Week of Nov. 22, 2010

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Priszm Reaches Interim Agreement with YUM!
An interim agreement has been reached between the Vaughan Ont.-based Priszm Income Fund and the Louisville, Ky.-based YUM! Restaurants International with regard to franchise agreements that expired Nov. 10 in 75 of its restaurants. The agreement calls for the franchise renewal of nine restaurants that Priszm upgraded earlier in the year for an additional 10-year term, as well as an extension of the expiration on the remaining restaurants until Dec. 10. Priszm will immediately pay $0.2 million in renewal fees related to the nine restaurants as well as an additional $0.9 million for further franchise renewals as it continues to pursue its alternatives in advance of the revised expiry date.

Jack Astor’s Celebrates 20th Anniversary
November marks the 20th anniversary of Jack Astor’s Bar and Grill, the flagship restaurant of the Burlington Ont.-based SIR Corp. Peter Fowler and his partners launched the brand in 1990, introducing a new style of service. “When we first opened Jack Astor’s in St. Catharines we introduced something cutting edge. There was a laid-back style, an irreverent sense of humour and our service staff wore T-shirts they’d decorated instead of uniforms. No one else was doing that,” says Fowler of the chain, which logged more than $100 million in sales as of August 2009. “In some ways, they were pretty daunting times, because we were doing something completely new. But we also knew we had something unique in Jack Astor’s and, by 1991, we began to expand. Twenty years later, with 32 locations, we’re still relevant and innovative.” Since the early days, the restaurant has transformed from a bar-like atmosphere to a more contemporary casual restaurant, a change evidenced in three new Toronto locations and, more recently, a new Montreal site. And, in keeping with the times, the menu is constantly evolving and currently filled with dishes that offer quality fresh ingredients at affordable prices such as chicken wings, AAA-grade steaks and internationally inspired dishes, including Pad Thai. “Jack Astor’s is positioned for growth. We are just getting started,” says Fowler.

F&H, FHG and Ryerson Lead Online Restaurant Market Survey
The online Canadian Restaurant Market Survey is underway, care of Foodservice and Hospitality magazine and FHG International Inc. in conjunction with The School of Hospitality Management at Ryerson University. “Rest assured the data we collect is completely confidential,” said FHG’s Doug Fisher, a Toronto-based consultant who is writing a report based on the survey’s findings. “This is the first survey of its kind in Canada in more than 10 years and will be an essential tool for managing your business. The data will allow restaurateurs from across Canada to input their operating information to provide a true picture of the Canadian restaurant landscape. Canadian operators will have free access to the results and will be able to benchmark their operations against the local, provincial and national markets by sector, sales range, seats, square footage, ethnic theme and other criteria,” he added. For questions regarding the 15-minute survey, contact Doug Fisher at (416) 489-6996.

Technomic Report Notes Healthy Eating Tendencies
Fifty per cent of Canadian consumers say they want healthier menu items in restaurants and other foodservice, but only about 23 per cent of diners order healthy when eating out, according to a new report from the Chicago-based Technomic. “There is often a disconnect between consumers’ intentions and their actions,” said Darren Tristano, EVP at Technomic. “Many consumers are actually making substantial changes to their overall habits, even basing the restaurants they frequent, in part, on their impressions of the healthfulness of the brands. However, as many of us know from personal experience, diners do not always follow through on their intentions once it is time to order.” The 2010 Canadian Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report is one of three studies, available individually or as a package. Developed to help foodservice operators, manufacturers and suppliers understand customer consumption behaviour, the report analyzes when, where and why consumers choose to eat healthy or indulge and gauges interest in natural, organic, local and sustainable foods. For more information on the report, click here

Ready-to-Eat Food on Rise in Supermarkets
Supermarket ready-to-eat foods are hot competition in U.S. foodservice, particularly fast-food, according to three separate 2010 reports. And, now convenience store operators are also getting in on the ready-to-eat category. Both groups have upgraded their foodservice offerings due to consumer demand and the perceived higher margins.

The study from the Arlington, Va.-based Food Marketing Institute, 2010 U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends, reports shopper interest in supermarket ready-to-eat foods is at a four-year high, with 55 per cent of shoppers preparing more foods at home than they did a year ago. Shoppers are especially interested in the following: freshly prepared, heat-and-serve food to take home (47 per cent); made-to-order sandwiches (37 per cent), extensive salad bar (37 per cent); prepared hot food buffet/bar (34 per cent); restaurant/sit-down area in-store (23 per cent).

The research is similar in other studies, too. “Hoping to parlay recession-based foodservice-to-retail migration into long-term gains, food retailers continue to ratchet up their prepared foods and ready-to-eat programs,” reads a report from Rockville, Md.-based consumer goods research firm Packaged Facts. The study, titled Prepared Foods and Ready-to-Eat Foods at Retail: The New Competition, estimates grocery stores will grow prepared- and ready-to-eat foods sales by more than seven per cent in 2010. It predicts supermarket sales of prepared foods will grow to $14 billion by 2011.

The recent study from the Chicago-based Technomic — entitled 2010 Restaurants & Retail Report: Segmenting the Food & Beverage Consumer — confirms many retailers are using the restaurant sector as a blueprint for innovation as they seek to keep value-conscious consumers. “In a down economy, retailers gained a larger share of the foodservice market, but to keep that as the economic structure improves, they need to respond to consumers as effectively as restaurant operators have,” suggests Darren Tristano, EVP at Technomic.

Top 11 Major Trends in U.S
The major trends unfolding in the U.S. restaurant industry are summarized in a new report from the Chicago-based Technomic Inc entitled, 11 for ‘s11: Technomic Names Leading Restaurant Trends. “This isn’t the same restaurant industry as before. Big changes are on the way on menus, in concept development and in the competitive landscape,” reads the report. The 11 trends noted are as follows: retro cocktails; food trucks; a new-found homage to farmers; the use of social media and technology for marketing and operations; Korean food; frugality fatigue; bottom-line driven customers and operators; carefully calibrated brand action; family style service and food; competition from convenience stores and more healthy fare. For more details, click here

KFC Double Down Sales Hit 1,000,000 Mark
The KFC Double Down is no longer on the menu in Canada, but the bunless sandwich did pull in a record one million sales between Oct. 18 and Nov. 14. “That’s enough Double Downs to stretch across 2,083 hockey rinks or approximately 140 CN Towers from end to end!,” said Dan Howe, chief marketing officer for YUM! Restaurants Canada. Described as the “most successful menu item” in KFC Canada history, it caused controversy since it was introduced in the U.S. in April.

Egg Farmers Challenge Double Down Comparison
Comparing eggs to high-fat, fast-food such as the KFC Double Down is irresponsible and inaccurate said the Egg Farmers of Canada in a press release issued in response to a University of Western Ontario report. “Laurent Souligny, chair of Egg Farmers of Canada, says egg farmers take a great deal of pride in providing Canadians with a convenient, nutritious and affordable meal choice,” reads the press release from the egg farmers. “The report issued by the University of Western Ontario inaccurately cites the cholesterol level of eggs.” Souligny added: “If the researchers get this number wrong, we must question the accuracy of the complete report.”

Subway’s Undercover Operation
Milford, Conn.-based Subway’s chief development officer Don Fertman had his moment in the spotlight recently while participating in an episode of CBS’s reality series Undercover Boss. Subway president and co-founder Fred DeLuca had asked Fertman, a less recognizable figurehead, to transform into the pseudo persona of John Wilson and visit various Subway locations to get a glimpse of the inner workings of the brand. “There are a few things I was hoping to see while in the stores,” the 29-year Subway veteran said. “We launched a major breakfast program in 2010, and I wanted to see first-hand how it was working in the restaurants. We also have a lot of stores that run successful catering programs, and I wanted to find best practices or see what the specific needs are to make it better in the field.” During the undercover gig “Wilson” worked with a range of employees from across America, including Rev. Duane, the store manager at the Subway located in the True Bethel Baptist Church in Buffalo, N.Y.; Sherri, an Alabama store manager; and Efrain, one of the system’s youngest managers who works in Florida. “When Fred sent me undercover, I told him I wanted to catch people doing really good things,” Fertman said. “I was not disappointed.” The Subway episode of Undercover Boss aired Sunday, Nov. 21 on CBS.

Gibson’s Finest Celebrates
A select group of Toronto’s food and drink media were on hand recently for an event celebrating something of a rebirth of Canadian whisky. Gibson’s Finest, a venerable Canadian brand, has been managing a product shortage, of their 12-year-old liquid, during the past three years due in large part to a marked up-tick in consumer demand for Canadian whisky. But, now, the days of lean supply are over, according to the company, which is owned by Scotland’s William Grant and Sons. “You can’t rush a good thing, especially when it comes to making the number-1 stated age whisky in Canada,” says Nicolas Guillant, country manager, William Grant and Sons, “Unlike other distillers who may rush the process to keep up with demand — we won’t compromise the unique taste Canadian whisky drinkers know and love.”

Chef’s House Hosts Homage to Catalonia
Toronto’s food scensters were taken on a culinary journey of Spain at George Brown College’s Chef’s House last week, when Campo Viejo, the venerable Rioja-region winery, set up shop. Far from simply arriving with a slew of Tempranillo-based vinos however, the group also brought Carles Abellán, chef and owner of Barcelona’s Michelin-starred Comerc24 and former Ferran Adrià protégé, to prepare a multi-course tasting menu to match the various incarnations of Rioja in the glass. Abellán was joined by two of his own chefs, Arnau Muñio and Giovanni Esteve and eight culinary students from George Brown’s Chef School who rounded out the kitchen brigade. Determined to make his first appearance in Canada a memorable one, Abellán matched Campo Viejo’s wines — the Crianza, Reserva, Gran Reserva and a Cava Rose — with some of the signature recipes that made him a household name in Spain. Standouts included sous-vide mackerel, served with citrus segments, olive oil and aromatic herbs as well as duck rice with a foie gras ganche and toasted corn kernels. The iconic Spanish wines only added to the authenticity of the experience. “La Rioja is one of the most historic wine-producing regions in the world, home to dedicated winemakers who have long been expressing the culture and philosophy of Spain through their terroir-driven wines,” said Abellán of his local product.

IFMA Announces 2011 Officers
The International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA) has announced newly elected officers for its 2011 Board of Directors, which will be led by Michael Hickey, executive vice-president, Ecolab, as chairman. Other appointments include Mark Bendix, president and COO, The Bama Companies, Inc. as first vice-chairman; William Caskey, vice-president, Strategic Business Development, ConAgra Foods/Lamb Weston, as vice-chairman; Kent Walrack, president and COO, Food Service, Dairy & Contract Divisions, Lyons Magnus, as vice-chairman; and Loren Kimura, president and CEO, Basic American Foods, as treasurer. Stephen Patterson, vice-president, Sales and Marketing, J.R. Simplot Company, was elected chairman of IFMA’s Educational Foundation. IFMA represents more than 300 of the world’s leading food, equipment and supply manufacturers as well as related marketing service organizations, trade publications, distributors and brokers.

Friends of We Care 2011 Board Announced
The Aurora Ont.-based Friends of We Care organization has announced its 2011 Board of Directors. Next year, the Board will be led by Todd Stevens (Smucker Foods of Canada) who will act as chair with Jim Grieb (Flanagan Foodservice) in the past chair post. They will be joined by vice-chairs, Stephen Christie (Sysco Central Ontario), Gerry McParlan (Procter & Gamble Professional) and David Newcombe (Extreme Brands). Other board members will include Michael Capotosto as treasurer and Mark Cator, (Coolinary Connection), as Easter Seals liaison as well as eight directors, including Carol Moffatt-Bailes (Topline Ventures) as director of Western Canada. The remaining seven directors are as follows: Dominic Bombino (Saputo Dairy Products (Canada)), Jim Greenway (Aramark Canada), Jim Kostuch (TrainCan), Karen Maguire (Burnbrae Farms), Steven Prisco (Aramark Canada), Mike Shasky (C.W. Shasky & Associates) and Cyndy Spiers (Olymel). Thanks to the commitment from the board, “we will continue to make remarkable differences for many children with physical disabilities, allowing them to attend summer camp next season,” said Kevin Collins, executive director of the Friends of We Care Foundation Inc. upon officially announcing the Board.

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

Queen Elizabeth Hotel Doormen Face Extortion Charges
Extortion charges have been laid against six doormen at Fairmont’s iconic Queen Elizabeth Hotel in downtown Montreal. The Queen Elizabeth workers were arrested last week and face multiple charges for alleged extortion of taxi cab drivers. In a news release last Friday, police said charges of alleged extortion, intimidation and plotting have been laid after police received complaints from taxi drivers that hotel employees were demanding between $5 and $30 per fare to ensure they would have access to customers coming out of the hotel. “Thanks to the courage of the taxi drivers that have denounced this practice, the situation has now returned to normal at the hotel,” said Benoit Jugand, the head of the police department’s taxi and tow-truck division.

149-Room Novotel Toronto Vaughan Centre Opens
Novotel Canada has announced the opening of the 149-room Novotel Toronto Vaughan Centre, which is described as Vaughan’s first full-service hotel. The new hotel features the international restaurant Trio at Novotel — led by executive chef Brad Scully — five meeting rooms, a business centre with complimentary Internet access and a saltwater pool and hot tub.  “Novotel will provide the most convenient lodging option for business and leisure guests of Vaughan Mills Shopping Centre and Canada’s Wonderland amusement park,” said Eric Buitenhuis, vice-president of operations for Novotel Canada.

62-Room Days Inn High Prairie Opens in Alberta
A newly renovated 62-room hotel in High Prairie, Alta., has been re-flagged Days Inn High Prairie. “[This] is our third hotel opening over the past four weeks,” said Irwin Prince, president and COO, Realstar Hospitality. The property, which is run by general manager, Linda Maure, includes meeting facilities and business amenities, a fitness centre, free access to a PC with high-speed Internet and free parking.

 

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