TORONTO — Industry professionals gathered last night at Toronto’s Boulevard Club in support of the next generation of industry professionals.
The annual Canadian Association of Foodservice Professionals (CAFP) Toronto’s ToP Celebration & Fundraiser — now in its 45th year — supports CAFP’s many student bursaries and personal- and professional-development programs.
The evening opened with the presentation of the Food Executive of the Year Award, sponsored by CAFP Toronto Branch. In recognition of his commitment to both the foodservice industry and the CAFP organization, this year’s award was presented to Geoff Wilson, principle at fsStrategy Inc.
Following a three-course dinner prepared by the Boulevard Club’s culinary team, Paul Bognar, president and COO of Service Inspired Restaurants (SIR Corp.) delivered his keynote address on how changing its service vision — from strictly customer-centric to one that puts employees first — has helped position SIR Corp. as a leader in its segment.
The evening wrapped up with the presentation of the Hans Bueschkens Award of Merit, by Foodservice and Hospitality managing editor Amy Bostock, to Pita Pit Canada.
“The foodservice industry is well-known for its generosity and commitment to giving back,” said Bostock. “Since presenting the first Hans Bueschkens Award more than two decades ago, we’ve honoured a wide spectrum of companies who have shown outstanding service, dedication and social advancement of the Canadian hospitality industry within the communities they serve.”
Pita Pit Canada is very involved in its communities — both at the corporate and franchise level. In fact, a mantra at its annual conference is “Give Back to the communities we are part of and leave the city better than when we got there.”
This culture of giving has trickled down to its franchisees. Last spring, 51 Pita Pit locations in Atlantic Canada, Ontario and Quebec came together with one common goal — to grant wishes to children with critical illnesses. For the month of April, they asked customers to donate $2 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation (Star Campaign) and held customer-appreciation days — donating $1 from every pita or smoothie sold. Some franchisees went even further, organizing bake sales, matching customer donations and donating crew tips at the store level. One franchisee generously donated an entire day of sales from their stores. The resulting funds were used to grant five wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions.
At a national level, Pita Pit Canada also works with Motionballto raise funds and awareness for the Special Olympics movement through integrated sport and social events across Canada. Throughout the year, Motionball organizes Marathon-of-Sports days across Canada and 2018 was the biggest and best yet — with 32 events raising more than $1.75 million for Special Olympics. And Pita Pit was there to feed all the participants, volunteers and Special-Olympic athletes — providing more than 6,000 free pitas. Many employees also registered teams to participate and raise money.
Pita Pit Canada founder, Nelson Lang, was on hand to accept the award.
“Being involved in our communities and getting to know the culture is crucial to our brand,” said Lang. “These are the people who come in and support your restaurants, so you have to get involved.”