Week of March 22, 2010

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Compass Group Canada CEO, Jack MacDonald, Announces Retirement
Late last week, Jack MacDonald, CEO of Compass Group Canada and ESS North America, announced his plans to retire in October. MacDonald has been heading up the massive Mississauga, Ont.-based contract-catering company since 1996. In a letter to friends and colleagues, MacDonald stated that when he joined the company as CEO, Compass’ revenue base was approximately $67 million and it employed 3,000 associates. Today, its managed revenue is approaching $1.5 billion and Compass employs almost 25,000. “To say it best, it has been one heck of a ride,” said MacDonald. “I feel very honoured to have been part of the team that’s climbed a mountain never before dreamt of, in our sector of the hospitality industry.”

After MacDonald hands over the leadership of the day-to-day operations to a yet-to-be-determined successor, Gary Green, CEO, Compass Group North America, has requested that he stay on as chairman of the organization until September 2012, to assist the new CEO as he oversees the future growth and success of the company. Said MacDonald, “As I look to the future of Compass Group Canada and ESS North America, I believe strongly that our associates and our leadership, with the continued support of our colleagues in the U.S., will lead our businesses to new and greater heights. I’m proud to have been part of the team that has taken us to the position of leadership that we occupy today…I have often said my legacy will be the talented women and men I’ve been able to bring to Compass. Thanks to each of you for helping me achieve that goal.”

Total Salt Ban in Restaurant Foods Proposed in New York State
A total ban on the use of salt in restaurant food prep has been proposed in a bill filed in the New York State Assembly, including a $1,000 fine for every infraction. Proposed last week by Brooklyn Democratic State Assemblyman, Felix Ortiz, the bill states, “No owner or operator of a restaurant in this state shall use salt in any form in the preparation of any food.” A ban on dietary sodium has long been demanded by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, calling for a 75 per cent reduction of salt in all foods (restaurant as well as prepared retail products). Some of New York’s top chefs have blasted the idea, according to a story in the New York Daily News. Chef Tom Colicchio, owner of the Craft Restaurant group and star of the Top Chef series on the Food Network, commented, “New York City is considered the restaurant capital of the world. If they banned salt, nobody would come here anymore.” He added, “Anybody who wants to taste food with no salt, go to a hospital and taste that.”

New York City’s 24,000 restaurants will also now have to display a letter-grade food-safety inspection report near their entrances under regulations passed last week by the city’s Board of Health. The best restaurants will get an A, scaling down to a B or C based on demerit points accumulated, although final details of the program have not yet been determined. Other U.S. cities currently employ similar rating systems or are considering them. New York City’s restaurant inspection reports are posted online.

Halifax’s Chickenburger Celebrates 70th Birthday
Last week, the iconic Chickenburger retro restaurant, located just off of Bedford Highway in Halifax, celebrated its 70th birthday. A new book entitled The Life and Times of the Chickenburger has been released to commemorate the occasion. On hand for the book launch was 90-year-old co-founder Bernice Innes, who opened the business with her husband, Jack, on March 19, 1940. Widely recognized for its neon Chickenburger rooster sign, the highly successful restaurant has grown in size and stature since its inception, but otherwise it looks much like it did when the Innes family redeveloped the Shady Side canteen seven decades ago. The soft-cover publication includes many memories about the early days of the landmark business, built around stories and photographs shared with local author Eleanor Beaton. Proceeds from the book ($9.99) sold at the restaurant will be donated to Palooka’s Boxing Club and to cancer research in memory of Jack Innes. The Chickenburger was rumoured to be scheduled for redevelopment in 2007, but local entrepreneur Mickey MacDonald acquired it for his Micco Companies group of businesses, which includes about 16 different operations. His son, Colin MacDonald, is general manager at the restaurant.

Concurrently, Mickey MacDonald has acquired full control of Vin Art Wines, one of only four privately owned specialty liquor stores in Nova Scotia. He previously held a 49 per cent equity position in Vin Art, purchased last fall from the Alberta Liquor Stores Income Fund. Vin Art was awarded a private liquor store licence in 2002.

B.C. Levies Raw Milk Ban
British Columbia’s Supreme Court has banned the sale of raw milk in the province. This latest ban comes after dairy farmer Michael Schmidt won a similar case in Ontario, which is currently being appealed. In its decision, the B.C. Supreme Court rejected the same type of co-op structure that Smith created to help win his case for sharing unpasteurized milk in Ontario — the key being that he wasn’t selling it, but distributing it privately to members. Chilliwack, B.C.’s Home on the Range dairy was hopeful that the Smith case would set a precedent for B.C., but Supreme Court Justice Miriam Gropper did not agree. The dairy was ordered to stop selling its raw milk last week, as public officials deemed it a health hazard under the Public Health Act. Raw milk advocates believe that the product is a healthier alternative to pasteurized milk.

Best Western Hosts Annual Travel Summit
Toronto’s Board of Trade once again played host to Best Western’s annual travel summit, a chance for the hotel company’s executives and a few invited guests from the industry to talk with the city’s media types about recent travel trends and the general state of the industry. This year’s edition of the panel, moderated by Best Western’s Canadian travel expert and prodigious blogger, Bryson Forbes, featured Dorothy Dowling, Best Western’s senior vice-president of Marketing and Sales, Tony Pollard, president of the Hotel Association of Canada and Marcia Van Frederici, vice-president, Business Travel Client Management for American Express, Business Travel.

In general, the panel’s overall mood was lighter this year, as the global recession slides further out of sight. However, with the economy still volatile, particularly south of the border, all three panellists were careful to qualify their optimism. While Pollard pointed out reasons to be bullish on Canadian travel in general — noting a 5.7 per cent GDP growth in the last quarter — he also pointed out Canada’s growing and probably permanent travel deficit. “We’ll always have a travel deficit,” he said. “We live in a cold winter climate and everyone is going to want to escape to the warm sun every once and a while.” But the issue is that in 2000, that deficit was about $1 billion — it’s up to $14 billion right now. For her part, Dowling said she was confident in a slow return to a new normal, but also reminded attendees of the troubled state of the U.S. market. “We still have to remember that in the U.S., one in every four or five hotels will be returning their keys to the bank,” she said.

Picking up on that idea of the new normal, business travel expert Van Frederici said that it would certainly shape the world of corporate travel moving forward. “The new normal is the buzz word in business travel,” she said. “Business people are still travelling; they’re just doing so more smartly. Everyone is doing it with a heightened awareness of the cost of travel, and they’re aware of it at a very senior level. The corporate traveller is being asked to move to the back of the plane.” It’s that cost reticence that Dowling says has, and will continue to be a boon for Best Western. “A positive from the past year is that we have gotten some consideration from clients that we never did before. When companies are looking at their RFP considerations, they are all much more sophisticated in their understanding of the real costs of travel. It is added costs like breakfast, parking and Internet access — which during a business trip can add up to another night’s worth of accommodation — so they’re starting to understand it’s about more than the room rate,” she said.

So what was the most prominent prediction for the next 12 months? The panel agreed there would be growth, albeit modest. Said Pollard, “Let’s face it; it can’t get much worse.”

OHI Gold Award Honourees, Fellows, Announced
The honourees for the OHI Gold Awards of the Ontario Hostelry Institute have been announced. The new honourees will be recognized at the gala Gold Awards Dinner on April 15, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto. The Chairman’s Gold award will go to cookbook authors Anna and Michael Olson. Other awardees, by category, are: Foodservice Chain Operator, James Chiu, president, Mandarin Restaurant; Independent Restaurateur, Guy and Michael Rubino, co-owners, Ame (and formerly Rain, Zoom and Luce); Hotelier, Peter Elmhirst, owner Elmhirst Resort; Educator, writer and wine educator Linda Bramble, Ph. D.; Media/Publishing, David Kent, president and CEO, HarperCollins Canada Ltd.; Chef Amar Patel, owner, Indian Rice Factory; and Supplier, Ontario Food Terminal, chair, Cameron Rundle.

New OHI Fellows for 2010 are: Anthony John, the Manic Organic of Soiled Reputation Farm; Jonathan Gushue, Langdon Hall Country House Hotel & Spa; Michael Steh, Reds Bistro; Scott Vivian, The Wine Bar/Hank’s; Sasha Chapman, food writer; Jason Bangerter, Auberge du Pommier; Lorenzo Loseto, Verity/George Restaurant; Mark Cutrara, Cowbell; Dick Snyder, editor, writer, City Bites; Tawfik Shehata; Vertical; Rebecca LeHeup, executive director, OCTA; Nigel Didcock, Granite Club; Bettina Shormann, Ancaster Old Mill Inn; Mario Pinque, Niagara Specialty Foods; Elizabeth Driver, writer, instructor, culinary historian; Owen Steinberg, Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts; Nicolette Novak, The Good Earth Cooking School & Food Co.; Yasser Qahauish; Artisanale Cafe & Restaurant; Martha Wright, FRANK at the AGO; and Jennifer Agg, Black Hoof restaurant.

61-Room Days Inn — Brampton Now Open
A 61-room conversion property, the Days Inn — Brampton, has been added to the Toronto-based Realstar Hospitality portfolio. The property is located in Brampton, Ont., 20 minutes from Lester B. Pearson International Airport. “The Days Inn brand continues to grow throughout Canada,” said Irwin Prince, president and COO, Realstar Hospitality. “The Days Inn — Brampton is the fifth Days’ location in the Greater Toronto Area.” The property offers free Daybreak Café breakfast, free high-speed Internet access, free parking to all guests and is a 100 per cent smoke-free hotel.

Group Ordering Program Launched for Chipotle Mexican Grill in Toronto
A group ordering program called Burritos by the Box, a system for placing bulk orders, has been introduced by Canada’s first Chipotle Mexican Grill, which is located at Yonge-Dundas Square in downtown Toronto. As of March 15, customers can place orders of six or more burritos. Customers have the option to choose from chicken, steak, barbacoa, carnitas or vegetarian burritos, assembled with the same core ingredients of rice, black beans, mild salsa and cheese. Chipotle strives to offer local ingredients, and 100 per cent of its pork and beef comes from sustainable sources. The pork is sourced from DuBreton in Quebec and the beef and chicken are from Beretta Farms, just outside of Toronto.

Fairmont Baku to Open in 2011 in Azerbaijan
Fairmont Hotels & Resorts has signed an agreement to manage a new, 347-guest room luxury hotel property in the coastal city of Baku, Azerbaijan, on the Caspian Sea. The Fairmont Baku is being developed by Azinko Development M.M.C., a state-registered holding company based in the Azerbaijan Republic. Thomas W. Storey, president of Toronto-based Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, commented, “With the acceleration of Baku’s oil and natural gas-rich economy and the growing demand for business and leisure hospitality, we feel Azerbaijan is an ideal fit for the Fairmont portfolio of distinctive properties. ”Scheduled for opening in early 2011, the new complex includes hotel, residential and commercial space, which will be linked by centrally located retail and leisure facilities.

HoJo Swift Current is 62nd Howard Johnson Property
Oakville, Ont.-based Howard Johnson Canada reports that the 141-room Imperial 400 hotel in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, will be rejoining its franchise system as the HoJo Swift Current. A $700,000, eight-week renovation project will enhance the lobby, guest rooms, public areas, facilities and the exterior of the building. “We see the potential to make this hotel a fantastic destination property,” said Charan Rangi, a member of the new ownership group. There are currently 62 Howard Johnson properties across Canada.

CRFA’s B.C. Expo to Host ICA Education Day, April 26
The 2010 B.C. Foodservice Expo, owned and operated by the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association, will host the International Caterers Association’s (ICA) Regional Education Day for the first time on Monday, April 26. The Foodservice Expo is scheduled for April 25 and 26 at the Vancouver Convention Centre. The ICA event, themed “Sixty Catering Ideas in 60 Minutes,” will feature discussions on sales, marketing and design topics; key speakers; pop-up seminars; a roundup of catering trends; and networking opportunities. Expo attendees will be granted free admission to ICA’s seminar. ICA is headquartered in Camp Hill, Pa.

Manitowoc Named Energy Star Partner of 2010
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has singled out Manitowoc Foodservice as the 2010 Energy Star partner of the year, an accomplishment that was celebrated at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., last week. “EPA is recognizing Manitowoc Foodservice for taking the lead in addressing climate change through its commitment to energy efficiency,” said Gina McCarthy, EPA assistant administrator for Air and Radiation. “Manitowoc Foodservice brands are producing and promoting products that have earned the Energy Star-rating, showing customers that together, we can increase our nation’s energy efficiency and reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases.” The equipment manufacturer continues to invest in research and development of products that benefit the customer’s bottom line and the environment, contributing to Energy Star’s $17-billion reduction of American’s energy bills in 2009. In fact, last year, the company’s Energy Star portfolio increased by 50 per cent. “We’re not just selling an ice machine or a fryer; we’re going beyond to address customer needs such as energy conservation, operating efficiency and culinary R&D. It is an honour to have our ongoing efforts recognized by the EPA,” said Mike Kachmer, president of Manitowoc Foodservice.

Peter Yesawich to Discuss Future of Tourism at Humber College
Tourism visionary Peter Yesawich will be presenting the first Executive in Residence lecture at Humber College, School of Hospitality, Recreation and Tourism on Wednesday, March 24 in the Gordon Food Service Humber Room. A dinner will follow the 5:30 p.m. lecture, which is titled “The Triple Witching Hour — The Future of Tourism 2020.” There is a charge of $55 for the event, which will go towards student scholarships. Recognized around the world, Yesawich is chairman and CEO of Ypartnership, a marketing, advertising and public relations agency, serving travel, leisure hospitality and entertainment clients. For information: crystal.pole-langdon@humber.ca; Tel: (416) 675-6622 x5194.

Golden Toque Annual Meeting, Oct. 1-3, Providence, R.I.
The 2010 Annual Meeting & Reunion of the Honourable Order of the Golden Toque will be held on the campus of Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I., from Oct. 1 to 3. This meeting is also a major election year for the Golden Toque officers as well as for two of its board members.

MUFSO/FSTEC to Combine Venues, Dates in 2011
The Multi-Unit Foodservice Operators (MUFSO) conference and the Foodservice Technology Conference and Showcase (FSTEC) will share the same venue and dates for the first time in 2011. Both are scheduled for Sept. 25 to 28 at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas. The co-location is expected to continue in subsequent years, but FSTEC and MUFSO will retain separate conference agendas, educational programs, exhibit floors, registrations and sponsorship packages. Both FSTEC and MUFSO are produced by Nation’s Restaurant News. The MUFSO 2010 conference will be held Oct. 3 to 5 at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando, Fla.

University of Guelph Offers Online MBA in Hospitality
A two-year online MBA graduate degree program, which offers specializations in either Hospitality and Tourism Management or Food and Agribusiness Management, is now available at the University of Guelph, College of Management and Economics. The program is the only one of its kind. Designed for foodservice and hospitality professionals so they can remain on the job while they enhance their knowledge and skills, the program uses state-of-the-art interactive computer technology and provides students maximum flexibility in their use of time. A companion 20-month Online MA (Leadership) program is also available, offering a broad multi-disciplinary approach that deals with leadership issues relevant to the public, private and not-for-profit sectors The MA (Leadership) program combines e-Learning with residential components. For information: email: plago@uoguelph.ca.

PKF’s 2009 Lodging Sector Report Posted on HAC Website
Canada’s Lodging Sector report for 2009 is now available on the Hotel Association of Canada’s (HAC) website. Compiled by PKF Consulting Inc. for the HAC, the report shows annual revenues of $17.5 billion for Canada’s 8,400 hotels, motels and resorts. It also includes 2008 results based on operating revenue from PKF’s trends in the hotel industry and its hotel industry supply database. Other features such as value-added, direct and indirect government revenues, salaries and wages and employment have been based on ratios reflected in HAC’s Economic Impact Model.

Social Media Now Mainstream in Foodservice — Technomic
Social media has gone mainstream — even in foodservice — and it’s growing more pervasive and continually offering new technology, says Kevin Higar, senior manager, Technomic Inc. Higar was speaking at the Foodservice 2010 — Trends and Directions Conference held in Toronto during the CRFA Show, and he cautioned that while social networking is best known for Facebook and Twitter, it includes dozens of other services offering content and social interaction. Canadians are world leaders in using social networking tools such as Facebook, with 81 per cent of Canadian consumers holding a Facebook account, versus 57 per cent in the U.S. Many foodservice operators have been active in developing social media messaging, with McDonald’s having 1.7 million fans on Facebook, Tim Hortons having 516,500 friends and Second Cup counting some 10,300 fans.

 

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