Week of Nov. 2, 2009

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foodserviceandhospitality.com Now Offers Daily News Reports by Region, Nationally
foodserviceandhospitality.com, the flagship site for Foodservice and Hospitality magazine and Hotelier magazine, has undergone a web-novation, as it’s maintained its original address but completely changed its content and look. Among the many new features made possible through enhanced technology and additional staff resources, the site now provides the most extensive, updated daily news, nationally and by region, across Canada, while also keeping an eye on international news, where events bare consequences for Canada. Daily news coverage includes activities in every sector of the supply chain as it affects the foodservice sector. Rich with resources, the site features digital issues of Foodservice and Hospitality and Hotelier magazine, signature reports, white papers, blogs, profiles on the industry’s leading movers and shakers, hot new concepts, food and equipment trends, coming events and the most comprehensive Buyer’s Guide detailing the industry’s leading suppliers. foodserviceandhospitality.com is a one-stop information source for everything you need to know about Canada’s vibrant $57-billion foodservice industry. We hope you enjoy the changes, and by all means, tell us what you think. Email: prenaud@foodservice.ca.

Kostuch Publications Announces 2009 Pinnacle Award Winners
Kostuch Publications has announced the 2009 winners of the Pinnacle Awards. This year’s winners for Foodservice and Hospitality include: McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada as the Company of the Year, National; Oliver & Bonacini Restaurants as Regional Company of the Year; Yannick Bigourdan, David Lee and Franco Prevedello of Toronto’s Nota Bene restaurant as Independent Restaurateurs of the Year; Ocean Wise as Supplier of the Year and the Keg Restaurants as winner of the Franchise Excellence Award. The winners of Hotelier magazine’s Pinnacle Awards include: Atlific Hotels as Company of the Year, National; Monte Carlo Hotel Motel International as Company of the Year, Regional; David Mounteer, Auberge St. Antoine as Hotelier of the Year; and HCA Architecture as Supplier of the Year. In making the announcement, Rosanna Caira, editor and publisher stated, “Though 2009 has not been a stellar year for either the restaurant or hotel industries, this year’s winners aptly reflect the dedication, commitment and innovation that are the hallmark of these vibrant industries.” The achievements of these winners will be celebrated at the 21st annual Pinnacle Award luncheon, to be held on Dec. 3 in the Canadian Room of Toronto’s Fairmont Royal York Hotel. For information on how to obtain tickets, please call 416-447-0888 or email kpetrovich@foodservice.ca.

Vancouver Restaurants Up in Arms with 50/50 Food/Wine Ratio
A Vancouver city by-law, approved by council Oct. 8 and coming into effect Jan. 1, requires that the food portion of all restaurant receipts account for 50 per cent or more of all receipts over any eight-hour period. To add insult to injury, the city is also planning a $3-per-seat annual tax on all city restaurants, raising the money required to hire food inspectors who will make sure restaurants comply with the new by-law. Intended to foil restaurants that are principally bars with little food, the by-law also affects any restaurant with a wine list offering a quality, premium price, wine product. Ian Tostenson, president of the B.C. Restaurant and Food Services Association, described the move as “the death knell for upper-end wine sales at all but the most [food price] expensive restaurants.” He stated: “We are going into the Olympics; we want to showcase British Columbia; we want to showcase B.C. wines and B.C. wines are not known for being inexpensive so that could kill it. The waiter could end up saying ‘sSorry, I can’st sell you that $45 bottle of wine.’” Wine lawyer Mark Hicken, writing on his blog Winelaw.ca, sets a scenario: “Customer: A bottle of the Caymus Cabernet please. Waiter: Sorry, sir, I am afraid you’sll have to order something cheaper. It’s a little slow in here tonight and we can’st sell any more expensive wine unless we sell more food. Sound ridiculous? Perhaps, not in Vancouver.” He adds, “As the Olympics approach, this is a huge backward step for the modernization of wine laws in Vancouver.” James Iranzad of Corkscrew Entertainment, creators of The Wine Experience, the only nationally syndicated radio show and the creators of WineExperience.com, has started organizing restaurateurs to fight the by-law. Corkscrew also operates three restaurants in the city: Hell’s Kitchen, Abigail’s Party and The Flying Tiger. Anthony Gismondi, editor-in-chief of Wine Access magazine commented, “Drinking at home could well become a favourite Vancouver passed time…if the new harebrained 50/50 rules are enforced in city restaurants there will be no point in eating out.” The new city seat-tax and by-law follows the B.C. government’s recent announcement it will introduce a harmonized sales tax (HST), beginning July 1. This new tax would replace the five per cent goods and services tax (GST) and the seven per cent provincial sales tax (PST) with a harmonized tax of 12 per cent. At present, restaurant meals are only subject to the five per cent GST (no PST).

Tim Hortons Reports Strong Third Quarter, Cautious About Sluggish Economy
Tim Hortons Inc., Oakville, Ont. has reported a strong sales and same store sales (SSS) performance in the third quarter, with sales revenues up 10.7 per cent and SSS up 3.1 per cent in Canada and 4.3 per cent in the U.S. Year-to-date SSS are up 2.8 per cent in Canada and down 0.6 per cent in the U.S. The quarterly earnings results were impacted by costs and tax item impacts arising from the Canadian public company reorganization with operating income increasing only 5.4 per cent to $129.2 million. Cost of sales also rose 11.9 per cent in the third quarter, impacted by new products managed through the supply chain and increased product costs primarily associated with commodity cost increases. As a result, net income for Tim Hortons was $4.8 million in the third quarter, compared to $5.3 million in the year prior. Don Schroeder, president and CEO, commented, “The underlying performance of our business was healthy in the third quarter and our results continue to demonstrate the strength and resilience of our brand.” Last week, the company warned investment analysts that SSS in Canada could slow due to the sluggish economy and come in at the low end or slightly below its target of three per cent to five per cent growth. “Everyone had projected by the third quarter that we would probably see some real recovery,” Don Schroeder said. “There is some [recovery] in some parts of the country, but at best it is sluggish to date.” The company currently has 2,971 stores in Canada and 550 in the U.S.

Best Western Expected to Support Choice in Battle with Expedia
Best Western International members and executives expressed support for Choice International in its posting battle with Expedia.com and Hotels.com. (See Choice International Blackballed by Expedia and Hotels.com here.) According to Hotels magazine, and on its website, Best Western members “indicated they’d be willing to join Choice Hotels International in pulling Best Western hotels from Expedia,” and that “Best Western is balking at Expedia’s demand for last-room availability, a three-year term with no exit clause and a 25 per cent net rate.” Speaking at its annual convention last week, Dorothy Dowling, senior vice-president, Marketing and Sales, said Best Western was working with Expedia’s competitors “far more aggressively to define our market share” and to establish “more favourable business terms on inventory assignments.” Hotels magazine’s associate editor, Adam Kirby, commented on his blog, “If Best Western does in fact break off negotiations with Expedia, as Choice did, it could change the online booking paradigm forever and shift the negotiating power back to the hoteliers, where it belongs.”

U.S. Restaurant Sales/Traffic Drop in Summer – End of Recession in Sight
U.S. restaurant sales and customer traffic declined for the fourth consecutive quarter in the June-
August period, according to the latest CREST report from The NPD Group, Chicago. Spending also declined for the second consecutive quarter. Total restaurant traffic declined 3.6 per cent and consumer foodservice spending contracted 1.6 per cent in the summer quarter, compared to last year. Traffic declined in all restaurant segments and dayparts: quick-service/fast-food restaurant traffic declined by three per cent, casual dining declined four per cent, and midscale was down by five per cent. Visits by daypart fell five per cent for the supper daypart, lunch visits fell four per cent, and morning meals declined two per cent. The p.m. snack, daypart declined by two per cent. NPD vice-president Harry Balzer explained, “There are a variety of factors contributing to the declines in restaurant visits and spending, including high unemployment and the difference between food prices at home and food prices away from home. Food prices at supermarkets are less than a year ago, while restaurant prices are higher than a year ago.” NPD analyst Bonnie Riggs added, “Unfortunately, the weakness [U.S.] foodservice is experiencing is not expected to be short-lived. Foodservice traffic will remain weak throughout the third and fourth quarters of 2009, and we don’t expect traffic growth until the second half of 2010.” The total U.S. economy expanded 3.5 per cent in the July through September period, the first growth in more than a year, technically ending the deepest recession in the U.S. the Second World War. U.S. economists expect growth to continue at an annualized rate of 3.2 per cent.

DiRoNA Expands Membership Categories, Reduces Annual Fee
A major restructuring and revitalization of the Distinguished Restaurants of North America
(DiRoNA), has been launched following a membership meeting of approximately 130 delegates in Dallas Oct. 25-27. While continuing to maintain its ‘Distinguished Dining’ focus, DiRoNA will expand from a largely white-tablecloth restaurant membership to include independent casual-dining and even limited service, pub-style operations. “Fine dining has changed,” explained founding DiRoNA member John Arena, J.A. Food & Wine Services, Port Credit, Ont. “People are more casual, dress codes have moved from requiring jackets and ties to open shirts and slacks. It was time for DiRoNA to change.” The organization will now offer membership in three categories, and reduce its fees from US$1,500 to US$400 per year, while continuing its focus on consistent food quality, exceptional service and community legacy. The membership categories will now be:
Timeless Traditional: The long-established “Platinum Award” group of fine-dining restaurants, open at least two years with a dress code and extensive beverage lists.
Creative Casual: For restaurants with noteworthy cuisine and atmosphere and a “smart casual” dress code that have been open for at least three years.
Legendary Landmark: Designed for restaurants that are at least 10-years old, “deeply integrated into the cultural fabric of the region”, have a distinguished menu, a unique atmosphere and media recognition.
DiRoNA chairman Bill Hyde explained that U.S. members will now work through five regional councils and coordinators with separate councils and coordinators for Canada and Mexico. These membership category changes are the first since DiRoNA was established in 1990 at a meeting in Toronto, building on the successful Travel Holiday Awards, which were cast adrift after Time magazine acquired Travel Holiday magazine. Another departure from the past is that only the first two categories are subject to secret inspection before becoming members. The Legendary Landmark will not be inspected, but nominations can only be made by DiRoNA members and appropriate media recognition is required.

Hotel Mandatory Dining Hours Eliminated in Manitoba
Manitoba’s elimination of mandatory dining-room hours will help small hotels by providing a solution to a nagging problem. Effective Oct. 17, MLCC (Manitoba Liquor Control Commission) Liquor Licensing Regulations will no longer require minimum hours of operation of a licensed dining room as it relates to a beverage room on the same premises. In announcing the change, a rep from the Manitoba Hotel Association said, “Many hotels, particularly smaller properties, have difficulty staffing an unprofitable dining room when most of the activity in the hotel is in the beverage room. The hotel must maintain availability of food.” The change in regulation provides operators some flexibility to avoid breaching the Liquor Control Act in the event the dining room must be closed unexpectedly for a catering function, deliveries, funerals, emergencies or absent employees — all of which could result in the hotel not being able to staff both the dining room and beverage room every day of the year.

Sirloin Twins Introduced at A&W
A&W Food Services of Canada Inc. has introduced the Sirloin Baby Burger Twins. The new special is available for a limited time. The twin patties, which ring in at $3.49, are two identical mini-sized burgers, featuring sirloin beef topped with Balderson cheddar cheese. “A&W’s team is excited that we are the first national quick-service restaurant in the country to offer all-sirloin burgers made from premium cuts of beef,” said Paul Hollands, president and CEO of the fast-food chain.

Questions Raised About Exhibition Place, Toronto, Hotel Project Award
Questions have arisen regarding a possible conflict of interest in the awarding of a Toronto, contract for a 26-storey, 320-room, $100-million boutique hotel, to be built at the city-owned Exhibition Place by New York-based HK Hotels, (See New 320-Room Boutique Hotel Approved for Exhibition Place in Toronto here.) A long-term Exhibition Place Board of Governors member, well-known Toronto architect Rocco Maragna, was hired by HK Hotels to design the project in March 2009, but remained on the board until Sept. 22. Media reports indicate Maragna voted in favour of selecting HK Hotels in March 2009 and sat in subsequent board meetings where the hotel project was discussed, having declared a conflict of interest. Board chairman Joe Pantalone, who is also the city’s deputy mayor, said he is not concerned that HK Hotels chose a board member as its architect on the project. “There is no conflict of interest – period,” said Pantalone. Two other board members said they found it unusual that Maragna spoke at a board meeting on behalf of HK Hotels, even presenting his initial architectural drawings to the Board’s Business Development Committee in September, prior to his resignation from the Board.

Quebec Hotelier David Mounteer Featured in Luxury Travel Magazine
David Mounteer, general manager of the 95-room boutique Relais & Châteaux hotel Auberge
Saint-Antoine in Quebec City, has been featured in the current issue of Luxury Travel magazine, which defines itself as “the premier resource for the world’s most discerning travellers.” It also appears on its website. The article is built around Mounteer’s recognition as, “2009’s Hotelier of the Year by Hotelier magazine’s prestigious Pinnacle Awards.” The award will be accepted by Mounteer during the hospitality industry’s Pinnacle Awards Luncheon at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel, Toronto on Dec. 3. Luxury Travel magazine describes the Hotelier of the Year Award as, “one of the most respected rankings in the international travel industry.” The magazine reports that Auberge Saint-Antoine, opened in 1992, combines more than 400 years of Québécois history and culture with modern amenities, including a private cinema, business centre and state-of-the-art gym. The property consists of four distinct structures dating from 1700 to the present day that showcase its unique riches: solid 300-year-old beams, stone walls, slate floors, glass and porcelain objects unearthed in the course of a restoration turned archeological dig. Panache, the hotel’s restaurant, directed by executive chef François Blais, is renowned for the creative dishes of fine French Canadian cuisine with a twist, using local, seasonal produce.

Glowbal Opens “Society” Restaurant, Vancouver
The newest restaurant in Glowbal Group’s portfolio, Society, opened last week in the Yaletown district of Vancouver, B.C. Described as, “The newest, most mysterious member of the Glowbal Collection,’ the unit matches soothing comfort food, with contemporary, upscale decor designed to attract an influx of hipsters as well as those looking for a great meal. The location also offers a seasonal 40-seat patio. “We’sre all searching for new experiences,” said proprietor Emad Yacoub. “The fresh, the bold, the different; When opposites come together to create unexpected new sensations, it excites us. That’s what Society is all about.” Executive chef Brandon Thordarson’s menu features his unique take on traditional dishes such as tomato soup with mini grilled-cheese sandwiches and Shake ‘n’s Bake, using local ingredients. The Glowbal Group also includes Vancouver restaurants Coast, Sanafir, Trattoria and Italian Kitchen. For more information, click here.

 

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