Week of Jan. 17, 2011

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China Agrees to Buy Canadian Seal Meat
Federal Fisheries Minister Gail Shea announced recently that China plans to start buying Canadian seal meat. Shea revealed the plan during a trade mission to China with Newfoundland and Labrador Fisheries Minister, Clyde Jackman. “For the most part, our sealing industry derives its income from the sale of pelts,” said Shea, in Beijing during a conference call with reporters, as reported by the CBC. “They don’t get a lot of return from the sale of meat and oil, but what we are hoping to do, because China is such a large market, is work with our industry to support them in developing new products…so there is a lot of optimism in the industry today.” The news is promising for Atlantic Canada, where the harp seal population (measured in 2004) is estimated to be between 4.6 and 7.2 million, the CBC reports. However, the sale of seal meat remains controversial both abroad and at home, and the European Union’s ban on imported seal meat from Canada remains intact.

Wild Wing Files Lawsuit Against Buffalo Wild Wings
Owners of the Minneapolis-based Buffalo Wild Wings Inc. (BWW) intend to continue the company’s planned 50-unit entry into the Canadian market despite a lawsuit filed by the owner of the Aurora, Ont.-based Wild Wing restaurants last week. The lawsuit is an attempt to block rival Buffalo Wild Wings from using its American trademarked brand name in Canada and asks for $1.5-million in punitive damages. It was also revealed last week that BWW hired former Wild Wing president and director of operations, Robert Stewart, as its Canadian regional manager. Founded in Sunderland, Ont., in 1999, the 80-unit Wild Wing franchise is expected to grow to 100 locations by year end.

Quebec’s CSN Focuses on Couche-Tard for Unionization
A unionization battle against convenience-store giant Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., Laval, Que., has been announced by the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN), Quebec’s second-largest union. CSN claims that a formal request for certification from 12 employees has been submitted to Quebec’s labour relations commission. Jean Lortie, head of the CSN’s retail division, said that ongoing work over several months leads him to believe employees at some 50 others stores in the Montreal area could also be signed up. “This is a big chain, a billionaire’s club chain, and we believe there is a way to get better working conditions for the workers,” he is quoted as saying in the National Post.

Target is Coming to Canada
U.S.-based retail giant, Minneapolis-based Target Corporation — with 1,700 stores and US$63.4 billion in sales — has announced a $1.825-billion plan to enter the Canadian market, buying up leaseholds of up to 220 Zellers stores owned by the historic domestic retailer Hudson’s Bay Co. (HBC). The stores will continue under the Zellers brand for “a period of time,” until plans begin to convert 150 locations to Target-branded stores in 2013 and 2014. Some 59 of the current 279 Zellers stores will continue to operate under HBC ownership. “This transaction provides an outstanding opportunity for us to extend our Target brand, Target stores and superior shopping experience beyond the United States for the first time in our company’s history,” said Gregg Steinhafel, Target chairman, president and CEO. It remains to be seen if foodservice will be featured in the Canadian stores. For more information, click here.  

A&W Revenue Royalties to Remain as Income Trust
It was announced last week that the A&W Revenue Royalties Income Fund, Vancouver, completed the reorganization of the capital structure of its subsidiary, A&W Trade Marks Inc., so that the fund could remain an income trust. Approved by unitholders at its annual general meeting May 4, 2010, the aim of the reorganization is to minimize the impact of the October 2006 Special Investment Flow Through (SIFT) tax on income trusts announced by the federal government. The SIFT tax treats an income trust similar to a corporation, requiring it to pay tax on its taxable income. For more information, click here.

Gabriel Sacratini New Chair, Imvescor Restaurant Group Inc. (IRG)
Moncton, N.B., has announced the election of company board member Gabriel Sacratini as interim Chairman of the Board following the Honourable Herb Breau’s resignation. Breau remains a director of the company and Sacratini will serve in his new position until IRG’s annual general meeting scheduled for March 16. IRG operates franchised and corporate stores throughout Canada, under four brands: Pizza Delight, Mikes, Baton Rouge and Scores.

Burger King U.S Gets “Stuffed,” Canada Gets “Angry”
The Jalapeño & Cheddar BK Stuffed Steakhouse or “first stuffed burger on a national quick-service restaurant chain menu,” has been launched in the states at Burger King. Tested in several markets since last January, the new product has been marketed with the slogan “In it. Not on it” to emphasize that cheese and jalapeños are infused into the beef patty. The limited-time only sandwich, which costs $3.99, is also dressed with a creamy poblano sauce, lettuce and tomatoes. In Canada, Burger King, which already offers a “Steakhouse XT” flame-broiled burger, is featuring its Angry Whopper, which includes jalapeños with Pepper Jack cheese, bacon, “angry onions” and “angry sauce.” For more information, click here.

Hapa Izakaya Owners to Launch New Restaurant
Lea and Justin Ault of Vancouver’s hip Hapa Izakaya Restaurant Group are preparing to open a new 150-seat restaurant called Hapa Umi. The name Umi, which means ocean in Japanese, is inspired by the restaurant’s downtown waterfront location, which will create a different ambiance than its sister eatery. “Hapa Umi will offer a more sophisticated and upscale version of the Hapa Izakaya experience with a sustainable seafood-forward menu, sushi bar and more refined service standards,” reads a company press release. The restaurant will feature a large bar, lounge and private dining room as well as a 50-seat patio. It will boast several windows offering outside views. Construction of the new restaurant is underway at 200 Burrard Street in Vancouver. It’s expected to open in March.

Credit Card Sales Climb
Canadian spending continues to increase according to Moneris Solutions, Canada’s largest payment processor. The company reports that the volume of credit card sales increased three per cent in Q4 of 2010, compared to 2009. Fast-food chains experienced big increases in terms of the volume of sales, up 20.7 per cent in 2010 compared to 2009. “2010 was definitely a good year for businesses overall, and we are confident this trend will continue in 2011,” said Jim Baumgartner, president and CEO, Moneris Solutions. For the full report, click here.

U.S. Foodservice & Hospitality Leads New Job Creation
The U.S. foodservice industry added 25,000 new jobs in December, with a 47,000 jump in employment for the leisure and hospitality sector, which was the principal job creator among 14 broad sectors the government tracks. “It’s an important sector to have growing because it…consistently adds significant numbers of jobs during expansions,” Dean Maki, chief U.S. economist at Barclays Capital told USA Today. “It’s a very reliable indicator that the overall job market is picking up.” Restaurants and other food and drinking places were among the biggest job producers of 2010, adding 188,000 positions. Hiring picked up sharply in the second half of 2010, with food and drinking establishments adding 130,000 jobs since August. “The industry’s gradual recovery is gaining a foothold,” Hudson Riehle, senior vice-president of the National Restaurant Association, is quoted as saying in USA Today. All the U.S. sectors combined added 103,000 jobs last month.

CAFP Top Management Night, Feb. 7, Toronto
The 37th Annual Top Management Night Gala Dinner & Fundraiser will be held at the International Centre in Mississauga on Monday Feb. 7. Sponsored by the Toronto Branch of the Canadian Association of Foodservice Professionals (CAFP), the evening will feature Dr. Nick Bontis, Ph.D., associate professor of Strategic Management, McMaster University and director of the Institute for Intellectual Capital Research Inc. For more information, click here.  

IFMA’s COEX, Feb 27 – Mar. 2, Orlando, Fla.
The Chain Operators Exchange (COEX), sponsored by the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA), will be held from Feb. 27 to Mar. 2 at the JW Marriot Orlando in Orlando, Fla. Created by foodservice operators, for operators, the program is designed to pinpoint innovative solutions for key industry challenges such as the economy, regulations and changing demographics. This year’s agenda will include Operator Speed Meetings to give attendees the opportunity to understand the individual needs of a broad range of national and regional chain operators. Michael LaDuke, senior director, Red Lobster and Kevin Delahunt, president, Sargento Foods, are co-chairs of the event. For more information, click here.  

Deerhurst Resort Sold to Skyline for $26M
The Muskoka, Ont.-based Deerhurst Resort, the site of the 2010 G8 Summit, has been sold for $26 million. The buyer of the 431-room property, one of the largest resorts in Canada, is Toronto-based hotelier and developer Gil Blutrich, president and CEO, Skyline International Development. The property was put on the market last July by U.S. owners Cornerstone Real Estate Advisers, LLC, Mass Mutual Financial Group and an institutional company. The resort includes two 18-hole golf courses, some 40,000 square feet of meeting and exhibition space, a private airport and 95 serviced lots, which could be ready immediately for construction as well as acres of developable land. The sale is expected to close within 30 days.

Last year Blutrich, along with partners, purchased another historic property, the King Edward hotel in Toronto for $48 million. Skyline also owns the Pantages and Cosmopolitan hotels in Toronto and has been purchasing properties in other parts of Ontario’s cottage country, including Horseshoe Valley ski and golf resort and much of the land in Port McNicoll, which includes a master plan 3,000 homes and 600 hotel rooms.

Deerhurst was purchased by the selling group in 1998 for $21.2 million, while a reported $60 million was spent on upgrades. The federal government also added more than $50-million worth of infrastructure improvements in the Muskoka area before the G8 Summit.

Choice Opens First Canadian Extended-Stay Hotel
Choice Hotels International, Inc. has opened its first Canadian extended-stay hotel property in Sherwood Park, Alta. The new MainStay Suites hotel, franchised by Choice, is owned and operated by the Remai Group of Saskatoon. Construction of the 119-room extended stay hotel initially began in late 2009. “The services and amenities of the hotel are designed to exceed the expectations of our target consumers, including relocating employees, construction companies and the oil and gas…industry,” said Barry Remai of the Remai Group. The hotel features a business centre, a fitness centre, free high-speed wireless Internet, daily continental breakfast and complimentary guest parking. Guestrooms feature a fully equipped kitchen with granite countertops, hardwood flooring, 37-inch flat-screen televisions, big work areas with bright task lighting and sofa beds.  

Old Montreal’s Place d’Armes Hôtel Celebrates 10th Anniversary
In the spring, the staff at the Place d’Armes Hôtel & Suites in Old Montreal will mark the hotel’s 10th anniversary with the help of trendy new black and white, sophisticated uniforms by well-known Montreal designer Denis Gagnon. “The Place d’sArmes Hotel & Suites is maintaining momentum, and aims to remain at the cutting edge of the newest trends in luxury, sophistication and lifestyle,” said Dimitri Antonopoulos, vice-president, Marketing and Hotel & Restaurant Development for the Antonopoulos Group. “Our customers from around the world will now be able to appreciate the vibrant creativity of our local artists.”

The Antonopoulos Group, founded by brothers Tony and Costa Antonopoulos, has holdings that include: Auberge du Vieux Port, Narcisse Bistro + Bar à vin, Terrasse de l’sAuberge du Vieux-Port, Lofts du Vieux-Port, Hotel Nelligan, Verses Restaurant, Méchant Bœuf Bar & Brasserie, Terrasse Nelligan, Le Place d’Armes Hôtel & Suites, Aix Cuisine du Terroir, Suite 701, Rainspa, Terrasse 701, Le Petit Hôtel, Galianos, Modavie Restaurant Wine Bar and Vieux-Port Steakhouse.

Fairmont Launches Lifestyle Cuisine Plus
Just in time for the new year, as healthier living resolutions become the order of the day, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts has introduced Lifestyle Cuisine Plus, a new menu, available on request, which caters to guests with specific diet-dependent health conditions and/or unique diets. Fairmont chefs are trained to prepare special dietary and allergy-specific meals and are equipped with Nutritionist Pro by Axxya Systems recipe analysis software to help customize entrées and menus. A typical Fairmont Lifestyle Cuisine Plus menu includes a selection of appetizers, entrées and desserts to address diabetes, heart health as well as vegan, raw, macrobiotic and gluten-free diets. While the same nutritional parameters guide Fairmont chefs across the globe, actual menu offerings reflect the distinctive style and food products of each destination. For example, at Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa, a gluten-free dish would include baked tofu with bean noodles; at Fairmont Beijing, Arame with sunflower seeds, chives and mustard would be a macrobiotic meal; while at Fairmont Hotel Vancouver chocolate ganache flan would serve as a vegan dessert. Fairmont Lifestyle Cuisine Plus is an extension of Fairmont Lifestyle Cuisine, which is targeted to the most common dietary requests found among guests, such as low-fat, vegetarian and low-carbohydrate concerns. Complementing the new menus are Lifestyle beverages, offering five new varieties of Fairmont wellness teas, juices, shakes and more. The dietary experience extends to guests’ homes where they can log onto everyonesanoriginal.com, for original recipes from the Lifestyle Cuisine and Lifestyle Cuisine Plus menus.

Four Seasons to Add Fourth U.K., Property in London – HVS
Planning permission for construction of the Four Seasons Hotel and Residence London at Heron Plaza has been granted, according to the HVS EMEA Hospitality Newsletter. The proposed hotel and residence is expected be part of a 43-storey high-rise tower, Heron Plaza, to be built alongside a 46-storey mixed-use Heron Tower development, owned by Heron International.

Resort Development Summit, April 27-29, Vancouver
The Annual Conference and 2011 Resort Development Summit of the Canadian Resort Development Association, will be held April 27-29 at the Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver. Special accommodation rates are available for members at the Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver and the Four Seasons Whistler Resort. For more information, click here.

 

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