Week of Jan. 11, 2010

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RBC’s Canadian Consumer Outlook Index Rose Eight per cent in December
Canadians are becoming more confident about the economy, according to the RBC’s monthly survey for the Canadian Consumer Outlook Index. Its December study, released last week, shows the monthly index rose eight percentage points since November, with 51 per cent viewing the economy in a good light and 49 per cent viewing it poorly. Looking ahead, three-in-five Canadians (60 per cent) expect the Canadian economy to improve over the next year, while only 17 per cent expect it to get worse. The optimism was also reflected in a significant drop in the percentage of Canadians that plan to delay major purchases, such as cars, vacations and appliances, due to current economic conditions (47 per cent in December, down from 63 per cent in November). At the same time, most Canadians are exercising financial prudence, with 75 per cent paying for their holiday spending with money on hand instead of incurring debt and 58 per cent not planning to shop for post-holiday deals in January. In a press release, Craig Wright, senior vice-president and chief economist, RBC, commented, “While challenges remain, continued improvement in the labour market in 2010 will contribute to an eventual decline in the unemployment rate and provide ongoing support for consumer spending.”

Historic Vancouver Hotel to Reopen as Rosewood Hotel Georgia in 2011
Vancouver’s legendary Hotel Georgia, which first opened in 1927, is undergoing a major restoration and is scheduled to reopen in early 2011 as the 154-room Rosewood Hotel Georgia. The hotel will be managed by Dallas-based Rosewood Hotels & Resorts. Owned by Vancouver’s Delta Group, the historic Georgian Revival structure was recognized as the city’s most elegant hotel for years, welcoming a who’s who of the entertainment world, including Elvis Presley, Nat “King” Cole, Katherine Hepburn and British royalty. The property will feature a number of large suites, Sense, A Rosewood Spa, a fitness centre, indoor swimming pool, nightclub and Hawksworth Restaurant, which will be operated by renowned chef David Hawksworth. The restaurant will showcase regional, seasonal ingredients with a uniquely Vancouver/Asian twist. A separate 48-storey residential tower is scheduled to be completed in 2012. This will be the second Canadian property for Rosewood Hotels, which currently operates the eco-friendly King Pacific Lodge luxury wilderness resort, on B.C.’s Princess Royal Island. The Rosewood Hotels portfolio includes some of North America’s most historic properties, including Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, The Carlyle and San Ysidro Ranch. It also has properties in the Caribbean, Latin America and the Middle East. Rosewood Hotels’ CEO, John M. Scott III, commented, “As we commemorate the 30th anniversary of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts this year, I can think of no better way to celebrate than to expand into this beautiful city with the spectacularly restored historic Rosewood Hotel Georgia.”

Pacrim Hospitality Services Adds 60th Hotel — Wyndham Edmonton
One of Canada’s largest, privately owned hotel management companies, Pacrim Hospitality Services Inc., has added its 60th hotel, the 105-room Wingate by Wyndham Edmonton, as well as the free-standing Home Fire Grill Restaurant, which is adjacent to the property. The hotel features meeting spaces, an indoor pool and waterslide, hot complimentary breakfast and free high-speed Internet service. Pacrim CEO, Glenn Squires, commented, “Pacrim Hospitality Services Inc. is proud to work with GM Jim Wirun and the staff at the Wingate by Wyndham Edmonton.” Halifax-based Pacrim is the preferred management company of Holloway Lodging REIT and was the winner of the 2008 Pinnacle Award as Canada’s Hotel Company of the Year.

Pizza Pizza to Test Pasta Items at 20 Mississauga, Ont. Units
Joining the ranks of other pizza delivery companies, Pizza Pizza will soon be testing a selection of ‘al forno’ family sized pasta options at some 20 restaurants in Mississauga, Ont.. If customer feedback is positive, the company plans to roll-out the pasta offerings chain-wide in the coming months. “Pizza and pasta go hand-in-hand,” said Pat Finelli, chief marketing officer of Pizza Pizza. “The addition of pasta cooked al forno alongside our pizzas in our stone-baked ovens is a tasty next step that will add variety to a family’s order.” The three new pasta dishes include totelloni Alfredo, tortellini’s jumbo cousin, filled with a blend of mozzarella, ricotta, parmesan and romano cheese and baked in a creamy Alfredo sauce; penne Bolognese, baked in a rich meat sauce made from vine-ripened tomatoes; and macaroni and cheese, baked in a creamy blend of aged cheddar, romano and parmesan cheeses.

Boston Pizza Records Strong Growth in 2009
Boston Pizza International Inc. is kicking off the year on a good note with news that 18 new restaurants have been opened across Canada and added to the Boston Pizza Royalties Income Fund pool to reflect units opened between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2009. “We are very pleased to have opened another 18 Boston Pizza restaurants in 2009,” said George Melville, co-chairman of BPI. “Since the inception of the Fund in 2002, Boston Pizza has opened a remarkable total of 190 new restaurants in Canada, which is more than any other full-service restaurant chain over that period. This robust growth is evidence of Boston Pizza’s strong operating model and further strengthens our position as Canada’s number 1 casual-dining brand.” Sixteen of the new units are full-service and two are express locations; one full-service restaurant also closed during the year. In summary, the estimated annual gross franchise revenue for the 18 new restaurants in 2010 is $25.7 million.

Sara Lee Gold Sponsor of CAFP Food Executive of the Year
The Canadian Association of Foodservice Professionals (CAFP) has announced that Sara Lee Bakery Canada will once again be the exclusive gold sponsor of the Sara Lee Food Executive of the Year program. The national award is presented in recognition of outstanding ability and contribution to the foodservice and hospitality industry, as well as for service within CAFP and community involvement. Chris Glowienka, vice-president and general manager of Sara Lee, commented, “Sara Lee is proud to support the CAFP initiatives across the country such as the Food Executive of the Year Program, to promote ongoing education and personal development in our industry.”

Jamie Kennedy Opens 40-Seat Gilead Bistro, Toronto
Jamie Kennedy’s Gilead Bistro is now open for dinner service in Toronto. Kennedy had taken a brief hiatus from holding down a regular, nightly cooking responsibility when he sold his JK Wine Bar in the fall of 2009 and refocused his efforts on culinary ventures with Jamie Kennedy Kitchens. But the renowned chef, slow-food advocate and longtime champion of seasonal, regional cuisine, says he’s excited to be back behind the stoves once more. “The introduction of Gilead Bistro was very organic — a natural next step for the café,” said Kennedy on his website. “Our loyal patrons have appealed for this additional offering at Gilead and we are excited to be launching it in the new year.” The 40-seat bistro is located in Toronto’s east side, in the same space occupied by Kennedy’s Gilead Café, which remains open during the day. The production kitchen for Kennedy’s catering business is also housed on-site. In the evenings from Tuesday to Saturday, after shuffling around some of the furniture and decor, the bistro will appear in the same space. Sunday brunch service is also available. Kennedy’s mandate is to serve good, local, seasonal fare sourced from sustainable producers. He offers appetizers in the $10 range, mains from $15 to $25 and has a $20 corkage fee.

Compass’ “Flexitarian” Options Program Coming to Canada
Compass Group, based in Charlotte, N.C., has started implementing its “Be a Flexitarian” meat-free options program at 8,500 of its U.S. corporate and academic foodservice locations. A spokesperson for Compass Group Canada advises that, “We plan to participate in the new flexitarian program; however, I can’t tell you when that will be.” The program to increase meat-free options was developed in cooperation with the Washington, D.C.-based Humane Society of the United State (HSUS), which explains that, “A flexitarian is someone who actively integrates meatless meals into his or her diet when possible, but isn’t a full-time vegetarian.” Cheryl Queen, Compass Group North American vice-president of Corporate Communications said, “Compass Group is committed to providing healthy meals and building sustainable communities, and our new flexitarian initiative is a great step toward achieving both of these goals.”

Full-Service Restaurants Outperformed Expectations — Sageworks
Canada’s full-service restaurant sales in 2009 outperformed annual predictions from the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA), achieving a sales gain of 0.34 per cent versus a CRFA projected decline of 3.1 per cent, according to the Raleigh, N.C.-based financial research firm, Sageworks Inc. “That’s actually great — it was a tough, tough year,” Drew White, CFO at Sageworks, told the Financial Post. “Everyone felt it. People shopped [downmarket], and they went out less. Full-service and fine dining felt it the most. Consumer confidence does really hit our sector.” Noting that no major casual restaurant chains in Canada have closed, White also told the Post, “Full service is so resilient, they have done great marketing and they have kept up great relationships with their customers, but the high spending days are over.” White then pointed out that sales at comparable U.S. restaurants started slowing down some two years earlier, so [Canadian restaurants] “had less time to adjust to falling restaurant sales, to cut their marketing costs. Canadian restaurants right now are doing what they have been doing over the last two years in the U.S. They are going to be doing whatever they can do to conserve cash: cutting overhead, renegotiating leases and reducing advertising spend.”

HAC Annual Conference, Feb. 3-4, Toronto
The 2010 Hotel Association of Canada (HAC) Annual Conference & Tradeshow takes place from Feb. 3 to 4 at The Fairmont Royal York in Toronto. More than 30 speakers will address industry issues, including plenary back-to-back presentations by Peter Yesawich, Ypartnership, and Avery Schenfeld of CIBC Markets Inc, looking at what’s in store for the economy and the industry in 2010. For information, click here.

GFTC Safe Food Canada 2010 Symposium, March 4, Brampton, Ont.
The one-day symposium entitled Safe Food Canada 2010: Establishing Food Safety and Traceability will be held March 4 in Brampton, Ont., hosted by the Guelph Food Technology Centre (GFTC) in partnership with Food in Canada. The conference will focus on the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) and its implications for the Canadian food and beverage business. The event will address farm-to-fork traceability as well as ideas for improving recall procedures. For information: Denise Horseman, Tel: 519.821.1246 ext. 5068; email: dhorseman@gftc.ca.

Monforte Dairy CSA Program Extended
If you’re a fan of lauded Ontario cheesemaker Ruth Klahsen’s handcrafted, artisanal, Monforte Dairy cheeses and didn’t get a chance to buy into last year’s Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) subscription offering, you’re in luck; it has been extended. To date, more than 725 people have purchased a subscription, raising more than $335,000 toward building a new Monforte Dairy in Stratford, Ont; the goal is to raise $500,000. Subscriptions entail a prepayment in return for future delivery of cheese. There are three subscription plans to choose from — $200 ($250 value), $500 ($750 value) or $1,000 ($1,500 value). Cheeses will be made available over five years when the new dairy opens. Subscribers can select vouchers to redeem at farmers’ markets or have baskets delivered twice a year. Klahsen believes the purchase of CSA subscriptions helps establish a business model that should spearhead meaningful growth in micro-production, making it a more viable way of life for farmers and shepherds while providing consumers with higher quality products. For more information, click here.

 

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