Week of Aug. 3, 2010



Subway Canada Adds 60 Units in 2010
It’s halfway through the year, and 60 new Subway locations have already opened across the country to date, bringing its Canadian total to more than 2,500 restaurants. The Milford, Conn-based parent company has opened more than 1,000 new locations around the world, hitting the milestone of 33,000 locations. Non-traditional sites continue to be an important channel for the sandwich chain. Approximately 25,000 U.S. and Canadian Subway shops have premiered the chain’s new breakfast menu making it the largest quick-service provider of breakfast sandwiches in North America in terms of number of locations.

Retail Gourmet Grocery Operations on Rise
The recent opening of gourmet grocery store Souleio Foods Inc., in Saskatoon, by Remi and Janis Cousyn, owners of the city’s Calories Bakery and Restaurant, marks an emerging trend of restaurateurs competing directly with the retail grocery business. Created with the support of friends Kevin and Melanie Boldt, owners of Pine View Farms All Natural Meats, the store sells meats and artisanal Canadian cheese, wine and spirits, local and imported foods and has dine-in, private parties, catering and curbside pickup of groceries and takeaway foods. Most of the prepared food sold is made on-site. Local, regional, seasonal, fresh and organic are major themes of the establishment, which bills itself as “Soul Food for Modern Times.”

Toronto is quickly becoming a hotbed for the new “chefpreneurs,” according to The Globe and Mail. Perhaps best known among them is Toronto celebrity chef Mark McEwan for his work on the Food Network and as chef of three leading Toronto restaurants. McEwan opened the 22,000-square-foot gourmet grocery McEwan Foods in Don Mills, a suburb of Toronto. Featuring the same products served in his restaurants Bymark, North 44 and One Restaurant at The Hazelton Hotel, the retail location is now celebrating its first full year of operation.

With four Parisian-style boulangeries/patisseries Marc Thuet is another major player on the scene. His Le Petit Thuet locations feature artisanal breads and terrines, charcuteries, pates foie gras, jams and ready-to-serve meals. The Toronto Kosher-French restaurant Marron also has a retail counter where customers can buy kosher charcuterie, including terrines, duck prosciutto and veal hams.

Recently, Toronto chef Alex Johnston opened Provenance Regional Cuisine, a boutique specializing in local and sustainable foods. It offers Provenance-to-Home, a grocery delivery service that provides free service on orders of more than $50 in the downtown area.

Pizza Pizza Expands into Halifax
Following a recent Canada-wide expansion, with four new store openings in B.C., Regina and Winnipeg, Pizza Pizza has dropped anchor on its East Coast expansion with the opening of its first restaurant in downtown Halifax. Located at 1735 Grafton Street, the new unit is owned by Grafton Connor, a Halifax-based company that owns several bars and restaurants throughout Nova Scotia, including The Fishermen Restaurant & Grill, The Grafton Street Dinner Theatre and Cheers. “We are excited to be the first Pizza Pizza location on the East Coast,” said Don Walker, Grafton Connor corporate chef. The new store, which seats 16 people and has standing room for about 20, offers delivery and online ordering, just like its other Canadian counterparts. In addition to signature pizza products, the menu features many of the same food found at stores across the brand with the exception of its Halifax-style donairs made with grilled spicy beef and served on a warm pita with diced onions, tomatoes and donair sauce. What’s more, customers can also order donair pizza, made from Pizza Pizza’s classic dough, donair sauce, mozzarella cheese, donair-seasoned meat, red onions and sliced tomatoes.

Canadian Stadium Food Safety Outperforms U.S.
“What’s lurking in your stadium food?” It’s a question ESPN.com attempted to answer in its report on food-safety violations. In its ranking of more than 107 major league sports arenas, including seven in Canada, ESPN’s Outside the Line studied 2009 food-safety inspection reports and found that only 11 stadiums, three of them in Canada, had no food-safety infractions. The best Canadian performers were Toronto’s Air Canada Centre and Rogers Centre and Ottawa’s Scotiabank Place. The survey covered arenas used for Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League and the National Football League. The scores developed were based on a percentage of vendors in violation of health requirements. Other Canadian arenas ranked by violations found include: the Bell Centre in Montreal with three per cent; the General Motors Place in Vancouver with nine per cent; Pengrowth Saddledome in Calgary with 14 per cent; and Rexall Place in Edmonton with 25 per cent. In the U.S., six arenas, five of them in Florida, recorded a shocking 75 per cent to 100 per cent violations. For more information, click here.

In Memoriam — Michael Batterberry
Iconic editor, publisher, food and wine writer and commentator, Michael Batterberry died last week in New York, at 78, following a long illness. Michael Batterberry and his wife, Ariane Batterberry, founded Food Arts magazine in 1988, now published by M. Shanken Communications, and consumer magazine Food & Wine in 1978. “Michael played a key role in the advancement of America’s culinary culture,” Marvin R. Shanken is quoted as saying on winespectator.com. “Thanks to his vast knowledge and creativity, his legacy in the food world will live on for generations to come.” The Batterberrys were recently honoured with the James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award for 2010 for their role in nurturing and shaping the growth of the American food, restaurant and hospitality universe.

NRA’s Restaurant Performance Index Declines for Third Month
The U.S. monthly Restaurant Performance Index (RPI), produced by the National Restaurant Association (NRA), declined for the third consecutive month in June. The RPI is a composite index that tracks the health and outlook of the U.S. restaurant industry. It stood at 99.5 in June, down 0.3 per cent from May, the lowest index level since February. In addition, the RPI stood below 100 for the second consecutive month, which signifies contraction in the index of key industry indicators. The NRA’s Expectations Index, which measures restaurant operator’s six-month outlook for four industry indicators (same-store sales, employees, capital expenditures and business conditions), stood at 100.2 in June — down 0.6 per cent from May, its lowest level in five months. Despite the recent declines, the Expectations Index remained above 100 for the sixth consecutive month, which represents expansion in the forward-looking indicators. On the other hand, the NRA’s Current Situation Index (CSI), which measures current trends in four industry indicators (same-store sales, traffic, labour and capital expenditures), was up 0.1 per cent from its May level, standing at 98.8 in June. This is the 34th consecutive month the CSI remained below 100, which signifies contraction in the current situation indicators. For more information, click here.

Local Food Movement in Nova Scotia Faces Challenge
Just as the Slow-Food movement gains momentum in Canada, a recent report out of Halifax indicates local food is on the decline in Nova Scotia. “We do have a pretty good idea that, at most, 13 per cent of our food dollars spent in this province go back to Nova Scotia farms. Unfortunately, this percentage has dropped by four per cent in the last 11 years,” reads the joint report released by the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture and the Ecology Action Centre. “The good news is, at 13 per cent, we could be eating a lot more locally grown food than we are now — a potential boon for producers.” In fact, it was estimated that the average distance a food item from the country’s “National Nutritious Food Basket” — which reflects Canuck eating habits — travels is almost 4,000 km before it reaches Halifax. And, although the transportation costs associated with mass distribution isn’t the biggest issue, the study points out the economic and social benefits of supporting local agriculture. A dreary picture is painted, but there is room to grow and the authors of the study, Jen Scott and Marla MacLeod, are hopeful. “It has become increasingly clear that the food system in Nova Scotia is in crisis,” the authors write. “It is our hope that the groundswell of support for local agriculture will result in concrete solutions for our food system before it is too late. To read the complete report, “Is Nova Scotia Eating Local? and If Not… Where Is Our Food Coming From?,” click here.

Centennial College to Host Heritage Tourism Conference
The Culture & Heritage Institute at Centennial College, in Toronto will host its fourth annual Symposium on Cultural & Heritage Tourism from Oct. 5 to 6. This year’s theme will be “Intercultural Dialogue in Tourism,” presented in collaboration with UNESCO’s International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures and International Year of Biodiversity. For more information, click here.

New Ben & Jerry’s Flavour Announced
The Vermont-based Ben & Jerry’s newest Canadian-themed flavour is “Oh, Cone-ada.” The new name was coined by Burlington, Ont., resident Carolee Dunn who entered the moniker in the company’s naming contest on Facebook. Temporarily dubbed “We Are Waffling,” customers were asked to submit suggestions for a permanent name to be introduced this fall. The 27-year-old student nurse, who won the contest, will receive a year’s supply of “Oh Cone-ada!”

Federal Committee Cracks Down on Sodium Output
After two-and-a-half years of deliberation, the federal government’s Sodium Working Group has mapped out guidelines for foodservice providers to follow to reduce salt output in Canada. A principal recommendation of the guidelines is to provide salt content information for every menu item in restaurants. Industry leaders consulted during the study, including the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association, Campbell Company of Canada and the Food & Consumer Products of Canada, have pledged their support.

Health experts recommend the average person consumes no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day, but Canadians ingest almost three times that amount, in large part due to added sodium in processed foods. The task force aims to reduce the Nutrition Facts table’s “daily value” for sodium from 2,400 mg to 1,500 mg, mandate standardized serving sizes as the basis for reporting nutrition information and require restaurants to set sodium-reduction targets for food. For more information, click here.

New York Begins Letter-Grade Health Inspection System
New York City’s 24,000 restaurants will be subject to the implementation of a new A-B-C letter-grade system from the New York Health Commission evaluating food-safety inspections, cleanliness and food preparation. The first posting of the system last week went to the 24-seat Spark’s Deli in Queens, which received an A. Grades are based on annual inspections of restaurants evaluating their cleanliness and food-safety practices. Restaurants are given points for violations; the higher the score, the worse the inspection. Zero to 13 points translates to an A; 14 to 27 points is a B; and 28 points or more results in a C. Grades must be prominently displayed in restaurant windows on placards. Health officials estimate it will be about a year before a grade is given at every restaurant.

ORHMA Fights for G20 Toronto Restaurant Compensation
The Ontario Restaurant, Hotel and Motel Association (ORHMA) is continuing to press the federal government for compensation for the restaurateurs who lost business during the recent G20 Summit in Toronto. The ORHMA is also asking for an extension on the filing deadline past the end of September. Heading into the G20 Summit, the ORHMA launched an assistance program for members that might be affected by the Summit before the historic event took place. When asked why the ORHMA assistance program was launched before the scope of the problem was known, Tony Elenis, ORHMA president and CEO, stated, “As you know we were proactively talking to government for compensation before all this happened last December. We needed to ensure a compensation process for our members was in place prior to the G20 Summit. We wanted every member to have the piece of mind to know that the ORHMA would be there to help them after the Summit was over.”

Holiday Inn Named Largest Hotel Brand in the World
The InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) is the leading hotel chain worldwide, according to the Hotel Brand Ranking 2010, produced by tophotelchains.com in Hamburg, Germany. By brand ranking, IHG’s Holiday Inn ranked as the number 1 brand with 240,000 rooms and 1,319 properties. IHG’s Holiday Inn Express placed second with 188,000 rooms and 2,069 properties. Hilton Hotels earned third and fourth place, led by Hilton-branded properties with 181,000 rooms and 520 hotels, followed by Hampton Inn with 168,999 rooms and 1,700 hotels. Comfort Inn from Choice Hotels won fifth place with 164,000 rooms and 1,980 properties. For more information, click here.

Realstar Opens First Atlantic Motel 6 in Moncton
The Toronto-based Realstar Hospitality has opened a 74-room Motel 6 in Moncton, N.B., the first for the brand in Atlantic Canada. The property is owned by Iqbal Ladhani and features the brand’s Phoenix prototype designed guestrooms, including 32-inch flat-screen televisions, granite bathroom countertops, wood-effect flooring and a contemporary colour scheme. Other features include free wireless Internet access, an indoor heated swimming pool, gym and on-site laundry. Guests can also enjoy complimentary morning coffee and an expanded vending area in the lobby. According to Irwin Prince, president and COO, Realstar Hospitality, “This will be the first of many Motel 6 properties to open in Atlantic Canada. We look forward to successfully growing the brand in the years to come.”


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