Week of Dec. 20, 2010

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MTY Takes Control of Food Processing Plant
MTY Food Group Inc., Montreal, has acquired — through its wholly-owned subsidiary MTY Tiki Ming Enterprises Inc. — a 51 per cent interest in a 60,000-square-foot food-processing plant near Quebec City. The $3.3-million transaction was completed through the newly formed entity 7687567 Canada Inc. In addition, MTY will provide financing to fund working capital requirements up to a maximum of $1 million. As part of the transaction, one of the minority shareholders will bring their existing food-processing business, client base and expertise to the plant in addition to managing daily operations. The plant is currently in operation at about 30 per cent of capacity and has generated sales of approximately $7.5 million in the last 12 months. MTY is the franchisor and operator of more than 1,700 quick-service restaurants under approximately 25 banners with $430 million in sales and the recipient of Kostuch Publication’s 2010 Pinnacle Award for Company of the Year (National). For more information, click here.

ClubLink Buy’s Golf and Country Club for $3M
King City, Ont.-based ClubLink has purchased the Glendale Golf and Country Club in Hamilton, Ont., for $3.2 million, making it the organization’s 23rd golf club in the Greater Toronto Area. ClubLink has committed to creating new cart paths, bunkers and clubhouse renovations at the site founded in 1919 as one of the first private clubs in the Hamilton area. “The Hamilton area is an active and growing golf market and Glendale will complement the magnificent Heron Point Golf Links, our existing club in the area, very nicely,” said Rai Sahi, ClubLink president and CEO. ClubLink — otherwise known as “ClubLink One Membership More Golf” — is Canada’s largest owner and operator of golf clubs with 41 locations, primarily in Ontario, Quebec and Florida. The new Glendale addition will be categorized as a gold-level member club.

Yoplait to Buy Liberte
The Paris, France-based yogurt multinational Yoplait is buying up a competing brand on the Canadian and U.S. yogurt market, St. Hubert, Que.-based Liberte, for an unspecified sum. Liberte, which has been owned by Toronto-based management company Pineridge Foods Inc., for the last six years, has 500 employees, three plants (in St. Hubert. Brossard and Toronto), three distribution centres and revenue of $175 million in 2009. “It’s business as usual for Liberte, which has been a very successful independent yogurt company competing against major multinationals and has grown to be a national brand, selling throughout Canada and with a meaningful business now in the U.S.,” said Roger Dickhout, CEO of Pineridge Group and acting CEO for Liberte (until the deal closes). In Canada, the Yoplait brand is licensed to Ultima Foods Inc., a division of Agropur.

CCFCC Chefs Win Gold in Luxumberg
The recent Expogast-Villeroy & Boch Culinary World Cup event held at Luxexpo in Luxembourg-Kirchberg saw the Canadian Culinary Federation (CCFCC) team place fifth, behind Singapore, Sweden, the U.S., and Switzerland, in a 45-team competition. Culinary Team Canada earned a gold medal in the Hot Kitchen competition. The five-day event was supervised by an international jury of 55 leading international chefs and involved some 2,400 chefs and confectioners from 53 countries around the world. “An intense day of competition for the [Canadian] team, they put forth their best and the plates going out from the kitchen confirmed that they indeed [had] brought their A-game,” Judson Simpson, CCFCC president and executive chef  at Parliament Hill, wrote on his blog. “Their menu included Bison hump…not your standard cut of meat. For dessert, they did a study of pear…a spectacular dessert using pear in a variety of different ways.”

Locavore Grocer Asks Customers for Financing
Toronto’s only locavore grocery, Culinarium, is now offering “dinner-plate shares” to its 1,000 customers. Owner Kathleen Mackintosh is offering $500 shares repayable with $600 in groceries at $200 per year spread over three years, and a $1,000 share that offers $1,300 in groceries at $450 per year. She is hoping customers will buy $50,000 to $100,000 worth of shares before her lease is due in February. The offer was announced in a Feb. 7 email to customers with a deadline of today, Dec. 20. If she gets enough pledges, she’ll formally accept the money and hand out shares. Opened in April 2008, Culinarium sells “local, mindfully and sustainable-produced” Ontario food. For more information, click here.

Ruth Klahsen, owner of the Stratford, Ont.-based Montforte Dairy, introduced a similar program in 2009 with her Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) cheese shares, raising $410,000 with more than 900 purchases; shareholders get their returns in cheese over five years. Monforte has recently launched a second share program in a bid to produce charcuterie, baked goods and preserves. Some 890 subscribers have already purchased more than $400,000 of shares. For more information, click here

Tim Hortons Forms Partnership and Opens Virtual Restaurant
Tim Hortons has become the Official Quick-Serve Restaurant Coffee, Donut and Breakfast of the National Hockey League (NHL) in Canada in a multi-year partnership. As part of the deal, Tim Hortons has become the title sponsor of the 2011 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic, which will pit the Montreal Canadiens against the Calgary Flames at Calgary’s McMahon Stadium Feb. 20. The title sponsorship includes prominent on-ice brand position, on-air title broadcast rights with the CBC, including branded pre-promotion and integration of the Tim Hortons brand throughout all NHL media properties, including NHL.com, NHL NetworkT and NHL RadioT. “Tim Hortons has a special connection with hockey, from our company founder to our ongoing support for hockey programs at all levels,” Bill Moir, chief brand marketing officer, Tim Hortons, said. “Partnering with the NHL, home to the world’s best players, is a natural fit.”

In other Tim Hortons news, a company press release has announced the opening of an online store for U.S. customers. “We get phone calls and emails every day from people who crave Tim Hortons coffee but don’t live near a restaurant,” said David McMullen, vice-president of U.S. Marketing for the chain. “Our new online store helps bring our coffee right to their door. The site is simple, fast and friendly, just like our restaurants.” Now, more than 25 of the coffee shop’s products, including ground coffee, boxed tea, travel mugs and insulated coffee carriers, can be bought online for the price that would be paid at most Tim’s locations (minus the shipping and handling). All major credit cards are accepted, and delivery is available in all U.S. states.

Boston Pizza Opens 107th Ontario Unit
Boston Pizza has announced the opening of its 107th location in Ontario on Leslie Street in Toronto’s Beach Area. The new unit will seat 134 people in the dining room and another 86 in the sports bar, which also features high-definition flat-screen televisions as well as state-of-the-art sound and video equipment. The new location also has a 46-seat patio with a view of the Toronto skyline. “Boston Pizza is a great Canadian restaurant franchise with a proven concept that features a diverse menu that guests love,” says franchisee, Gurpreet Toor. “We look forward to serving great food and providing great service to local residents, while creating a fun and inviting atmosphere that everyone can enjoy.”

Applebee’s Introduces Digital Gift Cards Applebee’s
U.S. and Canadian locations are offering digital gift cards, which allow people to buy and send personalized electronic gift cards online via Applebees.com and Applebee’s Facebook Fan Page. The cards can be enhanced with photos and a voice message and can be sent to a mobile device or by email. Lenexa, Kan.-based Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar is a DineEquity, Inc., casual-dining brand franchised and operated by Applebee’s Services, Inc., which has some 2,000 U.S. and Canadian locations.

“Cat Poop Coffee” on Sale in Vancouver
Often called “cat poop coffee” or “spat coffee,” Doi Chaang Wild Civet Coffee (Kopi Luwak) is now being featured by the cup for the first time in Vancouver at Bean Brothers Cafe in Kerrisdale. Bean Brothers has a limited amount of the product — with only 100 kgs available worldwide this year — and will be selling a single fresh brewed cup for $30 until Dec. 23. The coffee is produced from Thailand coffee cherries that have passed through the digestive system of a common palm civet, an animal similar to a mongoose. Doi Chaang-approved farmers take the beans from the jungle and separate them into the categories “spat” or “passed,” before processing them under strict certification standards. Bean Brothers sells other Doi Chaang coffee, such as Wild Thai Civet and other Fair Trade and organic-certified coffees.

Quiznos Gets Sirius
Quiznos Canada has entered into a partnership with Sirius satellite radio to provide commercial-free music at 460 of the sandwich company’s locations across the country. “We’re excited to bring Sirius’ music solution to Quiznos locations across Canada,” says Darryl Melbourne, manager of Sirius Music for Business. “Businesses can create an engaging and entertaining environment for customers with a wide range of music choice.” The Quiznos’ team is happy about the new possibilities for its business. “With Sirius’ music solution, restaurant operators and their staff will now have more flexibility over the background music to create a customized experience for customers,” says Kyle Holmes, director of Marketing, Quiznos Canada.

Toronto’s E11even Uses iPads for Wine List
Toronto’s E11even restaurant in Maple Leaf Square is employing 40 iPads to list its 600 wines. “It allows our servers to use it to start conversations,” one of E11even’s sommeliers, Jonathan Gonsenhauser, is quoted as saying in the Toronto Star. “We worried the technology might put off older customers but they are the ones who like it most. They are delighted to find the technology easy and fun to use. And, the screen resolution makes it is easier to read text in dim light.” The system also includes recommendations and tasting notes from the sommelier team, and it tracks inventory. E11even is the first Canadian client of the New York-based Incentient, which began making wine lists digital before the iPad came on the scene in April.

Executive Chef Announced at CinCin
The Vancouver-based Top Table Group has announced the appointment of Todd Howard as executive chef of CinCin. “Todd has led the kitchen team at CinCin with great dedication for the past nine months as chef de cuisine,” Jack Evrensel, Table Top owner, said. “His prodigious culinary talents have not gone unnoticed by our guests.” A Southern Alberta Institute of Technology Culinary School graduate, Howard has worked in Calgary, at a Gordon Ramsay restaurant in London and at Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck, to name a few.

New President Announced at Robot Coupe
Robot Coupe U.S.A., Jackson, Miss., has announced the promotion of David Mouck to the position of president/general manager. Robot Coupe U.S.A. is the inventor and innovator of commercial food processors and has a complete line of food processors, vegetable prep machines, vertical cutter-mixers, blixers, power mixers, juicers and extractors.  

Canadian Foodservice Attracts U.S.  Operators — Technomic
Canada’s foodservice industry is outperforming the U.S. market by growing in terms of unit counts and menu offerings, according to Chicago, Ill.-based Technomic. “The Canadian foodservice industry is full of opportunity right now,” said Darren Tristano, Technomic EVP. “U.S. operators are certainly looking at Canada as an area for potential growth. But to be successful they will need to do more than take a cookie-cutter approach to the Canadian marketplace. There are distinct differences in consumer attitudes and behaviours between the U.S. and Canada, and those play out every day in the way trends take shape and establish themselves in each country.” The top five Canadian foodservice trends identified by Technomic include: local food; U.S. chains looking north; food trucks offering portable, ethnic foods; healthier ingredients integrated into indulgent diets; the growth of fast-casual. For more information, click here

NPD Forecasts Traffic Increase at U.S. Restaurants
The Port Washington, N.Y.-based NPD Group has forecast a one per cent gain in U.S. restaurant customer traffic in the fourth quarter of 2010 and in the first quarter of 2011. “Some of the areas most affected by the recession have stopped declining or are starting to edge back up,” said Bonnie Riggs, restaurant industry analyst. “These are positive signs that the industry is beginning to return to normalcy but high unemployment and the loss of benefits for the long-term unemployed will keep the industry from full recovery.”

In the third quarter, NPD’s CREST service found traffic at commercial foodservice fell by one per cent compared with a year earlier. Consumer spending at restaurants in that time made up for losses booked a year earlier, rising two per cent to counteract a two per cent decline in the third quarter of 2009. In the third quarter, visits to quick-service restaurants, which represent the largest portion of traffic in the foodservice industry, rose one per cent, while total visits fell two per cent at casual-dining eateries and three per cent at mid-scale full-service restaurants.

Thuet and Picard to Appear at B.C. Foodservice Expo
Celebrity chefs Marc Thuet and Martin Picard will be star attractions at the B.C. Foodservice Expo Jan. 30 to 31 at the Vancouver Convention Centre. Thuet is the owner of three Petite Thuet bakeries in Toronto, a cookbook author and star of CityTV’s Conviction Kitchen. In the second season, the chef revamps Vancouver’s Delilah’s restaurant with his wife, Biana Zorich, and a staff comprised of convicted felons who have no culinary experience. The Toronto chef will be joined by Martin Picard, the chef and owner of Montreal’s Au Pied de Cochon, cookbook author and host of The Wild Chef, a reality show that offers twists on classic Québécois fare. Show attendees can expect to see Picard at the big event Jan. 30, followed by Thuet on Jan. 31. Aside from the celebrity talent, the show will feature more than 300 exhibit booths, a centre for sustainability, chef competitions, free seminars, demos and more. For more information, click here

We Care Hockey Tournament Details Announced
The Eighth Annual Canadian Foodservice Hockey Tournament of the Friends of We Care, presented by Ecolab, will be held at the Powerade Centre in Brampton, Ont., from March 24 to 25. The 2011 event returns to a two-day format, guarantees three games to all teams and has a 20-team maximum. For more information, click here.

Choice Opens Boutique Hotel Royal William
Choice Hotels International, Inc. Silver Spring, Md., has announced the opening of 33 franchised properties, in eight countries, including the Hotel Royal William, an Ascend Collection hotel, in the trendy New St-Rock district of downtown Québec City. The family owned boutique-style hotel is smoke-free and offers a business centre, exercise room, on-site restaurant and meeting rooms. Guestrooms feature free Wi-Fi, minibars and DVD players with select rooms also featuring in-bath whirlpools and robes. For more information, click here.

 

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