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O N T A R I O August 2016 | Vol. 31 | No. 7





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Fishbone nets a new deal on Lake Simcoe an ice cream parlour. The condo development is under construction AURORA, Ont. — Rejection with the first phase expected to be ended up spawning the growth of complete next spring. The 600Pedro Pereira’s restaurant business. acre resort includes a golf course, The owner and operator of hotel suites, a marina, a lake club, Fishbone Bistro in Stouffville, a 200-acre nature preserve and a Ont., now has two more locations number of foodservice establishas well as a deal to operate at the ments. Born in Portugal, Pereira Friday Harbour Resort developmoved to Canada at 18 to play socment on Lake Simcoe. “I started expanding the Fish- cer and got a job in foodservice. “I bone brand very soon after we fell in love with the industry,” he lost the deal for Jamie’s Italian in said. Prior to opening Fishbone, Canada,” said Pereira. When the United Kingdom- Pereira operated The Chicken based brand partnered with King Place for about three years. He worked front of house Street Food Company, which has multiple restaurants under its um- throughout much of his foodserbrella, Pereira was encouraged to vice career, but learned to cook when he opened his own restaugrow his own brand. The first Fishbone location rants, that way he can slip into any opened more than five years ago. position to fill in when needed and Pereira added a seasonal operation “never be held ransom” by an emPedro Pereira three years later in the Musselman’s ployee. Pereira wears all the hats; he curry and dishes such as whole fish Lake community (where they serve about 30,000 people in three and designs the restaurants (and does deboned at the table. “There are so many flavours a half months at the outdoor wa- some of the building), creates the terfront seasonal operation), and menus and curates the wine list, from the world that are part of opened Fishbone Kitchen + Bar in which is strictly Portuguese and Portugal’s culinary liking so we try changes often because of the avail- to incorporate a little bit of everyAurora, Ont., last September. The deal with Friday Harbour ability of product and the size of thing,” said Pereira. The menu also includes flatclosed in June, creating a fourth shipments. “It’s an Old World wine that a breads, lamb bolognese, peri peri Fishbone outpost, which is slated to open April 2017 on the boardwalk. lot of people don’t have knowledge Cornish hen and deep-fried BrusThe deal includes the development of because they haven’t been ex- sels sprouts served with sweet chili APPROVAL REQUIRED sauce and smoked peanuts. posed to it,” Pereira said. of at least one other foodservice The enclosed proof is sent for your approval. We will not proceed with the job until the proof is returned. DO NOT GIVE VERBAL INSTRUCTIONS. CHECK CAREFULLY! “We try to be as seasonal as On the menu, the flavours of establishment onsite, a pub and Beyond this point we cannot accept responsibility for any errors. Alterations (other than typographical errors) will be charged extra. Mark proof “OK” or “OK with corrections” as the case may Portugal are reflected through possible and as local as possible,” family-style restaurant, and the opbe, signing your name so we may know that the proof reached the proper authority. tion of opening a third operation, ingredients such as chorizo and said Pereira. “We have so many





By Kristen Smith

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SOCIAL WORK MEETS FOOD IN ERIN, ONT. farms up here, it really is a luxury to be in this area.” The restaurant group will focus on opening one new location at a time, with plans to open in Laguna Beach, Calif., in the future. As Fishbone grows, Pereira will have to be less involved in running the restaurants day-to-day. “We’re in the process of restructuring and putting the key players in place in order for me to oversee my business from the top,” said Pereira, adding the plan is to promote from within.








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Paying tribute to Windsor’s spirited history By Bill Tremblay WINDSOR, Ont. — A new restaurant in the Walkerville neighbourhood of Windsor, Ont., is paying tribute to the city’s 80 proof past. The Walkerville Eatery, a collaboration between father and son duo Mark Hawken and Joshua Bourque, opened in early July four blocks from the original 1858 Hiram Walker and Sons Ltd. distillery. Hawken explained the neighbourhood has become a destination, following about six years of revitalization and rebirth. “It’s kind of hipster meets history. The food is fantastic. There’s a lot of great young restaurateurs opening up,” he said. “We thought we could be a part of that.” Hawken returned to his hometown of Windsor following about 12 years in the Caribbean, where he worked as food and beverage manager for Sandals Resorts and general manager of an 800-room Wyndham Casino. Before heading south, he served as food and beverage manager for Casino Windsor for 11 years. “I came home to retire, but I got bored really, really quickly,” Hawken said. Bourque worked as head chef at Smoke & Spice before joining his father at The Walkerville Eatery. “I wanted to show my son the rest of the business,” Hawken said. “He knows the kitchen really well, so I’ll show him the rest of it



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Mark Hawken and Joshua Bourque from accounting to marketing.” Working with his son is an added benefit to the eatery. Hawken noted when he lived in the Caribbean, they had few opportunities to visit each other. “Getting to work with him every day is just spectacular,” Hawken said. “It’s probably the best part of the whole thing.” Hawken and Bourque took a straightforward approach to designing their menu, offering 11 varieties of sliders and pizzas. “We do two things and we do them really well. In this Walkerville area, there’s a lot of good restaurants and everybody’s got their own thing,” Hawken said. “We’re trying to create a niche where we can provide great flavours and present them in a really great way.” The average check is about $16,

with sliders priced at $3.50 each and pizzas at $12.50. “The whole thing is to keep it tight, inexpensive and do volume,” said Hawken. “It’s all I’ve done my whole life: manage costs and get people in the door.” Alongside its proximity to the Hiram Walker Distillery, birthplace of Canadian Club, The Walkerville Eatery’s location at 911 Walker Rd. has its own notable history. The building once served as a supper club that hosted the likes of Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder and Dean Martin. During Prohibition the building was also known as a meeting place for Al Capone. The restaurant is decorated with photos from the Hiram Walker archives, wooden beams from the 1800s once used to hold up whiskey rails and clay brick from

the original buildings. “The building itself has a lot of history and I’m trying to speak to that history,” he said. As well, the front of house staff wear fedoras, while the cooks wear tuxedo vests to recreate the atmosphere of when the distillery was in full swing. “My father retired from Hiram Walker and I worked there when I was a kid. It was a big deal,” said Hawken. While the decor celebrates Walkerville, so does the menu. The majority of ingredients used at the restaurant are purchased from businesses on Walker Road. “I serve six local wines, four of them are on this road. The market itself is across the street from me,” said Hawken. “Even the cows are raised on Walker Road.”

Wendy’s celebrates its 40th anniversary, and a new look HAMILTON, Ont. — Wendy’s celebrated its 40th anniversary in Canada by unveiling a $1.5 million renovation to its first restaurant outside of the United States. The first Canadian outpost, located on Upper James Street in Hamilton, Ont., opened in September 1975, six years after founder Dave Thomas opened his first restaurant in Columbus, Ohio. “I don’t know where the time has gone,” said Paul Hilder, senior vice-president for Wendy’s Restaurants of Canada. “A lot has happened to the brand in those years.” The newly renovated restaurant includes fireplaces, televisions, a Wi-Fi bar, high and low tabletops, a casual seating area and digital menu boards. As its first Canadian location, the store is also equipped with a memorabilia wall commemorating its history. “Really it is about the customer experience relevant to today’s consumer, so we can continue to attract our share of the business out there,” Hilder said. While the restaurant is equipped


Ethel Wilson joined Wendy’s more than 25 years ago. with Wi-Fi for its customers, the Wi-Fi bar provides a place for the restaurant’s guests to plug in electronics. “It’s table stakes now. Consumers expect it everywhere they go,” Hilder said. Coke Freestyle drink machines, where customers are able to pour and customize their beverage, are another new feature of the revamp. “Customers love them. They like the ability to create their own blend of drinks,” Hilder said, adding the machines help keep the

counter line moving. The new look is part of a system-wide renovation. So far, about 70 restaurants have been renovated, representing about 20 per cent of the portfolio of 354 restaurants. Wendy’s aims to convert 60 per cent of its locations by 2020. “We’re certainly on an upward swing of remodelling and reimaging to this look,” Hilder said. “It’s great to see our first restaurant catch up to the system.” While renovating the restaurant chain’s look is important, Hilder

noted it isn’t a substitute for food quality, or a customer’s interaction with employees. “It still comes down to customer experience,” he said. “You can’t just renovate a restaurant and think that will solve future growth.” At the James Street North location, 94-year-old Ethel Wilson is a valued part of the customer experience. “Ethel is an example of how you can’t put an age against when someone’s no longer valuable,” Hilder said. “It’s quite amazing she can still work at 94.” Wilson, who works in the dining room, joined the Wendy’s team about 27 years ago. She is the oldest employee within Wendy’s in Canada, and one of three employees at the James Street North location that has been on the job for more than a quarter century. “I put an application in, and I came in the second day. I’ve been here ever since,” Wilson said. “I love this place, I look forward to coming to work every morning. They’re good to me here.”

Mississauga bistro to adopt pay what you want specials MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Diners will soon dictate the price of the chef ’s special at Dialo’s. Chef Dialo Kinghorn recently purchased the restaurant, formerly Port 229, on Lakeshore Road East in Port Credit. Kinghorn began working on the paywhat-you-want approach after a customer voluntarily paid more for a dish he was testing for the new menu. “The first week when I started out I was just playing around with a few things and working on menu back and forth,” said Kinghorn. With a minimum price in place, Kinghorn will encourage his customers to pay for the chef ’s special based on a sliding scale. “It’s pay whatever range you feel it’s worth. It could be a roasted duck with panseared gnocchi and seasonal root vegetables with a citrus sauce,” said Kinghorn. “One person might have it and be disappointed with it, so they pay $20. Someone else orders it and it’s awesome. They’re going to pay $40.” Dialo’s is Kinghorn’s first venture as a solo restaurateur. Before taking ownership of the restaurant, he served as executive chef at Port 229, and held chef positions at several Mississauga restaurants. The bistro is expected to officially open in September. Kinghorn said location led him to open his first solo restaurant venture in the same spot as his previous employer. “Port Credit has that little downtown feel to it. You can walk to lots of restaurants,” he said. “You hit the summertime and tourists are coming into town. There’s a lot of foot traffic here.” The same location, however, doesn’t mean the 35-seat restaurant will remain the same. Kinghorn plans to “move away from the bar crowd” with a made-from-scratch seasonal menu. Later in the evening, he plans to target a more sophisticated nightlife demographic with a taco and ceviche menu. The average check will be about $32 per person. “We plan to change a lot of stuff in here, we’re slowly building up,” Kinghorn said. “Everything takes time.”

August 2016 | 3


EDITORIAL Wage increases are costly, but good staff is priceless Over the years, restaurant associations have spoken out against minimum wage increases, calling out the government for placing an extra burden on small business owners in an industry already squeezed by tight margins. Often, it’s not the right time or simply too much money. British Columbia recently announced an increase in minimum wage from $10.45 to $10.85 effective Sept. 15. In Ontario, minimum wage is set to increase 15 cents to $11.40 per hour. In Saskatchewan, minimum wage is adjusted annually relative to the consumer price index and average hourly wage; on Oct. 1, it will increase 22 cents to $10.72. These all seem fairly reasonable. For a staff of 10 on the floor during a four-hour service, the B.C. increase would equal $16, which certainly adds up over the course of a year. But the kicker is in Alberta. At the beginning of October, minimum wage will jump $1 to $12.20, the first of three planned increases to bring it to $15 by 2018. On the one hand, it’s a tough pill to swallow for small business owners who will have to plan for increased labour costs, which already amount to about 33 cents from every dollar. It could mean fewer jobs for youth and labour

cuts in general, the main concern for Restaurants Canada. “We believe that the minimum wage for full-time work should at least allow people to meet their basic needs,” said Alberta Labour Minister Christina Gray. Restaurants Canada doesn’t disagree, but they were asking the province to maintain the liquor server wage (scheduled to be axed in October), introduce a youth wage and delay wage increases until the economy improves. Restaurants Canada is clear: it is not opposed to minimum wage increases. “Our industry is concerned about the unintended consequences of increasing the rate too quickly,” said Western vice-president Mark von Schellwitz. “We will get to a $15 minimum wage in time, but imposing a 50 per cent increase in just three years (a whopping 63 per cent increase for liquor servers) is simply too much, too fast given the current state of Alberta’s economy.” More than 120 people attended a June forum where Joseph Marchand, associate professor of labour and demographic economics at the University of Alberta, discussed his recent research into the impact of the minimum wage increases. “If a third energy boom is not on the horizon for 2018 … then policy makers should consider moving their intended goal of $15

back by a few years, until energy prices pick back up,” Marchand said. On the other hand, what’s good for employees could be good for the bottom line by boosting morale, loyalty and perhaps even quality of life. People account for at least half of a customer’s foodservice industry experience. A restaurant’s employees are its frontline workers and brand ambassadors. In a time when people are questioning the traditional foodservice model, where there is talk of eliminating tipping and paying a “living wage,” perhaps we should consider paying our talented staff more, before we are forced to by regulation. With a strong, well-paid labour force, average check could see a boost or tables could turn a little faster. If not, raising menu prices to cover costs might not be a terrible thing, especially if both food and service are on point. Increased wages are coming and a labour crunch is looming, if not already upon us, so perhaps it’s time for some pioneering thinking. Nothing will ever change by doing things the same way.

Kristen Smith Managing Editor

NEWS BRIEFS Correction An article in the July issue of Ontario Restaurant News profiling Maharaja restaurant misspelled the name of Kekky Khan, one of the restaurant’s directors.

Chase Hospitality to open Planta TORONTO — Planta, the latest restaurant project by Chase Hospitality Group, is set to open in September in the Yorkville neighbourhood of Toronto. Chase staff partnered with Nota Bene owner and chef David Lee to create an entirely plant-based menu for the new restaurant. Planta will open at 1221 Bay St. in the former home of Pangaea Restaurant, which closed this year. The restaurant seats 165 guests, including a 32-seat private dining room. As of June 1, all restaurants under the hospitality group (The Chase, The Chase Fish & Oyster, Colette Grand Café, Kasa Moto and Little Fin) offer a 25 per cent plant-based menu in an effort to reduce the group’s environmental impact.

JUST EAT celebrates 10M orders In July, JUST EAT Canada delivered its 10 millionth order since its launch in 2009. Mark Watts of Toronto placed the order on July 14 and received a surprise gift pack delivered to his door for helping the United Kingdom-based delivery company reach the Canadian milestone. As JUST EAT completed its 10 mil-

4 | Ontario Restaurant News

lionth delivery in Canada, the company also announced it is preparing to launch test runs of delivery robots in London, England. The robots, created by Starship Technologies, have already driven about 8,000 km and met more than 400,000 people without a single accident, using cameras, sensors and other technology to navigate their way through urban streets.

TouchBistro adds QuickBooks TORONTO — TouchBistro, an iPad point-of-sale (POS) solution for restaurants in 37 countries, now offers integration with accounting software QuickBooks. Provided as an option for TouchBistro POS app users, the integration helps restaurateurs reduce accountant fees and bookkeeping hours by eliminating double entry of operating data into restaurant accounting records. During the initial installation of the integration, TouchBistro revenue and cost categories are mapped to the related accounts the restaurant has set up in its QuickBooks application, ensuring accuracy between operational and accounting reports to better manage the business. Existing TouchBistro users on the latest version can simply activate the QuickBooks integration. “TouchBistro is committed to helping restaurant owners and managers improve their bottom line by seeking out new partners and the best technologies to increase

efficiencies and simplify operations,” said Alex Barrotti, founder of TouchBistro.

Servings of Hope TORONTO — The success of the first Servings of Hope dinner to help sex-trafficked victims has prompted Fouzia Boukantar to challenge others in the hospitality industry to host similar events benefitting Covenant House Toronto. Boukantar, owner of Le Neuf Café, a French bistro in downtown Toronto, donated her establishment for an intimate gourmet dinner for 24. Through the event, more than $5,000 was raised in support of Covenant House’s new anti-trafficking plan. Fouzia came up with the idea for the monthly event series to raise $20,000 by September.

La Banane repalces The Saint TORONTO — King Street Food Company recently announced a partnership with chef and chocolatier Brandon Olsen to open La Banane. The modern French concept will take over The Saint’s location on Ossington Avenue this fall. The Saint will be closed as of Aug. 1 and will relocate to a new location at a later date. Olsen, former chef de cuisine at Bar Isabel, The Black Hoof and co-owner of Chocolates x Brandon Olsen (CXBO) will spearhead this new venture for King Street Food Company and take on the role of executive chef.


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CONTACT US: 905-206-0150

EDITORIAL ADVISORY COUNCIL MICKEY CHEREVATY Consultant, Moyer Diebel Limited JACK BATTERSBY President, Summit Food Service Distributors Inc. PAUL LECLERC Partner, Serve-Canada Food Equipment Ltd. JORgE SOARES Director Food and Beverage Operations, Woodbine Entertainment Group ADAM COLQUHOUN President, Oyster Boy JOHN CRAWFORD Director of Sales-Canada, Lamb Weston TINA CHIU Chief Operating Officer, Mandarin Restaurant Franchise Corporation MARTIN KOUPRIE Chef/Owner, Pangaea 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

ONTARIO RESTAURANT NEWS VOLUME 31 · NO. 7 · AUgUST 2016 Ontario Restaurant News ( 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: P A C I F I C / P R A I R I E



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Lobster democratized Jonathon Gonsenhauser and Will Tomlinson plan to introduce lobster to a new demographic TORONTO — A new lobster-focused restaurant is on a mission to make the crustacean a culinary staple in Toronto. Jonathon Gonsenhauser, an advanced Court of Master Sommelier and former beverage director at Momofuku, partnered with Will Tomlinson, who has worked at a variety of restaurants, wineries and distilleries in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom, to open lbs. in Scotia Plaza at 100 Yonge St. in late June. lbs., pronounced “pounds,” is an acronym for lobster, burger, salad. “One of our goals as a restaurant group is to democratize lobster in the city,” Gonsenhauser said. “There is a need in the marketplace for a lobster-focused restaurant.” To bring lobster into the foreground for Toronto diners, lbs. has a set price of $22 for its four-item menu of a 1.25-lb. lobster, a lobster roll, and a lobster salad. A six-ounce brisket burger with five-year-old Ottawa cheddar and double-cut bacon rashers serves as the non-shellfish option on the menu. Gonsenhauser explained the set price removes the uncertainty of a menu item that is often sold at market price. “There’s a disconnect in that price point. We feel people would order and enjoy lobster more if they knew the price before they walked in the door,” Gonsenhauser said. Since opening, a lobster poutine has been added to the menu. The poutine, topped with reduced lobster bisque, cheese curd and four ounces of lobster meat, was originally a secret menu item. “Then Instagram came along,” Tomlinson said. Although the item was not advertised, the poutine quickly became a house favourite. “We were just playing with it one night and guests loved it. We started having people come in the next day asking for it,” Gonsenhauser said. “If that’s what they’re asking for, that’s what we’ll do.”

Will Tomlinson and Jonathon Gonsenhauser. Alongside a 114-seat dining room and bar, lbs. has a takeout window in the PATH as well as an indoor patio with 24 seats. The kitchen is enclosed by floor-to-ceiling glass, allowing guests a full view of the back of house. As well, the kitchen houses a water tank capable of containing 2,000 pounds of lobster. Gonsenhauser is the only team member tasked with selecting lobsters from the tank. “It really is an ecosystem that needs to be treated properly,” he said. Alongside Gonsenhauser’s credential as an advanced Court of Master Sommelier, Tomlinson earned an MBA in wine in Bordeaux, France. While the wine list is a work in progress, they agree lobster is best paired with champagne. “Wine is a huge part of our lives for sure, so it’s important that it transcends into this project, but in a very approachable manner,” Gonsenhauser said. “That is what the concept is really about.”

The five-item menu was kept short as a way to increase efficiency throughout the operation. “When you have a menu with 30 or 60 items, it becomes more difficult to do prep work or have all those items in-house,” Gonsenhauser said. “Executing those dishes at the highest standard we can is important to us. We do one thing and do it well.” Gonsenhauser and Tomlinson met while working at the now closed Pangaea in Yorkville. They started working on their restaurant concept about five years ago. “We just had conversations about doing something and finally said ‘let’s do this.’ And here we are,” Tomlinson said. “It was a long process of getting to here for sure.” After three years of searching for the right space, they selected the 3,700-square-foot spot in Scotia Plaza. “This space spoke to us in terms of its size,” Gonsenhauser said. “In this part of the financial district, there are not a lot of offerings in terms of upscale casual restaurants.”

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August 2016 | 7

NOtable burger.

B u r g e r Business The better burger segment is still growing in Canada and operators can take a bite out of the strong category sales by paying attention to its components.

By Kristen Smith


urgers are a menu staple for a reason. Between May 2015 and May 2016, more than 725 million burgers were served in Canadian restaurants, according to The NPD

Group. Sales of the classic dish increase annually by about two to three per cent, according to Scott Stewart, account manager for Canadian foodservice at NPD. He said this means burger sales are on par or even “slightly outpacing” the industry, which is flat at about one per cent growth. The Canadian market is seeing growth in what has been dubbed the better burger segment, which has also been driving much of fast casual’s success. Stewart said this has resulted in a bit of a trade-off: many of the big, traditional burger players have turned their attention to another menu category, such as chicken or breakfast. Burger-centric fast-casual concepts “came in with a bang,” said Stewart, and now that they have been around for a few years, he expects to see a ripple effect in quick-service restaurants. “There is a bit more focus coming back to burgers it seems, and a lot of the messaging is around quality, customization,” he said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw more attention coming back to burgers.” Stewart thinks there is an opportunity for full-service operators to get into the burger game, or if they are in it already, dust off their equipment. “Most FSRs have always had a burger, but they’ve started to up the game as far as changing the protein, [adding] new toppings,” said Stewart. “They’re really upping their game and we’re seeing that reflected in the numbers.” He noted customers are accepting the idea that they can get a good burger at a place that doesn’t focus on burgers, but their expectations for what makes it good have increased. They want gourmet toppings and artisan buns.

8 | Ontario Restaurant News

“Certainly it comes down to execution, but I would say that even if you are branded as something other than a burger guy, there is still an opportunity to win with a good burger, or four, on your menu, if they fit,” said Stewart.

Pleasing patties At Parts & Labour, executive chef Matty Matheson’s burger creation spawned the opening of a burger-focused joint at Queen and Spadina in downtown Toronto. When Matheson was crowned Burger Wars champ, it resulted in between 200 and 300 people ordering the winning creation every evening at the full service restaurant. The Social Group opened P&L Burger to satiate people’s appetite for the popular menu item. Social Group director of operations Ricardo Santos said a great burger boils down to simplicity and freshness. “It all starts with the cut of meat. Picking something that has a good natural ratio of fat to meat, so you’re not blending different things,” said Santos. Parts & Labour uses either chuck or brisket in its recipe. “When they’re being ground, they’re balled out of the grinder. They never get pushed or processed from that point until they hit the flat-top griddle,” said Santos. “Then, it’s minimal amounts of pressure. You squish it just enough to make it round and into a patty shape and then you let it cook. You give it one flip and let that side cook, making sure you put it on another part of the griddle,” he said. “The key with these burgers is using clean griddles and never using the same spot twice without cleaning it, so you really get caramelization on the burger and it seals in the juices.” NOtaBLE has been an Alberta Burger Fest winner for three years running. In 10 days, the Calgary restaurant served 890 of its burger creations, a patty made from wagyu beef and Berkshire pork, topped with truffle aioli, Oka cheese, crispy onions and served on a sesame seed bun. “It all starts with great ingredients,” said chef de cuisine Ryan

Gilmore, adding the key to creating a great burger is not overcomplicating it: “making an awesome burger patty and cooking it right.” The restaurant features a monthly burger. In August, for example, the patty will be all beef with feta cheese. Burgers are cooked in an oven, which doubles as a rotisserie and grill. “We use charcoal underneath the grill and hardwood, birch and cherry to cook rotisserie. The charcoal gives a completely different flavour; it kind of gives a bit of smoke, to the meat and because it’s so hot, it gives a great sear on the outside of the burger and locks the juices in,” Gilmore said. “Just let it sit on each side for four minutes, put a piece of cheese on it and call it a day.” The staff at Vancouver-based Oakwood Canadian Bistro use whole brisket from Prairie Heritage Range-Fed Angus to make patties. Recently promoted head chef Jason Masuch said grinding it in house allows them to control the ratio of fat to meat. It’s seared on a flat top and finished in the salamander. “What that allows us to do is create a good crust on the burger and by finishing in the salamander, we are able to cook it very quickly so that it stays really moist and doesn’t dry out or shrink,” Masuch said. Burger 2.0 — topped with aged cheddar, bacon, garlic dill pickles, alfalfa and Oakwood’s take on 1000 Island dressing, gulf island dressing — is the number two seller every day at Oakwood. “It’s a complex burger that eats very casually,” said Masuch. Burgers are the core business for Ontario-based The Works Gourmet Burger Bistro. The 27-unit, full-service chain has nine patty options, all of which can be pepper-crusted: ground beef chuck, elk, bacon, beef, chicken, crispy chicken, ground turkey, portabello mushroom, vegetarian and cheese stuffed. Corporate chef Shane Kennedy said the different options allow its customers some healthier choices and the ability to try out their favourite toppings on a different base. “Everybody has different preferences,” said Kennedy.

Trendy toppings When building a burger, Kennedy looks for the next great flavour combination or for regional influences. He has found comfort food works well with burgers, whether it’s bacon or peanut butter. Kennedy said it’s important to use ingredients that not only taste good, but are also visually appealing. “Cost aside, your burger is going to be analyzed for more than just taste,” he said. “When it comes to building a burger, build it however you want, but you’re not skimping out on quality or uniqueness.” If The Works’ customers don’t feel like choosing from the chain’s dozens of burger creations, or its limited time offers, there are 65 toppings to play with. Kennedy sees topping customization happen in two ways: either a customer wants to add or subtract a topping or they want to pair up their favourites and create their own. P&L Burger’s toppings are made in house, which allows an operator to develop a signature sauce. “Don’t be stingy. Be free with your sauce,” said Santos, adding the goal is to get sauce in every bite. “A lot of people spread it thinly like they’re putting butter on and we like to squirt in on the bun and then squish it onto the topping so it kind of melts over top of everything and emulsifies all the flavours.”

The bun matters Many independent operators with pastry chefs or bakers on staff choose to make homemade burger buns. At NOtaBLE, this allows the kitchen team to change the type of bun it uses for its featured burgers, as well as use buns that are fresh from the oven. “The only way you can guarantee what goes on a plate is by doing it yourself,” said Gilmore, adding everything is made from scratch. “It’s more work, but it’s well worth the price.” Creativity doesn’t need to be limited to the burger’s inner components. At The Works, waffles have been substituted for a traditional bun. The company also offers various types of buns: white and brown, a smaller size for smaller patties, and a gluten-free option. Instead of making buns in house, P&L sources a sesame seed egg bun from a Toronto bakery. Santos said it is the perfect size and density. He said they considered making buns themselves, but then decided, “we specialize in burgers,” not necessarily every component. An important thing to consider when choosing the burger base, and often overlooked, according to Santos, is the meat to bun ratio. The Oakwood uses a house-made egg and butter bun, which Masuch said isn’t quite as sweet as a typical brioche. “We like to have a little bit of patty exposed. The bun is a vehicle, it’s not the star,” he said.

Add your own flair Boston Pizza has more than 350 restaurants in Canada. The pizza-based chain recently re-engineered its burger lineup. “We’ve been in business for more than 50 years across Canada, but the reality is, when it comes to burgers, we’re still

The Works’ 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon.

relatively low on the consideration and part of that is because we’ve only been in the burger business for seven years,” said Alex Green, vice-president of marketing at Boston Pizza. With about half of all Canadians eating a burger every week, Boston Pizza saw opportunity in giving its guests a better burger offering, something Green said guests had also been asking for. “The burger space is probably more crowded than it’s ever been before and I think it’s triggered a couple really good changes in guest expectation when it comes to burgers,” he said. “I think they’re demanding better quality ingredients, better quality burgers.” Boston Pizza delved into customer research to determine what its guests were looking for in a better burger. Quality of meat was top of mind. Boston Pizza selected Canadian beef (ground chuck and brisket) seasoned simply with salt and pepper and served with Canadian cheddar on a brioche bun. For its new creation, the Most Valuable Burger, the company leveraged a signature part of the BP experience. “Then we have our signature element, which is our signature cactus-cut dip,” Green said.

Boston Pizza’s Most Valuable Burger.

Gleanings from the Burger Route There are about 600 foodservice establishments across Canada participating in Unilever Food Solutions’ Hellman’s Burger Route. The company creates quarterly inspiration guides designed to help operators put their best burger forward. “Sometimes it doesn’t have to be significant changes that they’re making — it’s all about experimentation for the operators,” said Colleen Gagnon, Unilever Food Solutions’ senior marketing manager. At the same time, Unilever is combing through submissions for trends and ideas. “It’s a two-way street. They inspire us and we hope to inspire them,” she said, noting crunchy toppings, anywhere from fried foods to crispy vegetables, are popular options. “The basis for a great burger is high-quality ingredients. If you have an amazing patty, whether it’s beef, veggie, chicken or what have you, as long as it tastes really good, and it’s prepared well — same thing with the bun. Then you kind of up the ante with all the condiments, but you have to have that really good core and then you can make it your own,” said Kyla Turoi, corporate chef for Unilever Food Solutions. “Something like mayonnaise is a great carrier for a whole bunch of different flavour profiles.” Turoi said while burgers are somewhat exempt from food trends, they tend to follow the major ones. “We’re seeing a huge rise in people moving towards being vegetarian or a largely plant-based diet. I think we will see a lot more veggie or even seafood burgers out in the market,” she said. While Gagnon said sometimes a guest simply wants a classic cheeseburger, many consumers are becoming more adventurous when it comes to burgers. “They are just a great canvas for culinary creativity,” she said. “It’s a great way to play around with different foods, but still make it very approachable because the burger is always superpopular,” Turoi added.

The Works’ Nacho Libre.

Cheeseburger with grilled artichokes. Unilever Food.

Herbed feta turkey burger. Unilever Food Solutions.

P&L Burger.

August 2016 | 9

Food from thought Chef Pam Famjoy transitioned from social worker to chef, but her new career remains intertwined with her past ERIN, Ont. — Unlike the creation story of many chefs, Pam Famjoy didn’t grow up in the kitchen or learn at her mother’s apron strings. “I grew up as the youngest in a family of five and we were incredibly poor and we often didn’t have food,” said Famjoy. The first time she had roast beef was in university with her roommate’s family, sitting down to Sunday dinner. Gathering around the kitchen table at the end of the day wasn’t a family tradition for Famjoy; it would have only highlighted that there wasn’t much to eat, she explained. “I loved the way a normal family would get together and talk and share and eat,” Famjoy said. Following her work with Waterloo Regional Food Bank, where she was tasked with bringing the community garden model to the area in the early ’90s, Famjoy pursued a career in clinical social work in the Greater Toronto Area. In 2007, she started taking culinary classes at George Brown College out of personal

interest and eventually enrolled full time in the program while she worked part time at her private practice. “The more I cooked, that’s all I could think about and that’s all I wanted to do,” said Famjoy, who recently opened The Friendly Chef Adventures at 100 Trafalgar Rd. North, in Hillsburgh, Ont. She originally operated her business on the Main Street of Erin, Ont., where she focused on retail kitchen supplies and lunch at the 14-seat establishment. “We built up a clientele over the two and a half years I was there and continually, as people tried our food, they wanted more and more,” Famjoy said. “We started having people wanting us to open for dinner, but we really didn’t have the physical space to do that.” This prompted her to look for a larger space, along with learning of her landlord’s plan to sell the building. “I had invested everything that I had at that point into the business. I sort of reeled for about three days, panicking,” said Famjoy. She then turned her attention to finding a solution. The answer was a crowdsourcing campaign, dubbed Tall Chef, Tall Order. “We appealed to our community to help us save for a down payment to purchase that building that we were in at 98 Main St.,” said Famjoy, who raised more than $20,000 through the prepurchase of prepared meals, catering and dinners. Pair that with the $10,000 she earned winning Chopped Canada earlier this year, and Famjoy was well on her way towards a down payment. Although she didn’t purchase her former building, she found a nearby location for sale though a catering customer.

In her new, larger establishment, Famjoy has room for about 40 seats in the dining room, an ice cream counter and retail space, where she sells cookbooks, kitchen gadgets, prepared meals and fresh meat, seafood and produce. In the evening, a sliding barn board door provides a private dining area in the retail area of the shop and another blocks the ice cream counter from view, creating a more sophisticated lounge area. In the future she hopes to build a rooftop patio and garden in partnership with her main produce supplier, Everdale. During the day, Friendly Chef serves lunch with a focus on sandwiches and salads. Famjoy serves tapas in the early evening and uses themed dinners (such as taco Tuesdays) to appeal to different people in the community. Famjoy said it was important for her to provide fresh, local and healthy food at an affordable price point. She achieves this by doing her own butchering and capitalizing on her additional revenue streams. “I want this to become the community hub of Hillsburgh,” she said. Before opening a food business, Famjoy brought her social work and culinary skills together by leading therapeutic cooking classes for those with eating disorders, widowed men and for parents and teens in conflict. While these are on the backburner while she gets her new restaurant to spec, Famjoy plans to reintegrate them into the business. “My social work and my cooking are very interrelated. I think it’s one of the things that fundamentally makes me a different kind of restaurateur,” she said. “My restaurant is my playground, but there are much larger things that I plan to do in terms of helping with my chef ’s hat and my social work hat.”

Building a food system at White Oaks Resort & Spa NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE, Ont. — Chef in residence Kyle Paton is hoping to bring the philosophies he learned at Dan Barber’s Blue Hill at Stone Barns to the masses at White Oaks Resort & Spa. Paton came on board in April and has been working with the team to open a third onsite restaurant and create a food system at the property. Paton made a name for himself as a vegan chef after opening Rise Above at the age of 22, but his ideas surrounding ethical sourcing (and eating) changed during a stage at Blue Hill. “You can’t poke a hole in anything of their philosophies. It just changed everything for me, so when I came back, I sold Rise Above,” said Paton. “I want to take that concept, how ethical and sustainable it is, but do it in a way that’s accessible to the general public.” This is guiding Paton’s development of Grow, which will add to the resort’s roster of existing restaurants, LIV Restaurant and Play Urban Café. “For this project, it’s not vegetarian or vegan, but it is very vegetable focused, which my food always has been,” said Paton, who created a menu of soups, salads, grain bowls and tartines he expects will cost about $13. There is a 2,000-square-foot garden onsite as well as four beehives. Future plans include

1 0 | Ontario Restaurant News

constructing onsite polyhouses and planting fruit-bearing trees. “We’re going to be doing a lot of small-scale farming,” said Paton, who sold his shares in Bolete, the St. Catharines, Ont., restaurant he was working on with chef Andrew McLeod. Paton expects the menu will be about 16 items, with daily specials based on the harvest. “We’re growing a bunch of stuff and then we’re going to be forced to use it,” he said. “We’re obviously planting things we want to use

and things that we like, but it’s not going to come at ideal times. We’re going to get a plethora of something and we’re going to have to make do with what we have and that’s where I feel that I’m most creative is when there are restraints.” White Oaks is partnering with nearby Niagara College for a number of projects, including preserving produce and working with horticulture students. Paton said they will also be getting new and unique varieties of apples from the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre,

which will allow them to produce ingredients such as single-variety, small-batch apple cider vinegar. Over time, Paton sees the resort’s landscape changing to become more functional as opposed to aesthetically-driven, and plans to incorporate public education through activities like lunchand-learn sessions. “It’s not so much about just doing cooking demonstrations, or just being a restaurant, it’s more about the full cycle,” said Paton, who has been inspired by what he has seen in his travels as well as some local operations, such as Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery. Paton said he wouldn’t be able to work on a project like this out on his own, but the infrastructure and the support of ownership and staff at the 40-year-old property make it feasible. The 46-seat restaurant and café is slated to open Aug. 18, and Paton believes the restaurant will help the other two restaurants focus on what they do best, instead of providing options for the resort’s various clientele. “Now we can focus LIV on being the higherend restaurant, Play can be the mid-range restaurant and Grow can be the organic, healthy restaurant,” said Paton. “Each one can focus on what they do.”

superfood your


Fully Cooked 3 oz Turkey Burger

June 2015 to June 2016 Food price comparison

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The edible margin Food costs are an ongoing struggle for most restaurateurs. However, there is brief relief in the consumer price index and methods exist to avoid eating your profits.


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By Bill Tremblay


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s 2015 drew to a close, the cost of food became the number one concern for foodservice operators throughout Canada, according to the fourth quarter Restaurant Outlook Survey conducted by Restaurants Canada. Double-digit price increases for fruits, vegetables and proteins meant 70 per cent of operators surveyed recorded increased food costs, and 60 per cent of those surveyed planned to raise their menu prices. By the end of the first quarter of 2016, the situation had not improved. Foodservice operators reported an average 4.6 per cent increase, year over year. The increase translated to 63 per cent of full service restaurants and 44 per cent of quick service operators surveyed by Restaurants Canada reporting plans to raise their prices in the next six months. By the end of March, 73 per cent of operations reported paying higher food costs, the highest level recorded since Restaurants Canada began its quarterly outlook survey in 2011.

There’s good news



In June, food prices fell 0.3 per cent compared to the previous month, according to Statistics Canada. As well, the consumer price index held at 1.3 per cent compared to the previous year. “Prices are actually dropping across the e T e/ board these days,” said Dr. Sylvain Chare F coF lebois, dean of management and professor Graphics by in food distribution and policy, faculty of

Source: Statistics Canada

1 2 | Ontario Restaurant News

management and faculty of agriculture at Dalhousie University. Red meat recorded the largest price drop, falling 2.6 per cent compared to June 2015. Kevin Grier, an agriculture and food market analyst based in Guelph, Ont., said an ample stock of beef eases the effects of supply and demand. “Right now we have more beef. Therefore prices are going down,” Grier said. Following record high beef prices in 2015, Charlebois explained customers began looking for alternatives. A study at Dalhousie found high prices drove 37 per cent of beef consumers to look for other proteins. “I’m not surprised prices are dropping. I don’t think they will be dropping a lot, but there is contraction in the market,” Charlebois said. “On one hand, you’ll have retailers trying to protect their margins, but on the other hand, they’re dealing with softer demand.” The effect of the tumbling Canadian dollar has softened, Grier explained. Purchasing of imported goods found a stable trading range of about 77 cents US. “It only impacts things when it’s going one way for another,” Grier said. Higher food prices will also soften as importers begin to renegotiate their contracts, Charlebois said. “Prices can only go up for some time,” he said. “If you give people some time to read-

just, then you’re able to give them time to find new suppliers.”

The Wal-Mart effect While food prices have dropped in most provinces, British Columbia and Quebec have recorded the largest decrease. Charlebois attributes the decline to “The WalMart Effect,” as grocers begin to compete for business throughout Canada. “I started to look at some of the things happening in those markets. Where WalMart and Costco have gained the most, is B.C. and Quebec,” Charlebois said. “When Target closed, Wal-Mart bought 13 Target stores, mostly in Quebec and B.C.” New competition means more pressure to lower food prices. “Wal-Mart is becoming better and more effective in food retail,” Charlebois said. The possibility of a new competitor may have retailers looking to solidify their market share. In the United States, for example, Amazon launched an online grocery delivery service in 25 cities, and Charlebois believes Canada is an attractive market for the service. “Perhaps there will be a new player in the marketplace, which will tighten things up even more,” he said.

Know your supplier While food prices do fluctuate, there are methods to ensure you’re getting the most out of your ingredients. When Salad King opened 25 years ago

Salad King in Toronto is celebrating its 25th anniversary. “Have scales on line and portion out everything. Portion near Yonge and Dundas streets in Toronto, chicken phud Thai sold for $6.50. Today, the same phud Thai, the restau- control is key.” While fresh product is appealing to customers, a high rant’s most popular dish with more than 3,400 sold in June turnaround of ingredients also appeals to an establishment’s alone, sells for $9.75. In fact, 2015 was the first year the Thai restaurant’s bottom line. Frankel advises ensuring purchases are controlled to menu items exceeded $10. The average menu price is now avoid over-ordering ingredients. $10.20, with customers spending $12.50 on average. Weekly variance reports also help keep Frankel’s restauAlan Liu, managing director of Salad King and Linda Modern Thai, explained building the right rapport with rants on top of their inventory. “At Tap & Barrel restaurants, we strive for the freshest suppliers will land restaurant owners the right price on inproduct possible, so we keep our gredients. pars very tight and control them “You need to build a level of trust. closely,” Frankel said. It’s simple things like paying your bills The consumer doesn’t “That way food is not hanging on time,” Liu said. Thanks to established relationnecessarily think that around and we are always servthe freshest product possible. I ships, suppliers will let Liu know if a when prices rise in the ing would rather 86 an item than have price hike is on its way and offer an grocery store, it spoilage and waste.” opportunity to buy extra stock. “They give us a heads up. They’re affects restaurants pretty good at watching out for you,” Know your numbers the same. Liu said. Sometimes, restaurateurs just While relationships are important, have to absorb a price increase. Liu added Salad King maintains mulSean Smith, executive chef for Sean Smith tiple suppliers. Lou Dawg’s Southern Barbecue in Executive Chef “They are aware we are picking Lou Dawg’s Toronto and Hamilton, explained up food from one or the other, so it price might determine where a cuskeeps them competitive to give us the best price possible,” tomer eats in the competitive fast casual market. Liu said. “They don’t see it as a case of playing one off the “You can’t just raise your prices. It will put off the cusother. They see it as a fair way of doing business.” tomers,” Smith said. “Sometimes the consumer doesn’t necLiu noted the quantity of ingredients purchased for essarily think that when prices rise in the grocery store, it Salad King does influence suppliers. For example, the res- affects restaurants the same.” taurant uses 1,500 litres of coconut milk a month and serves When protein prices increase, the margin on Lou Dawg’s as many as 1,900 customers a day. However, purchasing in meat-heavy menu items takes a hit. Smith explained the bulk isn’t always the answer. right side dishes help ensure their offerings stay profitable. “If a vendor can give you a 10 per cent discount by go- As well, staff will review costs every six months and look at ing up in volume, that means they were overpricing you by their menu once a year. 10 per cent. If you work well with your suppliers, they tend “Last summer when meat prices went through the roof, to not mark their stuff up too much,” Liu said. “If you’re you had to just hope prices did lower,” Smith said. “It’s a buying on a McDonald’s-type scale, that’s a completely dif- struggle, but it does fluctuate.” ferent conversation.” Liu agrees the restaurateur must sometimes absorb the Although Salad King staff are always on the lookout increase. He will review his margin weekly and look at his for a better price, Liu explained they are not quick to jump menu prices on an annual basis. from one supplier to another. “For me, it’s more about making sure we make the right “It takes a big difference before we switch. Pricing goes long-term decisions,” Liu said. up and down,” Liu said. “We don’t usually switch suppliers “My managers do the negotiations, but I look at it from a unless there is a service issue.” P&L perspective to look at the overall numbers.”

Don’t trash your cash

Healthy menu pricing

At Tap & Barrel restaurants in Vancouver, avoiding waste is key to managing food costs. Daniel Frankel, founder and chief executive officer of Daniel Group and TAPbrands, explained kitchen management audits, including waste and par level checks, are part of the daily schedule. “Stay on top of it. This is really ongoing and needs to be done throughout the day,” Frankel said. “It should be innate and part of the routine.” He added the right recipes, and strict adherence to portion sizes, is another way to keep costs in line. “Start with great, accurate recipes and stick to them. Don’t eyeball,” Frankel said.

Restaurant prices have increased between two and three per cent in the last year, according to Statistics Canada. Charlebois believes the increase is within the “sweet spot” for food inflation. When menu prices begin to reach inflation rates around four or five per cent, the cost begins to scare away customers. “Anywhere between two and three per cent would indicate healthy growth in the business,” he said. “I think it’s indicative that restaurant operators feel they have space to move. They can move prices higher as a result of a stronger economy.”

August 2016 | 1 3

Decoding the Data: Who’s the Boss? Identifying the decision maker in family visits By Scott Stewart


amily restaurant visits have long been a target for many foodservice operators, both quick service (QSR) and full service (FSR). The image of a happy family gathering around the table has always motivated operators to strive to bring in these classic occasions. An even greater motivator is the size of this market and the opportunity it presents. According to The NPD Group, families accounted for more than 1.6 billion foodservice visits in the last year, equating to almost $11 billion in sales. Furthermore, a family party tends to spend 60 per cent more at an occasion than an adult-only occasion. With this in mind, it is important to consider the best way to attract these families to your restaurant.

The ultimate decision Conventional logic would suggest the key difference between family parties and adult-only parties is the presence of kids, so a winning strategy to drive family traffic would be to cater to the children. While the parents or guardians make the final decision about where to go, the thinking goes that children are the ones dictating what they want and parents’ key motivation is to keep their kids happy. Therefore, one would assume if you win the kid, you win the parent. But it is worthwhile to challenge this thinking. Families are a vital part of the industry, and adapting a restaurant to be more welcoming to kids is a costly investment. So it is pertinent to fully understand who chooses the restaurant, in order for

Wha t’s M ost Impo r t a n Pare nts D t to ecid Wher e to T ing ak Their Fami e ly

restaurants to properly target the key decision maker.

B 28%

Ranking the reason for visit Analysis of the market indicates children are a secondary factor in restaurant decisions. Among families, “kids like it there” ranks fourth among QSR consumers and fifth within the FSR segment. In each segment, only about 20 per cent of parents in family parties indicated their kids influenced their restaurant decision. While ranking in the top five of potential reasons for visits indicates that children are certainly not unimportant to the decision, it shows that kids are not a top priority. The flipside of the data means that children were not cited as a reason for visiting in 80 per cent of occasions, and there are generally at least three more important factors that are considered when picking somewhere to eat. These figures begin to challenge the conventional thinking that kids are driving family decisions; their opinions may contribute to the eventual choice, but it is rare that they are the leading decision makers.

How important is the child’s voice? Knowing now that the child doesn’t wield the power of final decision in many instances, it is important to consider the specific dynamic of how their opinion is weighed against their parents’. When asked, half of parents say they will choose a restaurant based on where they want to go, as long as it has something their child will like. In comparison, only 30 per cent will go where the kids want

C 9.5%

D 8.5%

A 51%

% Share of Responses

A Where I want to go, as long as it has something my child will like B Where my child wants to go, as long as it has something I like C I choose regardless of what it offers for my child D I choose for my child regardless of my preference Source: NPD Group/Omnibus November 2014

to go, as long as the parents can find something they like. The final 20 per cent is split evenly among people who will choose a restaurant regardless of their child’s opinion, or vice versa.

What does this mean? This information can potentially lead to some mixed messages. From one perspective, the child does not decide on the majority of traffic occasions. From another perspective, only 10 per cent of parents say they do not at least consider what their kids want when choosing a restaurant. How operators should interpret this is that the parent is the ultimate

decision maker, and kids’ opinions are secondary. Operationally, that means that a restaurant should focus on driving demand from adults before the kids. If an operator can develop a menu or atmosphere that also caters to children, without detracting from the adults’ experience, then that is an opportunity to win family visits. However, a family strategy that alienates adults in an attempt to make the restaurant a more kid-friendly experience is likely to fail, because an adult typically considers their own opinions before their child’s. As operators continue to look for

opportunities to boost traffic and sales while the market remains flat, any restaurateur who is hoping to win with families should remember to cater first to the parents and guardians, and that resonating with children is a bonus, but not a venture that should trump the importance of the adults. Scott Stewart is an account manager, Foodservice Canada for The NPD Group. The NPD Group has more than 25 years of experience providing reliable and comprehensive consumer-based market information to leaders in the foodservice industry. For more information, visit or contact him at

Embrace the impact music can have on restaurant success By Jennifer Brown Imagine walking onto what you would expect to be an upbeat and energetic outdoor patio only to be welcomed by silence. It would feel awkward, wouldn’t it? Music is an emotionally rooted medium that draws on nostalgia and emotion to quickly create connections with customers by setting a comfortable ambiance. When it’s not there, we notice. Whether looking to experience authentic Indian food, a rowdy Irish pub or a romantic dinner, the music a restaurant plays is integral to a patron’s overall experience. Summer is a great time to take advantage of increased traffic to build customer loyalty with music.

1 4 | Ontario Restaurant News

There are clear business benefits to doing so. At SOCAN, we’ve done research on the value and importance that many businesses and customers place on music. We asked Canadians how the music being played in an establishment affected their experience. Our most recent research study, done in coordination with Leger, shows music has a substantially positive impact on dining. For example: • 78 per cent of Canadians say hearing music in a restaurant makes them enjoy their food and drink more and almost threequarters say it makes them want to stay longer. • 84 per cent of bar, restaurant and retail owners surveyed credit mu-

sic for helping to create a more positive experience. • 75 per cent of Canadians say they enjoy food and drink more when they hear live music they like. • More than two-thirds of business owners say live music attracts more customers, and more than half feel live music gives them an edge over their competition. • 34 per cent of Canadians said that if they knew a restaurant was paying its legal and fair license for music, it would influence their decision to go there. While it can be difficult to quantify the benefit that music has on business, this doesn’t mean it’s not playing a vital role. It’s challenging to measure the direct impact that airconditioning has on the customer ex-

perience during the summer months, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a restaurant that wants to let their customers sweat. Here are three ways to evaluate your restaurant’s use of music: 1. Make sure the music you are playing aligns with your restaurant brand as well as the needs and expectations of your diners. Is the music in the dining room too loud to encourage conversation? Does the vibe of the music fit the food you’re serving or the ambiance you are trying to create? 2. Take into account summer events that have brought visitors to the area and use these to inspire your music selection. 3. Ask your staff their opinion and be open to their feedback. Have

you asked your staff what they’d like to hear? Is there anecdotal feedback from customers suggesting they’d like a different soundtrack for their meal? This summer and looking ahead to the fall, consider the music you’re playing. Is it already a perfect recipe, or do you need to tweak it to better drive overall business success? Jennifer Brown is the vice-president of licensing at SOCAN (the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada), a member-based and governed organization that represents the Canadian performing rights of more than four million Canadian and international music creators and publishers. If you are interested in playing music ethically, visit to become Licensed to Play.

Smoke’s Poutinerie’s gravy train keeps rolling By Kristen Smith AJAX, Ont. — A year after announcing ambitious expansion plans, Smoke’s Poutinerie is on track to meet its goals with much of its growth coming from non-traditional units. “We’re going to be in every stadium, every airport, every university in the world, starting here in Canada,” said founder and chief executive officer Ryan Smolkin. “It’ll happen, some time or another.” The Smoke’s Poutinerie Sports and Entertainment division is devoted to non-traditional growth, which includes campus, stadium, amusement park and airport units. Smolkin has been working on this channel since he signed a deal with Ricoh Coliseum, shortly after opening his second location and launching catering in 2009. After proving the viability of the brand, this opened the door for Smoke’s locations at other Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment properties, including BMO Field and the Air Canada Centre. Smolkin noted while some people balked at his goal to open 1,300 locations by 2020, calling it “unrealistic,” he said it is happening. “It’s unrealistic that I won’t hit

Ryan Smolkin those numbers and it’s because they don’t understand these channels that we’re just flooding now,” Smolkin explained. While traditional four-wall units take at least a year from deal to opening day, Smolkin said it’s much faster to open units in universities, airports and stadiums. Between the end of July and third week of September Smolkin said about 40 new locations would open in stadiums and post-secondary institutions. Starting in October, another eight to 10 will open every month. “We’re at capacity. We’re not doing 40 because that’s all that was of-

fered; we’re only doing 40 because that’s capacity for us — that’s the exciting part,” Smolkin said. The Ajax, Ont. brand recently opened what it’s calling a food court concept near its head office this spring. The triple-branded location features Smoke’s Poutinerie as well as its weinerie and burritorie brand extensions. The burrito and hot dog concepts offer co-branding opportunities as well as the ability to move into locations where the operating partner wants a food offering other than poutine. This was the case in Pearson International Airport’s Terminal 3,

where HMS Host opened a Smoke’s Burritorie in June. (A co-branded unit is also in the works for Terminal 1.) In addition to the relationships Smoke’s has built with third-party vendors such as Aramark and Compass Group, which positioned the brand for growth on campuses and in arenas, Smolkin expects a partnership with HMS Host will open the door to airports and rest stops in the United States. As of June 2015, when Smolkin laid out his five-year expansion plan, there were about 100 locations. A year later, Smoke’s is on track to double those units. Next year, he

plans to double them again. In the United States, there are 60 units sold with five open and 10 under construction. The next international markets Smolkin plans to enter are the United Kingdom, Australia, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Smolkin opened his first poutine joint on Adelaide Street in Toronto’s Entertainment District seven years ago and “global domination” was always part of the plan. Admittedly, the saturation has been quicker than he initially expected. “My original business plan was to take the Canadian iconic dish to the rest of the world and, at the time, even take the Quebec classic side dish as a meal to all of Canada,” said Smolkin. Smolkin worked behind the counter of his first location. He’s behind the Smoke’s vision, branding and financing, and while he knew handing over control would become necessary, it was still difficult. Until six months ago, Smolkin took care of the financing before hiring a senior financial controller, who he called “a billion times better” at it than him. He now has a team of 25 — “people who know the industry inside and out” — including global development officer Mark Cunningham.

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August 2016 | 1 5


Beau’s goes national By Bill Tremblay VANKLEEK HILL, Ont. — Beau’s All Natural Brewing is marking its 10th anniversary by distributing its product nationwide. In July, the brewery announced its flagship Lug Tread Lagered Ale would be available throughout most of Canada by the end of summer. “In turning 10, we’ve been doing a lot of soul searching,” said Beau’s co-founder Steve Beauchesne. “We took the milestone not as an opportunity to pat ourselves on the back, but to set forth direction.” About a year ago, Beau’s took its first steps into the Canadian market, outside of Ontario, into Quebec. Within six months, Quebec represented about 10 per cent of the company’s sales. In 2015, the brewery sold five million litres of beer. “Our success in Quebec has given us the confidence to push beyond the regional basis we were holding,” Beauchesne said. “We were able to do in one year in Quebec what it took us five years to do in Ontario. We’re still seeing it grow at a magnificent pace.” The expansion began with New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Manitoba and Alberta. In mid-July, the company gained approval to sell in British Columbia and Newfoundland. “By this time next year we’ll be in all the provinces. We’re hopeful we might get into the territories as well,” Beauchesne said. The expansion strategy will begin by estab-

lishing relationships with bars and restaurants throughout the country, explained Beauchesne. “When you go that method, you don’t expect overnight success. It’s kind of hard work and patience that wins the day,” he said. “We’re not coming in with a giant advertising budget thinking we will just take over and sell all the beer.” Beauchesne added craft breweries being purchased by large beverage corporations also sparked the move to national distribution. “There’s a real need for strong independent Canadian voices in the beer world, in particular craft beer,” he said. He added when a small brewery is sold to a major brand, Beau’s inbox and phones lines are overwhelmed by customers ensuring they don’t plan to make the same move. “A part of why people love us is we’re local and independent,” Beauchesne said. Beau’s also celebrated its 10th anniversary by selling the company to its employees, through an employee share ownership program. “It’s purchasing real shares. It’s not profit sharing or virtual stock,” Beauchesne said. Through the program, employees receive an annual dividend, with a third-party firm calculation of the brewery’s valuation. Each year, employees also have a chance to purchase stock. “The goal is to move it so 100 per cent of the company is owned by people that are active in the company,” said Beauchesne. “The power this has for our employees is tremendous.” As well, the brewery announced a legacy gift

Steve Beauchesne for students in Niagara College’s brewmaster and brewery operations management programs. Each year, the brewery will provide three $1,000 awards and one $2,000 scholarship to students for diversity in brewing and for innovation in brewing. While the brewery makes its way across Canada, Beauchesne said he doesn’t see the

company opening secondary breweries outside of Vankleek Hill, Ont., to meet demand. “We will need to expand in terms of internal capacity,” he said, noting the brewery has enough space to produce five times more beer. “If we did open up other breweries, it would be to solidify our connection with other communities.”

Signal Brewing to open in historic Corby Distillery site CORBYVILLE, Ont. — The site of one of Canada’s oldest distilleries will once again produce libation. Signal Brewing, created by Belleville, Ont., entrepreneur Richard Courneyea, is expected to open this fall. It will be the first craft brewery in the City of Belleville. “We have owned this portion of the former Corby Distillery for about four years,” Courneyea said. “It has the proper zoning, so we thought let’s chase it and see what happens. Seemingly all the doors are opening nicely for us right now.” Henry Corby, namesake of Corbyville, built the distillery in 1859 and began selling whisky by the barrel. Throughout the years, the distillery grew, changed hands and produced spirits such as Wiser’s, Lamb’s Rum and alcohol for munitions during the Second World War. The distillery closed its doors in 1989. Today, the company that once called Corbyville home has grown into Corby Spirit and Wine Ltd. “I don’t think anybody else in Canada has the story this property has to get started. It’s a good impetus to at least gain visibility,” Cour-

1 6 | Ontario Restaurant News

neyea said. “I like to say there’s whisky-soaked walls.” As the former distillery buildings are refurbished for Signal, Courneyea explained former Corby employees still stop by for a glimpse of the old distillery. “There’s a lot of emotion there still and a lot of wonderful stories,” he said. Signal’s first beer, dubbed Radio Tube, will

be a lager with a smooth flavour profile and high carbonation. “We wanted a beer that was going to be easily understandable for a market that’s just starting to celebrate craft beer,” said Courneyea. The name Radio Tube is a nod to Signal’s mantra of celebrating communication. The beer will be sold in stubby bottles and its packaging will mimic a retro transistor radio.

The brewery will open with a 15-hectolitre brewing system using about 5,000 square feet of floor space. Jesse Huffman has been recruited as brewmaster. Huffman is a graduate of the brewing and distillation program at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland. “His brother just opened a malting business just down the road from us in Thurlow Township,” Courneyea said. Alongside the brewing operation, Signal will include a 1,000-square-foot tasting room, a 4,000-square-foot event space and a 5,000-square-foot patio overlooking the Moira River. Courneyea added they are working on a partnership with a local catering company to add a foodservice option to the venue. “We want the property to be live music, a speakeasy, everything platformed off of what we create in our brewery,” he said. While Signal will start as a brewery, Courneyea said he would one day like to add a distillery to the operation. “It would be amazing to get back to whisky,” he said.

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Craig Petten and Pablo Alvarez have built their aquaponics business with the help of Ontario’s restaurants. Almost two yearssince they started, the aquaponic-grown greens will be hitting retail shelves, but the duo pledges not to forget its early supporters. Alvarez and Petten each clocked about two decades of experience in foodservice before enrolling in sustainable energy and buildings technology at Humber College. Their final project was on aquaponics after researching sustainable food systems around the world. “It just makes sense because aquaponics is probably the closest thing we have to nature — we’re basically mimicking nature indoors,” said Alvarez. The process combines hydroponics and aquaculture. Plants, fish and light work together to create a nutrient-rich system similar to a pond, Alvarez explained. “It’s an enclosed system where the fish feed the plants and the plants clean and filter the water back to the fish,” he said. The process starts with the fish, which are fed each morning. They excrete ammonia through their gills and waste, which starts the nitrification process. The plant roots absorb the nutrients.

Aqua Greens grows herb business The system creates 12 of the 15 nutrients needed to grow plants (calcium, potassium and iron are added) and does so faster (within 28 days) than soil-based agriculture. Alvarez had never farmed prior to launching Aqua Greens and said it has been a learning process to develop a mature, stable system. “Something that nature does flawlessly, I’ll tell you right now, is very challenging to mimic indoors,” he said.

In 3,000 square feet in a Mississauga, Ont., industrial park, Alvarez and Petton have the capacity to grow 12,000 plants and keep 5,000 fish. “The beauty of aquaponics is you have two revenue streams, you have the fish and you have the plants,” said Alvarez, adding they plan to focus on the plants for the time being. They don’t want to upset the balance and “fish are the engine of the system,” he explained. As they grow, and plans call for them to move into a

Pablo Alvarez larger space in the coming years, Alvarez said they may consider selling the tilapia as well. For now, the plants are enough to keep up with. “The restaurants that we deal with right now, they want our fish,” he said. The beauty of indoor aquaponics is the availability of year-round local produce, something the restaurant community appreciates. Aqua Greens supplies about a dozen chefs and restaurants with its basil, and

various other greens, including Buca, Hockley Valley Resort, Vertical, Cibo and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Catering. “They’ve all been amazing, but there have been certain [chefs] that have believed in us from the beginning,” Alvarez said. “This doesn’t work unless we surround ourselves with people who share our vision … everyone we work with from seed to harvest.” Alvarez called the grocery channel a smart move as far as proving a viable business model, although it also comes with more work, such as processing and packaging. They currently deliver live plants with roots intact. The grocery channel presents the opportunity for consistent orders for the urban farmers and will receive about two thirds of Aqua Greens’ harvest while one third will remain for foodservice. The pair will also continue growing microgreens, which Alvarez said are very popular with chefs. “It’s amazing dealing with chefs and restaurants; they love the fact we can deliver 365 days a year. In the middle of winter in January, it’s -40 C, we’re delivering organic local greens,” he said. “Within the last two years, we’ve learned a lot and we’re going to keep learning.”

Canada predicts a bumper pulse harvest in 2016 By Kristen Smith TORONTO — Coinciding with the United Nations designation of 2016 as the International Year of Pulses, Canadian growers of lentils, peas, chickpeas and beans are expecting a banner year. “In 2016 we’re expecting a record crop of right around six million tonnes,” said Courtney Hirota, director of strategic communications for Pulse Canada. Hirota noted Canada is the world’s leading grower and exporter of both lentils and peas, as well as significant contributors of chickpeas and beans. “The vast majority are grown in Saskatchewan, that’s sort of our pulse hub central,” she said. Representatives from the pulse industry, as well as food manufacturers and foodservice partners, gathered in Toronto in early July for the 2016 edition of the annual Pulse and Special Crops Convention. The event included presentations and networking opportunities. Pulse Canada is maximizing on the UN endorsement, which was announced a couple years prior, to increase awareness and drive consumption. “Not every organization, especially not a commodity group, has this opportunity to talk directly to consumers and be put in this international spotlight,” said Hirota. The commodity organization has created a

travelling museum exhibit, developed content for Community Food Centres Canada’s Food Fit program and joined industry events such as the Restaurants Canada Show. “We have identified foodservice as really important, because chefs and culinary professionals are so on the leading edge of consumer influence,” said Hirota, who intentionally steers clear of the word trend, since pulses aren’t exactly new. “In terms of embracing what is hot and coming up with new and innovative ways to present food ingredients and foods, we see the foodservice industry as very important to that outreach.” Hirota described pulses as affordable and versatile ingredients, which can help operators reduce costs while increasing nutritional value. “We think that the time for pulses is definitely now. All of our benefits are aligning with consumer and customer interests — looking for healthier foods, looking for lower environmental impact,” Hirota said. At the convention, manager of food product and culinary innovation with Pulse Canada Christine Farkas demonstrated how to incorporate pulses into menu development. For example, flour works as a thickener or egg replacement and lentils may be added to beef burgers or meatballs. “While there is definitely an option to use pulses at the centre of the plate, there are lots of different ways that they can be incorporated as ingredients,” said Hirota.

Christine Farkas

CZECH OUT THIS RESTAURANT LEASE OPPORTUNITY! The Masaryk Memorial Institute (MMI) is looking for an experienced and creative restaurant entrepreneur to enter into a lease (minimum 5 years) to operate a restaurant on its grounds at Masaryktown, 450 Scarborough Golf Club Road, Scarborough. We are looking for written proposals which would specify: • your successful experience in restaurant operations with a 5-year business plan; • how you would partner with us to promote Czech and Slovak culture in the menu.

To visit the site, or with further questions, please email or call 416-439-4354. Initial proposals should be submitted no later than NOON on October 15, 2016. in person or email.

August 2016 | 1 7

PEOPLE Winery & Grower Alliance elects new chair

Jonathan O’Callaghan and Binh An Nguyen join The Citizen Restaurant TORONTO — The Citizen Restaurant + Bar recently unveiled its revamped menu by new co-chefs, Binh An Nguyen (left) and Jonathan O’Callaghan (right). The co-chefs developed a menu intended to reflect the belief that sitting down to eat should always be enjoyable and fun and that the process starts with the food and those who create it. Toronto native O’Callaghan first developed a curiosity for international cuisine watching his Italian mother and grandmother prepare traditional dishes for family gatherings. After graduating from the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts, he travelled across Europe, studying classical French cuisine in Paris and Lyon and returning to his Italian roots in Palermo, Sicily. On returning to Toronto, he developed his talent working at The Museum Tavern, C5 at the ROM and The Beverley Hotel before becoming chef de cuisine at Maple Leaf Tavern. An Nguyen has been passionate about food since a young age, inspired by childhood memories of hanging

out in the kitchen with his mother. Born in Vietnam and raised in Oshawa, Ont., he strives to create dishes that are an explanation of his cultural roots. Nguyen has worked in the Toronto restaurant industry for more than a decade, holding positions at The Spoke Club, Hawthorne Food and Drink, The Beverley Hotel and most recently Maple Leaf Tavern as chef de cuisine.

Paul Duffy named Corby director

The Board of Directors of the Winery & Grower Alliance of Ontario (WGAO) announced the election of Del Rollo, senior director, government relations and estates of Constellation Brands Canada, as the new chair of the board. As director of hospitality for both Jackson-Triggs and Inniskillin Estate Wineries, Del has raised the bar, not only with his ongoing passion to drive international awareness of the Niagara region, but also his commitment to showcase the hardwork of the area’s many growers, wineries, educational institutions and hospitality partners. “With all the changes underway in the province, it is more important than ever to be fully engaged in the Ontario wine industry as we create more than $3 billion in economic impact, 14,000 jobs and $644 million in tourism contribution to the province,” said Rollo. The board thanked Jim Clark, Colio Estate Wines president, who has been chair for the past three years and helped guide the organization and industry through major transitions in the market. Tom O’Brien, proprietor, Cooper’s Hawk Vineyards and the representative from Essex Pelee Island Coast (EPIC) Regional Association, was elected vice-chair and Rob Enns, P.G. Enns Farms, became secretary/ treasurer.

Jackson-Triggs founder awarded

Corby Spirit and Wine Limited announced, effective July 1, 2016, Philippe Dréano will retire from his position as a director of Corby and that Paul Duffy has been appointed as his successor, acting as one of Pernod Ricard’s nominees. Dréano joined Pernod Ricard Group in 1989 as marketing manager. His career with the Pernod Ricard Group spanned 27 years, the last seven of which were as director of Pernod’s affiliate Corby, marketer and distributor of spirits and imported wines. With more than 22 years at the Pernod Ricard Group, Duffy brings extensive experience to the Corby board of directors, having served in various executive capacities. Most recently chairman and chief executive officer of The Absolut Company, Duffy has been appointed chairman and CEO of Pernod Ricard North America and CEO of Pernod Ricard USA.

KELOWNA, B.C. – Donald Triggs and Shirley-Ann George are the winners of this year’s Canadian Wine Industry Awards. The awards, presented on July 6 in Kelowna, B.C., are sponsored by the Canadian Vintners Association (CVA), which represents more than 90 per cent of the nation’s annual wine production. Triggs, who launched the Jackson-Triggs brand, received this year’s Award of Distinction, which is considered the highest form of peer recognition from the Canadian wine industry. In 1989, Triggs co-founded Vincor and launched the JacksonTriggs brand and winery. He also established international joint ventures to support the development of Le Clos Jordanne and Osoyoos LaRose wineries. “We share a passion not only to create distinctive icon quality wines reflective of our Golden Mile terroir in the South Okanagan Valley, but also to work as a partner within our industry, to continue building a future for Canadian wines around the world,” Triggs said. The Wine Industry Champion Award was presented to George, founder and president of the Alliance of Canadian Wine

Donald Triggs Consumers, also known as FreeMyGrapes. George is credited with leading the movement to allow Canadians to buy wines from wineries not located in their own province.

PRODUCTS Ice-O-Matic introduces Ozone Delivery System Global ice machine and dispenser manufacturer, Ice-O-Matic introduced its new Ozone Delivery System: the O3-Matic at the National Restaurant Association (NRA) tradeshow in May. The device infuses ozone into incoming water, killing microbes on every surface it touches and hindering future growth. As well, the ozone becomes trapped in the ice cubes, adding the same sanita-

tion benefits to the ice bin and dispenser. Introducing ozone increases intervals between sanitizing, impedes microbial growth while continually sanitizing the ice making system, and diminishes mould, mildew, bacteria and viruses. Ozone also improves the taste and eliminates odour in iced drinks. The Ice-O-Matic’s O3-Matic is designed for modular cube icemakers and can be retrofitted to all existing units.

Budweiser launches non-alcoholic lager in Canada Budweiser has selected Canada as the first market to launch Prohibition Brew, a zero per cent alcohol beer. The new brew is designed to elevate perceptions of non-alcoholic beer as a smart and refreshing choice for any occasion, as well as a replacement for soft drinks. Prohibition is brewed using the same key ingredients as the classic Budweiser. The new brand required a $6 mil-

1 8 | Ontario Restaurant News

lion investment from Labatt to purchase specialized brewing equipment. “With consumer trends moving away from overly sweet beverages, the time is ripe to leverage the power of Budweiser to provide beer lovers with an innovative option that frees them to enjoy the flavour and refreshment of Budweiser without the alcohol, whenever and wherever,” said Labatt president Jan Craps.

Maple Leaf launches Canadian-inspired products Maple Leaf Foods has launched a new line of prepared meats inspired by iconic Canadian flavours. Maple Leaf Canadian Craft is made from pork raised by Canadian farmers and premium, natural ingredients. The Maple Leaf Canadian Craft line-up includes Atlantic course salt prosciutto, Canadian whisky and apple bacon, Montreal steak spice capicollo, Montreal-style smoked meat wieners, Okanagan-inspired garlic and herb salami, Ontario-inspired cherrywood smoked ham and Quebec maple ham. Maple Leaf partnered with several suppliers from across Canada for its ingredients, including sourcing whisky and Atlantic salt from Nova Scotia and maple syrup from Quebec.

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