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THE TRUMP EFFECT ON RESTAURANTS
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Ranveer Brar’s first Canadian restaurant
Brar, known in his native country as a judge on Master Chef India, is opening Mayura in Brampton
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By Bill Tremblay BRAMPTON, Ont. — Acclaimed Indian chef Ranveer Brar is launching his first restaurant in Canada. After meeting through a mutual friend, Brampton businessman Bhupinder Sidhu approached Brar to partner on Mayura, a 12,000-square-foot restaurant at 200 County Court Blvd. in Brampton. “We met in Boston and talked about it. He looked at the market and the property and one thing led to another,” Sidhu said. Brar has opened more than 20 restaurants worldwide, including Banq in Boston. Alongside serving as a judge for Master Chef India, Brar has hosted several television shows in his home country and released his first cookbook in 2016. “He’s very well known and respected in the market,” Sidhu said. Brar will bring more than his name to the Brampton restaurant. Sidhu explained the chef plans to visit the restaurant about four or five times a year. “He is going to come and be in the kitchen. He will be instrumental in terms of quality control and running the restaurant,” Sidhu said. “All of the recipes and technical know-how and staff are provided by chef Brar.” The restaurant will seat 300 guests in an
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Ranveer Brar upscale atmosphere. An outdoor patio adds additional seating to the venue. While Mayura is expected to open soon, the date was not known by press time.
To enhance the authenticity of Mayura’s menu, the executive chef and sous chef were recruited from five-star hotels in India. Sidhu explained the flavour changes when
only the recipe is imported from South Asia. “Indian food is an art. It is a journey. These guys are experienced, they’re passionate and they love cooking. They know how it should taste and how it should be served,” Sidhu said. “I can cook Indian food and you can cook Indian food, but the actual authenticity of the food, which is required and we should be giving to the consumers, comes with lots of experience.” The menu, described as “inspired Indian dining,” will draw inspiration from various festivals held throughout the year in India. “Chef Brar travels all over India to get the recipes,” Sidhu said. “They’re carefully and thoughtfully selected dishes.” Front of house staff will be trained to follow traditional fine dining practices. “They will have a set uniform, which you don’t see here at Indian restaurants at the moment,” Sidhu said. As well, each server will be educated on the history of India’s festivals as well as on why the menu options fit into the celebration. “There’s a story behind every recipe we serve,” Sidhu said.
Restaurants may quietly cheer for Trump, says Dalhousie prof HALIFAX — An increase in ingredient costs will be met with menu price hikes nationwide, according to the 2017 Canadian Food Price Report. The seventh annual report, published for the first time by Dalhousie University in Halifax, predicts a rise in food prices between three and five per cent this year, considerably higher than general inflation. The largest contributor to increased costs will be the falling Canadian dollar. “Given how many food products we import from abroad, our food economy is vulnerable to currency fluctuations,” said Dr. Sylvain Charlebois, lead author of the report and dean of the Faculty of Management at Dalhousie University. Ontario and British Columbia are expected to see above average cost increases. “Both economies are a little bit more robust. They’re showing signs of strength as a result of a stronger American economy,” Charlebois said. “The restaurant business in both provinces is doing quite well, generally speaking. We are expecting things to be a little more interesting in both provinces.” Although prices are set to rise, the cost of
doing business may fall thanks to the United Canadians will eventually follow suit, the report notes foodservice providers are consolidating at States presidential election. While “President Donald Trump” may a “spectacular” rate. Charlebois explained companies like Cara, not be the most appetizing phrase, Charlebois which now owns more than notes, “many in the Canadian 1,000 stores Canada-wide due restaurant industry are likely to to the purchase of various cheer, but ever so quietly” for brands, will have significant the new stateside government. authority over what is served at “The signals we’re getting the Canadian table as well as from Trump is he’s allergic to the price. regulation,” Charlebois said. “We are expecting one day With less regulation, hurCanadians will catch up to the dles like minimum wage inAmericans. I think Cara knows creases and food safety will be that,” Charlebois said. easier to clear. “We are catching up to Since the election, stock them. We are increasing the values of many American resmoney spent in restaurants vertaurant chains have increased. Dr. Sylvian Charlebois sus at home due to our modern “For Canadian restaurants, it means less regulatory pressure coming from life. We’re busy, we work longer hours and resthe United States, at least for a while,” Char- taurants provide convenience.” Of course, food costs won’t be without dolebois said. “Canada doesn’t necessarily like to move on mestic influence. The report predicts the federal government’s its own.” The dining habits of Americans are also plan to implement a carbon tax will affect the influencing Canada. In 2016, Americans spent price of homegrown ingredients. “Carbon taxes will discriminate against more money at foodservice establishments than they did at grocery stores. With anticipation that certain types of food, like meat for example,”
Charlebois said. “Perhaps down the road, restaurant owners may feel compelled to make adjustments to their menu as a result of carbon pricing.” For 2016, the Canadian Food Price Report predicted the cost of eating in a restaurant would increase by 1.5 to 2.5 per cent. However, menu prices actually increased 3.3 per cent. “I’m not sure exactly why that one was a miss. Restaurant owners overperformed compared to other categories,” Charlebois said. “If you are a good restaurant operator and you know how to manage costs, you’re going to be in good shape.”
Price increase predictions Dairy and Eggs Fruit and Nuts Bakery and Cereals Meats Vegetables Fish and Seafood Other food items
2% to 4% 3% to 5% 0% to 2% 4% to 6% 4% to 6% 4% to 6% 4% to 6%
January 2017 | 3
O N T A R I O
Doing well by doing good Ontario Restaurants News’ Trillium Award winners for 2016 are both fiercely independent family businesses. In a time of growing competition, in an industry faced with increasing consolidation, these two businesses are succeeding not only in spite of their refusal to sacrifice principles for profit, but perhaps because of it. Longtime restaurateur Bob Desautels leads The Neighborhood Group with his son Court and has held steadfast in his values since Day 1. The Restaurateur of the Year winner has operated The Woolwich Arrow in Guelph, Ont., with a commitment to sustainability and local sourcing since 1990. Over the years, three other restaurants were added to the restaurant group, each building on the foundation Desautels laid more than 25 years ago. Consumers didn’t always care about the carbon footprint of their food dollars, but they certainly do now. The company gener-
ates more than $9 million in annual sales at its four properties. Beau’s All Natural Brewing had a banner year in 2016, marking a decade in the organic craft beer business, opening ownership to its employees, embarking on national distribution and helping start a brewery in Rwanda. The Newsmaker of the Year winner operates with a list of social values: make awardwinning organic beer, focus on sustainability, remain independent, maintain a sense of family and invest in their community. Beau’s sold 30,000 litres of beer in its first year. In 2016, Beau’s sales reached about five million litres. Last year, Beau’s bought six new fermenters. “Each one of them holds more than our first year sales in total. It’s kind of an interesting moment,” said Steve Beauchesne, who co-founded the Vankleek Hill, Ont., brewery with his father Tim. Funds that would traditionally be used for advertising Beau’s brews are instead invested in philanthropic efforts. “From my perspective, it’s a matter of
maximizing impact. Shareholder profit is one form of impact, but I see the brewery as being more important than just something that creates shareholder value,” Beauchesne said. Both businesses are B Corps, meaning they are third-party audited for social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. “Service and quality is now just a minimum requirement for a successful restaurant,” said Desautels. With increasing restaurant competition and more great beer on shelves every year, these businesses have found a way to stand out from the crowd. “For us, we’ve chosen to do good things. There’s a belief that if we do good things, people will reward us by choosing our beer out of all the other beer out there,” said Beauchesne.
Montreal — Imvescor Restaurant Group Inc. (IRG) has entered a binding agreement to acquire breakfast and lunch chain Ben & Florentine. With 40 units in Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba, IRG purchased the restaurant chain for about $17.7 million. The deal also includes an additional earn-out payment of up to $7.3 million, payable in the first quarter of 2018, based on the success of new restaurant openings. The acquisition, announced Dec. 20, is expected to close in the first quarter of 2017. After opening its first restaurant in 2009, Ben & Florentine grew to 12 locations by 2010, and opened its first location in Ontario in 2012. Today the chain records about $35 million in system sales. Lorne Cassoff, the founder and president of Ben & Florentine will continue to lead the brand and will join IRG’s executive team. Ben & Florentine joins Pizza Delight, Toujours Mikes, Scores and Bâton Rouge under the Imvescor umbrella. Imvescor intends to finance the acquisition through a combination of cash on hand and its existing credit facility.
Changes for TFW program TORONTO — The federal government has softened previous changes to the Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) program originally made in 2011. TFWs will now no longer be limited to a maximum four years in Canada. As well,
4 | Ontario Restaurant News
businesses will still be allowed to hire TFWs for up to 20 per cent of their workforce, instead of the proposed drop to 10 per cent. Restaurants Canada welcomed the rule reversal as a first step towards permanent residency for foreign workers. “Most foreign workers come to Canada with the hopes and dreams of staying in this country,” said Joyce Reynolds, Restaurants Canada’s executive vice-president of government affairs. “Often they’re brought in because of permanent — not temporary — labour shortages, and their employers want to help them stay.”
MTY now owns La Diperie MONTREAL — Following an acquisition announcement in November, MTY Food Group Inc. has now acquired 60 per cent of the assets of La Diperie. The total consideration for the transaction is about $900,000 paid in cash at closing, financed from MTY’s cash on hand. La Diperie offers customizable soft serve ice cream dishes, including more than 20 chocolate dip options. At closing, La Diperie operated five franchised stores in Montreal and Toronto.
Freshii files for IPO TORONTO — Freshii Inc. is moving ahead with a public offering of shares of the company. In December, Freshii filed a preliminary prospectus with the securities regulatory authorities in each of the provinces and territories of Canada for a proposed Initial Public Offering (IPO) and secondary offer-
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ing of its Class A subordinate voting shares. The number of shares to be sold has not been determined. Freshii opened its first store in 2005. Today, the chain operates about 250 stores in 15 countries.
Firehouse Subs expands LONDON — Firehouse Subs has opened its second Canadian location. The new shop opened in London, Ont., at 879 Wellington Rd. South. The first location opened in Oshawa in early 2016. Based in Jacksonville, Fla., the chain was founded by brothers and firefighters Chris and Robin Sorensen in 1994. Now, there are more than 900 locations in the United States. Firehouse’s menu includes hot specialty subs, such as smokehouse beef and cheddar brisket, as well as more traditional hot subs, such as smoked turkey or roast beef. In Ontario, Firehouse plans to open 85 locations in the next 10 years.
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 and General Manager, Rosemont Hospitality Group 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. 12 · January 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: P A C I F I C / P R A I R I E
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Peruvian pop-up TORONTO — In an effort to push modern Peruvian food into mainstream dining, chef Elias Salazar has partnered with Rush Lane & Co. to offer the cuisine in Toronto. Salazar, who operates the catering company Limon Modern Peruvian, will host a pop-up restaurant within Rush Lane & Co. until March. Modern Peruvian fare combines ancient ingredients with contemporary plating and the country’s multicultural demographic.
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Scarborough mall invests $37 million in foodservice SCARBOROUGH — With a rise in online shopping, food is being used as a tool to attract and retain shoppers at brick and mortar shopping hubs. Scarborough Town Centre has invested $37 million to renovate its food court. The first of two phases of the project was completed in August. “In malls right now, we’re really seeing an influx in food concepts and a need to bring food in,” said Robert Horst, general manager of Scarborough Town Centre. “It’s one of the key differentiators in the mall business; to challenge online sales and keep people interested in something to do at the mall. Food is giving us an opportunity to do that.” Renamed the Taste MRKT, the mall’s traditional food court reopened with 22 vendors, offering a myriad of dining options. New vendors include Chipotle, Wasabi Grill and Noodle, Biryani, Naan and Kabob, SU&SHE and Brioche Dorée.
The new options provide the “authentic flavours and unique experiences” the mall’s customers demand. “In a cosmopolitan city like Toronto, our customers really know the difference between good-quality authentic cultural flavours and something that came out of a package,” Horst said. “We have tried to deliver on that for them, and we’re seeing success as a result.” The 30,000-square-foot food court includes about 1,000 seats and 9,000 square feet of tenant space. For its furniture, Horst explained the mall selected high-end design options, including stainless steel chairs, wood and leather stools and Corian tabletops equipped with charging stations for electronics. “When customers come to a food court in the mall, they’re expecting high-quality finishes like they would get in a restaurant,” he said. In an effort to present a restaurant atmo-
sphere, the mall also introduced a full assortment of Taste MRKT-branded dishware and cutlery for its food court tenants. “That’s really what customers expect now,” Horst said. “They’re spending a lot of money at some of our retail stores. They want to be able to eat and feel good doing it. Styrofoam doesn’t always do that for us.” Near the food court, the mall created SWEET MRKT, a three-kiosk, pop-up style venue that hosts Sweet Jesus, SQUISH candies and Love Me Sweet Japanese cheesecakes. “It’s been a tremendous success for us. We’ve had crowds in there every day,” Horst said. SWEET MRKT was created to offer fresh and interesting concepts in a single space, as well as build photo ops worthy of Instagram to attract new urban customers to the mall. “What we see now is the food business is moving faster. Customers flock to new concepts and want the newest and best things,” Horst said. “The malls are trying to make sure we par-
ticipate in that and allow ourselves to be flexible.” The second phase of the renovation will introduce three 120-seat fast casual restaurants with patio-style seating situated under a large skylight at the centre of the mall. “The idea is to really bring the outdoors indoors and have that available to people 365 days a year,” Horst said, noting, “it caters to the lunch crowd. It will cater to the date night crowd going to the cinema and moms with kids.” So far, the mall’s new approach to foodservice is working, with a 30 per cent increase in volume at the food court. About 50 per cent of mall patrons visit the food court while they’re at the shopping centre. Horst added hungry customers have a habit of leaving the mall. “There is a direct correlation between food spending and time spent in the shopping centre,” he said. “When they spend more time in the centre, they spend more money, which is obviously good for landlords.”
Topper’s turns to new tech for growth VAUGHAN, Ont. — Topper’s Pizza is turning to new technology to expand the chain throughout Ontario, as well as creep into the Greater Toronto Area. After sitting at 37 stores for more than a year, the Sudbury-based pizza chain opened new pizzerias in its hometown, Thunder Bay, Vaughan, Espanola and Kirkland Lake. When the Thunder Bay location opened in October, the franchise set a company-wide sales record, selling more than 4,000 pizzas in a week and establishing a Facebook fan base of more than 1,000 people. The Vaughan location marks Topper’s closest presence yet to the Toronto market. “Companies usually start in the GTA and move outwards. We’re kind of the opposite,” said Todd Sattler, director of franchise development for Topper’s. “We’ve been strong in northern markets.” Before embarking on its push to open new stores, Topper’s spent a year developing a plan to achieve successful growth.
6 | Ontario Restaurant News
The groundwork included a brand refresh, hiring Sattler for franchise development, completing a survey of 8,000 customers and sourcing efficient equipment for its restaurants. “We’ve done a lot of things in our design that are really trying to add efficiency to the pizzeria and make things easier for our franchise partners,” Sattler said. Its new pizza ovens, for example, are up to 40 per cent faster and use 30 per cent less energy. When not in use, the oven utilizes a standby mode. A sensor within the appliance detects when a pizza enters the oven. “About 60 per cent of the time, they’re not even in use — you’re spending on electricity to keep them running,” Sattler said. “When you’re in a business that makes product to order, it makes a big impact.” As well, Topper’s introduced LED lighting throughout its restaurants and replaced its freezers with energy efficient walk-in coolers. “We’ve tried to make every element of the pizzeria more efficient,” Sattler said.
Topper’s Thunder Bay, Ont., location. To enhance customer service, the company is using a new centralized 2,800-square-foot call centre in Sudbury, Ont. “We operate that call centre within our team. We find a big benefit to that, since you’re dealing with people that actually know the brand,” Sattler said. For walk-in customers, Topper’s introduced a wait time calculator that lets customers know the progress of their order. “When they come into the pizzeria they
can see their order on the screen,” Sattler said. “If it’s ready or in the oven or if it’s being cut, they can see all of those stages.” Size permitting, new locations will also be equipped with a dough-making window, which gives customers a glimpse of staff making the dough from scratch. “It’s a huge competitive advantage for us,” Sattler said. “It’s to educate the consumer on what we do. It’s a full disclosure approach; you can interact with that experience.”
A new generation of Pumpernickel’s TORONTO — After 30 years in business, Pumpernickel’s is mixing the traditional elements of the Ontario deli chain with an updated look and menu. Created by Soly and Zvia Ziv in 1986, the flagship location opened in First Canadian Place shortly after the couple moved to Canada. “It’s still the mother of all Pumpernickel’s and it’s also the busiest one,” said Oz Ziv, who was a young child when it first opened. He and his three siblings now run the family business alongside their parents. There are 12 Pumpernickel’s locations in the Greater Toronto Area, as well as a head office and catering kitchen in Vaughan, Ont., with another slated to open in the MaRS Discovery District at University Avenue and College Street this year. With a recently completed redesign of all its locations and a chef-designed menu, the Pumpernickel’s team hopes to compete in the growing fast-casual market with a quality offering and a reasonable price point. “I’ve been with the company 10 years and it’s been a big journey seeing it develop over those years,” Ziv said. The Pumpernickel’s menu has grown to include new sandwiches and a rotating selection of hot items and salads. Ziv describes the hot table additions as “rustic European peasant food,” inspired by the company’s in-house cooks.
“Each of the salads has a distinct flavour, each of the sandwiches has a distinct flavour in a way that makes sense and is simple — they are chef-designed sandwiches and salads,” said Ziv, adding everything is made in house from scratch. The younger generation of Zivs all pursued other interests throughout their careers, but gravitated back to the family business. “I think there is something to us about this business that’s exciting and what’s exciting about it is we see its potential, we see it growing,” said Ziv. His sister Sharon works on large marketing and creative projects and Ziv and his two brothers, Jonathan and Alon, are involved in day-today operations. “We’re there onsite and we go between the locations and keep an eye on the business. Sometimes we need to jump in and manage a place for a little while, sometimes we need to get in the kitchen and cook a little bit — we’re field agents,” he said. In order to keep up with the industry, Pumpernickel’s opted for a more contemporary look while maintaining its old-school deli values of freshness and good prices. Ziv said his parents believe a business must evolve to be successful. “They are the ones who maybe push for change more than anyone,” he said. The corporation operates seven of the Pum-
Oz Ziv pernickel’s locations. The remaining five stores are owned by franchisees. “Our model going forward is to hang onto our downtown core restaurants and franchise everything out in the periphery,” Ziv said. “We want to franchise more of our locations so we can free ourselves to expand outward.” In addition to its breakfast and lunch business, Soly Ziv estimates catering accounts for almost 50 per cent of the company’s revenue and feels this segment will continue to grow. “Corporate catering is a very big part of the company,” Soly said. “If the food is good, I believe the meeting is going to be successful, too.”
While Pumpernickel’s is an example of successful succession, Oz Ziv doesn’t want to paint an unrealistic picture of perfection. “It’s very hard to be in a family business many times because you have to work hard to draw the line between work and family,” Oz said. “We all have job titles and we defer to that when we need to — this is in the scope of my work and that is in the scope of your work. We have to respect those boundaries in order to be able to work as a family.” In general, the Ziv family is quite close, even outside of work hours. “I think we’re a family first and foremost and we’re a family business after,” Oz said.
Imvescor continues revitalization with Bâton Rouge OAKVILLE, Ont. — Imvescor Restaurant Group unveiled Bâton Rouge’s million-dollar makeover in late November. The corporate-owned Oakville, Ont., restaurant serves as the prototype for new openings and for future renovations at the other 30 locations. In 2017, there are 12 renovations scheduled and five new restaurants on the books. Parent company Imvescor went through a restructuring two years ago and unveiled a strategic plan in 2015 to combat declining sales among its restaurant brands, which include Pizza Delight, Scores and Mikes. Trattoria di Mikes restaurants were recently rebranded Toujour Mikes with plans to renovate about 80 per cent of the chain’s 70 restaurants by the end of 2018. As an incentive for franchisees to renovate, Imvescor offers to cover 20 per cent of the cost, up to $50,000, through its restaurant rejuvenation program. “We thought it was important to put our money where our mouth is,” said Imvescor president and CEO Frank Hennessey. Hennessey said 85 per cent of Imvescor’s system will have an up-to-date look — including new locations and those renovated within eight years — by the end of the program in 2018.
At Bâton Rouge, the redesign coincides with the chain’s 25th anniversary. “We had a great look for a while, but it was very much time for a refresher,” said Hennessey. Imvescor hired Nipun Sharma in March as brand leader for Bâton Rouge Steakhouse & Bar. Sharma said it is important to maintain
some of the restaurant’s signature elements such as use of the colour red and large, comfortable booth seating. “We decided to keep those elements that make it great and just modernize some components,” he said. “We actually hired a professional colourist to make sure we got all the red tones right in different parts of the restaurant.”
Sharma said the largest decor change was increasing the size of the bar and giving it a modern feel. “When Bâton Rouge was designed, the bars were a waiting area when your table was getting ready. Some of them are not exactly very hospitable or inviting places,” he said. “Given the trends, bars have become a destination. Many people want to eat at the bar and not even come inside.” In line with the focus on the bar area, Bâton Rouge introduced an updated wine list, created a sharing-style menu and a new cocktail list, designed by Martini Club. “At the end of the day, we want to have a great bar, but we’re a chain restaurant,” said Sharma, noting this means cocktails can’t be overly complicated or take too long to make. “We had a big challenge: how do you make an amazing, original beverage and do it fast? It made it twice as hard, but the results came out really well.” Moving forward, Sharma sees an opportunity in the lunch day part for new menu items, but doesn’t plan to change any core dinner menu items. “People want to have a quick lunch, a lighter lunch, a healthier lunch,” he said.
January 2017 | 7
Bob Desautels The Neighbourhood Group
RESTAURATEUR OF THE YEAR By Bill Tremblay
hen Bob Desautels voluntarily paid a premium for local electricity generated by windmills, his hospitality industry peers thought he was “crazy,” the Guelph-based restaurateur admits. However, ensuring The Neighbourhood Group of restaurants operates in an environmentally friendly manner, with local products in mind, has propelled the company to generate more than $9 million in sales annually at its four properties. “We’re probably the most successful restaurant group in the region and our restaurant sales are above the Canadian average,” Desautels said. “It makes me feel good. It’s easier to get out of bed in the morning when you know you’re doing something to support your local economy.” While a green business model gives Desautels peace of mind, the commitment to local products and sustainability also provides added value for customers. He explained a secret to marketing is to create a unique reason for someone to frequent the establishment. “Service and quality are now just a minimum requirement for a successful restaurant. It gives people another reason to come to your restaurants,” Desautels said. “They become the most loyal customers you have. They become your advocates, which is word of mouth. There’s nothing more powerful than word of mouth.” The Neighbourhood Group’s restaurant roster includes The Woolwich Arrow, two Borealis Grillhouse & Bar locations and Miijidaa Café + Bistro. In 1985, Desautels opened his first eatery, La Maison, a French restaurant that included one of Ontario’s few wine bars at the time. After three years, he sold the business to focus
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on teaching at University of Guelph. He reacquired the restaurant in 1990 and transformed the business into The Woolwich Arrow. “It was coincidental at the time that craft breweries were starting to emerge. I decided to go with local craft beer on tap,” he said. “It really took off.” With local beer deemed a success, Desautels and his staff used the same approach for food. “We had venison cooked in Niagara red wine, our version of beef bourguignon, and bison hamburgers,” Desautels said. “We pushed the envelope on local food.” From there, he began sending food scraps for composting, using the local green utility company and installing solar panels to heat water. “I was always interested in sustainability. Having young children makes you think a lot more about the future,” said Desautels, who is a founding member of Canada’s Green Party. “Local was one of the most important things for sustainability.” Currently, The Neighbourhood Group’s employees are offered benefits after three months. After two years of employment, the company pays 100 per cent of benefit costs. Now, The Neighbourhood Group is working towards paying its staff a certified living wage, which equals about $17 an hour in the region. “We’re trying to get everyone around that threshold and we’re almost there,” Desautels said. Landing a job at one of the restaurants requires the applicant to share the same passion for local products and sustainability as the parent company. “We don’t hire on good looks, we’re more interested in their values and their attitude,” Desautels said. “The whole focus is to look carefully at candidates. We don’t want people that are just there for the money.” In 2008, Desautels partnered with his son
The Woolwich Arrow
Court to open the first Borealis location in Guelph. The second location opened in Kitchener, Ont. three years later. With three restaurants under The Neighbourhood Group, the father and son team began ensuring every product they purchased was created in Ontario, from uniforms to dishwashing chemicals to cars. “It’s kind of fun, it’s like a research project each time we’re looking to procure something else,” Desautels said. With a business model firmly entrenched in sustainability and local, Court began the process of becoming B Corp certified (standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency). All four restaurants qualified, making the Neighbourhood Group the largest B Corp certified restaurant group in the world. “My whole goal is to not blow the horn that we’re better than you guys. Everything we do is consistent with these values. We don’t handpick one or two things,” Desautels said. “I don’t think it runs very deep in a lot of companies. Our commitment is to operating in a sustainable way.” In late 2015, The Neighbourhood Group opened their latest concept, Miijidaa Café + Bistro. Miijidaa, which is Ojibwa for “let’s eat,”
fuses French, English and indigenous cuisine. The menu explores how European settlers used native North American ingredients in their recipes and vice versa. “We are researching what food they were eating and then look at the French and English influence on that,” Desautels said. “I think that’s what Canadian cuisine actually is. Everything else that has happened since then, I don’t think it’s true Canadian cuisine. I think it’s trends.” The “back to the future” recipes developed at Miijidaa will also assist the other restaurants in The Neighbourhood Group. “In a way, I want it to be our research lab for foods we use in other locations,” Desautels said. While Desautels has made his living in hospitality, he was also once a pro golfer on the Canadian circuit. The sport taught him tenacity is the secret to success. “You get used to not winning,” he said. His resume is rounded out with a master’s degree in philosophy that also played a role in how he operates his restaurants. “It makes you look at how you’re living your life,” Desautels said. “When it’s time to make a decision, or there’s a tough time, I know to stick with my principles. They’re the right ones and it obviously worked out in a restaurant concept.”
coming Events Feb. 9: CAFP Top Management Night Gala Dinner, Toronto Branch. The Boulevard Club, Toronto. cafp.ca/toronto/event-toronto
Feb. 26-28: RC Show (Restaurants Canada), The Enercare Centre, Toronto. rcshow.com
April 5: Flanagan Foodservice Annual Tradeshow, Kitchener/Owen Sound, Kitchener Auditorium Complex. flanagan.ca
Feb. 9-11: The NAFEM Show, Orange County Convention, Center, Orlando, Florida. thenafemshow.org
March 19-21: Seafood Expo North America, Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, Boston. seafoodexpo.com
April 26: Flanagan Foodservice Annual Tradeshow, Garson Community Centre, Sudbury. flanagan.ca
Feb. 25-26: The Franchise Show, Toronto Congress Centre. thefranchiseshow.ca
March 27-30: International Pizza Expo, Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas. pizzaexpo.com
May 2-4: SIAL Canada Show, Enercare Centre, Toronto. sialcanada.com
Feb. 25-28: Canadian Society of Club Managers National F&B Conference, The Fairmont Empress, Victoria. cscm.org
March 29: Gordon Food Service Show, Toronto Congress Centre, Toronto. gfs.ca
May 29: Terroir Symposium, The Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto. terroirsymposium.com
Technomic predicts 2017 food trends CHICAGO — Heading into 2017, many are wondering what’s on the horizon for the Canadian foodservice industry? Technomic forecasted the top five food and restaurant trends to try this year. Commercial and noncommercial foodservice operators faced a variety of challenges in 2016 and as the definition of health evolves in the Canadian market, customers are looking for cutting-edge menu items and emerging restaurants that satisfy the palate and balance unique and familiar flavours. “Canadian consumers want creative, innovative menu items and we see both restaurant and noncommercial foodservice operators stepping up to the challenge,” said Erik Thoresen, principal at Technomic.
Technomic’s Canadian Trends Forecast: Ethnic sparks menu creativity: Mainstream cuisines such as Chinese and Mexican are making way for more intriguing global fare. Newcomers from across the globe will bring exotic recipes and ingredients, spurring fresh inspiration for chefs. Looking at 2017, specialties like Filipino pancit (noodles) and sinigang (soup), Pakistani roadside bun kebabs and Iranian gheimeh (stew) will flourish in Canada’s food landscape. Plant-based comfort foods: Veggies are moving to the centre of the plate as people choose the avoid meat on more occasions, with some going vegetarian or vegan. These dining and diet trends, combined with environmental concerns, are fueling growth of plant-based restaurants. Plant-based comfort food such as pizzas, burgers and burritos will drive the trend in 2017. Super special sweets: Dessert-focused concepts remain hot — a trend driven by restaurants devoted to refining classic dishes such as decorated soft-serve cones, decadent doughnuts and artisan ice cream. Specialty flavours, indulgent topping and eye-catching preparations will continue to generate excitement. Expect to see more ethnic specialties such as Mexican paletas, Taiwanese shaved ice cream and Japanese cheesecake begin to move from innovative independents to chains and retailers. Creative caffeinating: While the third-wave movement continues to push coffee to its premium extremes, boundary breakers will take coffee in unexpected directions to stand out in a crowding field. On the radar: lemon coffees, coffee jelly, Indonesian avocado espressos, coffee plus butter or salt (or both), and intricate and customizable latte foam art. Engaging with Gen Z: Operators will pay closer attention to Gen Z — the maturing cohort of ethnically diverse digital natives accustomed to constant convenience, social sharing and a fast-changing world. Look for more ethnic mash-up foods, desserts and drinks worthy of Instagram, emoji speak on the menu, chatbots, Snapchat filters, packaging hacks and a greater emphasis on corporate responsibility and environmental stewardship.
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Lending with hospitality BY COLLEEN ISHERWOOD, SENIOR EDITOR
Canadian Western Bank Group (CWB) has launched a new division dedicated to the hospitality (hotel and restaurant) sectors across Canada, named CWB Franchise Finance, based out of Mississauga, Ontario. Restaurant News (RN) sat down with Ed Khediguian, senior vice president of the newlyestablished branch, to discuss the transaction that brought him and the team over to CWB, the approach being taken in creating their programs for the industry, and the vision for the business in the upcoming years.
RN: Ed, it sounds like it’s been a busy year, can you tell us first about the background of your group and the sale from GE Capital to CWB? It has been a roller-coaster couple of years actually. Back in April of 2015, GE announced that it was unwinding its finance arm, GE Capital, and intended to exit through sale of all its capital divisions, and reposition the parent company back to its industrial roots. The Canadian Commercial Real Estate division was first to be sold to Wells Fargo and Blackstone, followed by the Equipment Finance platforms which were acquired by Wells Fargo and BMO. It wasn’t until early in 2016 that CWB entered into a purchase sale agreement for the Canadian Franchise Finance portfolio. The transaction closed on July 1, 2016 with CWB not only acquiring the portfolio but also hiring the entire Franchise Finance team as part of the transaction. We had been lending to restaurants since 2001 and hotels since 2002, so we’ve got a very experienced group in both of these sectors and CWB was excited to acquire our portfolio as well as the expertise of our team.
CWB FRANCHISE FINANCE TEAM
WATCH OUT FOR CRIS 2017 The Canadian Restaurant Investment Summit is an annual investment and economic conference in Toronto produced by CWB Franchise Finance and driven by our commitment to provide restaurateurs, lenders and investors with the resources, knowledge and vision to help make better restaurant and franchise investment decisions. This year, the Canadian Restaurant Investment Summit moves to the Fall. Stay tuned for exact dates and location!
RN: So why was CWB a good fit for your group, and vice versa?
The team from left: Cameron Woof, Account Manager, Hotel Finance; Ed Khediguian, SVP; Trish Halliwell, Account Manager, Restaurant Finance; Patrick Schofield, Portfolio Manager; Tara Mascitelli, Risk Manager; Dimitri Mazur, Account Manager, Restaurant Finance; Wendy Black, Documentation Specialist; Ian Ricci, Account Manager, Hotel Finance; and Jacob Mancini, Senior Manager, Restaurant Finance.
CWB is a Canadian-based financial institution offering business and personal banking, equipment financing, trust services and wealth management across Canada. They’re well known for the common sense approach they take to business, and their emphasis on a relationshipfocused strategy; this is particularly important for us in the hospitality sectors and is well-aligned to the spirit and culture that our team has always worked with.
RN: What differentiates you from other lenders? We take a centralized, specialized, and national approach to lending across both the hotel and restaurant sectors. We are the one-stop financing solution for recapitalization and growth capital for both franchisees (unit level financing) and franchisors (corporate lending) and work to establish a deep understanding of the segments, brands, and the markets that they operate in. Clients do not have to explain their sector to us; we live and breathe it side-by-side
with them because of the focused nature of the mandate. While hospitality is a small part of larger portfolios of larger financial institutions, the focused specialization approach inherently makes it all we do, and our raison d’être. Bigger, more broadly-based institutions can get mired in bureaucracy, and now that we have set up this division within CWB, we can be nimble, entrepreneurial and creative to match the needs of our clients.
RN: What kinds of brands and operators are you looking to work with? We work with both the larger players as well as the smaller high-growth companies in the Canadian market. In fact, some of our most successful client relationships are with clients who started from a small base, and worked with us to develop their portfolios and brands. We’re seeking companies with high growth potential. The first step we take in establishing a financing program is to sit with the franchisors and make sure we know
all we can about the system, performance, and development goals and needs so that we can align financing structures accordingly. We do not take a cookie-cutter approach to lending within a brand, which is a key differentiator; and can be limiting to a multi-unit franchisee with embedded equity that wants to grow faster. We take the time to assess each brand and the specific operator needs within them.
About Ed Khediguian, Senior Vice President Well known on the conference circuit and on social media sites, Ed has more than 20 years of experience in the lodging, hospitality and restaurant industry. Prior to joining CWB, Ed led GE Capital’s Franchise Finance division for more than 12 years. He has both a Master’s of Management in Hospitality from Cornell University’s School of Hotel Management and a Bachelor of Commerce in Finance from McGill University.
RN: So once you have vetted the brands, what kind of transactions do you look to do? We provide term lending for recapitalization, acquisition, or shareholder buyouts of assets and businesses, development lines for new store and hotel development, and for remodels and construction financing. In the restaurant sector, we also provide corporate lending for small to large regional and national high growth franchisors and
corporate store system companies, focused on providing the growth capital to the up and coming concepts. Now that we’re part of CWB, we are able to offer clients even more in terms of a complete banking relationship with cash management, deposits, and wealth management as well.
RN: Where do you see the business in five years’ time? Our goal is to establish a brand equity and awareness centered around specialization to the hotel and restaurant sectors, a high level of capability in execution, and consistency throughout the cycle. We want to be the lender that takes the right swings with a value-creating product for the right operators, and brands that are growing. We expect to grow our book rapidly in a prudent and diligent manner over
the next few years. Solid credit quality comes from taking the time and effort to understand what is going on in the industry, from both a micro and macro perspective. We’ve got the right team, the right alignment under CWB, and we’re ready to provide accretive financing structures and products for restaurant and hotel operators across the country.
CWB’S CORE VALUES “Joining forces with the CWB Franchise Finance team was a big win for CWB in 2016 as we continue to deliver on our established commercial banking growth and geographic diversification strategy,” says Chris Fowler, CWB’s president and chief executive officer. “Our competitive strength has always been based on specialized industry knowledge and a targeted approach to niche markets, so it’s a great fit that allows us to expand our client offering. We’re also proud of our unique, award-winning culture that is based on putting people first, something that we also share with Ed and his team.”
Gay Lea investing $140 million in dairy facilities MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Gay Lea Foods Co-operative has announced a $140 million investment to upgrade several of its dairy processing facilities throughout Ontario. The three-phase investment, spread out over four years, focuses on innovation and creating a dairy hub capable of manufacturing nutritional and nutraceutical-grade dairy ingredients. “Technology and demand has come a long way in being able to understand what you can do with milk and I think that’s what is exciting about dairy,” said Michael Barrett, president and chief executive officer for Gay Lea. “We’re only scratching the surface on what we can do with milk and its components.” The first phase of the expansion will begin early this year with a $60 million upgrade to Gay Lea’s facility in Teeswater, Ont. The investment will allow the facility, which started as the oldest creamery in Canada, to double its annual milk processing capabilities to 240 million litres. “The investment will add an extension on the back and replace the 1952 dryer — I call it a Hudson, we’re moving to a Maserati,” Barrett said. The first phase also includes a $3 million investment to build a research and development centre at Gay Lea’s Salerno Cheese facility in Hamilton, Ont. The R&D lab will allow Gay Lea to explore milk as a component in ingredients, as well as invent new products based on customer demand. “This is recognizing innovation is a critical component. We really haven’t been the strongest players on the innovation side,” Barrett said. “The global market is changing and our consumers here in Canada are demanding and requesting innovative products in the marketplace.” The second phase will see the balance of the $140 million invested in facilities throughout the province. Numerous plants will see upgrades to reduce their environmental footprint, the
From left: Gay Lea Foods president and CEO Michael Barrett, chair Steve Dolson and Dairy Farmers of Ontario chair Ralph Dietrich. purchase of new packaging equipment and an expanded product offering. The third phase will examine progress made via facility improvements, and deciding how the co-op should move forward. “It could mean a second dryer. It could be branching out into other ingredients. The jury is still out,” Barrett said. He noted Ontario dairy hasn’t seen an investment of a similar size and scope in decades. As well, the cash is not dependent on funding from any level of government.
“That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t take it and it doesn’t mean there isn’t strong support,” Barrett said. For Gay Lea’s 1,300 co-op members, the $140 million price tag of the four-year project is an investment in their way of life, according to Barrett. “It sustains rural communities and their livelihood,” Barrett said. “They want to be able to pass their farms on to their children and grandchildren. To do that, they have to grow dairy.”
Premium Brands continues expanding with new acquisitions VANCOUVER — Less than two months after purchasing Belmont Meats, Premium Brands announced a handful of acquisitions in December.
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On Dec. 1, the producer, marketer and distributor of branded specialty food products announced it had acquired Island City Baking and its affiliate Conte Foods. Island City Baking, which was founded in 1990, is a manufacturer of fresh and frozen artisan breads. It operates out of a 45,000-square-foot production facility located in Richmond, B.C., and services retail and foodservice customers across southern British Columbia. Conte Foods, which was founded in 1993, is a distributor of a variety of specialty food products including items imported from various parts of Europe and fresh pasta produced at its new 16,000-square-foot facility located in Burnaby, B.C. Island City and Conte Foods have combined annual sales of about $20 million. In a separate transaction, Premium Brands also acquired the business and assets of Larosa Fine Foods, a manufacturer and wholesaler of a variety of specialty Italian products. Larosa, which has annual sales of approximately $4 million and is currently based in Vancouver, will be moving its operations into Conte Foods’ Burnaby facility. Island City president Carmelo De Luca and his team will join Premium Brands. “We are very excited about the opportunities that will result from the merger of Conte Foods and Larosa,” said George Paleologou, president and CEO of Premium Brands. “The new combined business, which will be under the leadership of Carmelo De Luca, will position us well in a fast growing, niche segment of the specialty food space. Furthermore, we expect to accelerate its growth by enabling it to leverage Premium Brands’ resources including our extensive sales and marketing infrastructure in Canada and the U.S.” On Dec. 8, Premium Brands announced the acquisition of Toronto-based Diana’s Seafood. Diana’s, which has annual sales of about $18 million, is a supplier of fresh and frozen seafood
products to retail and foodservice customers in the Greater Toronto Area. The company was founded in 1998 by Diana and Nino Cicirello, who will be joining Premium Brands. “We are very excited about Diana’s joining our rapidly growing Seafood Group business platform,” said Paleologou. “This platform, which has grown from virtually no sales in 2007 to over $135 million in projected sales for 2016, is benefiting from a number of consumer trends, including increased consumer awareness of the health benefits associated with a seafood-rich diet and Canada’s changing demographics, both in terms of age and ethnic mix. The Diana’s transaction, which is our Seafood Group’s fifth acquisition, moves this platform one step closer to its objective of building Canada’s only national seafood distribution network.” Paleologou said Premium Brands is excited by the growth opportunities presented by the Diana’s acquisition. “The most significant of these will be leveraging Diana’s brand and customer relationships in the foodservice industry to create additional sales opportunities for our new Ontario foodservice expansion initiative, which is scheduled to begin operations in mid-2017. In addition, our other seafood and wholesale food businesses will be leveraging Diana’s strength in certain niche seafood products to expand their product offerings,” said Paleologou. “With respect to the Diana’s business specifically, not only do we expect it to benefit from our extensive supply chain-related resources, but it will also be able to leverage our new Ontario foodservice facility to accelerate the growth of its foodservice distribution business, which in recent years has been constrained by warehouse capacity limitations.” Premium Brands owns a broad range of leading specialty food manufacturing and differentiated food distribution businesses with operations in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, Nevada, Ohio, Arizona and Washington State.
Welcome to the Baro TORONTO — Chef Steve Gonzalez and the ownership team behind Valdez opened Baro, Spanish slang for neighbourhood, on King West in early December. The three-storey former textile factory boasts 4,000 square feet of space and includes a dining room on the first floor with about 100 seats. On the second floor is a raw bar and lounge as well as Escobar, which has a daily changing password for entry. A 1,850-squarefoot event space is slated to open in January on the third level and a year-round rooftop patio will open in the summer. “I want it to be a neighbourhood spot. It’s a huge place and we’ve got to fill it and I’m a big fan of lending something to the neighbourhood, not trying to push something on the neighbourhood it doesn’t need,” said Gonzalez. Solid Design & Build is responsible for the decor in the brick and beam space, which marries contemporary touches with Latin culture. Located at 485 King St. West, the new larger space is about a block from Valdez, which closed in the spring. For the menu, Gonzalez is bringing elements of his Latin street food-inspired creations to Baro, such as duck confit chaufa, house-made chorizo and arepitas. “I wanted to change everything, but realized we had some good hits already, so I had to keep some of the old Valdez favourites,” Gonzalez
said, noting the kitchen team took time to figure out how to elevate these dishes. For his signature guacamole, Gonzalez will dedicate staff to making batches throughout service to improve freshness. “Here, I’m trying to stay away from the word ‘street food.’ We’re still offering some of that stuff, but I want to make nicer food,” he said, adding Baro’s cuisine is best described as “nuevo Latino.” Gonzalez, whose parents were born in Colombia, drew inspiration from around Latin America when creating the menu. Asian ingredients and flavours are also incorporated on the menu, reflective of the cultural influence in many Latin countries, for example there is a large Chinese population in Peru and Cuba. Menu items include a selection of ceviches; Colombian empanadas; and matambre, an Argentine flank steak. “Eventually, I want to be able to hit every country in Latin America. Once we open the barbecue, it’s going to widen it up a little bit more,” said Gonzalez. Gonzalez hired pastry chef Baura Lao to design the dessert menu, which features tres leches cake, alfajores, churros and helado de coco, a coconut popsicle. “She [Lao] took our Valdez alfajores, threw it up in the air and when it landed, it was gluten
Steve Gonzalez free and a little bit lighter,” he said. Previously with Nota Bene, Kevin Zuniga has joined the Baro team as chef de cuisine and will eventually take the helm in the kitchen. “Once he figures out my flavour profile and my nuances,” said Gonzalez. “Once that happens, he’s going to help develop Baro food — it’s not even really going to be about my food or his food, it’s going to be about the food we make at Baro.” General manager Colin Denton, who came to Toronto to open Cactus Club’s First Canadian Place location, is leading the front of house team. In addition to an elevated food program, a heavy focus has been put on creative cocktails. Self-proclaimed “honey nerd” Wes Galloway is heading up the bar program. When developing Baro’s cocktail lineup, he drove around the
city buying as many Latin American ingredients he could get his hands on for inspiration. His creations include Madremonte — named for the Colombian mother of the forest — which is made of Bombay Sapphire Gin, aloe, jungle honey, lemon, basil and finished with carbonated grapes. The Iron Tyrant cocktail features roasted cacao-infused Ron Diplomatico, vanilla gomme, tincture of saffron, cherry cedar bitters, tobacco essence and toasted oak-infused ice. The drink is designed to “age” as the ice melts. Gonzalez said he and the ownership team are considering opening other establishments down the line, although not in the near future. “We kind of figure if we can do this big thing on King Street, we can do this anywhere. I’m not opposed to the idea of it, but I don’t want to push it just yet,” he said.
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January 2017 | 1 3
Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company
NEWSMAKER OF THE YEAR Steve Beauchesne. By Bill Tremblay
s Beau’s All Natural Brewing approached its 10th anniversary, the company didn’t dwell on how to celebrate the milestone. Instead, the Vankleek Hill, Ont. brewery focused its attention on building its legacy throughout the next decade. “We wanted to make sure we weren’t patting ourselves on the back for a job well done, but instead looking forward,” said Beau’s chief executive officer Steve Beauchesne. While Beau’s did celebrate a decade in business on July 1, its birthday also served as a catalyst to sell the brewery to its staff through an Employee Share Ownership Plan (ESOP), launch national distribution, pledge to donate $5 million to charity in 10 years, create two scholarships for brewing students at Niagara College and help build Rwanda’s first craft brewery. “That was absolutely by design. We don’t like doing things by half measures,” Beauchesne said. “We used that momentum we have because it’s our 10th birthday to really stretch ourselves.” For Beauchesne, the highlight of the year was announcing the ESOP in May. Through the program, employees receive an annual dividend based on a third-party firm’s calculation of the brewery’s valuation. Each year, the brewery’s 160 employees also have a chance to purchase stock. “The raw emotion of that day was so overwhelming. Employee ownership is the real keystone to the whole thing,” Beauchesne said. “It’s our philosophy and employee engagement that allows us to do the ambitious things we do.” The socially responsible approach to Beau’s was established before the Vankleek Hill property was used to brew beer. Tim Beauchesne, Steve’s father and president of Beau’s, had previously operated a textile business. However, his industry had migrated overseas, limiting options for the Vankleek Hill operation. “When the textile industry moved offshore,
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he was left with a dilemma: all off his customers either moved or declared bankruptcy,” Beauchesne said. “He didn’t want to move out of Canada to keep the business afloat.” Fittingly, over a pint of beer, the Beauchesnes discussed their business options. When the idea of opening a brewery arose, Steve offered to quit his job in business planning with the Ontario government and move back home from Toronto. “The next day when we woke up, it still seemed like a good idea,” he said. “It took about two years to get the brewery off the ground.” As the brewery developed, Tim Beauchesne’s business ethics served as a guide on how to move forward. “It’s been great growing up with an ethical minded entrepreneur. He’s always the inspiration for what we’re doing,” Beauchesne said. “In those early years, whenever we were facing a challenge, we knew this wasn’t just our jobs on the line here, this was mom and dad’s retirement.” The brewery was created with a list of social values: make award-winning organic beer, focus on sustainability, remain independent, maintain a sense of family and invest in their community. “Those core values today are exactly the same as they were on Day 1,” Beauchesne said. While their values are the same, sales have changed dramatically. In its first year, Beau’s sold 30,000 litres of beer. In 2016, Beau’s sales reached about five million litres, making the brewery the largest independent producer of organic beer in Canada. “We bought six new fermenters this year and each one of them holds more than our first year sales in total. It’s kind of an interesting moment,” Beauchesne said. The company’s principles also translate into a nearly non-existent marketing budget. Instead, funds that would normally be used to advertise beer are invested in philanthropic efforts. “From my perspective, it’s a matter of maximizing impact. Shareholder profit is one form of impact, but I see the brewery as being more important than just something that creates
shareholder value,” Beauchesne said. “It’s part social experiment and part performance art.” So why not just keep the money? “That’s the question we have to answer to our investors every year. The nice thing for us is our investors are friends and family members, so it’s probably an easier conversation to have,” Beauchesne said. “I feel like beer tastes better when you feel good about drinking it.” As well, the charitable approach is also an added value for Beau’s consumers. “Ever year there will be more and more great beer on the shelf. Every brewery is trying to find that thing that separates them beyond just having great beer,” Beauchesne said. “For us, we’ve chosen to do good things. There’s a belief that if we do good things, people will reward us by choosing our beer out of all the other beer out there.” Not all of Beau’s accomplishments in 2016 were by its own design. The brewery reached the milestone of 100 awards, with its noted achievements extending beyond its brewing efforts. The brewery received the Culinary Tourism Event of the Year for its Oktoberfest celebration and the Built to Last award at the B Corp Champions Retreat. As well, Beauchesne was awarded the title of Canada’s DesignThinker of the Year, presented by the Association of Registered Graphic Designers. The award is given to business leaders who prioritize design and innovation and push the boundaries of the field. Beau’s retail prod-
ucts, which are sold in 600-ml four packs with a ribbon securing the bottles, were designed to stand out from the usual brown bottles and tallboy cans. “If the packaging is interesting enough to make you want to try it, and the beer is good enough to make you want to buy it a second time, we’re probably doing things right,” Beauchesne said. “We definitely got some notice from being in a fairly unusual type of package.” Looking ahead to 2026, Beauchesne is optimistic not only for his own company, but Canadian craft beer as a whole. “I’d love to imagine a world where 100 per cent of beer is craft beer, but I don’t necessarily feel that is realistic,” Beauchesne said. “I’d love to see one in every two beers bought in Canada made by an independent Canadian brewery. That’s where I’d like to see things get to.”
Dave & Busters plans Canada wide expansion By Bill Tremblay OAKVILLE, Ont. — Dave & Busters has opened its second corporate store in Canada. The new 42,000-square-foot location in the Oakville Entertainment Centrum opened in December. The new location is one of 14 corporate locations Dave & Busters hopes to build throughout Canada. Currently the company has 90 locations in the United States as well as a sevenstore deal in Dubai, where construction is expected to begin soon. “Right now we’re building 12 stores a year worldwide. It’s good to have one built here in Canada,” said general manager Brian Light.
“We’re looking forward to building many more in Canada.” The new location features 230 games, a separate full-service restaurant, a sports lounge equipped with a wall of televisions and a bar situated in the gaming area. The entire venue hosts up to 1,800 guests and employs 260 people. As well, the venue includes a private event space — capable of hosting up to 180 people — that splits into three smaller rooms. Light explained the private event space, as well as the ability to rent the entire venue, caters to Dave & Busters’ corporate accounts. “We have a lot of fans out there within the corporate world,” he said.
Located on the border of Mississauga and Oakville, the Oakville Entertainment Centrum provided an ideal demographic for Dave & Busters. “We believe there’s enough population in this demographic and geographical area to support this size of store,” Light said. “We looked at this site on and off for years. When the opportunity came up … we figured it was a good place to be.” The complex is also home to indoor skydiving, a movie theatre, mini putt and numerous restaurants. “Our target demographic is the play together young adults. We’re looking for the 19-yearolds to the 30-somethings,” Light said.
The 20-page menu targets a wide demographic offering entrées and sharable items ranging from low-calorie options to a burger topped with boneless buffalo wings to a variety of signature cocktails. “It’s a diverse menu. It goes from chicken wings to steaks,” Light said. On the gaming side of the venue, Dave & Busters leverages its buying power to gain exclusive content from manufacturers. The venue also has games that issue tickets redeemable for prizes and a range of non-ticketed options. “There are tons of games out there to keep people busy for hours and hours,” Light said. “It’s all brand new, state of the art stuff.”
Eglinton Grand event centre named a national historic landmark TORONTO — The federal government has officially acknowledged the historical significance of the Eglinton Grand event centre. In November, Parks Canada and the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada commemorated the national historic significance of the building’s architecture firm Kaplan & Sprachman as a national historical event and the Eglinton Grand as a national historic site. In 1936, the building opened as the Eglinton Theatre. Designed by Toronto-based architecture firm Kaplan & Sprachman, the theatre’s elaborate Art Deco design is considered one of the best examples of the style in a Canadian theatre. While the venue operated as a movie theatre for more than 60 years, Famous Players closed it in 2002. The following year, Dynamic Hospitality & Entertainment Group acquired the lease for the building, and transformed the theatre into the Eglinton Grand event centre. “It opened to great fanfare as it had 68 years earlier. Instead of showing blockbuster movies, it now hosts blockbuster events,” said Sam D’Uva, managing director of the hospitality group. “Unlike any other landmark theatre, Torontonians are still able to enjoy its unparalleled glamour and historical relevance.”
When Dynamic Hospitality began transforming the theatre into an event venue, many of the original Art Deco features were maintained, including hand-carved statues, prominent mirrors and chrome finishes as well as its marquee and box office. The full-service facility, capable of hosting 1,000 guests, also now features an in-house kosher kitchen, light and audiovisual system, ballrooms and on-site ceremony room. “With its infrastructure completely modernized, and its state of the art audiovisual system, it holds true to its Art Deco decor,” D’Uva said. “With a great building like this comes great expectations. We at Dynamic surely endeavor to surpass these expectations.” Recently, the building also became 100 per cent wheelchair accessible. Dynamic Hospitality recognized a demand for improved accessibility standards in the building and installed an elevator lift; guests may now comfortably enjoy touring the venue and easily move between the main lobby to the mezzanine and gallery room, which are all divided by stairs. The $200,000 project was completed without compromising the venue’s structure or Art Deco decor.
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Some like it
Canadians are enamoured with bold flavours from abroad. Operators can incorporate exciting new tastes on restaurant menus to add value to the customer experience. By Kristen Smith
ach year, Canada’s food scene becomes more influenced by ethnic flavours and ingredients. With increased competition in the fight for food dollars, menu innovation is critical. The New Year is a time for flavour forecasts and trend reports. An annual tradition, the 2017 McCormick Flavour Forecast was unveiled in December. “What we’re seeing as a trend here at McCormick is that consumers are looking for bolder and more exciting global flavours,” said Juriaan Snellen, executive corporate chef for McCormick Canada. As consumers are being exposed to ethnic-inspired cuisine through travel and food television, Snellen explained the Canadian palate is becoming more adventurous. Developed over the course of 12 to 14 months, the Flavour Forecast is intended to inspire both home cooks and chefs. “They can take elements as they see fit into their own menus by adding LTOs (limited time offers), where they can essentially try one of those new flavours and see if it sticks with their core customers,” Snellen suggested. For 2017, there is a strong focus on Mediterranean-inspired cuisine, but Snellen noted McCormick isn’t necessarily identifying Mediterranean or Middle Eastern as a trend in itself. “What we’re referring to is modern Mediterranean, modern Middle Eastern, which is essentially a melding of two different cuisines — the classic European infused with Eastern Mediterranean flavours,” he said. For example, baharat seasoning can be used in familiar dishes. Through its forecast, McCormick highlights specific flavours and dishes as inspiration. With global breakfast bowls, skhug hot sauce is incorporated to create a meal with ground meat, chickpeas and roasted veggies. Plancha cooking — using a cast iron slab on a barbecue — is inspired by methods from Spain and the Basque region of France. An accompanying flavour includes espelette pepper, which is smoky, sweet and mildly hot, as well as bold sauces: mojo verde, adobo negro and romesco. “[With plancha] you’re going to get the best of
both worlds. You have a lot more surface area versus a traditional barbecue, this allows you to really sear and lock in the flavours, but it also gives you the benefit of a traditional barbecue,” Snellen said. Eggs are moving beyond breakfast with Mediterranean vegetable shakshuka, sunny-side-up egg yolks simmered in a tomato and vegetable sauce, infused with a spice blend of smoked paprika, cumin, pepper, cayenne, turmeric and caraway. “Eggs are no longer just served in a traditional way, but they’re actually deconstructing the egg and using the egg yolk, for example, curing it and using that as a garnish,” Snellen said.
Sweet peppered with spice For the last couple years, McCormick’s forecast has focused on heat, specifically chilies. “For 2017, there is going to be a refocus on the peppercorn and it’s going to be used in a bit more of an unconventional way,” said Snellen. “We are going to see a lot of pepper being incorporated into sweet desserts, pastries, smoothies, just to kind of give that little pepper burn and heat in the back and add a bit of a savoury element to a normally sweet or dessert pastry.” He said the trend is twofold, as it includes the use of natural sweeteners, such as exotic fruits or ube, a purple yam often used in Filipino cuisine. “Pepper adds a surprising element to any kind of dish or drink and that is what consumers are looking for nowadays; more excitement, more layers of flavour,” Snellen said.
Evolution of ethnic SIAL Canada expert and consultant B.K. Sethi has witnessed the evolution of the ethnic food business. He started a food distribution business in 1982 selling products from countries such as China, Mexico, Jamaica, India and Pakistan, to mainstream grocers and foodservice businesses. He saw opportunity in the growing market as people immigrated to Canada. He uses the term ethnic to refer to visible minorities, those people who hail from countries outside of Europe.
“They were really visible; they were not coming from the same culture. It was a little bit difficult and awkward for them to feel comfortable immediately,” Sethi explained. He convinced major grocers to stock items familiar to ethnic populations in Canada in an effort to bring the growing cohort in the door. About 20 per cent of Canada’s population was born in another country, the highest proportion among the G8, according to Statistics Canada. The ethnic population in Canada is projected to reach more than 30 per cent by 2030. “This is a growing segment of your consumer and you cannot ignore it,” said Sethi, noting the second generation should be taken into account as well. In addition to flavours being introduced to Canadian menus by way of newcomers, Sethi noted people are travelling overseas more often. “When they travel, they bring back the taste, they bring back the culture,” he said. “Canadians by nature are now demanding more variety in their food and their palates are changing — they are more accepting of hot food,” Sethi said, noting the proliferation of hot sauce in North America. Hot sauce is one of the fastest growing segments in food and foodservice with sales growing 150 per cent between 2000 and 2014, according to a growth in condiments report from Quartz. Sethi said the millennial population is especially demanding more variety and flavour experiences from restaurants, and about 40 per cent of this age group is multicultural. “Non-ethnic are trending toward ethnic, ethnic are trending toward mixing with the mainstream,” Sethi said.
Opportunity for operators Sethi sees an opportunity for foodservice operators to incorporate ethnic ingredients on menus. He particularly sees opportunity in the pizza category, where he feels there are better ways to steal share than discounting. “Add some poblanos, add some Sriracha,” he suggests. Sriracha — which McCain North America culinary director Brooke Brantley calls “a 20-year, overnight success” — has enjoyed mainstream popularity for years. “Whether it’s consumers or restaurant operators — everyone wants to know what’s the new Sriracha going to be?” said Brantley. While he doesn’t have a crystal ball, Brantley has a few ideas. Perhaps it will be one of the staples in his kitchen, gochujang, a Korean table condiment made from chili peppers, glutinous rice (also known as sticky rice), fermented soybeans and salt. “I like sweet things, so it’s kind of like a ketchup with a kick and some texture to it,” said Brantley. “There are a lot of people who say this is going to be the next Sriracha replacement, because it’s got some of the same notes. It’s got kind of a well-rounded flavour, it can be a condiment or it can be an ingredient.” Offering a dipping sauce with a new flavour is less intimidating to guests than an unfamiliar entrée. “It’s adventurous, but it’s kind of cautious adventure. I’m putting one toe in the water and if I like it, I’ll put my whole foot in,” Brantley said. Graham Hayes, director of culinary for McCormack Bourrie Sales & Marketing/French’s Food Company, corporate chef Canada, said Canadians are receptive to the appropriate use of bold flavours. He said the key to introducing new bold flavours to guests requires finding the right platform, one guests will accept.
“If I wanted to try a bold, unique flavour in my [Jack Astor’s] days, I’d put it on a burger. People will try new things as long as it’s on a platform they understand,” Hayes said, noting this logic applies to restaurants on the chain level. “When I’m creating dishes, I’m trying to create layers of flavour and some of it’s bold, some of it’s crunch.” Hayes noted that while LTOs are a prime way to play with new flavours, it’s important to maintain focus on the restaurant’s core menu. “People will try the LTOs, but the kitchen won’t execute their normal food right because they’re focused on these LTOs,” he explained. Hayes suggests limiting the number of items depending on frequency. If it’s once every three months, focus on three items, for example. Brantley said it is important to recognize what sets a restaurant apart from its competition when determining how to bring in new flavours. “How do you bring in those influences and blend it with what you have staked your claim against? It’s finding what you have equity in and bringing those flavours in,” he said. Brantley suggests sampling new creations to regular customers. “People feel like they are on the inside of the tent, they’re getting a peak under the tent and they’re helping with menu R&D,” he said.
The spectrum of bold Traditionally, when new or trendy ingredients made their way through the foodservice chain, there would be an acceptance curve, explained Brantley, starting in fine dining in the form of identification. He said the proliferation of pop-ups and food trucks have interrupted the traditional path of acceptance. “We’re getting those global flavours right out to the person on the street,” he said. “It’s not this trickle down from fine dining anymore, it’s now also coming from upscale supermarkets, they’re bring those flavours in and making them very accessible to consumers.” When Brantley worked in New England in the mid-‘90s, the chipotle pepper was the hot ingredient. Rather than getting hung up on authenticity, chefs in the area realized customers weren’t ready for the naming convention. “New England cuisine wasn’t ready for chipotle, so we used to call it spicy red pepper sauce,” he said. “Give it to them in a way they understand, educate them on where it comes from and let
Plancha cooked steak with espelette rub.
them see if they like it or not.” For Hayes, bold flavours needn’t be spicy or exotic. “People often confuse bold with spice,” he said. “Bold is totally in the eye of the beholder. For some people, bold can be ketchup.” He views bold flavours in categories: aromatic, such as lemongrass or ginger; earthy, for example rosemary and truffle; and spicy. When it comes to flavours from around the world, Hayes is keeping his eye on Peruvian, Malaysian and Filipino cuisine. “I really like that Pacific Rim area, anything around Malaysia, Hawaii,” he said. “They take a combination of sort of everything — they use smoke, they use Asian flavours, they use marinades to create all these bold flavours.” Hayes noted today’s parents have grown up trying new things. “They’re letting their kids try even more than their parents let them try,” he said. “I think the younger generation are the ones who really embrace this globalization of food, globalization of bold flavour.”
A legend of bold flavours Baharat seasoning: fragrant Middle Eastern spice blend, which typically contains black pepper, cumin, cardamom, cloves, coriander, nutmeg and paprika. Each region puts its unique stamp on the seasoning. Skhug sauce: also spelled schug or zhug, contains cumin, cardamom, coriander, Thai bird chilies, garlic, parsley, cilantro, olive oil and lemon juice. Mojo verde: Spanish green sauce with cumin, cilantro, parsley and green chilies. Adobo negro: hybrid Mexican sauce that borrows from spicy adobo and complexly flavoured mole negro sauces, made with stout beer, black sesame and chili pepper. Romesco: mildly spicy, nutty Spanish sauce made with roasted red pepper, smoked paprika and almonds. Gochujang: a Korean table condiment made from chili peppers, glutinous rice (also known as sticky rice), fermented soybeans and salt.
Chickpea breakfast bowl with skhug hot sauce.
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Chocolate inspires dinner series for chefs Photography by Jeffrey Chan courtesy of Cacao Barry. TORONTO — Cacao Barry is turning the tables with its Flavour Dinners, inviting chefs out of their kitchens for a chocolateinspired meal. “Cacao Barry’s founder, Charles Barry, started its quest for extraordinary chocolate flavours over 170 years ago. We are exited to continue this journey with chefs from Toronto,” said Julia Fasciglione, marketing manager for Canada at Barry Callebaut Group. On Dec. 5, a number of prominent Toronto chefs gathered at Colette Grand Café for a meal prepared by executive chef Jennifer Dewasha and pastry chef Annegret Henninger. Both Dewasha and Henniger joined the Colette team earlier this year under Chase Hospitality Group’s culinary director Tyler Shedden. “The food community in Toronto is such a great place with talent and personalities. When you get to cook for your colleagues
who are excited to attend this event and eat for a special experience, adrenaline does run high,” said Dewasha. “The cooks at Colette were also excited and nervous to cook for chefs in the city that they look up to, admire and hope to emulate in the future.” The culinary team created a five-course menu incorporating Cacao Barry chocolate in every dish along with another ingredient of the chef ’s choice, licorice. “When Annegret, Tyler and myself talked about this chocolate dinner, we knew that licorice is a flavouring that is hot in the culinary scene right now. Adding pronounced spices and highlighting intense flavours in dishes is waking up palates and licorice matches well from venison to fish to chocolate,” she said. “It’s not just that 70’s confectionery any longer. Licorice isn’t overly sweet and overpowering, but rather accentuating and subtly lingering.” The meal started with venison tartare with puffed grains,
Tyler Shedden dried cranberries tarragon and shavings of Tanzanie dark chocolate (75 per cent). Clay baked salmon was served with a puree of parsnip and Zéphyr White Chocolate, braised fennel and sauce meurette. Incorporating star anise, a wild hare civet was prepared with cavatelli, wild mushroom and Extra Brute Cacao Powder. For dessert, Henniger designed a licorice root cake with milk chocolate mouse and apple cremeux. Her licorice mint cassettes used Haiti Origin (65 per cent) to create a chocolate cream and were served with cucumber aloe vera gel. “It is for us a pleasure to explore together with chefs all pairing combinations you can reach with chocolate in desserts, but also in savory dishes,” said Fasciglione. “Challenging a team of chefs to pick a flavour and pair it with chocolate to offer an experimental five-course menu to 20 of their peers is a great opportunity to share experiences and be inspired.”
Showing no-shows the cost TORONTO — In an age of easily made online reservations, a Toronto restaurateur is trying to show the cost of not honouring the commitment. Darcy MacDonell, owner of the Farmhouse Tavern, had a friend design a graphic to post on various social media channels, urging guests to “respect the restaurant” and stop cancelling reservations at the last minute or simply not showing up at all. “Mostly, I was hoping people would see it as a reminder to be more aware,” MacDonell said. “I was hoping that peers and colleagues, especially in the city, would retweet it or share it to make the discussions and rumblings a little bit louder.” The idea for the image was spurred after noting 97 cancellations and no shows in 24 hours, the worst rate in the restaurant’s four years in business. “That was really the tipping point for me. It adds up for small businesses,” MacDonell said, noting his no-show rate has climbed from four to five per cent in recent months. “The real killer is the last-minute cancellations. That is the hardest to recover from.” His effort to discourage no shows earned tweets from coastto-coast. As well, an article on the #RespectTheRestaurant campaign appeared on the front page of The Toronto Star, and gained coverage from TVO and Global News. “That part has been more than I expected and a pleasant surprise,” he said. MacDonell believes digital reservation platforms have led to a rise in patrons abandoning tables.
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“It’s something I see in the industry and that I hear my peers talk about,” he said. “I have staff that work at other restaurants too. They tell me horror stories, and I keep hearing more and more of it.” MacDonell added he has noticed the trend has grown in the last 18 months, with last-minute party cancellations a continually growing concern. “They will book multiple restaurants. On the day-of, they will decide what they’re in the mood for or what part of town they want to go to,” MacDonell said. “That’s increased dramatically and it’s common practice unfortunately.” OpenTable, the largest online reservation platform in Canada, was unavailable to comment. However, the company did provide a statement on its efforts to mitigate no-shows at restaurants. “No-shows are something OpenTable takes very seriously, as we know they can equate to meaningful lost revenue for restaurants — especially those that don’t have a lot of walk-in traffic,” the statement explained. “OpenTable sends multiple reminders to diners via email and mobile notifications, making it easier for diners to cancel or reschedule their reservation with a tap of their phone.” As well, OpenTable employs a four-strike policy that bans users after four no-shows in one year. The statement added restaurants have the ability to require a credit card at the time of making a reservation.
“Most restaurants choose not to do this as it inserts friction into the booking experience, but it is an option for them that they can use for all or select reservation times,” the statement said. MacDonell suggests the credit card requirement becomes mandatory when booking a table. “I would like to see OpenTable take steps to even the playing field and make it mandatory for guests to have their credit card locked in,” he said.
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