[dropcap size=big]W[/dropcap]ho needs a calendar to tell you it’s a new season when you can feel the change in the air. Autumn may mark the return to school and cooler weather, but it also marks the return to a back-to-business mentality. In fact, it was late summer when news hit that American burger chain Burger King and Canada’s iconic doughnut chain Tim Hortons were joining forces (see story on p. 5).
The merger heralds a new chapter in the Canuck company’s illustrious history (it celebrated its 50th anniversary this past spring). And while no one knows what changes will be made over the coming years, Tims aficionados can only hope their perennial favourite will retain the charm and character that has endeared it to fans for five decades. Consumers and pundits alike agree you couldn’t get a bigger story than this one, which was splashed across every Canadian newspaper and on every website, taking Canadians by surprise as everyone was enjoying the last vestiges of summer. Just a week earlier, Tims had made the headlines by introducing a dark roast in an attempt to offer consumers a more intense flavour — its first coffee introduction in half a century, further heating up the coffee wars, which have never been as intense.
Change has become pervasive in the competitive foodservice industry where mergers and acquisitions are almost daily fodder as companies continue to gobble each other up like yesterday’s dinner. A few months ago, Cara and Prime made headlines through parent company Fairfax’s acquisition of Cara. One wonders what other blockbuster deals are on the horizon and how the foodservice industry will change as a result.
Competition is increasingly fierce today. Companies outdo each other daily with new products in hopes of wowing today’s fickle consumer. While Tims recently introduced a new dark roast, Second Cup followed suit by introducing a new “white” coffee. On the hamburger front, where burger wars are just as intense as coffee wars, new joints are popping up daily, while existing chains are introducing new variations on a theme, including the “stuff’d” burgers, recently offered for a limited time by Oakville, Ont.-based Works Gourmet Burger Bistro.
Even the staid non-traditional category (hospitals, universities and airports) are being reinvented (see story on p. 33). Earlier this year, Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, for example, introduced a series of new food concepts (see story on p. 24). Once havens for mediocre food priced exorbitantly high, many airport managers are now looking to celebrity chefs to bring new lustre to their offerings.
Speaking of new, we’re pleased to announce the launch of our new website at foodserviceandhospitality.com. After countless hours of development, the revamped, modified, re-engineered and responsive website promises to deliver what today’s sophisticated readers want. On the print side, we’ve recently added a new column called Now Open to our editorial mix, highlighting a new restaurant every month, because, as we all know, in today’s world, it’s all about the next best thing.