The company plans to add between three and five POS systems per quarter. Since the application programming interface is plugged in at the restaurant, Duncan said working with the online ordering

system allows added features, but isn’t necessary for Chowly to catch the order. “With our system, it goes directly in, no matter where it is coming from, and it all looks the same to the kitchen staff,” he said. “Most restaurants have between two and five third-party ordering systems they are using,” said Duncan, adding one in six orders are input incorrectly. “The software doesn’t get tired, doesn’t make mistakes.”

It’s all about you

UNIPCO is Canada’s only 100% member-owned foodservice buying group. Our promise is simple. We take the time to understand your product needs and calculate an annual savings amount using the UNIPCO program. Our no obligation analysis is so precise that we’ll put your annualized savings on paper and measure ourselves against that “promise” on a quarterly basis. Find out how much savings a UNIPCO membership can deliver to your establishment today by calling us for your no cost, no obligation analysis. UNIPCO 860 Main Street, Suite 400 Moncton, NB E1C 1G2 Toll Free: 1-877-857-9625 info@unipco.com


VOLUME TALKS In the face of tight margins, aligning your business with a group purchasing organization will help reduce costs by tapping into increased buying power. By Jason Cheskes and Kristen Smith


s the cost of food increases, operators must eat the losses or hike menu prices to maintain their margins. However, if menu prices increase too much, diners will choose somewhere else to spend their food dollars. Group purchasing organizations (GPOs) aim to give operators access to the same buying power as chains, which is only getting stronger as the industry experiences continued consolidation. More consolidation leads to more amalgamated volume, bringing with it greater negotiating leverage for better pricing and additional incentives. At the same time, it puts pressure on the rest of the industry. Restaurant chains continue to grow, noted Groupex Systems director of operations Troy Taylor. “If you’re an independent guy, a dollar off wings or coffee is becoming more and more valuable as you get squeezed,” Taylor said. Following in the footsteps of his restaurateur parents, Chris Kyriakopoulos has spent his life in the foodservice industry. “It was because of the knowledge of the industry and the unfair market, that R.I.B.A. was started,” said Kyriakopoulos, who founded Restaurateurs Independent Buyer’s Association in 1997. “It’s no secret that when you purchase in volume, you’re definitely going to get a better price than when you purchase individually,” he said. Eric Sloan, president of New Brunswick-based UNIPCO, points to consolidation on the distribution side of the business as a factor stunting the independent operator’s ability to compete. “With the consolidation of distribution in Canada, it’s created a very difficult marketplace for the independent operator to be unique in their menu offering and be able to keep their distributors fair in regards to their markups,” Sloan said. “That is why group purchasing has become so popular, because we’ve been able to level that playing field between national franchises and the independent operator.” GPOs are intended to do more than save money on purchases and provide rebate cheques. Ideally, they will also save time spent managing the business so operators can focus on the guest. If an organization specializing in procurement assists with purchasing, operators and chefs can focus on what they do best: delivering quality food, creative menus and customer experience, said Christopher Delaney, senior sales director at Foodbuy Canada. “We want to alleviate them from worrying about the cost of food when they are losing people at the front door,” Delaney said. “Any operator who is trying to go it alone and not partnering with a services or buying group, is really going to struggle with respect to sustainability and food cost.” GPOs are varied, but the concept is the same. Manufacturers agree to provide incentives to the end user through the groups to help entice operators to use their products instead of other options. If the group effectively conveys and educates their members, and has done a good job in negotiating something of value, this should steer more business volume to the vendor’s products and brands.

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The more members a GPO has, and the more who use the specific programs and manufacturers, the more clout the group has with the manufacturers to negotiate in the future. Essentially, by joining a GPO, operators are becoming part of a much larger entity that in most cases will be able to negotiate better than an independent. Until recently, GPOs related to foodservice worked within specific segments, such as restaurants and banquet facilities, golf courses, hotels, health care and educational or correctional institutions. Today, most have members in every type of foodservice operation imaginable.

Considerations when choosing a GPO Each company has manufacturer partners who give them discounted pricing and/or rebates. While in the past, most groups worked with only one or two of the largest distributors, acquisitions and market forces have resulted in expanded choices. Distributors provide sales information to the GPOs so they can pursue rebates from manufacturers and then pass on a portion of those rebates to members based on their purchases. One important consideration is whether the GPO you are considering works with your current distributor or one you may consider in the future. If not, you would need to change your distributor to benefit from being part of that GPO. To get the greatest impact from potential savings, the operator should keep an open mind when considering products and suppliers. Will serving one of the two carbonated beverage giants over the other affect business volumes? Some operators believe it will. If operators are open to trying a different coffee, there are good options in the marketplace. GPOs typically want members to align with their suppliers, but most do not insist upon it. Having someone dedicated to your account who is willing to make suggestions, help identify alternatives and support you if you ever have challenges with a supplier or distributor, can make a big difference to the impact GPOs can have on your costs and the value they provide. It’s difficult to maximize savings, if the information on how to do so isn’t clear. Ideally operators should be able to know the impact of any single product alteration. An operator’s level of engagement can affect the amount of time and attention you receive from the purchasing organization as well. Like any other relationship, operators will see increased attention and support the more they work with the GPO. While it is often impractical to put together reports on every item every month, operators should be able to sit with an assigned GPO representative once or twice a year to discuss top opportunities for saving money. Operators are entitled to know what a specific product purchased generates in rebates. Organizations should function not only as a price negotiator, but also be there to help resolve any concerns or challenges that may arise and ensure the support operators receive from suppliers

is greater than you would see as a standalone business. Aside from the large GPOs mentioned, there are a number of others regional players such as Alliance Group Purchasing in Ontario and several run by provincial associations. There is even one just for pubs. “I think it’s important for operators to keep an open mind and look [at options]. Margins are so tight, anything that they can do to help put more money into their till, they have to take a look at today,” Taylor said.

Types of Group Purchasing The three largest of the group purchasing organizations in Canada are owned by international contract catering companies. With operations in many countries around the globe Sodexo, based in France, operates Entegra (formerly Ontrak). Compass, based in the U.K., owns Foodbuy. Philidelphia-based Aramark operates QUASEP, a branch of Complete Purchasing Services. These companies can to do an analysis of how they could impact your business based on your current purchases if you provide them with velocity reports showing your purchasing habits. Once you have this, you can quantify the impact joining would have. Each offers a different approach to reporting, rebate payments and the support they deliver. QUASEP Purchased by Aramark in 2013, QUASEP began in 1983 as a family business based in Ottawa. Now a branch of Complete Purchasing Services (CPS), QUASEP provides service to independent operators while CPS focuses on health care and senior living. CPS has more than 6,000 customers across Canada. It works with both national and regional distributors and has more than 400 manufacturer relationships. “Aramark has a long history with many manufacturers,” said Brian Emmerton, CPS vice-president and general manager. “Part of the value is we work with a lot of regional and national distributors, so we have a lot of choice for customers.” While collective purchasing power and leverage is key to a successful GPO and member relationship, Emmerton noted technology and expert staff are also important. “QUASEP is a little different than some of the purchasing organizations out there, because we have a full offering of programs and services to help the entire operation run — it’s not just about their food purchases,” he said. QUASEP requires 30 days advance notice to end the member/GPO relationship and does not charge a fee to join, something that became more common with more competition in the GPO space. “One of the first things new players coming into the marketplace started doing, was commoditizing the value by not charging for their services,” Emmerton said, noting Aramark had to follow suit. Foodbuy Canada As both a division of Compass and its purchasing arm, Foodbuy’s has more than 70 employees focused entirely on procurement. The company began supporting external clients, such as restaurants, hotels and golf clubs in 2008 and officially launched as a GPO in 2010. “We’ve got a partner in this business from

every type of market segment you can think of,” said Delaney, noting this includes buying groups. Foodbuy works with Sysco and Gordon Food Service, as well as a number of regional distributors to serve its more than 250 external partners, who represent more than 5,000 operators. The GPO provides food cost savings through invoice savings and/or rebates. It doesn’t charge a fee and has a retention rate of more than 98 per cent. “We deliver what we say we’re going to deliver, if not more, which allows us to retain customers, grow our business and send back money year over year; we call it a virtuous circle,” he said. Delaney makes a distinction between buying groups, group purchasing organizations and procurement services companies. “We believe we are more of a procurement services company because we actually provide a service to some buying groups in Canada that support their independent markets, whether it is the golf business, health care or independent restaurant business,” he said, noting The VGM Group and Silver Group Purchasing as examples. With purchasing power of $1.6 billion, Foodbuy added more than $250 million in managed volume last year, representing growth of 33 per cent. It signed more than 120 new contracts in 2016 and is expecting double-digit growth again in 2017. “We still consider ourselves a new business and growth is endless for now; we’re just getting started,” said Delaney. Restaurateurs Independent Buyer’s Association (R.I.B.A.) R.I.B.A. Corporation is a privately-owned GPO formed by independent restaurant operators two decades ago. The London, Ont., headquartered group currently represents about 1,600 units throughout the foodservice industry. R.I.B.A. works with independent operators from restaurants and hotels to bowling alleys and bingo halls. In 2014, a partnership with Foodbuy allowed R.I.B.A. to include the national GPO’s portfolio. The arrangement kept R.I.B.A. independently-owned and operated, but extended

members’ benefits through a large secondary program. “We became their arm for independent business,” Kyriakopoulos said. “The addition of our platinum program and partner really helps us grow even faster now and we’re anticipating another record year — 2016 was a great year for us. In 2017, we should see anywhere in the neighbourhood of 15 to 20 per cent growth.” R.I.B.A. works with Gordon Food Service, Sysco, Findlay Foods, Flanagan Foodservice, Morton Foodservice, Stewart Foodservice and Summit Food Service (a division of Colabor). “The philosophy behind R.I.B.A. is to give our members choice and flexibility,” Kyriakopoulos said. “The theory behind that is very simple. As an independent myself, the one thing I didn’t want was to be tied down to one specific distributor and lose my leverage in negotiating pricing. R.I.B.A. complements your pricing, it doesn’t take it over.” He added transparency in rates and fees is essential for a good relationship. “When R.I.B.A. quotes a rate, that’s what the member gets and that’s what the member is counting on,” he said. “All of our fees are built-in and separate from the rates we quote, so our members can cross reference with their volumes and see that our statements are 100 per cent accurate.” R.I.B.A.’s annual fee is $150, and Kyriakopoulos thinks it’s an important part of the GPO system. “If you don’t have a fee, people take your service for granted and they do not support you. When people see a fee, even through it’s minimal at $150, they feel obligated to use it and they feel more a part of the process,” he said. Groupex Systems Groupex Systems is owned by Restaurants Canada and operates independently in nine provinces. The organization was founded by a group of Edmonton restaurateurs more than 30 years ago. According to Taylor, Groupex is looking to establish a presence in Quebec. With a single distributor partner, Gordon Food Service, Groupex combines the concepts of association membership and group purchasing. “We try to negotiate on the power of our

membership to get operators a better value,” said Taylor. He likens Groupex to a brokerage more than a buying group, noting it doesn’t have multiple vendors in the same categories. For example, Groupex has only one major beverage company in its portfolio as opposed to both. “We believe we have a working relationship with them that we’re growing together,” Taylor said. He noted advantages extend beyond price to better service and equipment maintenance, where independents may not see as quick a response as a national chain. “Being part of an organization, in my view, gives you more weight with the various manufacturers to get done what you need to get done,” Taylor said. Groupex is included in an annual membership to Restaurants Canada, which also provides access to research and industry trends. Funds earned from the program go towards Restaurants Canada to fulfill its lobbying and advocacy mandate. When choosing a GPO to work with, Taylor noted it is important to consider the type and frequency of reporting being received. “Groupex issues statements every month detailing exactly what they purchased, exactly what the rebate is and exactly where the dollars are going. If you’re not getting that from your guys, you’ve got to demand it,” he said. UNIPCO A member-owned foodservice buying group, UNIPCO has more than 700 members in Eastern Canada. “Our collective mission is to level the playing field, help independents improve their profitability and save them time by managing their business so they have more time to focus on their guests’ experience,” said Sloan. An organization with national aspirations, UNIPCO has a 30-year history in Atlantic Canada and expanded into Quebec and Ontario within the last decade. “Ontario is about the same size membership-wise as Atlantic Canada, where we started,” said Sloan. “We have golf courses, bingo halls, seasonal takeouts and of course a lot of mom and pops that make up the portfolio of members.” UNIPCO has relationships with about 140 manufacturers and service providers and works with broadline distributors in the provinces where it operates: ADL Foods in Prince Edward Island, Capital Foodservice in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, FJ Wadden & Sons in Newfoundland and Labrador, Colabor Food Distributor in Quebec and Flanagan Foodservice in Ontario. “The beauty of our program is we have a cost-plus, a very aggressive cost-plus, based on our combined purchasing power,” Sloan said. Joining the group requires an initial fee of $4,500, which can be paid with rebates earned. “We’re a cooperative and we have a zero retained earnings policy. There are surpluses and bonuses that get relayed back to all our members as well,” Sloan said. This year, UNIPCO plans to grow membership through more intentional marketing efforts than in the past. “As we’ve grown our business, it’s been more word of mouth. From restaurateur to restaurateur, we’ve relied on word of mouth to grow our business,” he said.

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50 years of hospitality By Colleen Isherwood KITCHENER, Ont. — Half a century after he emigrated from Greece and started working in the hospitality business, Mike Kanellis still puts in 50-hour weeks at his restaurant, Golf ’s Steakhouse and Seafood. He oversees the Kitchen, Ont., business and spends a lot of time talking to customers in the dining room and banquet halls. “I don’t feel like I’m forced to do it. I do it because I like to do it,” Kanellis said. “I have three sons all working here to take it over, but in the meantime, I’m here to help them. It’s in my blood.” Kanellis said he has to leave the country to take a relaxing vacation — if he’s close by and there’s a problem, he’ll come back to the restaurant. When Kanellis opened Golf ’s Steakhouse and Seafood in 1976 after a decade in the business, many things were different. “Everything in the restaurant was dark and deep red — inside, the restaurant was dark and black. Then things changed — we opened up the restaurant and people wanted to sit by the windows,” he said. Indeed, one of the marketing features of the restaurant is its four-seasons atrium overlooking the Grand River. The menu has changed too. When he started, everyone wanted steak and prime rib,

but now there’s more demand for seafood and chicken. The 250-seat restaurant has been renovated twice on the outside and three times on the inside. Kanellis built one of the banquet halls in 1983, added some storage rooms and put in an elevator since the restaurant is two storeys high. Some of the customers who came at the beginning, are still there 40 years later. “At the banquet halls, we have had weddings for people 30 to 35 years ago, and are now hosting their children’s weddings.” In late November 1988, there was a disastrous fire caused by electrical wires that shorted in the attic. “I was force to shut down and renovate,” said Kanellis, “But we were back in five months, with new furniture, equipment, appliances — everything. It was wintertime, so hiring trades was easy because it was inside work. We had 16,000 reservations booked for December 1988. For five months, we were closed, but we got all the customers back — plus!” That was a tough time, Kanellis reflects. “But business increased even in the ’80s and ‘90s recessions,” he said. “The reason is the quality — I try to keep on top of quality of service as best I can.” Another reason is the price. Dinner entrees range from an 8-oz. roast prime rib of beef at $21 to Chateaubriand for two at $58. “I try to stay below my competitors — I try not to be

Back row from left: Gus, George and Tom Kanellis. Front: Mike Kanellis. overpriced. Some people come from Toronto, purposely, to eat here,” he said. Kanellis’s three sons, Tom, George and Gus are all in the business: Tom doing maintenance,

payroll and accounting; George managing the dining room and Gus running banquet operations. Some of his grandchildren have started working in the restaurant as well.

Eva’s Original Chimneys feature soft serve ice cream with handmade toppings.

CONCEPT launches at Yorkdale TORONTO — Yorkdale Shopping Centre has turned to a few favourite flavours from Toronto to launch CONCEPT. Located near the TTC entrance at the mall, CONCEPT is a space devoted to “new thinking,” and will feature a rotation of new tastes, trends and technology. The first instalment of CONCEPT runs until April 30. For its April debut, the pop-up style space recruited Caplanky’s Deli, which specializes in smoked meat and other Jewish delicacies, as well as Uncle Tetsu, which opened to lengthy lines when its first location outside of Asia opened in Toronto. CONCEPT also includes: Nadia’s Chocolates, a chocolate art concept featuring three foot high edible Easter garden sculptures. Pie Squared, an eatery built around English-

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style meat pies fused with new flavours and wrapped in a pastry pocket. Nugateau, Toronto’s first éclair only pastry shop that offers variety of éclairs both in sweet and savoury flavours featuring seasonal ingredients. Eva’s Original Chimneys, a traditional Hungarian treat. Eva’s Chimney Cones are filled with soft-serve ice cream and homemade toppings. Exclusive to CONCEPT is the Decadent Drip Cake Cone (dripping with chocolate ganache; spread with peanut butter; layered with chopped roasted peanuts and salted caramel sauce; topped with more salted caramel sauce, peanut brittle, toffee shard, caramel popcorn, a cocoa-filled wafer roll and a chocolate peanut butter macaron) and the Matcha Crunch Cone featuring matcha syrup made with ceremonial matcha tea and crunchy Matcha KitKat bits.

Oretta: an art deco interpretation of Italian beauty TORONTO — Restaurateur Salvatore Mele is taking his first step out of Midtown Toronto with the opening of Oretta. Joining Capocaccia Trattoria and Quanto Basta in the Mele Group’s restaurant roster, Oretta opened in a new condo development at 633 King St. West in February. The 220-seat, 6,500-square-foot restaurant aims to provide a casual art deco interpretation of “authentic Italian beauty,” spread out over two floors. “It has a little bit of the ’70s and a little Great Gatsby,” Mele said. “We used a lot of pastels, like pinks. We used tons of colours to make sure this was going to be a fun restaurant. It’s loud. Loud Italian.” The restaurant is divided into three dining areas, complemented by 25-foot ceilings and pink walls with arches and copper inlets. On the first floor, the main dining room is open for lunch and dinner. As well, a café with its own entrance opens at 8 a.m. “The restaurant is designed for anytime of the day,” Mele said. After 5 p.m., the café, which serves espresso-based beverages, house-pressed juice, pastries, pizza, salads and paninis, transforms into a private dining space. “There’s a lot of different stuff happening there,” Mele said. “We made sure it was multifunctional.”

The second-floor mezzanine, which seats about 100 guests, overlooks the main dining room and is used for private events or as regular restaurant seating. “We recognized the shortage of event spaces downtown. The whole reason we have the mezzanine is to host a lot of this corporate stuff,” Mele said. “There are a lot of restaurants that just don’t have private spaces.” A room divider in the mezzanine helps accommodate smaller parties, while a presentation kitchen allows guests to interact with chefs as they work. “It feels like you’re in someone’s house. Someone is actually cooking right there for you,” Mele said. “You can sit down and chat with the chefs as they prepare.” For the executive chef position, Mele recruited Christian Fontolan, originally from the Marche region of Italy. Food Network chef David Rocco serves as Oretta’s brand ambassador. “Once in a while, he’ll be doing things upstairs,” Mele said. The menu will fuse ingredients from Italy with local suppliers. While Mele said they use local ingredients where possible, certain Italian flavours can’t be reproduced in Ontario. “There are just certain things, like olive oil, you can’t get in Canada,” Mele said. “We’re getting better and better, but a parma prosciutto from Italy is on a different level.”

We Will Save You Money. info@foodbuy.ca | 1-800-465-2203

YouTube: Foodbuy Innovative Procurement April 2017 | 1 3

The Evolution of

Fast Casual

Fewer staff members in a smaller space allow restaurant operators to provide a higher quality meal at a lower price. By Bill Tremblay


hile attending the French Culinary Institute in New York City, chef Shahir Massoud discovered Roman cuisine. Massoud was on a path to becoming a chartered accountant, but decided to change direction in pursuit of career in culinary arts. “One of the first great kitchens I worked in was Mario Batali’s Lupa,” Massoud said. “I really fell in love with authentic Italian food there.” After returning home to Canada, Massoud worked in several kitchens. When the time came to open his own restaurant, his focus returned to Italian cuisine. “I always came back to the idea of doing these beautiful dishes I fell in love with and try to replicate them and scale them,” Massoud said. To deliver quality Roman food without a fine dining price, Massoud created the fast casual restaurant concept Levetto. The first location opened in Vaughan, Ont., in 2013 with a 20-item menu of various pastas and pizza. “You can have a scratch made, amazing spaghetti pomodoro for $9, but you’ve got to play by a different set of rules,” Massoud said. As he created the concept, Massoud recalls friends asking why he wanted to enter the crowded pizza and pasta market. “I want to do it better, at a price point no one else is doing,” he said. To achieve a lower ticket, Levetto restaurants require a footprint of about 1,200 to 1,300 square feet. As well, staying true to the fast casual service model, customers place their order at a counter, rather than with front of house staff. “I have a small footprint, a small staff and no table cloths,” Massoud said. “There’s three pillars we stick too: authentic Roman, fast casual price and high quality.” He explained the fast casual format makes sense for consumers demanding quality at a lower price.

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“I do think in today’s day and age, we can and we should look to meet guests’ standards at their desired price point,” Massoud said. “Industry wide, we’re seeing shifts in that direction anyway.” For Levetto, the format is working. Since its introduction to the market in 2013, the restaurant has grown to include seven locations throughout southern Ontario. “It’s been a busy three and a half years,” he said.

A global success Fast casual success isn’t limited to Levetto or Ontario. In 2015, the fast casual segment recorded sales growth of 11.4 per cent, almost doubling the growth rate of any other segment, according to Technomic. Sarah Monnette, vice-president of research and insights at Technomic, explained fast casual restaurants are hitting on key consumer trends, like fresh, high quality ingredients and menu transparency. “Fast casual chains have seen stand up growth across the globe,” Monnette said. “Global demand for fresh ingredients and customization; that’s going to continue to be seen across the globe. That’s what’s fueling the growth of fast casual.” She added quick service restaurants are also stepping up to the fast casual plate. “They’re revamping their concepts and ingredients as well, to kind of have that QSR-plus type model,” Monnette said.

Moving to a new format About six years ago, Nando’s began migrating from quick service restaurant to fast casual format. With 42 locations in Canada, and seven to 10 new restaurants opening each year, the South Africa-based company is renovating its existing locations and building the fast casual format. “We’re opening up the kitchens and taking down menu boards where we can,” said Ron Cecillon, president of Nando’s Canada. “It makes it more consistent with full service, without

waiters and waitresses.” For Cecillon, the advantage of moving to fast casual is a higher quality menu with lower operating costs. “We can do great quality with few staff. … As labour just gets more expensive, you have to be as flexible as possible,” he said. “You don’t need people anchored in specific positions. Everybody is cross-trained to do a little of everything.” With less staff, the guest is responsible for some of the tasks usually handled by staff in a full service restaurant, like placing an order or filling beverages. “The guest controls their dining experience. When they’re ready to order, they order,” Cecillon said. “You can get up and leave whenever you want, you don’t have to flag someone down.” Having control of the flow of the meal also fits in with customer trends, he added. “People are in a hurry today, much more than they were 10 or 15 years ago. They’re not looking for that 60- to 90-minute dining experience,” Cecillon said. “Millennials love convenience they love to get in and out, and they love the ability to get it on demand when they want it.” At Nando’s, the open kitchen is a key component to fast casual success. “It’s that theatre of watching the food being prepared for the customer,” he said.

Keep it simple Cecillon points out a common theme within fast casual restaurants: a tight menu. “Five Guys does burgers. We do chicken and it’s all we do. Part of the success is that tight menu,” he said. “We’re not ashamed to not offer a bunch of items.” With peri-peri chicken as a recurring protein at Nando’s, repetition in the kitchen lets back of house staff master the menu preparation, which in turn improves quality and consistency. “Our kitchen staff are cooking the same menu items all the

Panzanella salad, Levetto

Famoso Mac & Cheese


time,” Cecillon said. “So they get very proficient at it, versus trying to learn a 100-plus item menu.”

errors in communication between the guest and back of house, saves on wages and will help a business stand out from the crowd. “The initial cost for iPads might be high. In the long run, you’re going to save money compared to wages. It’s imperative to have an open mind,” Sabev said.

matter what, the guests wanted to sit down and have full table service.” Cecillon noted there are always “growing pains” when introducing consumers to a new method of business. “Some guests hate it, to be completely honest. They just don’t get it,” Cecillon said. He explained training staff to educate guests who are new to the format is key to success with fast casual. “As more and more brands, new and old, start to develop the fast casual model, I think it will be widely accepted,” Cecillon said. “You can get in and out, get great quality and a great environment as well.”

Segments within the segment Cecillon also noted fast casual is splitting into segments within the segment. “It will develop similar to what happened in full service, this notion of upscale casual,” he said. “I foresee a segment within a segment continuing to develop.” He explained fast casual eateries like Chipotle or Five Guys differ from Nando’s or Famoso, despite falling into the same category. For example, Nando’s, Famoso and Levetto all have alcoholic beverage menus. “You’re seeing more focus on design and more focus on freshness,” he said. “Customization is a big part of it as well.”

The importance of social Vassil Sabev, founder of Toronto-based Blue Seal bar and restaurant consulting, ties the rise of fast casual to the rise of social media. “The rise of fast casual dining is synonymous with social media,” Sabev said. “Look at your Burger’s Priests and Holy Chucks, they’re able to showcase their menus via Instagram and social media. It’s led to their success.” Regardless of dining format, social media must be integrated, Sabev said, noting most restaurants should have a network of between 5,000 and 6,000 on Instagram alone. “It’s an excellent way to reach all of your customers,” He said. “It’s absolutely crucial to any business to have a heavy social media presence, especially the fast causal format.” To build a significant following, Sabev recommends tying the social media launch to the opening of the restaurant. As well, invite Instagram influencers who specialize in restaurant food photography to try out the menu. “It would be imperative to establish a launch with a few of these online personalities,” he said. “You might have to spend some money, but it’s better to spend and make money in the future. In our experience it translates to better numbers.”

The future of fast casual New technology available to restaurateurs will spur fast casual interest and growth, according to Sabev. “We still believe this format is in its infancy stages,” he said. With a rise in options for automating the hospitality industry, like mobile ordering or interactive dining tables, technology is being geared towards the fast casual format. “Keep your options open and don’t be scared to take a chance on new technology,” Sabev said. For example, placing an order via a tablet helps eliminate

Upsell without alcohol Many fast casual restaurants in Canada do not serve alcoholic beverages. While this saves time and money by eliminating the need for a liquor license, it also eliminates an opportunity to upsell. “This is a blessing and a curse,” Sabev said. “Alcoholic drinks have a high profit margin.” For fast casual restaurants, homemade, non-alcoholic beverages fit well in the segment, and help recoup the upsell opportunity. “A lot of people are health conscious when it comes to pop or soda,” Sabev said. “This is a trend we’ve been noticing the last couple of years.” Instead of carbonated beverages, Sabev recommends a house made ice tea, for example. “It’s an excellent way to thicken your revenue stream,” he said. “Your overhead for these drinks is next to nothing.”

It’s not for everybody When Famoso Neapolitan Pizzeria opened its first location in Edmonton in 2007, the restaurant operated as a hybrid of fast casual and full service. Guests were seated, where they could peruse the menu. When ready, they would place their order at the bar. “Quite a few people were confused by that slight difference of having to sit and then go order,” said Famoso founder Justin Lussier. “It’s just ingrained in people’s mentalities in North America; you either line up and order or you sit down and get served. We were asking them to do something in the middle.” Famoso decided to equip servers with iPads to take orders at the table. “It saves time, and keeps the orders accurate,” Lussier said. “The orders go right to the kitchen. You don’t have to wait until the server gets back to the point of sale system to do it.” Lussier explained the switch has allowed Famoso to maximize its potential by expanding its menu and bar program. “That has been a good switch,” Lussier said. “It’s kind of like a new world. We’re not this place in between full service and fast casual.” At Levetto, fast casual is a success at the majority of its locations, especially in Toronto. However, in Waterloo, Ont., customers didn’t take to the service format. “In any one we open there’s a growth process. You automatically think ‘where’s the server’?” Massoud said. “In Waterloo, no

Chef Shahir Massoud, Levetto

April 2017 | 1 5

Supply NEWS

Gordon Food Service Show features flavours you may never see again TORONTO — While the Gordon Food Service (GFS) Show is an opportunity to sample the wide range of products they offer, it’s also a venue for the company to get feedback on recipes that may never leave their test kitchen. On March 29, the Toronto Congress Centre hosted the Ontario leg of the show, which featured more than 200 vendors. In Canada, similar shows also take place in Montreal, Calgary and Quebec City. At each show, GFS includes its Product Innovation Test Kitchen, where customers are able to sample new creations by the company’s corporate chefs. “What we really want to do is show things that we feel passionate about, but we’re not sure how the customer is going to respond,” said GFS product development chef Jason Beecher. The kitchen, located on the show floor, offered showgoers a chance to try about 10 products. Throughout the tasting, an iPad is provided allowing customers to provide feedback on the products. “Rather than just have a warm fuzzy feeling, we also have the data to help us,” Beecher said. “This is a great way for us to communicate with customers and hear what they like and what they don’t like and what they may do differently.” The show may be the only chance to test certain items created by GFS chefs. Depending on feedback, the recipes may never make it to market.

“It allows us to focus on what we do well; not everything is a hit. The only way to really know what people think is to serve it to them and get them to tell us,” Beecher said. “It’s helpful in helping us decided how to bring what’s relevant, meaningful and insightful to our customers.” This is the second year GFS has included the test kitchen at its show. Last year, during the Canadian leg of GFS shows, miniature naan breads, used as a base for canapés or for dip, were a clear favourite for customers who visited the test kitchen. The naan is now available through the Sienna Bakery brand. “Almost everybody who tasted them was head over heels with them,” Beecher said. “We made the decision very quickly, even before all the shows were over, to go ahead and move forward.” This year, Beecher featured several dim sum items as well as a new take on poultry seasoning and a seasoning for wild game or turkey. The recipes are developed throughout the year in the GFS test kitchen, located at the company’s headquarters in Grand Rapids, Michigan. “We consult with the brand team. If there’s something they’re not sure about, we’ll bring it here to get more information,” Beecher said. “It’s important for us to get information back that we can act on. For example if they don’t like it, what is it we can change?”

Chef Luigi Napolitano, O’Sole Mio.

Costco opens first Canadian business warehouse in Scarborough SCARBOROUGH, Ont. — Commercial kitchen equipment takes the place of televisions at the entrance of the new Costco Wholesale Business Centre. The first Canadian location opened March 31 in the Warden and Eglinton area of Scarborough, Ont. While all Costco members can shop at the store, the focus is on business-to-business, which Marc-André Bally, vice-president, Business Centre for Costco Wholesale Canada, sees as the company returning to its roots. “It’s really back to the basics of how we started 30 years ago,” Bally said. The product offering of about 3,000 items is 80 per cent different from Costco Wholesale locations and includes bulk food items, cleaning supplies, produce, dairy and meat, including about 30 halal skus. New products include value-added produce, such as precut lettuce and peeled onions and potatoes; whole goats and lamb; and larger quantities of dry good and base ingredients, such as olive oil.

To bring in new business-focused offerings, Costco partnered with a number of new vendors for the 90-per-cent Canadian product mix. Bally said the buying team will be attentive to members’ needs as the store develops. “This hopefully will put a lot of new vendors on the map,” he said. “We have one building; our vendors can grow with us.” Located at 50 Thermos Rd., the 127,000-square-foot warehouse is open earlier than other Costco stores and offers delivery within a 24-kilometre radius. Starting with six trucks, orders placed by 3 p.m. will be delivered the following day. Delivery is an added service, but not an added revenue stream for the business location. Bally noted the charge, which is between 10 and 15 per cent of a minimum $250 order, covers the cost of delivery. He expects the store to expand the fleet and radius as the company becomes accustomed to the new delivery aspect of the business.

There is no pharmacy, food court or optical services as found in traditional units. “It’s strictly pallets on the floor, the good old cash-and-carry way,” Bally said, adding the company is maintaining its low margin, high volume business model. Bally said it is difficult to estimate how many foodservice or retail operators use one of its 94 wholesale clubs in Canada, since members often use their personal card for business purchases, and vice versa. “We have not been serving business members the way we’d like to — it’s time to start,” he said. If the concept proves successful in Canada, Costco plans to open between 10 and 15 locations within five to 10 years. Bally estimates the Greater Toronto Area could support two or three business centres. “Over the years, we’ve become a destination, in the markets where we operate, for foodservice,” he said. “We are in so many different fields, that really everybody’s a competitor.”

Montreal based Gastronomia aims to increase presence in Ontario MONTREAL — Gastronomia is putting its focus on the Ontario market by partnering with McCormack Bourrie Sales & Marketing. The Montreal-based importer of European food items partnered with the Ontario brokerage earlier this year. A trade show-style open house was held in March to introduce clients to Gastronomia’s product line, which include Panifrance artisan breads and viennoiseries, ready-to-fill La Rose Noire tartelette shells, baskets and cones and Les Vergers Boiron frozen fruit purees and coulis. The company launched in 1998 with croissants and purees from France. Now, the catalogue features appetizers, desserts, filled pastas, pizza and vegetable sides, including 21 new products for 2017. “Every year, the catalogue is getting a little bit bigger,” said Jean-Philippe Brouillet, Gastronomia vice-president of sales.

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“I remember chefs in Montreal, they couldn’t believe it; we were bringing croissants from France,” Brouillet recalled, noting the company had to convince clients there would be consistent inventory. “Now, it’s a common thing, having croissants from Europe.” Brouillet said Gastronomia’s products are popular with independent operators in Ontario, but he sees opportunity to work with chain businesses. “We’re all across Canada from the Maritimes to Victoria, but we’re a little bit behind in Ontario in sales compared to other provinces [given the] size of the market,” he said. “After trying for a few years, we thought we needed help.” Brouillet sees particular opportunity for chains to use its products as a point of distinction, while maintaining a level of operational ease with finished or semi-finished products.

“The image of frozen items in the kitchen is really changing,” he said. “A good frozen product, first, is a good fresh product.”

Bakery trends Two years ago, Gastronomia introduced a premium line of viennoiseries, croissants and pain au chocolat made with 24 per cent butter with a longer resting time for the dough. “We can feel the whole level of croissants and Danishes going up, which is great for us,” said Brouillet. New this year is brightly coloured navettes in green, yellow and pink. “This is very trendy in Europe right now, having colours in the food. We love that one. The colours are vibrant, but not too much,” said Brouillet. “It was big in Montreal and I’m sure it will be the same in the Ontario market, and it’s already selling [well] out west.”


From seed to pint The MacKinnon brothers are using ingredients from their ninth-generation farm to supply their brewery BATH, Ont. — The ingredients used by MacKinnon Brothers Brewery have been more than 230 years in the making. In 1784, the MacKinnon family settled in Bath, Ont., and began farming the land. Today, the 1,200acre farm has moved towards seed production, and grows corn, soybeans, oats, barley and hops. “My two daughters are the ninth generation to farm here,” said Ivan MacKinnon. When Ivan and his brother Daniel decided to return to the family farm, they began looking for ways to add new revenue to the family business. With Daniel holding a master’s degree in brewing and distilling from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland, and Ivan, a professional engineer with food processing and automation experience with several food manufacturers, creating MacKinnon Brothers Brewery made sense. “We wanted to come home and be involved in the farm and land, but we decided to diversify,” Ivan said. “We were already growing seed barley and

we had all the know-how to grow malting barley. Hops; we figured it out.” In 2014, the MacKinnons began building the brewery and renovated a straw barn to house the operation. “We didn’t have much money when we started the brewery, so it made sense to just use the buildings that were there,” MacKinnon said. “At the end of the day, it added a lot of value for us. We kind of keep that aesthetic of the farm there.” For the brewery’s retail store, the MacKinnons retrofit a chicken coop. “It was the easiest building to renovate at the time and it looks fairly modern inside,” MacKinnon said. “It still feels like the same structure. It’s cool to keep that vibe of the old farm buildings around.” When the time came to begin supplying beer to bars and restaurants, fallen trees from the property were used to make wooden tap handles. “My grandfather was an avid woodworker. He had the barn well stocked with good timber when he passed away,” MacKinnon said. “We

really incorporate the history and traditions of the place into the branding we use.” By 2016, the farm had an established hops and malting barley crop, and the Mackinnons were able to pour their first beer created solely from their farm in November. “That was a big milestone for us,” Ivan said. “Growing our own ingredients was a way to continue the farming tradition, but also do something a little bit different.” MacKinnon Brothers will continue to release beers that are 100 per cent brewed from ingredients on the

farm, but not all of their products will be purely homegrown. “I would like to say we will get to the point where we used all of our own barley and all of our own hops, but I think we would really need to grow the infrastructure here,” Ivan said. “Right now we’re trying to push that percentage up a bit, and use more and more ingredients in all the beers we do.” The brewery’s flagship beverages include Cross Cut Canadian Ale, 8 Man English Pale Ale and Red Fox Summer Ale. The Red Fox recipe includes

about one per cent beet juice. “It adds a really intense red colour and makes the head on the beer an interesting pink hue,” Ivan said. “It doesn’t really impart much flavour. I expected beet juice to taste like beets, but it’s just like sweet water.” To meet demand, MacKinnon Brothers recently doubled their brewing capacity by adding three 5,000-litre fermenters. “That will take a lot of load of off the current system. We’ve been completely maxed out selling all the beer we can make,” Ivan said. “It’s good problem to have.”

CAPS crowns best Ontario sommelier TORONTO — The Ontario chapter of the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers (CAPS Ontario) has named Emily Pearce-Bibona the winner of the Best Ontario Sommelier Competition 2017. Pearce-Bibona is the sommelier at Barberian’s Steak House in Toronto. She earned the title after a day-long competition on March 5 at the Centre for Hospitality & Culinary Arts at George Brown College. The runners up were José Luis Fernandez, sommelier at Quatrefoil restaurant in Dundas,

Ont., and Nathan Morrell, sommelier at Bar Isabel, Toronto. Pearce-Bibona also won the Lifford Wine and Spirits Award for Best Taster, presented by honourary event judge and sponsor, Steven Campbell of Lifford Wine and Spirits. The Best Ontario Sommelier Competition is presented by CAPS Ontario every two years, recognizing excellence among Ontario’s wine professionals. As winner, Pearce-Bibona will represent the province at the Canadian National Sommelier Competition in Vancouver, Sept. 3 to 5.

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NRA announces 2017 Kitchen Innovations Awards CHICAGO — The National Restaurants Association has announced the recipients of the Kitchen Innovations (KI) Awards, in advance of its annual trade show in May. The awards aim to honour forward-thinking equipment and technologies that increase efficiencies and productivity in restaurant kitchens. Each recipient and their product will be showcased in the interactive Kitchen Innovations Pavilion at the 2017 National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show, May 2023 in Chicago. The 2017 KI Award recipients reflect the trends and topics most important to foodservice operators today. The 18 selected innovations address operator concerns from labour, energy and water efficiency to food safety, sanitation, cross-functionality and space-saving. New software and new materials continue to make new solutions possible. The 2017 Kitchen Innovations Award recipients are: Alto-Shaam by Appliance Innovation: Vector Multi-Cook Oven The ventless Vector Multi-Cook oven offers up to four independently controlled cook chambers. Advanced “Structured Air Technology” takes evenness and speed to a new level. Each chamber gets its own 10-speed fan and multistage programming. Antunes: Dual Zone Egg Station Great for all-day breakfast flexibility, the Dual Zone Egg Station’s unique split cover divides the grill surface into two independent cooking zones for quick on-demand eggs. Cook on one zone or two, larger or smaller batches, depending on demand. The two-channel timer allows operators to time each zone separately. Blendtec: Nitro Blending System What if you could blend a drink in the same cup it’s served in? Just lock the individual disposable cup into place, and go. The system not only assures portion control, but it also reduces handling, improves sanitation and saves labour — not to mention rinse and wash water. Ecolab: STEALTH LED Fly Light Leaping into the next gen of insect light

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traps, the STEALTH LED uses LED technology to achieve industry-leading effectiveness while slashing energy consumption and eliminating the need for a high-voltage ballast and fluorescent bulbs. The compact, discreet design makes placement easier for both front and back of house, and the LED bulbs are shatterproof to help protect food safety. Garland: XPress Grill Garland’s Xpress Grill takes energy and temperature management to the next level with a controller that automatically adapts to either 208V or 240V. PID software continuously modulates power to maintain set point, unlike conventional on/off cycling. Cooking lanes are independently controlled, separated with grooves under the grill plate to prevent heat migration. Each lane can be set at a different temperature or even turned off when not needed. Hobart: CLeN Conveyor Warewasher with Drain Water Energy Recovery With waste heat recovery critical in warewashing, Hobart has found that drain-water energy recovery solves multiple challenges at once. Not only is waste heat recovered to preheat incoming water, but with drain water temperatures reduced, the need for tempering water also is greatly reduced, saving significant water consumption. MEIKO: M-iClean UM With GiO Module Finally, an undercounter hot-water sanitizing glasswasher that boasts an integrated reverse-osmosis filtration system. The reverse osmosis system removes the water impurities that cause spotting, eliminating the need for hand polishing. ENERGY STAR listed, the model uses 0.61 gallons/rack. An illuminated door handle glows blue for ready, green for washing and red for messages. Merco: MercoMax Visual Holding Cabinet The MercoMax offers a new answer to the age-old challenge of visual quick service restaurant style hot holding with a combination of radiant heat beneath the shelves and forced-air convection from fans above each holding zone.

A bright seven-inch touchscreen display, visible from across the kitchen, shows what’s being held and its status. Middleby CTX: WOW 2 Grilling System The Wow 2 Grilling System is a Middleby-CTX infrared conveyor oven broiling at 1,000°F. It also has an advanced controller that saves enough energy to the heating elements that it only requires a 30-amp breaker rather than the typical 50-60-amp unit. Special pans and high-temp alloys provide the grilled effect. Panasonic: Met-ALL Induction System Until now, induction cooking in North America operated at a frequency that worked only with ferrous pans. No more. Panasonic’s Met-ALL works with any kind of pan, whether iron, steel, copper, or aluminum, automatically sensing the metal and adjusting accordingly. QuiQsilver: Roll-O-Matic Silverware Rolling Machine The Roll-O-Matic silverware/utensil and napkin rolling machine brings automated rolling within reach of casual dining, cruise ships, hotels and more. The machine neatly rolls and bands all kinds of flatware, even chopsticks, UV sanitized, at the rate of 500 sets per hour. RATIONAL USA: SelfCookingCenter XS Model 6 2/3 With the XS Model 6 2/3, RATIONAL manages to get all of the advanced features of its full-size SelfCookingCenter combis into a package that’s about 60 per cent smaller. At 21¾ inches deep, 25¾ inches wide, and 22¼ inches high, this is the only combi this compact that offers its own steam generator. Royal Range of California: RHEF-45 High Efficiency Fryer High efficiency fryers are mainly expensive models with bells and whistles. Royal changes that with the RHEF-45, a 14-inch, 45-pound model that delivers high efficiency in a straightforward package. The RHEF-45 offers three in-shot burners, total 99k Btu, with a flue temp of 370°F, 62.6 per cent efficiency and 70.6 pounds/hour production capacity.

Southbend: TruVapor Want the versatility of a combi’s convectionsteam-combi modes, but want it straightforward and up front on the cookline? The TruVapor delivers with a low profile that fits into the line and serves as a base for a rangetop or griddle. A steam generator provides plenty of power. Standex Refrigerated Solutions Group (Nor-Lake and Master-Bilt) Keg Management System Standex’s KMS is an integrated walk-in keg box solution that addresses injury risks inherent with employees lifting a 160-pound keg. The KMS features a suspended track and electric hoist system, with cantilevered shelving, that moves kegs anywhere within the walk in. A digital scale helps inventory partial kegs. Turbo Coil: Dual Zone Mega Top Prep Table Turbo Coil uses two of its patented compact evaporator coils, one for the pan section and one for the storage section, and seals off both sections, making each completely independent. A single master controller sets both temperatures and runs both coils. The result is better temperature control and reduced energy usage. TurboChef: DoubleBatch The ventless Double Batch oven uses two independently-controlled high-speed cooking cavities to maximize throughput while requiring minimal space and energy consumption. The cavities are controlled by a split-screen, Wi-Fi connected capacitive touch controller, which allows the user to intuitively and quickly control either cavity simultaneously. Air impingement technology and an oscillating rack make for rapid, even cooking. Vulcan: VC5G Gas Convection Oven Nobody likes hard-to-clean oven door windows. Enter Vulcan’s VC5G Gas Convection Oven with fully removable, dishwasher-safe doors. Just lift them off and put them in the dishwasher or a three-compartment sink. Another big plus —one of the best convection oven cooking efficiency scores in ENERGY STAR testing.

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Ontario Restaurant News April 2017  

Ontario Restaurant News April 2017