Week of Nov. 1, 2010

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Restaurant Owners to be Banned from Sharing Server Tips
A bill that would prohibit Ontario restaurant employers from taking any portion of an employee’s tips or other gratuities passed its second reading in the Ontario Legislature last Friday. Bill 144, Protecting Employees’ Tips Act 2010 received verbal support from members from all three political parties, despite the fact that it was proposed by NDP MPP Michael Prue as a private member’s bill amending the Employment Standards Act, 2000. The bill would not affect servers sharing a portion of their tips and other gratuities with fellow workers who assist them, such as busboys and bartenders.

Ron Reaman Now CRFA Ontario VP
The Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA) has appointed Ron Reaman to the role of vice-president, Ontario. Reaman was previously CRFA’s vice-president of Federal Government Affairs for five years, during which time he was a member of the Health Canada-led, multi-stakeholder Sodium Working Group.

New Healthy Breakfast Choices Introduced at Tim Hortons
Tim Hortons is offering new healthy breakfast options with the release of its oatmeal and breakfast wraps. The homestyle oatmeal, available in maple or mixed-berry varieties, is slow-cooked for 45 minutes before being served. Also new on the menu, is the whole-wheat breakfast wrap, made with scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese, sauce and a choice of bacon or sausage. “Research shows Canadians are skipping breakfast less often, but in a busy, time-crunched world, they’re looking for options that are fresh, convenient and healthier,” said Donna Finelli, the director of brand marketing.

New Menu Introduced at Casey’s
The menu at Casey’s Grill • Bar has been given a makeover with four new Health Check items, 12 new dishes and a new quick-response (QR) barcode giving guests access to nutritional and allergen information about the food they’re ordering. “With the introduction of a QR code that instantly provides nutritional and allergen breakdown for every item on the menu, along with a variety of Health Check menu items, Casey’s guests can make informed decisions about what they would like to eat and what items best suit their lifestyle,” says Grant Cobb, senior vice-president, Brand Management for Casey’s parent company, Prime Restaurants. A QR barcode found on the menu can be scanned using a camera-enabled mobile phone; the user is then taken to a mobile-optimized website that lists nutritional and allergen information for each menu item. And, as an added feature, each item also includes a wine pairing recommendation. Aside from the new barcode, the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Health Check symbol appears beside the following new menu items: an 8 oz. sirloin ($18.99), cedar plank salmon ($16.99), mango mahi mahi ($15.99) and Thai tenderloin salad ($15.99). Rounding the menu off, Casey’s is offering 12 additional new items, including hamburgers, sandwiches and salads.

Webinars Power Seattle’s Best 10-Fold Franchise Growth
Seattle’s Best Coffee, a division of Starbucks Corporation, is accelerating its growth through free online webinars. In 2010, Seattle’s Best grew its points of sale tenfold, to 30,000. 2010 Canadian expansion includes: Subway Restaurants, with more than 20,000 locations in the U.S. and Canada; Burger King with 7,500 locations in the U.S. and Canada; and Mac’s Convenience Stores (division of Alimentation Couche-tard, Inc), with 600 locations in western and central Canada. The next webinar is scheduled for Nov. 10 at 1 pm. EST. For more information, click here.

Montrealer Wins Zagat Award
The Mile End Delicatessen, which carries the tagline ‘a Montreal Jewish delicatessen in Brooklyn,’ has earned the Zagat guide award for the best deli in New York City after making New York magazine’s “Best of New York” list last March. According to the National Post, Montreal native Noah Bernamoff, 28, and his wife, Rae Cohen, opened the deli in January, offering local fare and food prepared in-house. “I said to myself, delis are closing because they haven’t had a new customer in 20 years. Let’s create a climate that induces young people like myself to walk into a deli and say, ‘This is the food I want to eat,’” Bernamoff told the Post, in a story, which also noted a “Quebec gastronomic invasion” in New York.

Menchie’s to Open in Toronto Nov. 6
Torontonians hungry for Menchie’s famous frozen yogurt will not have to wait much longer. The American chain, which puts the customer in the driver’s seat, is set to open its first Toronto unit Nov. 6 at 511 Bloor St. in the Annex neighbourhood. “Menchie’s upbeat crowds bring new energy that rejuvenates retail centres, boosts foot traffic and helps increase revenue for adjacent businesses all across the United States,” Amit Kleinberger, CEO of Menchie’s Group, Inc., said earlier this year, when the brand’s first Canadian location opened in Vaughan, Ont. “We plan to bring that same energy to communities all across Canada.” Michael and David Shneer, operators of Yogurtworld Corporation, are the master franchisors of Menchie’s in Canada. The partners first sampled the yogurt last year in Los Angeles and were struck by the long line-ups and interactive approach. They were intrigued customers pay by weight for the yogurt — which comes in 100 flavours, with a choice of 40 toppings. In Canada, the cost is .49 cents per ounce. Every Canadian location will serve a daily rotating selection of 18 flavours of the famed frozen treat, which Menchie’s staff make with real milk instead of powder bases.

Tim Hortons Partners with Canada Safeway
Tim Hortons is partnering with Canada Safeway to open kiosks in four of the grocery stores across Western Canada, including one to open in Winnipeg in December. This news comes after Safeway has partnered with Starbucks Coffee Co. for about five years and features its products in 166 of its stores from Manitoba to British Columbia. “We remain very committed to Starbucks. We don’t have an exclusivity deal with anybody. Our coffee offering is determined on a store-by-store basis. We felt that by [giving] our customers an alternative coffee offering, it could be a very successful partnership as well,” Betty Kellsey, Safeway’s Calgary-based public affairs manager was quoted as saying in the Brandon Sun. “Starbucks sometimes has multiple locations within the same shopping centre. With Tim’s, we’re trying to create a balanced and unique offering for our customers.” Kellsey was non-committal about how many Tim Hortons kiosks would ultimately end up in Safeway stores.

FDA to Encourage Safety Managers in Restaurants and Stores
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wants restaurants and food retail stores nationwide to have a certified food-safety manager on staff and will urge state regulatory bodies to mandate it. This announcement follows the release of the FDA Trend Analysis Report for the period between 1998 and 2008 in which more than 800 restaurants were evaluated; it proposes certified food-safety managers might significantly help increase food-safety compliance levels. “The report…suggests that facilities that have a certified food-protection manager on site have generally greater compliance with the control of the number of risk factors. We think that suggests a good step for the retail industry to take to improve food safety,” Don Kraemer, deputy director of operations at the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, is quoted as saying on qsrmagazine.com. Restaurants were examined for five risk factors, including food from unsafe sources, bad personal hygiene, inadequate cooking, improper holding of food — based on both time and temperature — and contaminated food surfaces and equipment. The report found that fast-food restaurants had 77.8 percent compliance among 42 food-safety items in 2008. The industry had 73.7 percent compliance in 1998.

New Safe Food Handling Online Learning for Canadian Grocers
Canada’s grocery sector has developed a new online food-safety training program, called the Frontline Online Learning Program on Safe Food Handling, which includes seven courses geared to front-line employees, with a grocery-specific emphasis on how to properly handle and process food, along with a list of standard food-safety rules. Developed by the Canadian Grocery HR Council (CGHRC), with funding support from the Government of Canada’s Sector Council Program, the program was developed in collaboration with the Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors and the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers. It is part of the CGHRC’s new Frontline Online Learning system.

The Public Health Agency of Canada estimates that every year between 11 and 13 million Canadians suffer from illnesses caused by foodborne bacteria, which it says, in most cases, can be prevented by using proper food-handling processes. According to Health Canada, foodborne illnesses are the largest class of emerging infectious diseases with more than 2.2-million cases each year and estimates that the annual costs associated with these illnesses exceeds $2 billion.

KFC’s Double Down Bright Spot On Priszm’s Outlook
KFC Canada sold more than 350,000 Double Down bunless sandwiches in its first two weeks, making it KFC’s most successful new menu item ever. “It’s just been phenomenal for KFC, our customers and our franchise partners across the country,” said Dan Howe, chief marketing officer for KFC franchisor Yum! Restaurants Canada in a press release. He added that the sandwich has been especially popular in Alberta and Manitoba. The Double Down includes two pieces of bacon, two slices of cheese and sauce between two fried or grilled chicken breasts. Health critics deplore its 540 calories, 32 grams of fat and 1,380 milligrams of sodium (fried).

KFC is part of Priszm Income Fund whose other franchises include Taco Bell and Pizza Hut in Canada. According to company reports, Prizm’s third quarter 2010 financial results missed financial performance covenants on its loans in the most recent quarter and had trouble renewing franchise licences at approximately 75 of its restaurants. Total restaurant sales were $106.2 million for the third quarter, down $7.5 million from 2009 levels. Cost of restaurant sales increased by 40 basis points to 59.2 per cent versus 58.8 per cent of sales in the third quarter of 2009, attributed to food cost increases and the implementation of HST in two provinces. EBITDA for the third quarter was $8.2 million, compared to $13.7 million in the second quarter of 2009. The fund, which operates 400 restaurants in seven provinces through a limited partnership, earned $1.8-million in the quarter, compared with $3.2-million last year. Year to date, Priszm has lost $1.5-million, compared with a profit of $2.4-million last year. “While 2010 has been a trying year for us, we are optimistic about our future,” said John Bitove, Priszm’s executive chairman, in a press release. “We are confident [Yum!, our franchisor] will turn sales in Canada around as they continue to introduce new products they have tested and had success with internationally.”

Alberta Foodservice Expo is Success
The Alberta Foodservice Expo, held at the Calgary Exhibition & Stampede Grounds (BMO Centre) from Oct. 24 to 25, was highlighted by chef competitions and cooking demonstrations with stars such as Food Network Canada’s Michael Smith and educational sessions with keynote speakers, networking breakfasts and roundtables. Previously owned and operated by the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA) and known as the Alberta Foodservice Show, the event was managed by Toronto-based MediaEdge Communications Inc. who recently acquired the show, although CRFA continues as title sponsor. “As the title sponsor for the Alberta Foodservice Expo, CRFA is proud to work with its partners to bring this show back to the province,” said CRFA president and CEO, Garth Whyte. “Rich in resources to help operators grow and prosper, the Expo is a unique opportunity for restaurant professionals to network, exchange ideas and shop for new products and services.”

2011 COEX Announced
The 2011 IFMA Chain Operators EXchange (COEX), one of the largest events in the U.S. for foodservice manufacturers and operators, will feature a new twist, a forum completely planned by and for operators, according to event co-chair, Michael LaDuke, senior director, Red Lobster. Sponsored by the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA) and scheduled to run from Feb. 27 to Mar 2 at the J W Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes, Orlando, Fla., The COEX planning committee, also co-chaired by Kevin Delahunt, president, Sargento Foods, consists of multi-unit operators, 20 of them representing every sector of the foodservice industry. “As an operator, I love to see new products, recipe ideas and menu applications that could give me an edge with consumers,” LaDuke said of the event in a letter to members. For more information, click here.

P.E.I. Firm Wins Top SIAL Award
The Charlottetown-based Abbey Island Foods Ltd.’s Honibe Honey Drop has won the Global SIAL d’Or award for best new product of 2010 in the ‘Sweet, Grocery’ category at the SIAL tradeshow in France. Abbey also won the Country Award for Canada. The product, each Drop equivalent to five grams of honey, is the first pure dried honey cube created to be used to sweeten tea or coffee instead of liquid honey.

Despite disruptions across France last week at the time of the exhibition, which cut attendance by eight per cent, the Paris, France-based SIAL is the world’s largest food tradeshow, attracting 136,500 visitors of which 62 per cent were international visitors from 200 countries. There were 5,700 exhibitors, up from 5,500 in 2008. “Export was at the heart of all discussion, whether in the aisles or in the talks given by politicians visiting the exhibition,” commented SIAL S.A. general manager, Valérie Lobry. SIAL Canada, the North American marketplace, will run in Toronto from May 11 to 13, 2011.

FMI’s Sustainability Summit Announced
The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), collectively the Trading Partner Alliance (TPA), announced the 2010 Sustainability Summit to be held Dec. 6 to 9 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott, Arlington, Va. Focused on environmentally responsible solutions throughout the supply chain, which will benefit a company’s bottom line and reputation, the program is designed for manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, retail and government relations. For more information, contact Laurie Gethin at lgethin@fmi.org.

Travel Coalition Issues Paper on Canadian Tourism Industry
Canada was once a top destination that attracted guests to live, work and play, but today’s taxes and regulatory actions have contributed to a falling tourism status and, according to a new study by the National Travel and Tourism Coalition (NTTC), it will only get worse unless something is done immediately. “Since 2002, Canada has slipped from the eighth most-visited destination in the world to the 15th,” said David Goldstein, president and CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC). “If we are to compete globally and regain our position as a top 10 destination in the world, the policy-based impediments that have been built in to our sector need to be addressed.” The NTTC’s analysis, Looking to 2020 – The Future of Travel and Tourism in Canada, also contains policy recommendations for economic growth and export development, including creating a fair taxation regime and level playing field with the United States, building policies that enhance global competitiveness and establishing access to a sufficiently large and skilled labour force. “Our sector needs an adequately sized workforce if we are to succeed and compete,” said Anthony Pollard, Hotel Association of Canada (HAC) president and CEO. “We need to ensure Canada’s immigration policy and programs, that help provide us with a sufficient pool of workers and help to train them, remain[s] available going forward.” The NTTC is comprised of industry associations within the travel and tourism industry in North America, including: HAC, TIAC, the Canadian Airports Council, the International Air Transport Association and the National Airlines Council of Canada.

Motel 6 Launches New Mobile Website
With the theme “Motel 6 at Your Fingertips,” the Dallas-based Motel 6 has implemented its newly-designed mobile website, which enables users to find and book rooms, log into their My Motel 6 account, access recent stays and view future bookings made. “We know our guests are often on-the-go and rely on their mobile devices to provide quick access to important information,” said Olivier Poirot, CEO for Accor North America, Motel 6 and Studio 6. “The design of our mobile website offers guests a simple and quick way to locate the right Motel 6 for their travel needs.”

159-Room Comfort Suites, Sault Ste Marie, Ont. Opens
The 159-room Comfort Suites, Sault Ste Marie, Ont., was one of 23 new franchised properties opened by Silver Spring, Md.,-based Choice Hotels International, Inc. during the month of September. This all-suites hotel offers a free full breakfast, a business centre, free weekday newspaper, on-site bowling, beauty shop, restaurant, health club/spa, indoor heated pool and whirlpool/hot tub, meeting room facilities, sauna and staff massage therapist. Guestrooms offer flat screen/Plasma TVs, free high-speed Wi-Fi, microwaves and refrigerators while select rooms also offer wet bars and robes.

176-Room Holiday Inn Laval-Montreal Now Open
The 176-room Holiday Inn Laval-Montreal opens today, Nov. 1. Described as a “Next-Generation” Holiday Inn, the $3.5-million property is part of the IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group) and is owned and managed by Westmont Hospitality. The property is also part of the brand’s re-launch program, which draws from research about issues that matter most to guests. Feature include: upgraded lobby areas, a Holiday Inn scent and sound, new bedding, upgraded showers and bathroom amenities, new exterior lighting and landscaping and new signage with the redesigned logo. The 142,000-sq.-ft. Holiday Inn Laval-Montreal includes Restaurant le Zircon, which offers the standard Holiday Inn Best-4-Breakfast menu, 7,900-sq.-ft. of function space and a variety of other amenities such as an on-site pool and workout facilities.

 

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