CRFN Summer 2024

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Restaurant Foodservice News& & Canadian Spring/ Summer 2024 Restaurant Foodservice News Official Magazine of the Culinary Federation Publication Agreement #40033126 +Canadian Trailblazer PLANTA | Top beverage trends | Revolutionizing restaurant payroll | Q&A Chef Stéphane Levac OFFICIAL WEBSITE: OFFICIAL E-NEWSLETTER:
contents Spring/Summer 2024 FEATURES 18 Menu Trends Quirky ingredients, interesting preparation, and healthforward options drive adult beverage sales 41 Staffing Technology improves operations by revolutionizing restaurant payroll 48 Health and Safety Protect your outdoor dining areas from pests this season 52 Marketing Planning your playbook to market your restaurant in 2024 58 Sustainability Your guide to minimizing food waste, making more money, and supporting your community VOL. 16 NO. 1
enough discretionary spending now, when
do, patrons
heart of the foodservice industry. “ ” COVER STORY 24 Restaurants in Real-time A look at the current foodservice industry and where we’re headed SPECIAL SUPPLEMENT 31 The Culinary Federation’s À LA MINUTE 24 DEPARTMENTS 4 Editor’s Note Recipe for success 6 Canadian Trailblazer PLANTA is elevating plantbased eating, one dish at a time 12 Chef Q&A Chef Stéphane Levac shares the story of his journey in the kitchen 60 Crunching Numbers Using technology to lower employee turnover in hospitality
public needs to know how important they are to restaurants and while they may not have
are the


In the optimistic spirit that often comes with spring and summer, we dive into today’s foodservice challenges and successes, with a look towards top trends and where we are headed through the remainder of the year.

Our Spring/Summer 2024 issue of Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News examines the industry from menu trends to marketing, spotlighting staffing, and providing insight for achieving a pest-free patio season. On menus, beverages are setting the bar high with quirky ingredients, interesting preparation, and health-forward options to drive adult beverage sales this year. Growing the business is also top of mind for many operators, and we highlight how creating a marketing playbook provides your brand with intelligent direction towards scalable, sustainable, profitable, memorable, disruptive, and consistent strategies.

This issue’s tech talk covers payroll and the advantages that today’s tools offer to improve operations by saving time, increasing accuracy, simplifying labour law compliance, and improving record keeping. We also look at how technology can help manage staffing shortages and reduce employee turnover for faster restaurant recovery, improved service, and higher revenues.

Our cover story provides an overview of today’s foodservice and hospitality industry, as Kelly Higginson covers everything from inflation to labour to advocacy, highlighting current challenges, profitability, technology, business bright spots, and the future of the industry.

Our featured Canadian Trailblazer is PLANTA, a company whose mission is to expand the accessibility and acceptability of plant-based dining, and they are stepping up to create alternative dishes that are just as delicious and flavourful as meat-based alternatives.

We continue to focus on sustainability with a look at how operators can perform a restaurant audit to minimize their food waste, review the findings, and implement an action plan to reduce environmental impact and improve business operations overall.

This issue’s Chef Q&A explores Chef Stéphane Levac’s journey from catering to hospitality to television and beyond, delving into his love for foraging, his history and heritage, and where he sees himself in the future.

Our Culinary Federation insert, À la Minute, recaps the Culinary Federation’s recent 2024 Conference, Connecting our Culinary Roots. Held in Edmonton, the event included keynote programming, education sessions, product showcasing, social opportunities, and so much more.

As the temperatures heat up, so do the opportunities, possibilities, and passion from today’s culinary professionals.

Can’t wait for you to read this issue!

Canadian Restaurant Foodservice News & &

The official publication of the

Federation,, RestoBizBYTES and RestoBizGuide.

PUBLISHER: Chuck Nervick

EDITOR: Jessica Brill


ART DIRECTOR: Annette Carlucci





Samantha Clark

Lori Nikkel

Doug Radkey Adoniram Sides

Alice Sinia

Magazine Editorial Advisory Board

Jason Bangerter

Executive Chef, Langdon Hall Country House Hotel and Spa

Donna Bottrell, RD Owner, Donna Bottrell Food Consulting

Andrea Carlson Chef/Owner, Burdock and Co.

Connie DeSousa and John Jackson

Co-owners/chefs, Charcut/Charbar

Jeff Dover Principal, fsSTRATEGY

Ryan Marquis Corporate Chef, CW Shasky

Gary McBlain

National Director of Culinary ServicesAmica Mature Lifestyles Inc.

Brent Poulton CEO, St. Louis Bar and Grill

Doug Radkey Owner and Director of Operations Key Restaurant Group

Matt Rolfe

CEO and Hospitality Leadership Coach/Speaker, Results Hospitality

PRESIDENT: Kevin Brown

SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT: Chuck Nervick | Website: Copyright 2023

Publications Mail Agreement No: 40033126 PAP Registration No. 10983 ISSN 1494-7625. We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Publications Assistance Program towards our mailing costs.

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Elevating plant-based eating, one dish at a time

As diner demand for sustainability and health continues to climb, restaurants are popping up to provide consumers with experiences that exceed customer expectations. With more diners taking a closer look at their protein sources and decreasing meat consumption, restaurants are seeing more flexitarian, vegetarian, and vegan visitors come through the doors.

Some of the drive for this demand stems from the increased attention that the foodservice industry has been receiving from the media. And that’s exactly what inspired PLANTA’s creation. Steven Salm, PLANTA founder and CEO, watched a popular documentary called ‘Cowspiracy,’ highlighting the impact of animal agriculture on the environment, and that changed his outlook. The documentary had such a profound impact on Salm that he converted his lifestyle, adopting a plant-based diet and incorporating plant-based items on the menus of his four restaurants.

Once Salm began to enjoy living a plant-based lifestyle, he decided to sell the original four restaurants to create a brand-new concept — and PLANTA was born. Created in 2016, PLANTA first opened in Toronto, designed to expand the accessibility and acceptability of plant-based dining, turning it into an unguilty pleasure.

Today, the flexitarian market is growing, up seven per cent in 2023 from the previous year, and research indicates that the number of people who identify as vegan has risen 600 per cent in the last three years. While much of the restaurant world is adding a vegetarian burger or salad with vegan protein to the menu, some operators — like PLANTA — are stepping up to create alternative dishes that are just as delicious and flavourful as meat-based alternatives.


PLANTA prioritizes genuine sustainability, which means enhancing and improving the planet for each individual. To that end, the company places people at its core, from team members to suppliers to existing and potential future customers. With the desire to positively impact the lives of everyone they encounter, this philosophy starts in-house with comprehensive

training and a focus on fostering career development opportunities for their teams.

PLANTA’s mission is to reimagine, reinvent, and revitalize the plant-based dining experience, providing flavourful proof that the power of plants can change the world – and it delivers!


PLANTA has now grown to include 20 locations (in Toronto and across the United States) all offering a different

experience, with unique cuisines, in each of its restaurants. At the PLANTA Queen location in Toronto, the focus is exclusively on Asian-inspired flavours, featuring dishes like the Dragon Roll, Spicy Shitake Dumplings, and Dan Dan Noodles. At the PLANTA Cocina location (in Washington, DC), the inspiration comes from Latin dishes such as Queso Fundido, Baja Mushroom Tacos, and Robata-grilled specialties. PLANTA in Yorkville (Toronto) is considered to be more of a “cuisine- | Spring/Summer 2024 7 CANADIAN TRAILBLAZER
“Prioritizing the planet is more than just a mantra, sustainability is a commitment and passion for us. It motivates our every move.”

agnostic iteration,” according to the PLANTA team, featuring pizza, pastas, burgers, and several variations of sushi – popular among guests across all of their restaurants.

While each location concept has an element of Asian cuisine as an homage to chef David Lee’s culture and roots, the variety offers something for everyone looking to enjoy delicious plant-based cuisine, no matter what you’re craving.

Some of the more drool-worthy items on the menu include the Bang Bang Broccoli, Spicy Tuna Roll, Udon Noodles, Crispy Rice, and Torched and Pressed Rolls, but the menus are extensive, featuring an array of craveable, plant-based apps, entrées, cocktails, and desserts.

The restaurants also offer monthly exclusive menus featuring partnerships with like-minded brands to offer something new and generate excitement around limited items. In March, they partnered with Fancy Peasant, and their Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil helped create the perfect Mediterranean spread.

Keeping seasonality in mind, the PLANTA menus rotate to provide dishes that guests savour and experiences that have them coming back for more. To achieve this, the team is constantly monitoring the latest food trends to incorporate fresh and innovative options, striving to use in-season and local fruits and vegetables.


Created out of the desire to elevate vegan fare while positively impacting the planet, how do sustainability goals drive the business forward? According to PLANTA, “Our commitment to sustainability revolves around thinking long term, which includes making our footprint as small as possible, allowing vegans and non-vegans alike to enjoy an entirely plant-based meal.”

Based on their belief that enjoying just one plant-based meal lessens some stress on the environment, PLANTA’s

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commitment is multiplied thousands of times each day as guests dine at any of the restaurants and virtual kitchens.

‘Every guest is helping us contribute to a better planet’ is a philosophy that helps PLANTA to deliver healthy, sustainable dishes to their diners.

Restaurants play an pivotal role in the health of the planet and have an important impact on the environment, from takeout containers to energy usage to food waste. “Prioritizing the planet is

more than just a mantra, sustainability is a commitment and passion for us. It motivates our every move,” say PLANTA teams. Their efforts are evident in the restaurants’ eco-friendly atmosphere and the fact that their takeout packaging is made from 100 per cent compostable materials. As part of their environmentally friendly efforts, they are working towards a paperless and reduced waste environment by eliminating paper cheques, printed

materials, disposable water bottles, and coffee cups. PLANTA also ensures that all of the produce and supplies are delivered in reusable containers, holding their partners to a higher standard, too. Food waste continues to be a growing concern for much of the planet. Studies show that Canada throws out about 60 per cent of the food produced, translating to millions of tonnes of wasted, edible food. In today’s economy, food scarcity is a very real concern, as consumers watch

10 Spring/Summer 2024 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News

their pennies and food bank lines get longer.

These levels of food waste create 124.5 billion pounds (the equivalent of 17.3 million cars) of greenhouse gases annually, as the food rots in landfills. As part of their efforts to create a healthier planet, many of the menu items at PLANTA feature zerowaste ingredients, helping to reduce landfill levels and eliminate food waste wherever possible.

Their menus are also doing their part to save the planet, reflecting seasonality, and featuring local produce to reduce the impact of long-haul transport.

Studies show that 11 per cent of food production-related greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation. To help combat this, several PLANTA restaurants operate rooftop gardens (where climates permit) supplying locations with many of the fresh fruits and vegetables used in the dishes and adding a greenspace to the neighbourhood.

THE FUTURE IS GREEN PLANTA continues to make strides toward lowering its carbon footprint while offering a delicious plant-based

dining experience. “We believe the power of plants will change the world. We’re always experimenting with and learning more about plants to discover how they can nourish, inspire, and sustain us and our planet,” the PLANTA

teams confirms. As they continue to strive for a healthier tomorrow, PLANTA is committed to improving the guest experience, leaving the earth a better place, and offering premier hospitality in plant-based dining. | Spring/Summer 2024 11
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Chef Stéphane Levac got a later-than-traditional start in the foodservice industry, choosing hospitality in his 30s after his son was born and his family made the move from Ontario to Nova Scotia. Self-taught Chef Stéphane and his partner Sarah began their culinary journey together by catering her parents’ anniversary party, an endeavour that led them to start their own catering company, meeting a need and finding their niche in Nova Scotia’s wine country.

As the catering demand outgrew the business, Levac moved to work his way up the ranks, learning the industry from the restaurant perspective, and when Maritime Express (in Kentville, NS) reached out with their plan to open a local cidery, Levac seized the opportunity to put his learned skills to use. The cidery and culinary destination offers guests unique flavours and elevated comfort food. With delicious dishes like Filipino spring rolls, the Bibimbap Burger, Yucatan shrimp, and more on the menu, Levac combines creativity with his passion for cooking.

We caught up with Chef Stéphane to hear about his experience at Maritime Express and how his love for foraging, history, and heritage are at the heart of his meals. This interview has been edited for length and clarity. | Spring/Summer 2024 13

CRFN: Can you describe Maritime Express Cider’s concept and food program?

Levac: It’s a cidery in the Annapolis Valley, the second largest producer of apples in the world after New Zealand, so it’s the perfect setting for cideries and microbreweries. Our kitchen program features elevated pub fare and we offer delicious food that our guests enjoy.

We also host events. Maritime Express is located in an old train station from the 1930s, with dining rooms and a ballroom that offer unique event experiences, so we are often creating special event menus from apps to buffetstyle to cater to those larger-scale needs. And with a kitchen staff of under ten people, we hustle. My catering experience comes in very handy for banquets. That part of the job is stressful, for sure, but it’s very rewarding at the end of the day.

CRFN: Do you have a favourite dish or menu item?

Levac: I don’t know if I would say that I have one favourite dish, but I love Taco Tuesdays! The concept wasn’t something I embraced right off the bat, but I grew to love it, and our customers love it too. At this point in the program, we’ve

14 Spring/Summer 2024 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News


Foodservice Merchandising Poster

Educate your front and back of house staff about the versatility of Canadian Beef with the new Foodservice Merchandising Poster, powered by the Canadian Beef Information Gateway. Users can scan QR codes to learn how to merchandise each foodservicespecific beef subprimal through videos, photographs, and more. Each subprimal also has product specifications to ensure informed purchasing, and commercial recipes to inspire your team to do more with Canadian Beef. Users can also access information about the Canadian Beef Advantage, including our gate-to-plate virtual tours, enabling further discussions about the unique qualities of Canadian Beef to customers.

Canadian Beef Culinary Planners

Is your foodservice operation seeking inspiration for new menu items that will delight your customers? Canada Beef has developed Culinary Planners, highlighting a multitude of creative dishes for operations of all sizes. These planners can help keep Canadian beef on the menu for different dayparts through Appetizers, Soups and Sandwiches, and Entrees, as well as for Canadians of all ages, from Kids’ Menus to Seniors’ Menus.

To access the above resources, please scan this QR code.
CANADIAN BEEF QUALITY GRADES ONLINE CONTENT Available from the Canadian Beef Information Gateway 3D Viewing Videos Photographs Specifications Commercial Recipes Learn More about the Canadian Beef Advantage Partner with Us Retail Resources Canada Beef Websites Canadian Beef Advantage (CBA) Foodservice Training Menu Planners Domestic Market Development Programs Supplier Directory Independent Operator Order Centre Why Canadian Beef Virtual Tours Beef Grading System Feeding Operation Canadian Beef Information Gateway Enter the Gateway About the Gateway Enter the Gateway Wholesale Gateway for Foodservice Restaurant Gateway for Consumers Gateway To view the Canadian Beef Information Gateway, Wholesale Edition for Foodservice, visit Foodservice Beef Merchandising Guide with scannable QR codes for portion cuts and sub-primals Powered by: Trade: Consumer: beef sub-primals INSIDE SKIRT OUTSIDE SKIRT HANGING TENDER HIP/ROUND FLANK/PLATE EYE OF ROUND ROUND ROAST ROUND MINUTE STEAK (BOTTOM ROUND FLAT) RIB SIRLOIN LOIN RIB ROAST RIB STEAK (PRIME RIB) BACK RIBS PORTERHOUSE STEAK TENDERLOIN STEAK STRIP LOIN TOP SIRLOIN STEAK CHUCK BRISKET/SHANK VARIETY MEATS LEGEND ORDER SPECIFICATIONS CARCASS DIAGRAM & BEEF QUALITY GRADING OVERVIEW FLAT IRON STEAK FLAT IRON PETITE TENDER SOURCE GRINDS & GROUND BEEF Aging applicable) 8 9582_CB_Foodservice_Merch_Guide_Ph8_v3_Non-Scannable_QR_Code Approved/Final
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probably created anywhere from 30 to 40 different tacos. As a chef, I want to keep the inspiration alive, so this allows me a way to offer variety and to get creative within that same theme. Everything is made from scratch and there’s so much pride behind what we do.

CRFN: How do your history and heritage affect your approach to culinary?

Levac: I am Indigenous, and I love to include those flavours wherever I can, but of course, it needs to be the right combination, at the right time. Some of our meals are definitely “Indigenous fueled,” though. For example, I have been able to include dishes like the 3 Sisters Gnocchi on the menu, which incorporates corn, black beans, and squash into a stew, along with peas, tomato, and sage. But rather than making everything about me, I really try to offer guests what they want, mixed with what I’m excited about.

I love foraging and do a lot of it in the summertime, so I try to figure out how I can incorporate local ingredients into the menu that make sense for everyone. I sneak my

heritage in with garnishes, and I introduce some of the foraged ingredients. For example, in the spring, I make pesto from foraged ramps, so customers can try out something new and exciting on the menu.

CRFN: Tell me about your experience in Season 9 of Top Chef Canada.

Levac: That was an experience! Top Chef Canada reached out to me after they received a recommendation from my friend Stephanie Ogilvie (a previous Top Chef Canada contestant). It all happened in a weekend, and it was a great experience, but I was not ready for it. Looking back, I should have prepared better, but being the “wild card” without much restaurant experience, I was competing with contestants who had staged at some famous restaurants, with completely different backgrounds than mine.

The part I loved most was that they allowed us to bring 15 ingredients of our own, which was a cool opportunity. Everything I brought was foraged or a combination of my own creations. I made and brought my own apple cider vinegar from scrap apples infused with sumac, so I really got the chance to showcase something different and what was important to me. What the experience taught me is that you need to be ready and open for whatever comes your way – it’s such a valuable life lesson.

Following Top Chef, I was offered so many great opportunities, from television shows to culinary competitions and more, so it was a worthwhile experience in so many ways.

CRFN: Where do you see yourself in the future?

Levac: The restaurant industry is so tough right now, with all the challenges we’re facing and what we’ve gone through in the last few years. I have always wanted to own my restaurants, and I still do, but I have a smaller scale in mind now. I think a restaurant with 12 to 20 seats would be perfect — I’ve seen that model here in Nova Scotia and that works for me. That scale allows you to know exactly how much to prep to do each day and you can connect regularly with your clientele. I’m not closing any doors, though. With the television experience, I’ve had some interesting offers for shows, so that might be an avenue in the future. I want to find something that aligns with my values and uses my passion to move forward. I think doing a little of everything is the best way to keep life interesting!

16 Spring/Summer 2024 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News
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Setting the bar

Quirky ingredients, interesting preparation, and health-forward options drive adult beverage sales

Just as the foodservice industry itself is always evolving, the adult beverage landscape also continues to change, and a look behind the bar highlights increasingly innovative approaches to menus. Adult beverage mentions are up 7.5 per cent on menus in the last year, with specialty drinks just edging out that overall number at 7.8 per cent growth. Many of the classic drink options are growing in popularity, with margaritas (+ 41 per cent) and martinis (+ 45 per cent) among those increasing the most on menus in the past year.

Looking at the fastest-growing flavours in adult beverages on Canadian menus in the last year reveals some interesting trends as well. Espresso (+ 76.5 per cent) claims the spot as the fastest-growing flavour within adult beverages, largely driven by trendy espresso martinis. Spicy flavours (+ 30.4 per cent) are also on the rise within this category, adding a new element to some classic cocktails, namely Caesars and margaritas. Chocolate (+ 22.2 per cent) is another flavour that’s trending on adult beverage menus, with adult coffees featuring chocolate, adult hot chocolates, and chocolate martinis all contributing to this growth. Each of these growing flavours highlights the larger trend of adding a modern twist to the classics, whether this includes flavour variations or more premium iterations of traditional cocktails.

In addition to these variations of classic cocktails, mixologists are also increasingly turning to unique and innovative libations to entice and excite consumers. Let’s look at some of the trends percolating in the independent restaurant space with the potential to blossom more onto mainstream menus in the coming years.


As economic constraints continue to challenge the foodservice industry, bartenders are increasingly turning to quirky items inspired by or from the kitchen. Cross-utilizing items from the food side of the menu in adult beverages does double duty by saving money and labour while allowing for innovation. For example, veggie-infused cocktails are popping up at several independent operators. Nupo in Calgary offers the Seven Days of Fire with roasted carrot vodka, verjus, black tea honey syrup, and sesame and cardamom foam, while Perch in Ottawa goes fully green with its Snap Decision, featuring snap pea schnapps, snap pea simple syrup, snap pea shrub, St. Germain, verjus, egg white, and elderflower bitters. Another interesting example of foods finding their way into drinks is Joni Restaurant in Toronto’s Wake-Up Call, which features croissant-infused vodka. Beverage infusions such as this one can help lower food waste by repurposing items that might have otherwise been thrown out. | Spring/Summer 2024 19

Finally, mixologists are taking innovation a step further, looking to full meals for inspiration. Alchemy in Edmonton emulated a foodie favourite with its Boneless Pizza, featuring basil- and tomato-infused Hendrick’s Gin, lemon, honey syrup, black pepper, basil, cherry tomato, and bocconcini.


Besides new ingredients, operators are also turning to new preparation styles to keep cocktail menus fresh. Smoking cocktails is one such preparation that’s heating up on menus. In fact, smoking ranks as the fastestgrowing preparation within adult beverages, up 76.9 per cent year over year. Operators

are not only smoking ingredients but in some cases, the glasses or cocktails themselves to add an interesting flavour and visual element to these drinks, without having to take on new product SKUs.

Little Jumbo in Victoria served the aptly named The Marlboro with Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon that is prepared sous vide with sarsaparilla, burdock, dandelion root, and tonka bean syrup in a freshly smoked glass. Sous vide is another premium prep style not typically seen with beverages that helps this drink stand out on menus. Other examples of this smoked trend include the Tum Kullins cocktail with smoked lemon vodka (from Bar Haifa in Vancouver) and the

Ration Sazerac with smoked mesquite syrup (from Ration in Toronto). While this preparation in particular is making waves on menus, other preparation styles are adding creativity to cocktail menus as well, including pickling (up 30.4 per cent year over year). Pickled ingredients are increasingly making their way into the adult beverage space, offering both a unique flavour profile and gut-healthy bacteria.

ADULT BEVERAGES GET FUNCTIONAL Pickling (and its health benefits) makes way for the next trend: functional ingredients appearing in cocktails, lending a healthforward approach to a traditionally lessthan-healthy menu category. Additionally, these functional ingredients are often less familiar to consumers, making these cocktails unique and interesting, as well as functional, healthier options. One such example is the Honeybee cocktail from Maxine’s Cafe & Bar in Vancouver, featuring bee pollen. Bee pollen is a flower pollen collected by bees that is combined with nectar and bee saliva, and it has many health benefits, including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties. Another illustration of this is The Arbor in Vancouver’s Electro Jungle Bird cocktail, which features kefir and specifically calls out the electrolytes in the drink. Kefir is a fermented milk drink that’s good for digestion, and electrolytes support hydration, combating the typical dehydrating properties of alcohol.

The appearance of these healthsupporting ingredients suggests the increasing drive toward balancing indulgence and health, a trend that will continue to impact bar and food menus alike in the coming year.

20 Spring/Summer 2024 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News


As an extension of this health-forward trend, non-alcohol alternatives are increasingly getting attention on menus, driven by shifting consumer behaviours and expectations. Original restaurant mocktails increased 22.6 per cent on menus over the last year and alcohol-free preparations have seen a 33.3 per cent growth. Examples from top operators include Cactus Club Cafe’s No-Groni with Seedlip Garden, Martini Vibrante Non-Alcoholic Red Vermouth and Giffard bitters and State & Main’s Raspberry Dragon Fruit No-Jito with raspberry purée, dragon fruit, fresh mint, lime juice, and soda. While more typical mocktails omitting spirits entirely are still prevalent on menus (and

will continue to be so) more operators will start to turn to innovative alcohol-free spirits to capture those familiar flavours and attract attention.

Overall, we can look forward to seeing continual innovation in the cocktail sphere. This is attributed to not only a changing on-premise landscape, but also to shifting consumer preferences. More low- or no-alcohol options will appear on menus as consumers seek out healthful, sober-curious options. And

in the traditional adult beverage space, increasing the use of functional ingredients will appease this desire for more healthforward choices. Looking to innovation, new preparations and presentations will inspire menu creativity without the additional challenge of taking on new products. And food-forward cocktails, a trend that has been steadily gaining momentum, will continue to flourish in new and unexpected ways. Cheers to this year's top cocktail trends!

Katie Belflower is Associate Editor for Technomic, a Chicago-based foodservice research and consulting firm. Technomic provides clients with the facts, insights, and consulting support they need to enhance their business strategies, decisions, and results. The company’s services include publications and digital products as well as proprietary studies and ongoing research on all aspects of the food industry, including menu trends.

Source: Technomic Ignite Menu data, Q4 2022-Q4 2023 | Spring/Summer 2024 21
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A look at the current foodservice industry and where we’re headed

As the foodservice industry progresses on the road to recovery, the post-pandemic landscape continues to challenge a great number of restaurateurs. Inflation, staffing shortages, and government policies threaten the livelihoods of so many hospitality businesses, as many operators work to get back on their feet. Prior to the pandemic, the average monthly restaurant closure rate was about 44 per cent, but this past January showed 121 restaurant bankruptcies, which is a 112 per cent increase over the previous January.



According to Restaurants Canada, 62 per cent of operators are barely breaking even or are operating at a loss, up over 50 per cent from pre-pandemic days. Many restaurants are still in crisis, carrying debt, and battling rising costs everywhere from food to equipment to rent and beyond. And while there has been some growth and success among operators, “The ability to operate a profitable business in this industry has become significantly more challenging in Canada,” says Kelly Higginson, president and CEO of Restaurants Canada.


Continued inflationary pressure is affecting consumers and restaurants alike, as operators try to repay loans, recoup losses, and stay afloat. They are looking for a way forward to achieve the trickle-down effect that occurs when inflation comes down, guests have more discretionary spending and restaurants fill up, helping the industry manage the debt they are carrying and start to see some forward motion.

One of the ways that operators have found success is by focusing on transparency with their customers, making pricing more visible to consumers so they gain a better understanding of restaurant operations and rising menu pricing. According to Restaurants Canada’s recent customer polling, consumers are starting to make the connection between grocery store costs and higher menu items, but there is still a threshold on consumer discretionary spending.

“We are hearing from a lot of operators that the frequency of their regular visitors is dropping, or their cheque totals are decreasing, and this impacts the profitability of restaurants significantly,” confirms Higginson. “The public needs to know how important they are to restaurants and while they may not have enough discretionary spending now, when they do, patrons are the heart of the foodservice industry.”


When consumers face higher costs from restaurants, the expectation for an elevated experience and excellent service is also raised. And while many of the industry challenges are centred around government policy and regulations, when it’s all said and done, restaurants need to be well-staffed. As a labour-intensive industry, re-building those numbers has been a challenge for many

26 Spring/Summer 2024 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News COVER STORY

operators in recent years. Higginson cites immigration as a major area of concern as operators try to build up their workforces to pre-pandemic levels.

Labour is a long-term commitment, and immigration is a part of that successful system. With over 50 per cent of franchise owners and management made up of new Canadians, it’s vital that we invest in that part of our industry over the long term for sustainable staffing and success. “We aren’t looking for immigration labour from a temporary standpoint, we need to bring more people to the country and streamline permanent residency so we can invest in these employees,” says Higginson. “As an industry that’s gone through the incredible expense of having to train a whole new workforce, we want to encourage immigration as a way to bolster employment and deliver the experience that consumers are expecting, with access to the labour we need.”

So, how can the industry best battle these pressures to recover and grow in the coming years?


“When COVID hit, it really emphasized the importance of having a strong industry association. Restaurants Canada is the fourth largest industry employer, and that was wiped out overnight,” says Higginson. There’s no shortage of issues for the association to focus on, but profitability is paramount, prompting the question “How do we get the top-line sales translating to bottom-line profit again?”

Starting with government policy, Restaurants Canada is involved in several endeavours to make change. When the CEBA payback deadline was looming, the association worked hard to get the deadline extended to allow operators the recovery time they needed, and while the deadline remained firm, the Canadian


government allowed a rollover for operators to take a government loan (with a five per cent interest rate) as an alternative.

They also lobbied to keep the alcohol tax capped at two per cent when the federal government was considering an arbitrary hike to 4.7 per cent. In March, the cap was confirmed, allowing restaurateurs the financial relief they need, along with a certain amount of predictability in their operations. “In the last four years, there’s been so much volatility, without any ability to plan ahead, this cap was crucial to restaurant success,” confirms Higginson.

The list of governmental policies that threaten to complicate the industry’s recovery is extensive, and Restaurants Canada is focusing on addressing these (and more):

Payroll taxes: Fighting to deny an increase in payroll taxes that would hinder businesses of all sizes in such a labour-intensive industry.

Small business tax: Working on lowering the small business tax rate from nine per cent to eight per cent to help those independents that make up our communities.

Carbon tax: Looking at where the carbon tax is being applied, and how small and medium businesses will be able to access rebates to help manage expenses.

Small businesses: Increasing the small business threshold would allow benefits to more operators while keeping profitability top of mind.


It’s these issues and more, like the effects of layering taxes, regulations, and policies that Restaurants Canada is focusing on as they advocate for change.


From LTOs to loyalty, operators will need to get creative to make their mark in the crowded marketplace and adjust their approach to address the current landscape. As remote work declines and employees return to the office, restaurateurs may find success tapping into higher traffic from commuting and business travel. And, with some employees continuing to work from home, operators need a strategy to get those employees to visit weekly for meetings, lunches, happy hours and more, as they look for ways to boost traffic and the bottom line. THE

Technology has emerged as a gamechanger for restaurants to access data, assess efficiencies, and streamline operations to maximize margins. While technology and automation can require an investment, tools range in pricing and operators need to look at what is going to pay off over time and provide the results they need. Many tech tools offer insights that can be most useful for operators in helping to find efficiencies with data:

• Traffic, sales, and guest volume analytics for optimal scheduling

• Menu engineering for higher profits

• Inventory management for waste reduction

• Historical data for business modelling and budget planning

Technology and automation can provide operators insight into cost reduction, streamlined scheduling, increased profit margin, and more. Studies show that 77 per cent of restaurateurs have reported increased efficiency and 33 per cent report higher revenues after implementing technology tools, so it is a solid strategy for operators.

While the investment into technology and automation may seem daunting, it doesn’t have to be a complete overhaul. Higginson suggests a conservative approach, investing one piece at a time, as equipment is replaced or your budget allows. As well, more and more software companies are releasing useful apps that often look for a small investment with great returns, so it’s worth taking the time to research resources that work to address | Spring/Summer 2024 29
“The ability to operate a profitable business in this industry has become significantly more challenging in Canada.” 24_003857_Canadian_Rest_n_Food_Serv_SPR_SMR_CN Mod: April 17, 2024 3:17 PM Print: 05/02/24 page 1 v2.5 π SHIPPING SUPPLY SPECIALISTS PACK IT, SHIP IT, SIP IT. ORDER BY 6 PM FOR SAME DAY SHIPPING COMPLETE CATALOG 1-800-295-5510

each operator’s needs. And, while this all comes back to having less debt so that these investments can be made with greater ease, associations like Restaurants Canada have made relationships with industry partners to offer solid solutions to industry challenges for operators to learn and apply to better their businesses.


It hasn’t been all doom and gloom, the industry has seen a few bright spots in the last few years. The future is optimistic, as operators stay creative and resourceful, finding new ways to offer takeout, elevate experiences, and share restaurant space to continue to survive and thrive by increasing value, raising profitability, and lowering expenses.

Another silver lining is that labour challenges may be on the decline, as the next generation shows passion and drive for foodservice and hospitality. “We have heard from a lot of the colleges across the country that the application to hospitality programs is overflowing,” says Higginson. So, the future is encouraging, with a workforce waiting to enter the industry and make their mark.

The industry itself is evolving, helping each other on the road to recovery. “We’ve seen a really big growth in the investment of health care benefits from operators in their employees to over 40 per cent, and wages have grown nine per cent, showing operators that investing in your teams is a really powerful tool for retention and growing the industry,” says Higginson. Even in these challenging times, the industry is finding a way to re-invest in their employees, bring stability, and encourage the next generation to venture into foodservice as a career filled with passion and support. As the industry’s recovery continues, operators persist in pursuing their passion, paving the way for a brighter future for this generation and the next.

30 Spring/Summer 2024 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News


À LA MINUTE | Spring/Summer 2024 31


A celebration of all things culinary

THE CANADIAN CULINARY FEDERATION’S Annual National Conference took place last month in Edmonton, Alberta from May 26 to 30, celebrating its 61st year as the professional association of chefs, cooks and culinary partners across Canada.

The theme for the conference this year was Connecting Our Culinary Roots. This theme emerged from the collective desire of the Culinary Federation membership and culinary professionals across the country to bring it back to the basics. Throughout the week, delegates explored the roots of Edmonton’s culinary community from various unique perspectives, ranging from seasonal foraging, to local heritage to new pioneers creating cutting-edge, sustainable practices.

A traditional component of the conference every year is the culinary competition. Throughout the week there are opportunities for our Young and National Chef Members to showcase their culinary skills in some compelling competition.


Monday evening’s welcome reception kicked off the conference in true culinary style with the guests being treated to delicious small plates prepared by the four regional finalists of the National Chef Culinary Challenge. In a Gold Medal Plates style reception, there were four competitor stations: Chef Antonio Huyler from Prince Edward Island, Chef Alex Maryniak from Edmonton, Chef Muralitharan Thambapillai from Toronto, and Chef Chris Braun from the Okanagan. These competitors had to incorporate Nestlé Minors Concentrate in their dishes as a feature ingredient.

While guests enjoyed these meticulously crafted dishes, the competition judges tasted and scored these four competitors to painstakingly choose the top three. In addition to the competitors’ offerings, Raspberry Point Oysters was shucking away, much to our guests’ delight. A main attraction was also the bountiful and artisanal locally made charcuterie grazing station prepared by Chef Peter Keith and his team from Meuwly’s, featuring Lactalis Canada’s selection of cheeses.

32 Spring/Summer 2024 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News


Bright and early Tuesday morning, our Young Chef Culinary Challenge began. This competition is a traditional structure where guests can watch as an audience, as the competitors prepare an appetizer, main, and dessert with different requirements and timing deadlines for 6 judges, from 8 am to 3 pm. We had Caleb Hart from the Okanagan, Jacob Bestard from Prince Edward Island, JP Buxton from Winnipeg, Makenna Rai from Saskatoon, Sophie Crowder from Toronto, Sue Cahoon from Lethbridge, and Yashashvi Rawat from Calgary. All seven competitors poured their hearts into their dishes and had incredible endurance throughout the day.

Once the official competitions were complete, the time for fun, camaraderie, and friendly rivalry was at hand. The Quick Fire Challenge is a mystery culinary competition where anyone attending the conference can put together a team of six to participate. Groups of two chefs at a time get access to secret ingredients, and work in blind shifts with time restrictions, in succession of each other, to create a dish that is hopefully presentable and edible to the judges. There are mandatory ingredients the chefs must incorporate, and there are wild card moments throughout. Shenanigans run wild and the joy and laughter that takes place during the Quick Fire Challenge is truly contagious. It is always a core memory of each conference experience!

EVENT RECAP | Spring/Summer 2024 33


Presentations, panels, and workshops

THE THEME of Connecting Our Culinary Roots was intricately woven throughout the programming of the conference. There were presentations, panels, and workshops throughout the week for the delegates to attend and expand their culinary knowledge on these topics.

From the Wild - The Intersection of Canadian Wilderness and Culinary with Kevin Kossowan and Chef Blair Lebsack focused on the importance of time and place, biodiversity, and the vast opportunity for learning and cultural enrichment via the species that abound outdoors.

No Waste / No Hunger Mission - Feed the Planet and Second Harvest

Second Harvest is Canada’s largest food rescue organization and is a global thought leader on perishable food redistribution. Leah White was in attendance on behalf of Second Harvest to share the ways that we can support this mission.

In The Weeds Panel Discussion

A discussion around Mental Health in the Hospitality sector is always worth revisiting. This session was hosted by Edmonton-based nonprofit “In The Weeds YEG.” Panelists explored how to reshape our industry into a more supportive environment. The panel discussed practical, approachable strategies and resources for supporting staff and enhancing your well-being as industry leaders.

Umami - Harnessing the Power of Our Fifth Taste

Chef Christopher Koetke provided an in-depth discussion of umami from a scientific and culinary perspective offering participants the opportunity for a much greater understanding and appreciation of umami.

Canada Beef Presents: Ordering and Merchandising Solutions for Foodservice

Canada Beef’s team provided a Beef Bavette & Hanger Steak Demonstration, while exploring a bounty of new Canadian Beef preparations, marketing and sales resources to support food service operations.

Don't be Chicken! (presented by Chicken Farmers of Canada and Alberta Chicken Producers)

An informative session about how chicken is grown in Canada hosted by Tara deVries, Vice Chair at Alberta Chicken.

Crafting Culinary Connections: A Social Media Masterclass for the Food & Beverage Industry

Trained chef and digital marketing expert Sabrina Falone provided insider tips and tricks on how to leverage simple digital marketing strategies to boost your culinary brand and foster a loyal following.

Hands-On Product Training with Ardent Mills

An engaging experience to work with Ardent Mills Emerging Nutrition products. An interactive, hands-on product training, working with 3 Ardent Mills ingredients. Featured products include Ardent Mills gluten free flours, Roasted Chickpea Flour, and a brand-new Egg Replacement blend.

Sustainable Agriculture with GoodLeaf Farms

An Introduction to vertical farming in Canada. Discussions on food waste, energy consumption, and land and water usage, focusing on the future of leafy greens in Canada and how the Chefs of today can make a positive impact on tomorrow.

The Roots of Agriculture Panel Discussion

Chefs and farmers share a passion for feeding people, and they are the ultimate team for getting good food to our tables. They share many common values such as passion and pride for what they do, resiliency, courage to keep going even when the going gets tough, and a drive to be cutting-edge while making the most of the resources they have on hand. This panel delved into practices that shape our food system's sustainability, with insights from both the field and the kitchen.

34 Spring/Summer 2024 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News


Enjoying Edmonton

EVERY YEAR there is one main evening social event for the conference delegates to get the opportunity to experience a little local culture of the host city. This year Edmonton Branch President, Western Region Vice President and BBQ Competition Enthusiast Ron Wong gathered five of his fellow Award-Winning BBQ Teams down at the Fort Edmonton Park Blatchford Hangar to offer a smorgasbord of barbecued delights for the guests.

The Smoke & Sizzle BBQ Event began with a visit to Fort Edmonton Park attractions: the steam train and street cars, historic main streets, midway rides, and interactive exhibits including the new Indigenous Peoples Experience.

It wasn’t long before the luring fragrance of the smoke, grill and barbecue lead our guests to the hangar where we enjoyed a delicious meal provided by:

Matt Malo, DrumBo Ltd.

Jarrod & Amanda Taschuk, Brisket Butts BBQ Beef Brisket donated by Canada Beef & Cargill

Scott & Gisele Chomos, Arrowhead North BBQ Pulled Pork Sliders donated by Alberta Pork

Rob Reinhardt, Prairie Smoke & Spice BBQ St. Louis Ribs donated by Alberta Pork

Ron Yoneda, You Need a BBQ Chicken donated by Alberta Chicken Producers

BBQ Team NAIT – Ron Wong & Nigel Webber Ingredients donated by Gordon Food Service Peach Cobbler, Baked Beans, Corn Cobs with Minor’s Fire Roasted Poblano compound Butter & Coleslaw

Local country duo The Oddibles offered perfectly paired entertainment, while a heated cornhole tournament took place with local Chef Jesse Kushneryk from Cactus Club Café at the helm. | Spring/Summer 2024 35 EVENT RECAP


Four local tours

THE FINAL DAY OF THE CONFERENCE is always a fan favourite: Local Tour Day. The Culinary Federation team worked hard to put together four local tours that showcased some of Edmonton and surrounding area’s culinary treasures.

Canada Beef hosted a Farm to Fork Tour out to Prairie Farm Foods Inc. in the Wetaskiwin area. Out in the heart of the prairies, guests were given a local beef production facility tour. Prairie Farms pride themselves on raising animals without growth hormones or antibiotics. They are passionate about producing food in healthy soils, bright sunlight and fresh air. They believe nutritious food means producing crops in earth that gets everything it needs from rich natural sources. Tour guests enjoyed programming on beef cattle lifecycles, breeds selection, production systems, feeding systems, regenerative farming, soil health, environmental practices, and sustainability as well as Prairie Farm Foods beef brands. Guests were also treated to a delicious farm lunch served on site.

Foraging Roots Tour

A blend of culinary roots experience with local sourcing enthusiasts and ambassadors Kevin Kossowan with From the Wild and Chef Blair Lebsack from Edmonton’s renowned RGE RD and The Butchery. Guests experienced a foraging walk in the North Saskatchewan river valley with wild food guide Kevin Kossowan learning various species of wild edible plant and fungus, with a focus on their use in the kitchen. The experience was paired with a tour of RGE RD Restaurant and The Butchery, a butchering demonstration with Chef Blair and a small bites lunch featuring foraged ingredients. This tour was finished off with a cheese tour and tasting at Lakeside Farmstead with the Nonay family.

Cheers to the



Guests began the day with a taste of time travel at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village. The village is an open-air museum depicting early Ukrainian settlement in east central Alberta from 1892-1930. Interpretive staff shared the rich and diverse Ukrainian-Canadian food heritage, exploring the everyday diet of early Ukrainian-Canadian settlers. They discussed raising food, preparing food, and preserving food. In addition to a hands-on demonstration of Ukrainian dishes, the guests concluded their visit with a traditional Ukrainian lunch! After lunch, the guests visited two local distilleries – The Fort Distillery and Hawke Prohibition Distillery to sample local spirits and learn how they’re made.

Happy Brews & Bites Tour – hosted by Chef Peter Keith from Meuwly’s & Mark Kondrat from Alberta Beer Festivals.

Guests were treated to a captivating journey through Edmonton's vibrant craft brewery scene, where each sip tells a story, and every pint holds a piece of local pride. The adventure began at Ritchie Market — with a freshly brewed coffee from local roasters Transcend and some freshly baked goodies from Duchess Bake Shop & a visit to Donut Party. From there, the tour took a dive into the heart of the city’s craft beer culture — from the time-honoured craftsmanship of Alley Kat to the experimental concoctions of Monolith — every stop unveiled a new chapter in Edmonton's brewing tradition – Sea Change Brewery, Omen Brewing and Odd Company to name a few. Tastings, tours, unique marketing campaigns and delicious food pairings were had along the way.

36 Spring/Summer 2024 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News EVENT RECAP


The President's Gala

THE CONFERENCE CONCLUDED back at the host hotel Chateau Lacombe, for the President’s Gala & Awards on Thursday evening. Our emcee Pete Bombaci from the Genwell Project, alongside our National President Ryan Marquis, welcomed the guests for the closing of our conference and for the celebration of our members contributions to the culinary community.

The welcome reception was prepared by the NAIT Community Catering Team who recently returned from the Culinary Olympics in Stuttgart, Germany with a Silver Medal, placing 7th overall. Each station showcased a mouth- watering small plate full of culinary delights.

Dinner was prepared by Chef Joe Srahulek and the Chateau Lacombe team, with a special dessert prepared by Nestlé Pastry Chef Dina Hamed with the help from young chef members.

The awards presented during the dinner included:

Quick Fire Challenge Winners Team ACF (American Culinary Federation)

Nestlé Family Food Competition Winners

1st Place Team Saskatoon

2nd Place Team RamRod

3rd Place Team NAIT

Young Chef Culinary Challenge Winner

Yashashvi Rawat from Calgary

National Chef Culinary Challenge Winner

Antonio Huyler from Prince Edward Island

Lifetime Achievement Award Winners

Lesley Stav – Western Region

Allan Williams – Eastern Region

Frank Formella – Central Region

Member of the Year

Marc Wallace, Western Region

Young Chef of the Year

Brycen Knorr, Western Region

Chef of the Year

Paul Hoag, Central Region

EVENT RECAP | Spring/Summer 2024 37


A gathering to remember

THE CONFERENCE WAS indeed a success from start to finish in Connecting Our Culinary Roots – the roots of the membership, of the federation’s mission and vision, and of the host city Edmonton. A huge thank you to the National Board of Directors, the Conference Planning Committee and Administrative Team, and our Edmonton Board of Directors and volunteers for creating the opportunity for gathering together to celebrate all things culinary and connection. We look forward to doing it all again next year – May 25 to 29, 2025 at the Delta Beausejour in Moncton, NB.

38 Spring/Summer 2024 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News

The Culinary Federation gives professional chefs and cooks from across Canada an opportunity to connect locally, nationally and internationally with culinary peers – to network and learn from each other, give back to the local community and mentor up-and-coming professionals.

Member Benefits:

– Connections and networking through local branch events and annual conference

– Chef certification programs

– Cost savings and promotions from national and regional partners

– Member o ers from: Park ‘n Fly, Rogers Mobility, Johnson/Belair Insurance, Entegra, TrainCan, In the Weeds and so much more ....

For more information and to join our culinary community, click the QR code or go to:


Our brewmaster, Andrew Kohnen, threw away a successful career in logistics to pursue his dream of reconnecting with the brewing roots of his family. This carried him to the UK’s prestigious Brewlab in Sunderland, England, where he procured the alchemy that would drive his signature brewing style.

He took what he could from there and ventured to Scotland, Cornwall, and ultimately to Krefeld, Germany, working in the same brewery that had belonged to his ancestors. He came home to Canada for Hockley.

You could call it dumb, but we call it destiny.



Today’s technology improves restaurant operations | Spring/Summer 2024 41

As the foodservice industry continues to change and evolve, modern payroll tools are transforming restaurants by streamlining operations, enhancing accuracy, and improving employee satisfaction. Traditional payroll methods in restaurants are not only time-consuming but are also prone to errors, leading to dissatisfaction among staff and administrative burdens for management. However, modern payroll tools have begun to revolutionize this landscape.

The restaurant industry faces unique challenges when it comes to payroll management. Unlike many other sectors, the complexities in restaurant payroll stem from a variety of factors, including:

Varying shift patterns: With their flexible and sometimes unpredictable schedules, standard payroll processing can be difficult. The diversity in shift lengths and timing requires a payroll system that can adapt to these variations effortlessly.

Tips and additional earnings: A significant portion of restaurant employees' earnings comes from tips, which adds another layer of complexity to payroll calculations. Accurately tracking and reporting tips is crucial for both employee satisfaction and legal compliance.

Compliance with labour laws: The restaurant industry is heavily regulated, with laws governing minimum wage, overtime, and breaks. Ensuring compliance with these regulations is a critical aspect of payroll management, requiring meticulous record-keeping and up-to-date knowledge of labour laws.

Limitations of conventional payroll methods: Traditional methods, often reliant on manual data entry and paperbased systems, are not only timeconsuming but also prone to errors. These methods struggle to keep up with the dynamic nature of restaurant operations, leading to inefficiencies and potential discrepancies in payroll.

This backdrop sets the stage for the introduction of modern payroll tools which address these challenges head-on.


The restaurant industry, in its quest for efficiency and accuracy in payroll management, is increasingly turning towards modern technological solutions. Among these, payroll automation tools and paystub generators have emerged as gamechangers, offering a plethora of benefits that address the core challenges of traditional payroll systems:


Payroll automation refers to the use of software to manage and streamline payroll processes. This includes calculating wages, managing tax withholdings, and ensuring compliance with labour laws. By automating these tasks, restaurants can significantly reduce the time and effort spent on payroll management. Here are some of the ways this can happen:

Saving time: Automation drastically reduces the time required for payroll processing. Instead of manually calculating each employee’s hours and earnings, the software does it in a fraction of the time, freeing up management to focus on other aspects of the business.

42 Spring/Summer 2024 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News

Increasing accuracy: Payroll tools minimize the likelihood of errors that are common in manual calculations, improving employee trust and satisfaction, and aiding in compliance.

Complying with labour laws: Modern payroll tools are updated to reflect current labour laws and tax regulations, so restaurants can remain compliant with minimal effort.

Improving record keeping: Digital records are easier to store, organize, and retrieve compared to paper-based systems. This is crucial for audits, legal compliance, and addressing any disputes that may arise.

The shift towards these modern payroll solutions represents a significant advancement in how restaurants manage their finances and human resources. By embracing these tools, restaurants are improving their operational efficiency and creating a more transparent and satisfying work environment for their employees.


The implementation of modern payroll technology in the restaurant industry has a profound impact on employee satisfaction with:

Timely and accurate payment: Automated payroll ensures employees are paid on time and accurately, reflecting their hours worked, tips, and overtime. This reliability builds trust and satisfaction among staff.

Transparent and accessible pay information: Payroll tools provide detailed and understandable breakdowns of earnings and deductions. This transparency helps employees better understand their compensation, fostering a sense of fairness and openness.

Self-service options: Many modern payroll systems include employee portals where staff can view their paystubs, track their earnings, and manage their details. This empowers employees and reduces administrative tasks for managers.

Payroll technology also significantly aids in maintaining compliance with various legal requirements with: | Spring/Summer 2024 43

Adherence to labour laws: Automated systems are programmed to comply with labour laws, including minimum wage, overtime pay, and break rules. This helps restaurants avoid costly legal disputes and penalties.

Tax regulation compliance: Payroll software often includes features that manage tax withholdings and filings. This is especially crucial for restaurants, where tip reporting and

other unique tax considerations are prevalent.

Record keeping for audits: Digital payroll solutions maintain detailed and organized records, a vital feature during audits or inspections. These records can be easily accessed and presented when required, ensuring smooth compliance processes.

The impact of modern payroll technology on employee satisfaction

and compliance cannot be overstated. By ensuring accuracy, transparency, and adherence to legal standards, these tools are indispensable in the contemporary restaurant industry.


As we look towards the future, the landscape of restaurant payroll management is poised for further transformation. Innovations in technology are set to redefine how restaurants approach their financial and human resource operations with these emerging trends:

Artificial intelligence: The integration of AI and machine learning in payroll systems is expected to bring about smarter, more predictive tools. These advancements could lead to systems that not only process payroll but also provide insights into labour costs, optimal staffing levels, and predictive budgeting.

Mobile accessibility: With the growing reliance on mobile technology, payroll systems will likely become more mobile-friendly, allowing employees

44 Spring/Summer 2024 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News

and managers to handle payroll tasks on the go.

Customization and scalability: Future payroll tools will likely offer more customization options, catering to the specific needs of different types of restaurants, from small family-owned eateries to large chains.

Holistic financial management: Paystub generators are expected to become part of a larger suite of financial management tools. This integration will provide restaurant owners with a comprehensive view of their financial health, including payroll, revenue, and expenses.

Data analytics and reporting: Enhanced reporting features and advanced analytics will allow restaurants to gain deeper insights into their payroll and financial data, aiding in decision-making and strategy development.

Employee financial wellness programs: Some payroll systems may begin to offer features that support employee financial wellness, such as early wage access, savings programs, and financial education resources.

The integration of advanced payroll technologies is revolutionizing the restaurant industry. These tools not only streamline operations but also open new

avenues for strategic financial management and employee engagement, paving the way for a more resilient and prosperous restaurant sector in the future.

Samantha Clark is a Warrington College of Business graduate and she works for the professional accounting firm, ThePayStubs. She handles all client relations with top-tier partners and found her passion in writing articles on various finance and business-related topics. | Spring/Summer 2024 45
46 Spring/Summer 2024 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News | Spring/Summer 2024 47 WE
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Protect your outdoor dining areas this season

As temperatures continue to rise, outdoor spaces are ready to welcome guests seeking a patio dining experience. However, alongside the allure of outdoor dining comes the challenge of managing pests that can not only be a nuisance but lead to health concerns for your business — and ultimately affect your bottom line.

As temperatures continue to rise, outdoor spaces are ready to welcome guests seeking a patio dining experience. However, alongside the allure of outdoor dining comes the challenge of managing pests that can not only be a nuisance but lead to health concerns for your business — and ultimately affect your bottom line.

While patrons enjoy the fresh air and scenic views, pests view these areas as prime feeding grounds. From flies buzzing around food to ants scavenging for crumbs, the presence of pests can quickly diminish the dining experience and tarnish a restaurant’s reputation.

Read on to learn strategies and insights that help keep unwanted pests off restaurant patios and away from your customers’ dining experience.



There are many potential invaders that can wreak havoc on restaurant patios. Their presence and nuisance factor can deter guests from choosing your establishment as a dining option and make their experience one they do not want to repeat. Some of the most common offenders include:


Flies are attracted to food odours and can quickly become an annoyance on restaurant patios where food and drinks are served. They are a threat because they can spread pathogens in many ways, primarily through their feeding and breeding habits. These pests are attracted

to decaying food and garbage, and when they land on these substances, they can pick up pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites that may be present. As they move about to other surfaces, they can transfer the pathogens onto food, utensils and patio furniture.


Mosquitoes pose a nuisance on restaurant patios as they disrupt the dining experience with their incessant buzzing and irritating bites. Their presence not only drives away customers but also creates health concerns due to the potential transmission of diseases like malaria and West Nile virus.


Cockroaches thrive in warm and humid environments, making restaurant patios the perfect habitat. These resilient pests can enter buildings through small cracks and gaps. Be sure to keep a watchful eye around food prep areas and garbage bins, as these are pests likely to accumulate in those environments.


Rodents are drawn to outdoor dining areas due to the availability of food scraps and great hiding spots. One rodent sighting can send customers running, and for good reason. Rodents can cause significant damage to your property. Known to carry diseases and trigger allergic reactions, rodents also pose a health threat by contaminating food and surfaces with their droppings and urine. | Spring/Summer 2024 49


Ants are attracted to sugary and greasy food residues commonly found in outdoor dining areas. They can quickly establish colonies in cracks and crevices, making them difficult to dispose of once they infest the area.


Stinging pests such as bees, wasps, yellow jackets and hornets can not only cause an annoyance, but also be a danger to your employees and customers with their painful stings and sometimes life-threatening allergic reactions. Some can also cause structural damage to your business if they nest within walls or roofs, resulting in costly repairs.


Birds like pigeons and sparrows are food scavengers that can keep patrons away. Birds are known to spread more than 60 transmittable diseases, including salmonella, meningitis and encephalitis and can also carry fleas, ticks, lice and mites. Their highly corrosive droppings can not only cause property damage but also create unsanitary conditions for both customers and staff.


Implementing preventive measures is crucial for helping keep pests away from restaurant patios and keep your guests coming back:


Routine cleaning and maintenance: Implement a strict cleaning schedule for the patio area. This should include sweeping, mopping, and wiping down surfaces to remove food debris and spills. Regularly inspect for any signs of pest activity and address them promptly.


Proper waste management: Ensure trash bins are sealed with tightfitting lids. Implement recycling and

50 Spring/Summer 2024 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News
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composting programs to reduce the amount of waste that could attract pests. Regularly clean and sanitize trash bins to eliminate odors that may attract pests.


Seal entry points: Conduct a thorough inspection of the patio area to identify and seal any gaps or cracks in the walls, doors, windows, and floors that could serve as entry points into your restaurant for pests such as rodents, insects, and birds. Install door sweeps and screens to prevent pests from entering the restaurant through doors and windows.


Landscaping management: Keep greenery around the patio area wellmaintained and trimmed to prevent it from providing hiding spots and nesting areas for pests. Remove any standing water or sources of moisture, such as leaky faucets or drainage problems.


Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs are a holistic approach to pest control that focus on prevention, monitoring, and control to help stop pest issues before they begin. IPM programs implement proactive measures such as

sanitation and exclusion tactics to help prevent pest entry and focus on regular monitoring and documentation to help ensure ongoing effectiveness.

A quality IPM program allows restaurants to address pest problems while minimizing environmental impact and ensuring the safety of their customers through:

• Ongoing inspections and monitoring: Your provider will regularly inspect the restaurant and patio for signs of pest activity to monitor the effectiveness of your IPM program and adjust treatment as needed.

• Documentation: Be sure to document any pest sightings and activity trends around your business for your pest control provider to reference. Ongoing documentation can help you keep an eye out for any hot spots that may be creating a pest problem for your restaurant and help your pest control provider recommend specific treatment options. Treatment documentation is also necessary for any third-party audits around pest control or sanitation.

• Staff Training: Empowering restaurant staff with proper training and education regarding pest management is crucial for helping prevent pests around your business. Your pest control provider may offer staff training programs to help get your whole team up to speed on monitoring for pest activity around your business as well as keeping detailed documentation for your records. By instilling best practices and protocols, employees can actively contribute to your pest control efforts and uphold high standards of cleanliness and sanitation.

In the dynamic world of restaurant management, helping to keep outdoor dining spaces free from pests presents a unique set of challenges. However, by knowing what common pests to watch out for and adopting a proactive approach grounded in IPM principles, restaurant owners can help safeguard their patios against these unwanted pests, protect their customers and their dining experiences, and keep getting those five-star reviews.

Alice Sinia, Ph.D. is Quality Assurance Manager of Regulatory/Lab Services for Orkin Canada, focusing on government regulations pertaining to the pest control industry. For more information, email Alice Sinia at or visit





Marketing your restaurant in 2024

Do you market your restaurant spontaneously, or do you have a true marketing playbook in place? If you said both, great answer!

Marketing is not intended to be static. You simply cannot “plan it and forget about it.” It’s imperative that you consistently check in on your marketing playbook and the efforts made to inquire if there needs to be any shift in spending or direction. | Spring/Summer 2024 53 MARKETING

The unfortunate truth is that when brands decide to level up their marketing efforts, often, they don’t create a marketing playbook first, looking only at the now and not to the future. The number one question is always "How can I get more traffic tomorrow?" This often results in an idea or campaign that falls flat on its face, leaving the leadership team wondering why their “million-dollar idea” didn’t work.

You need to create a plan or playbook first and then adjust it “on the go” throughout the year or quarter. Marketing shouldn’t be looked at as an effort to create overnight success.

Winning plans take time to create, design, launch, and nurture.


A marketing playbook is a lot more than simply posting on social media and hoping for the best. A marketing playbook provides your brand with an intelligent direction towards scalable, sustainable, profitable, memorable, disruptive, and consistent strategies. That may sound like a lot of work, but creating a destination that formulates those key characteristics and one that stands out from the crowd is often easier to map out than many seem to think.


First, create your ideal guest persona(s), including detailed socio and value-driven data within your hyper-local area. Use these personas to visualize and understand your target audience better. This will help you tailor your marketing efforts and offers to attract and engage the right guest, at the right time, and at the right price. You need to create emotion while building three important values: trust, credibility, and connection. At the end of the day, that is the purpose of your marketing efforts.


Next, look at your brand. Many operators are missing the connection between brand

54 Spring/Summer 2024 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News MARKETING

strategy and marketing strategy and how they work together by aligning messaging, positioning, and tactics to create a cohesive and compelling guest experience. On one hand, brand strategy defines your identity, values, and personality thereby shaping how it is perceived by guests. On the other hand, marketing strategy leverages this brand identity to develop messaging, visuals, and campaigns that resonate with your defined audience to communicate your unique value proposition.


Now that you know your most

targeted guests and have aligned your brand, you need to create an experience map for each persona. Create one that will tell the story of each experience: from initial contact through the process of brand engagement and into a longterm relationship. Put yourself in their shoes for a moment. The best and easiest way to create this guest journey map is by creating a chart:


Pre-visit: What is the guest thinking, seeing, and feeling before deciding your brand?

Entering: What is the guest thinking, seeing, and feeling as they enter or order online?

Ordering: What is the guest thinking, seeing, and feeling as they place their order? | Spring/Summer 2024 55
“With storytelling, bars and restaurants must make their stories meaningful, personal, emotional, simple, and authentic .”

Goals: What are their personal goals during each touch-point?

Touchpoints: Which branding and marketing points will create an emotion? List here social media, website, people, technology, menus, signage etc.

Emotional experience: Are they happy, sad, confused or angry? If it’s not a 100-positive emotion, make adjustments.

Opportunities: What opportunities does your bar or restaurant have to ensure it creates a positive experience during each touchpoint? It’s important to recognize that the journey map needs to be revisited every three months to analyze and adapt any changes, allowing you to create more positive opportunities.


Developing a marketing strategy after understanding the customer journey map involves leveraging insights from each stage along with your brand and guest alignment — to create targeted marketing initiatives that both engage and convert potential guests. Based on the insights gathered, you can establish clear and measurable marketing strategies that align with the goals of each stage of the journey. For example, objectives may include increasing brand awareness, driving website traffic to boost online orders or reservations, or to enhance guest loyalty.

You want to select marketing channels that align with the preferences and behaviours of your target audience at each stage of the journey. This may include a mix of digital channels such as social media, email marketing, technology providers, search engine optimization (SEO), and offline channels such as community partnerships and local advertising.

Eating and drinking: What is the guest thinking, seeing, and feeling as they receive their meal?

Paying: What is the guest thinking, seeing, and feeling as they are paying and exiting?

Post-visit: What is the guest thinking, seeing, and feeling after their visit/meal?


Verbatim: What are they thinking during each noted touch-point?

Guest actions: What actions are they doing during each touch-point?

Pain points: What could potentially create a negative emotion during the touch-point?

Before executing, you will want to set up tracking mechanisms to monitor the performance of your marketing strategies along with opportunities to obtain first-party guest data, at each stage of the journey. Remember, data in 2024 is arguably just as important as cash flow. Having in-house data will over time — reduce your marketing costs and maximize your marketing results.

56 Spring/Summer 2024 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News


When you’re ready to execute, you want to develop stories plus consistent messaging and content that resonates with your ideal guest at each stage of the journey through a multitude of channels.

With storytelling, bars and restaurants must make their stories meaningful, personal, emotional, simple, and authentic. Despite the word “story,” it isn’t even confined to the written word. Colours, décor, vendors, staff training, plating, glassware, and packaging — even the simplest visual segments within your brand messaging — can all paint a picture worth a thousand words.

Let’s be honest, paying guests are complicated, emotional, and confused individuals. Their buying is often based on subjectivity and not often backed by objectivity. Therefore, don’t be afraid to tell your true story to make your brand a destination where your guests are excited to visit, where your staff is excited to work, and where you’re excited to lead.

With a true marketing playbook plus a smartphone and a modest budget of 3-5 per cent of your sales, you can tell a variety of stories that align with your brand, connect to your ideal guest, and address each unique touchpoint leading to increased awareness, revenue, and profits.

Doug Radkey is the President of KRG Hospitality Inc. plus a 2x author and a keynote speaker on all things bars, restaurants, and boutique hotels. He is on a mission to revolutionize the way hospitality businesses start, stabilize, and scale all over the world by aligning strategy, programming, and coaching to deliver what’s needed most - strategic clarity. For more information, visit | Spring/Summer 2024 57
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Your guide to minimizing food waste, making more money, and supporting your community

We know that restaurants work really hard to get as much food out the door as possible without wasting any, but there still may be opportunities to do more. Is there a way to minimize food waste in your restaurant, make more money, and support your community?

If you’re looking to update some of your practices in a way that can have a real impact — not only on your restaurant, but on the environment itself — tackling food waste may be a great place to dig a little deeper.

Every year, 58 per cent of all the food produced for Canadians is lost or wasted. That’s about 35.5 million tonnes of food. And while this waste happens across the supply chain, restaurants, hotels, and institutions account for about nine per cent of that total.

So, where does the waste come from, and what can we do about it?

You may be surprised, but food waste in restaurants is not just about leftovers on someone’s plate; it encompasses a wide range of issues from kitchen scraps to over-prepped ingredients and dishes, unserved items and unclaimed pickups, just to name a few. Understanding where and why waste occurs allows us to implement systems for more efficient production and less waste.


Plate waste is food that has been served to a diner on a (you guessed it) plate that does not get eaten, but that cannot be repurposed due to health regulations. This is a common issue at buffets, for instance, where there is too much food on display and consumers often take more than they can actually eat. It also happens when portion sizes are too big, and for other reasons like when someone simply disikes a dish they’ve ordered off the menu.


In the back of house, food prep is a great area to track to minimize waste (you can’t manage what isn’t measured). Prep waste includes everything from peelings and trimmings to spoiled ingredients that were pit to use before their expiration. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including staff needing more training about inventory and waste management.


Waste can also stem from menu items that offer oversized portions or may not allow for the flexibility needed to use ingredients creatively. This can be especially challenging in settings with fixed menus (at a catered event, for instance) where everyone is meant to receive the exact same thing, whether it would be their choice or not.

58 Spring/Summer 2024 | Canadian Restaurant & Foodservice News

While some amount of waste is to be expected in the foodservice industry, with the right tools and knowledge, some of it can be avoided. That’s where a food waste audit comes in.


A food waste audit is a process that aims to identify and quantify where and why food is wasted in a restaurant. By understanding these patterns, businesses can implement strategies that improve these processes and reduce food waste.

The audit process can be mapped out in four phases: plan, do, review, and create an action plan.


Once you’ve committed to conducting a food waste audit, decide what your goals are: what area(s) of your restaurant do you want to audit? Is your focus in the kitchen or on food storage? What kind of waste do you want to track? Will you measure prep waste, plate waste, spoiled food, or all three?

Make a plan for how exactly you will measure the waste — get containers or buckets (with labels) for collecting the food waste, scales for weighing it, create a document for tracking all the data, and set a timeline for the audit.


Once you’re ready for the audit, make sure everyone is on board and understands how you are tracking the waste. If you are measuring waste in bins, be sure to track the data at the end of each day and gather whatever input is most important.

For example, cooks measuring prep waste might note the amount of food that was unused or discarded, whereas servers might note what food consumers were often leaving on their plate. For both, food waste needs be stored in a clearly labelled bin so it’s easy to measure and track.


In the review phase, look at the collected data to identify patterns and major sources of waste. Detailed records — whether anecdotal or clear statistics — will help you understand areas where you can potentially reduce food waste.

For example, the audit might reveal that a new menu item is consistently left uneaten. This might suggest it's unpopular or too large in portion size. Another possibility is that you might discover that you’re over-ordering something or reviewing inventory inconsistently, leading to foods being improperly stored and going bad.


Once you have clear data about your restaurant’s food waste, it becomes much easier to make a plan for where and how to tackle it. This could involve menu changes, portion size adjustments, or improvements in food storage and preparation practices. You might also need to train staff on better prep techniques or find creative solutions for discarded food waste — like making a stock from vegetable trimmings and creating weekly or daily specials to make use of leftover inventory.

For some, this may seem elementary, but you’d be surprised how much food is wasted simply because nobody thought to measure it. Your action plan needs to be specific to your restaurant. Maybe you already use your scraps for stock, but you haven’t addressed how much of a side dish gets wasted as a result of oversized portions.

Training staff, rethinking your menu, monitoring portion sizes and improving storage and inventory management can all go a long way in preventing food waste, which will not only save money, but can reduce a restaurant’s environmental impact and improve business operations overall.

And, of course, if you still find yourself with a surplus of food, connect with the Second Harvest Food Rescue App and have your great food redirected to a non-profit in your local community.

o charities

Food Hero by the UN, received


was named one of Canada’s Women of Influence, and has been appointed to the Order of Ontario. | Spring/Summer 2024 59
Lori Nikkel, CEO of Second Harvest, is a renowned leader in social and environmental justice, particularly in the realm of food loss and waste. Lori has pioneered an innovative food recovery system ensuring surplus food from across the supply chain is redirected t across Canada, significantly reducing food waste and its environmental impact. Lori was named Canada’s the 50 award,

Labour of love

Using technology to lower employee turnover in hospitality

It’s no secret that the restaurant industry has some of the highest employee turnover statistics across all industries in Canada. While that’s been the norm for quite some time, the industry continues to suffer from elevated levels of turnover in a post-pandemic world. Restaurants are already struggling with maintaining narrow profit margins and changing consumer behaviours, so adding a staffing crisis on top of that can be the nail in the coffin for many small businesses. Fortunately, there are some strategies that help mitigate the retention challenges facing restaurant owners, and they can begin with some technology implementations.

Let’s start with the stark reality. Recent data revealed a staggering 75.8 per cent jump in employee turnover when comparing data from April-June 2022 to April-June 2023, indicating the staffing shortage at restaurants isn’t easing and efficiency is more important than ever. Restaurants Canada also recently reported that one-third of restaurants are operating at a loss due to the high costs of food, a lack of available labour, and new rules making it harder to turn a profit. In order to survive, restaurants need to think about how to streamline their operations, to ensure time is being effectively utilized both from an operational standpoint and from a customer experience perspective.

Amidst these challenges, technology emerges as a crucial ally. Integrating advanced systems for staff scheduling offers tangible benefits. For example, in the case of Bar 404 in Toronto, they have been able to make quicker databacked decisions, have cut back over 83 per cent of their time in inventory management, and saved six to seven hours per week on staff scheduling. This not only means more time to focus on the business, but also a cost savings of roughly $500 a week.

There are also continual residual benefits to linking technologies together, like Bar 404 has done with its POS and scheduling software. We’ve found that employee tenure at restaurants using these tools together has yielded 12 per cent higher than the industry average; meanwhile, restaurants themselves are spending an average of 18 per cent less on labour costs.

Restaurants looking to emulate these operational efficiencies should start by reviewing several core areas of the business:

Optimizing labour scheduling: Develop a sophisticated system that integrates real-time sales data with labour targets, enabling dynamic adjustments to staffing levels for maximum efficiency. Implement algorithms that analyze historical sales patterns and labour requirements to forecast future needs accurately. Utilize predictive analytics to anticipate peak hours and allocate resources accordingly, minimizing overstaffing and understaffing scenarios. Employee engagement tracking: Implement a comprehensive employee engagement tracking system that monitors various metrics such as productivity, satisfaction surveys, and attendance records. Utilize sentiment analysis tools to gauge employee morale and identify areas for improvement. Implement recognition programs based on performance metrics to incentivize high engagement and foster a positive work environment.

Fast, accurate payroll processing: Integrate payroll software with time and attendance systems to automate data synchronization and reduce manual entry errors. Implement real-time data validation to ensure accuracy and compliance with labour regulations. Utilize machine learning algorithms to streamline payroll processing and identify anomalies or discrepancies proactively.

Mitigate food costs: Employ advanced inventory management software to track stock levels, monitor usage patterns, and identify potential areas of waste or inefficiency. Implement predictive analytics to anticipate fluctuations in demand and adjust ordering quantities accordingly. Utilize data-driven insights to negotiate better pricing with suppliers and optimize the supply chain for cost savings. Embracing technology isn't merely a matter of convenience — it's a strategic imperative for survival and growth that can help restaurateurs navigate turbulent waters with greater resilience and agility. In doing so, they not only mitigate immediate challenges but also position themselves for long-term success in an ever-evolving landscape.

As Senior Vice President, Hospitality, Adoniram Sides manages Lightspeed Commerce Inc.'s global hospitality product portfolio, leading teams from North America to Australia. His leadership is backed by a solid foundation of experience in product development and technology with over 10 years of experience building tools and providing data for the restaurant, hospitality, and events industries.

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