Week of July 12, 2010

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Study Says Used Tim Hortons Coffee Cups Can Power Your Car
The future for discarded Tim Hortons coffee cups could be in your gas tank, according to two microbiologists at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. Richard Sparling and David Levin said they are able to generate about 1.3 litres of ethanol from about 100 Tim Hortons cups. Ethanol, considered a “green fuel” and frequently blended with petroleum products, is currently produced largely from agricultural crops such as corn, wheat and sugarcane, but economists have found that its manufacturing competes with food production and forces up food prices. Last year, becoming conscious of the volume of cups being used at four Tim Hortons’ stores on the university’s campus, they wondered if cups might make a suitable “food” for the bacteria that are use to make biofuels such as ethanol or even hydrogen.

Researchers have been looking into alternative sources, particularly those based on cellulose such as wood chips and wheat straw, which bacteria can digest using processes like steam explosion and acid treatment. “That takes a tremendous amount of energy and money,” Levin explained to The Globe and Mail. “We have so much [Tim Hortons] biomass, it would be a shame not to use it,” Sparling added. Their process involves putting cups through a paper shredder and creating a mulch resembling pink cotton candy. That increases the surface area that the bacteria can start munching on after being loaded into a bioreactor, where the environment, including the temperature and pH, is controlled to make the bacteria comfortable and help it process the mulch efficiently. Then the bacteria are added, and they go to work. The end result — ethanol and hydrogen, along with some acetic acid and carbon dioxide, which can also be use as fuel. The researchers estimate it will take three to five years more to develop a process for turning cups into fuel that could be commercialized. They have talked with Tim Hortons officials about possible funding of the work required.

G20 Whacked Toronto Restaurants with Up to 67 per cent in Sales Decline
The recent G20 Summit socked Toronto retailers, restaurants, travel and entertainment providers with a decline in sales throughout the metro area, with restaurants in some areas dropping as much as 67 per cent, according to Canada’s largest payments processor, Toronto-based Moneris Solutions Corp. For the June 25 to 27 period, city-wide sales declined 9.3 per cent and transactions fell 14.99 per cent versus the previous weekend (June 18 to 29). Hardest hit were operations within the 20-block, downtown, fenced-off security zone, with sales falling 28 per cent and transactions dropping 41 per cent. Restaurants in the surrounding security zone had a 66.59 per cent plunge in sales and a 56.22 per cent slide in transactions. Downtown stores outside the security zone fell 11 per cent in sales and transactions dropped 16 per cent. Overall, downtown restaurants suffered a 33 per cent drop in sales and 25 per cent decline in transactions. Moneris, which is owned by Royal Bank of Canada and Bank of Montreal, attributed much of the decline to “employers suggesting their staff work from home during the Summit.” The Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association has been lobbying the federal government for full compensation for restaurant owners and employees affected by the G20. They have a G20 Summit Survey in process and have opened a G20 Hotline at (416) 649-4214 to answer member questions.

Firkin Debuts 400-Seat Flagship Location in Toronto
The now 29-unit, Firkin Group of Pubs, based in Markham, Ont., has unveiled its new flagship location — The Firkin on King in downtown Toronto. Formerly a TD Bank branch, the design of the full-service English pub melds seamlessly with the original marble flooring, wood panelling and existing structural elements of the former bank. Combined with the main bar area upstairs and the bar and dining room in the basement, the pub boasts seating for nearly 400 people, making it one of the group’s largest to date. The Firkin on King will serve an extensive lunch and dinner menu, a brunch menu on weekends and a late-night menu. “With all the planning, meetings and construction logistics we’ve worked through over the past few months, it is exciting that The Firkin on King has finally opened for business in such a thriving urban community,” said Dan Targonsky, general manager.

Sportscene Group Reports Record Third Quarter, 50th Unit to Open
Sportscene Restaurant Group Inc., based in Boucherville, Que., has reported record quarterly earnings of $1.6 million, period ended May 30, on a five per cent total network sales gain, rising to $31.7 million compared with $30.2 million in 2009. EBITDA improved from 14.7 per cent in the third quarter of 2009 to 15.8 per cent this year. The gains are attributed to increased profit margins in most activities, lower financial expenses and a favourable sports entertainment environment arising from the Montreal Canadiens’ participation in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The solid Q3 results reversed declines experienced during the first two quarters of fiscal 2010.

Nine month earnings increased 5.8 per cent to $4.2 million for the La Cage Aux Sports resto-bar chain, although total network sales and revenues were down slightly, compared with the same period in 2009. EBITDA increased by 2.1 per cent to $9.3 million, and the EBITDA margin improved from 14.4 per cent in 2009 to 15.1 per cent in 2010. President and CEO, Jean Bédard reported in a press release, “Sportscene’s management believes the economic recovery that is gradually materializing should start to have a positive effect on the restaurant industry toward the end of 2010. We intend to capitalize on our recent achievements to resume our expansion projects and the growth of our banner as of fiscal 2011.” Sportscene has begun construction of the network’s 50th Cage unit — a large outlet in the East End of Montreal, which will open at the end of the first quarter of fiscal 2011. The company will also set up a foodservices concession inside a sports complex in Boisbriand, Que.

Nimby Burger Opens Beachside in Vancouver
A classic beachside burger shack, the new Nimby Burger, has opened at the corner of Cornwall and Yew in Vancouver’s Kits Beach neighbourhood by the Fuller family of Earls and Joey Restaurants fame. Nimby is an acronym for Not-In-My-Back-Yard. The Nimby Burger at Kits Beach is a casual, walk-up window concept, with burgers made from 100-per-cent premium chuck beef and hand-cut fries made from Yukon Gold potatoes, which are fried to order and sea-salted. “Nimby Burger was inspired by countless road trips down the coast to California with my father, Bus,” said Jeff Fuller, president of the Joey Restaurant Group, in a company release. “There’s nothing quite like the taste of the burgers from those beachside joints in California. There’s just something about the surf and the sun, with a juicy burger and a shake.” During the summer, Nimby Burger will be open from 11 a.m. daily.

$100,000 Donated to Tim Horton Children’s Foundation
The Canadian government has made a $100,000 donation to the Tim Horton Children’s Foundation (THCF) and its camp program on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II, as part of Her Majesty’s Royal Visit to Canada. Announced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper during the farewell Toronto dinner honouring the Queen’s visit, the money will go towards expanding the horsemanship program at the Foundation camp in Kananaskis, Alta. The funds will be used for the purchase of new horses and the doubling of its stables to allow 200 more economically disadvantaged children to enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime experience of caring for and riding a horse. THCF president Bill Moir commented, “For many underprivileged children, the chance to work up close with a horse is rare. The thrill of caring for and then riding a horse becomes an incredible learning and growth experience.” THCF’s camps will host some 14,000 children this year, teaching life skills such as teamwork and confidence in a setting that includes activities like white water rafting and rock climbing.

New Foodservice Guinness World Records Set in Toronto
Two foodservice Guinness World Records have just been set in Toronto. On July 4, Bob Blumer, host of Glutton for Punishment on Food Network Canada, set a record for building the most pizzas by an individual in an hour. At the recent Corso Italia Festival, Blumer’s record performance saw him make 168 cheese and tomato pizzas in just 60 minutes, which translates to approximately one pie every 21 seconds. On July 8, the Dairy Farmers of Canada followed suit, building the world’s largest smoothie at the Bust-a-Record Dairy Day held at the city’s waterfront. “Setting a new Guinness World Record with the All-Canadian Blueberry Smoothie is a wonderful way to celebrate our Canadian dairy producers and the purity, high quality and great taste of dairy products made from 100-per-cent Canadian milk,” said Jacques Laforge, president. The 1,000-litre smoothie included 550 litres of milk, 300 kilograms of frozen blueberries, 150 litres of vanilla yogurt and 35 litres of honey blended in a 1,200-litre stainless steel bolt tank.

Bordeaux Wine Festival May be Coming to Quebec City
A feasibility study for creating a Bordeaux Wine Festival event in 2012 in Quebec City has been agreed to by Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume and the CIVB Bordeaux Wine Council, producers of the original festival, which has been hosted annually for the past seven years in Bordeaux, France. The 2010 event, held June 24 to 27, attracted a delegation of several hundred Quebeckers, who took advantage of a new Air Transat direct-air link with Bordeaux to come to the festival. Bordeaux and Quebec City are “twinned” cities, and 2012 would mark the 50th anniversary of that event. Highlights of the 2010 Bordeaux Wine Festival, which for the first time featured a province of Quebec pavilion, included: 500,000 visitors from France and abroad; 50,000 tasting pass holders; and 52,000 bottles opened.

Technomic’s Top 200 Chains Report Shows One Per cent Sales Growth in 2009
The Top 200 branded Canadian restaurant chains increased sales by one per cent and increased overall units by 1.3 per cent in 2010, despite the hangover of the recession, according to Chicago-based hospitality researcher Technomic Inc. Total sales of the group reached $23.9 billion, as reported in the new 2010 Technomic Top 200 Canadian Chain Restaurant Report. The brand performance analysis showed that Tim Hortons led the industry in 2009 with sales of $4.9 billion, followed by McDonald’s with sales of $2.7 billion and Subway at $1.1 billion.

“The Top 200 Canadian chains continue to grow sales while cautiously growing units by adapting their concepts to meet the needs of today’s Canadian consumer,” says Darren Tristano, EVP at Technomic. “By focusing beyond pricing to key factors such as food quality and freshness, the leading chains have created a new value paradigm that may include premium, organic and local ingredients, as well as better-for-you foods.” Tristano also acknowledged that enhanced store interiors, including features such as free Wi-Fi, are encouraging customers to linger and connect — ideally with those same chain brands through social media outlets. For more information, click here or contact Cody Aguillard at (312) 506-3862 or caguillard@technomic.com.

S. Pellegrino Bottle Re-Christened
For the first time in more than a century, S. Pellegrino Sparkling Natural Mineral Water will have a new label created by renowned Italian designer Missoni. The bottles are slated to be available in September at fine-dining restaurants across the country. “The goal of this initiative is to create synergies amongst Italian companies of international renown to express Italian culture and style,” explains M.J. Somerville, senior marketing manager of Nestlé Waters Canada. “The result is a new design that evokes and amplifies S. Pellegrino Sparkling Natural Mineral Water’s characteristics of freshness, transparency and radiance — all within the framework of Missoni’s distinctive zig-zag motif.” The special edition 1-litre glass bottle comes in four colours.

Seattle’s Best Coffee Destined for Burger King
This fall, Starbucks will be introducing its Seattle’s Best brand at Burger King stores throughout Canada, according to a joint announcement last Thursday. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Seattle-based Starbucks has been revamping its Seattle’s Best brand and expanding its availability through franchises and expansion with other retailers. It also plans to have the coffee available by September at Burger King franchises in the U.S. Starbucks has other deals in place with Alaska Airlines, Borders bookstores and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines to sell Seattle’s Best, after acquiring the brand in 2003.

CIPHI Issues National Warning
A nationwide warning for restaurants and food retailers, regarding fake inspections, has been issued by the Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors (CIPHI), based in London, Ont. Issued by national CIPHI president Adam Grant on July 9, the notice states, “Hundreds of restaurant and retail store operators across Canada have been contacted in the last two to three months by individuals impersonating public health inspectors, public health officials or food inspectors. The caller often indicates there is a problem with the establishment and asks for detailed business and personal information.” He continues, “The purpose of the scam is to extort money from operators and, in some cases, to set up fake identities via websites in order to fraudulently sell goods or services. These websites require a phone call to verify an identity before setting up an account. The operators are being duped into participating in this scam.” Operators are threatened with large monetary fines if they do not co-operate.

CIPHI advises that public health professionals that conduct food inspections do not usually contact operators to schedule inspections and will also carry photo identification. It urges operators, “If you are approached by an individual claiming to be an inspector, we encourage you to ask for proper identification if you are not familiar with the inspector. If you suspect that you have been contacted by someone impersonating an inspector, report the incident to your local police service, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (1-888-495-8501, phonebusters.com or your local Health Department.”

 

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