Week of Jan. 10, 2011

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Wild Wing to Sue Buffalo Wild Wings
Today, Aurora, Ont.-based Wild Wing Restaurants, operator of approximately 80 chicken wing units in Ontario and Edmonton, has made a legal claim. “In response to Buffalo Wild Wings announcement of their groundbreaking event in Oshawa, Wild Wing, the humble grassroots Canadian company, Canada’s fastest-growing chicken wing restaurant chain, is commencing a Federal Legal Claim with respect to their intellectual property matters,” reads a Jan. 8 press release. Wild Wing is owned by Rick Smiciklas, who opened his first Wild Wing in March 1999.

This past August, just days after Buffalo Wild Wings announced its entry into the Canadian market, Wild Wing announced rapid expansion plans and commented on possible legal action in regard to property rights without specifically naming another company.  

Buffalo Wild Wings Breaks Ground in Canada
Buffalo Wild Wings execs have officially dug into Canada’s restaurant landscape with a groundbreaking in Oshawa, Ont., to mark the start of construction on the first Canadian Buffalo Wild Wings location. “The groundbreaking in Oshawa is the culmination of a long journey for us and also marks the official beginning of an exciting new endeavor in Canada,” said Mo Sawda, managing director, Buffalo Wild Wings International. “Along with construction beginning in Oshawa and the hiring of our management team, we have also signed our lease for a site in Mississauga and are aggressively working on multiple leases within Ontario and additional provinces within Canada.” The Oshawa location is currently scheduled for a May opening and is the first of 50 locations the company plans to open over the next five years, creating more than 3,500 jobs across the country.

Critical Deadlines Loom for Priszm
Priszm Income Fund, Toronto, has withheld, for the third time, the continuing $2-million fee payment due Jan. 5 to its franchisor Yum! Restaurants International (Canada). Priszm faces another major deadline Jan. 15, as the franchise agreement with Yum!, for 70 restaurants, expires. Payment was originally due Nov. 10,  but was extended by Yum! to Dec. 10 and then to Jan. 15. On Dec. 31, Priszm missed an interest payment on a $30-million convertible debenture, and it has not paid the interest or principle on $65-million of senior debt that also came due in December. Jan. 15 also marks the deadline for Priszm’s sale of 232 of its 400-plus KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut restaurants in Ontario and B.C. for some $46-million to a numbered company that runs similar restaurants in Europe, subject to their due diligence. “[Priszm] remains in active discussions with both its franchisor and its senior debt lender with respect to short-term and long-term refinancing as well as obtaining the necessary forbearance agreements,” reads a company statement issued last week. “There can be no assurance on any resolution that will result from these discussions; however the parties are working towards a satisfactory solution.”  

Starbucks, Kraft “Divorce” Aired in U.S. Court
Starbucks Corp. and Kraft Foods Inc.’s pending divorce moved into the public domain last Thursday, Jan. 6, when Starbucks told a L.A. U.S. District Court Judge that it had given Kraft sufficient warning about the ending of their 12-year partnership, which involved selling bags of Starbucks coffee at supermarkets and other retail outlets. Kraft was responsible for selling its packaged coffee in retail stores in the U.S., Canada, Britain and parts of Europe. Reuters also reported that Starbucks asked the court to deny Kraft’s request to stop the cancellation of the agreement. Problems began in Nov. 4 when Howard Schultz, Starbucks chairman, president and CEO, announced in a quarterly conference call that Starbucks wanted to end its deal with Kraft. Earlier, on Dec. 1, in a financial news release, Starbucks announced plans to build a world-class consumer packaged goods (CPG) organization.

New Starbucks Logo Introduced
Starbucks is changing things up and reinventing their logo. In the new design, the famed Mermaid, or siren, is enlarged and the border with the Starbucks Coffee name has been dropped. “It embraces and respects our heritage, and at the same time evolves us to a point where we feel it is more suitable for the future,” Howard Schultz, the company’s chairman, president and CEO explains in a video statement. “We’ve allowed [the siren] to come out of the circle in a way that I think gives us the freedom and flexibility to think beyond coffee.” The freshly liberated siren, which has been incorporated in the logo since 1971, will help herald a new beginning at the company that has undergone a tough couple of years. “We’ve always believed the best days of Starbucks are ahead of us,” says the CEO in a statement. “[Looking forward] we see a world in which we are a vital part of more than 16,000 neighbourhoods around the world, in more than 50 countries, forming connections with millions of customers every day in our stores, in grocery aisles, at home and at work. Starbucks will continue to offer the highest-quality coffee, but we will offer other products as well.” Look for the new logo in March as part of the company’s 40th anniversary celebrations.

Weekly Earnings Up 4.4 per cent for Third Consecutive Month
According to Statistics Canada’s preliminary report on payroll employment, earnings and hours, Canadians’ weekly earnings increased 4.4 per cent, between October 2009 and October 2010, to an average of $860. October was the third consecutive month in which the year-over-year growth rate was higher than four per cent. Prior to this period, the increase surpassed three per cent for four months in a row. For most of 2009, the rate of growth was below two per cent. Some growth was attributed to a 0.9 per cent increase in the average number of hours worked, but the majority of the gain comes from wage growth, changes in the composition of employment by industry, changes in occupations within industry and job experience.

Imvescor to Open First Maritime Bâton Rouge Location
The Moncton, N.B.-based Imvescor Restaurant Group, which operates 29 Bâton Rouge Restaurant & Bar units in Ontario, Quebec and Alberta, is expanding its signature rib restaurant into its home-base of Atlantic Canada, with news that a location will be opening in Morse’s Tea building in Halifax’s Historic District. “We are thrilled about the upcoming opening of our first Bâton Rouge here at home, in the Maritimes,” said Kevin Friesen, chief operating officer, Bâton Rouge restaurants. “Not only is it the first Bâton Rouge to open in eastern Canada but it is also in an ideal setting to recreate the cozy and warm atmosphere found in all our Bâton Rouge restaurants. The Morse’s Tea building has deep roots in Halifax’s history, and we will make sure to honour its rich heritage by serving Morse’s Tea to all our guests.” The new location will be led by Halifax businessmen Maxime St. Pierre and Leo Salloum as well as successful Bâton Rouge manager Shayan Safaei. “We have great plans for the space,” says St.Pierre. “We want to preserve the historic building’s cachet and unique features.” Further expansion of the chain is in the works in Alberta and the Maritimes. In the meantime, the Halifax location is expected to open in the spring. For more information, click here.

High Liner Foods Makes Offer for Icelandic Group
Last week, Jan. 4, the Lunenburg, N.S.-based High Liner Foods Incorporated made an unsolicited offer to acquire the Icelandic Group, Reykjavík, Iceland, a leading seafood supplier in Europe and one of the largest suppliers of value-added seafood to the U.S. foodservice market. “The addition of the Icelandic line of products to our existing line of foodservice products would make High Liner the leader in the sale of valued-added seafood to the U.S. foodservice market and an even stronger partner for our customers,” said Henry Demone, president and CEO, High Liner Foods, in a SEDAR filing. High Liner Foods acknowledged the Icelandic Group was negotiating with a European private equity firm and would not engage in any negotiations with other parties until Jan. 8. The Icelandic Group is made up of an international network of independent companies, each operating in its own market in the production and sale of seafood products. Late last year, High Liner announced completion of its purchase of Massachusetts-based Viking Seafoods Inc. for $31.5 million to increase its market share in the U.S. foodservice industry. Vikings sales were in the range of $40 million per year.

Technomic Highlights Three Hottest Canadian Foodservice Trends
Three of the hottest 2011 trends in Canadian foodservice include a breakfast daypart wakeup, global diners and veggie-focused restaurants, according to Darren Tristano, executive vice- president of Chicago-based Technomic.

In regard to the burgeoning breakfast daypart, “Operators across the country are fighting to capture the attention of these weekday breakfast consumers by reworking and enhancing their breakfast menus with trendy offerings,” said Tristano. “New breakfast items include healthful dishes, bold and ethnic flavour profiles and value meals. Recent examples of these breakfast trends include Tim Hortons’ slow-cooked home-style oatmeal; Denny’s Southwestern Steak Burrito, with Southwestern steak, scrambled eggs, a smoky cheese blend, hash browns, pico de gallo and a spicy sauce; and Burger King’s expanded BK Breakfast Value Meals menu, which offers BK Breakfast Bowls, Cini-minis, an omelette sandwich and a line of Croissan’wichs with egg, cheese and ham, bacon or sausage.

Moving on, a growing consumer interest in bolder flavours, and non-traditional dining experiences are tempting consumers to try new ethnic cuisines, said Tristano, referring to the second hot Canadian foodservice trend, global diners. “Sushi is already established in Canada, but now many consumers are curious about what other Asian cuisines have to offer. This increased consumer attention will lead to new authentic Asian concepts and new Asian-inspired dishes at existing restaurants,” said Tristano. He added: “The Mexican segment, which is presently under-represented in Canada, is also forecasted to proliferate. Expect fast-casual chains from both the U.S. and Canada to accelerate growth of the Mexican menu category. Ontario-based Mucho Burrito and U.S.-based Chipotle Mexican Grill and Taco Del Mar are some of the current fast-casual Mexican players with major growth potential in Canada.”

Finally, veggie-focused restaurants — vegan and vegetarian — are sprouting up across Canada. These modern twists on veggie-focused concepts offer innovative tastes and presentations that are helping redefine consumers’ views toward vegetarian and vegan cuisines, explains Tristano, while discussing the final hot Canadian trend. “Many of the new veggie dishes have ethnic flavours. Restaurants are also introducing meat-free breakfast offerings. For instance, Zen Kitchen in Ottawa, offers a vegetarian brunch menu that showcases local produce. Dishes include house granola, local seasonal fruit and vanilla bean cream, served with a lemon scone and berry jam; a breakfast burrito with scrambled tofu, market vegetables, Mornay sauce, tomatillo salsa and spicy rice; and buckwheat pancakes with maple syrup, house veggie sausage and fresh fruit compote.”

Wine Experts Work to Change the World – The Globe and Mail
Two wine experts have been included in The Globe and Mail’s list of 45 extraordinary Canadians Changing the World. Wine expert, author and molecular gastronomy practitioner François Chartier, 45, of Sainte-Adèle, Que., has been recognized as the first person to apply chemical analysis to the pairing of food and drink. “His book Taste Buds and Molecules: The Art and Science of Food with Wine shatters age-old conventions about which wine goes with what food, garnering a ‘best innovative food book’ prize at the 2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in Paris,” reads The Globe and Mail. A sommelier by training, Chartier began his scientific explorations after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in the mid-‘90s. Interest in a new MS diet and the healing powers of plant compounds sparked curiosity about the aromatic-molecule links between plants and wine. He has signed a five-year contract with Lasalle College in Montreal to share his research as part of the wine-and-bar-services curriculum and hopes to sign a U.S. publishing deal. It the meantime, he continues to consult for some of the best chefs in the world, including Ferran Adria of Spain’s famed El Bulli restaurant.

The newspaper also recognized Dr. Hennie J.J. van Vuuren, 63, wine research centre director at the University of British Columbia, for creating a new yeast that doesn’t make compounds such as histamines that form during fermentation and give some 30 per cent of drinkers a headache. The yeast is currently being used in some U.S., Canadian and Moldovan wineries. Originally from South Africa, Dr. van Vuuren is a molecular biologist specializing in yeast and has a PhD in brewing beer. For the complete Globe and Mail report, click here.

Ecolab Ranked 26th Greenest U.S. Company
Ecolab has been ranked the 26th greenest company in the U.S., and the first by business type, in Newsweek magazine’s 2010 Green Rankings. The list was conducted in collaboration with independent company ranking service MSCI ESG Research; Trucost, which specializes in quantitative measurements of environmental performance issues; and CorporateRegister.com. “Not only is this an amazing achievement, but Ecolab beat out many competitors who claim they are the greenest,” said Mike Brown, senior marketing manager, Institutional, Canada. “For customers focused on becoming more sustainable Ecolab is now a proven best choice.” To read the Newsweek report, click here.

Dine Out Vancouver Reservations Open
Vancouver’s much-anticipated dining-out festival is now open for reservations. With just days to go before the launch of Dine Out Vancouver 2011, the city’s foodies are planning their culinary retreats. “Vancouver is consistently named one of the top dining cities in the world and Dine Out Vancouver certainly contributes to our city’s food culture and reputation,” said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson. “The City of Vancouver is a strong supporter of Dine Out Vancouver, and we hope to see it continue to grow and thrive in the years ahead.” Tourism Vancouver’s annual dining festival and celebration of local food and British Columbia wine, includes restaurant promotional offers of three-course meals with prix-fixe menus (priced at $18, $28 and $38) at more than 200 restaurants across the city. For an extra cost, many menus come with suggested British Columbia VQA wine pairings, facilitated by the B.C. Wine Institute. Now in its ninth year, the seasonal promotion has grown to include hotel offers and more than a dozen food-themed events and activities, including culinary tours, cooking lessons, dinner-theatre evenings and special dining events. Dine Out Vancouver 2011 runs from Jan. 24 to Feb. 6. For the list of participating restaurants and menus, click here.

Manitowoc Announces Organizational Changes
Leading foodservice equipment supplier Manitowoc Foodservice, New Port Richey, Fla., has announced organizational changes as part of its corporate strategies for designing, manufacturing and supplying food and beverage equipment for the global foodservice market. Among a number of worldwide changes, effective immediately, Larry Bryce has become executive vice-president of Refrigeration Solutions for the Americas. Companies reporting to Bryce include: Manitowoc Ice, Multiplex, Servend, Delfield Custom Solutions, McCall, Kysor Panel Systems, Kolpak, and Jackson. Mike Buelow, currently vice-president of service for the Americas, will work with Bryce to achieve all service goals. What’s more, Phil Dei Dolori has been named executive vice-president of Cooking Solutions for the Americas, overseeing the Manitowoc companies of Cleveland, Garland, Lincoln, Merco, Varimixer, Frymaster, and Dean. For further information on the changes, click here.

We Care Ski Day, Feb. 4, Collingwood, Ont.
Friends of We Care has announced its We Care Ski Day 2011 event will take place Feb. 4 at the Alpine Aki Club in Collingwood, Ont., in partnership with the LCBO. Donations for a silent auction and raffle prizes are welcome. For more information, click here.  

Chef Suman Roy Wins European Cookbook Award
Suman Roy, chef for the Athelete’s Village at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics Games, has been awarded a prestigious Gourmand World Cookbook Award, in the Canada-English category of Best Culinary History Book, for his first book From Pemmican To Poutine: A Journey Through Canada’s Culinary History. Since the win, Suman has been invited to present Canadian Cuisine and Canadian Foods, in Paris in March at the 2011 Paris International CookBook Fair, for representatives from more than 100 countries. In his book, Suman takes readers on a journey from the Atlantic to the Pacific, exploring Canada’s food culture and ingredients indigenous to Canada. It features pictures, recipes, historical anecdotes and wellness notes. This year, 154 countries participated in the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, entering books in 53 categories.

Free Drive-Thru Orders Honour Accident Victim
Drive-thru customers at an Ottawa Tim Hortons got a pleasant surprise Jan. 3 when small orders were handed out for free, in memory of local woman Jennifer Sayer-Gaal, 31, who died Dec. 3 in a three-car crash. The victim’s parents and husband donated more than $500 for the tribute, which began at 7 a.m. and lasted for three hours — until the money ran out. “It really was extremely successful,” manager of the Manotick outlet, Margo Seguin, told the National Post. “We even had approximately another $100 that people donated to us to pay it forward for as long as we could. People were overwhelmed. They were speechless.”

New U.S. Food-Safety Legislation in Effect
The Food and Drug Administration Food Safety Modernization Act, was recently signed into law by President Barack Obama. Described as the largest overhaul of the country’s food-safety system in more than 70 years, the bill has the backing of the National Restaurant Association and the National Council of Chain Restaurants. The change empowers the FDA to order recalls of tainted foods; increase inspections of domestic and foreign food facilities; draft new rules for the growers and processors of higher-risk fruits and vegetables; and implement stricter food-safety standards for imported foods, among other provisions.

Days Inn Canada Introduces Gnomeo & Juliet Promo
Families who check into Days Inns across Canada are being given a sweepstakes package linked to the 3D family adventure film, Gnomeo & Juliet, which hits theatres Feb. 11. The special gift, which includes a colouring sheet, wordsearch and mini poster, offers a chance to win a prize pack that includes a gnome hat, Gnomeo & Juliet silly bandz and more. Guests can also enter a contest to win a grand prize trip for four to London, U.K. to attend the premiere of the adventure film. “Our hotels are delighted to offer a prize pack and on-site contest to their smallest guests,” said Irwin Prince, president and COO, Realstar Hospitality. The contest, which ends Jan. 14, is open to Canadian residents (excluding Quebec).

 

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