Week of Nov. 30, 2009

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Kiwi Kiss Franchise Launched; 20 Locations Planned for 2010
Edmonton’s Dale Wishewan, founder and CEO of the 230-location Booster Juice smoothie chain, launched his newest franchise concept, Kiwi Kiss frozen yogurt, last week at City Centre Mall in the Alberta capital. Wishewan is planning to open 20 locations across Canada by the end of 2010. Kiwi Kiss is a limited-service, food-court concept that only requires a small footprint. Similar to Booster Juice units, customers get to see their selections made in front of them. Booster Juice, which originally opened in Edmonton in 1999, now has franchises across Canada, the U.S. and international markets like Europe, India and Dubai. “The fro-yo is the hottest category going through the whole world. In the U.S., there are two companies — Red Mango and Pinkberry. They’re on fire,” Wishewan told the Edmonton Journal. Kiwi Kiss has been incorporated as a separate company from Booster Juice, of which the businessman owns 91 per cent of the shares. When asked about the 250-unit frozen-yogurt chain, Yogen Fruz, Wishewan commented, “With Yogen Fruz, you would have your fruit that you chose and they would pull a handle and mix it in. This is soft serve and you put the toppings on top, so the presentation is fantastic.”

Vancouver Restaurants See 50/50 Spirits-to-Food Ratio Amended
A Vancouver bylaw passed last month that limited alcohol to 50 per cent of a restaurant’s sales, has been amended. It now requires the ratio of food to liquor sales be “consistent with restaurant use,” and orders that the restaurant must offer its full menu while alcohol is being served. Ian Tostenson, president and CEO of the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association, welcomed the news. “It’s really refreshing to see a government change course, and then change course in a common-sense way,” he’s quoted as saying in The Vancouver Sun. The original bylaw raised industry concerns that restaurants serving expensive alcohol and/or wines would normally exceed the limit.

Oliver & Bonacini Café Grill Opens in Waterloo, Ont.
The co-owners of Oliver & Bonacini Restaurants, Peter Oliver and chef Michael Bonacini, have opened a new full-service location in Conestoga Mall in Waterloo, Ont.. Their fourth Oliver & Bonacini Café Grill joins their prominent Toronto fine-dining restaurants Canoe, Jump, Auberge du Pommier and Biff ’s Bistro. Other Café Grill locations are located in Toronto, Collingwood, Ont., (at Blue Mountain) and in Oakville, Ont.. “We’re very excited to be opening in Waterloo. It’s a vital, growing community with so much opportunity. This has been a long time in the making, but we are thrilled to be here,” said Oliver in a press release. The Waterloo location will offer relaxed, upscale, mid-range dining in a casual, modern environment. The menu boasts a variety of world-inspired North American dishes, including freshly prepared soups, salads, burgers, pastas, fire-roasted pizzas, seafood and a selection of grilled meats and fish.

$120,000 Raised At We Care Bowling Event in Toronto
On Nov. 26, more than $120,000 was raised at the 12th Annual We Care Bowling Challenge held at the Planet Bowl in Etobicoke, Ont. — enough money to provide 600 days of summer camp. Some 300 people (45 teams) participated at the Hawaiian-themed event. Leading the fundraising activity were the teams from Cardinal Meat Specialists, who generated more than $26,750, just a step ahead of Sysco Canada, who raised more than $26,214. Other top fundraisers were Janes Family Foods ($17,445), Gordon Food Service ($13,397) and Wings Foods ($3,688). The team from Ecolab was the winner of the top spirit award. Participating teams included: Acosta Canada/Bonduelle, Agropur, Aramark, Atlantic Mills, Brand Culture, Burnbrae Farms, Campbell Company of Canada, Cardinal Meats Specialists, Continental Commercial Products, DGN Marketing, David Robert Foods, Ecolab, E.D. Foods, Foodservice and Hospitality magazine, Gordon Food Services, Janes Family Food, Kraft Canada, LabelAd, McNairn Packaging, Mother Parker’s Tea & Coffee, Novelis, Penske Truck Leasing, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble Professional, Rona, Sabre Group Marketing, Sara Lee Foodservice Ltd., Select Foods, Smucker Foods of Canada, Sun Rich Fresh Foods, Sysco Canada, Sysco Central Ontario, Sysco Toronto, Toppits, TrainCan, Vitality and Wings Foods.

Record Crowd Attends CCGD Conference
A record registration of 1,597 people marked the Ontario Conference of the Canadian
Council of Grocery Distributors (CCGD), held at the Toronto Congress Centre. The organizing committee, chaired by Domenic Calce of Metro Ontario Inc., spotlighted two powerhouse speakers, General Rick Hillier and The Nielsen Company’s marketing director, Carman Allison, but the principal emphasis was on first-hand presentations by senior executives of Ontario’s largest grocers: The Loblaw Company Ltd., Sobeys Ontario, Metro Ontario and Walmart. This was the first-ever presentation by Walmart at a CCGD conference. With the theme, “The New ‘R’ Word — Recovery,” Carman Allison’s report offered a generally upbeat look, highlighted by the statement, “Canada is leading the consumer confidence gain in North America.” However, he cautioned that the typical consumer has changed and become more “value driven,” with 54 per cent of Ontario consumers in that category. Some 41 per cent of consumers have not changed, while five per cent are still “panic stricken.” Allison commented that even as consumers increase their spending, “restraint is the new consumer mantra.”

Obsidian Group Gives Early Christmas Gift To Charity
The Obsidian Group Inc. has presented an early holiday gift to a Mississauga, Ont.-based youth charity, The Dam. The donation of $13,500 came from the Crabby Joe’s Tap & Grill and Coffee Culture Café & Eatery’s third annual golf tournament. “We chose to support The Dam because we wanted our donation to help a charity in the community where we do business,” said Nicolas Patiniotis, president of Obsidian Group Inc. “The Dam does extraordinary work helping at-risk youth.” In addition to fostering a safe and welcoming environment, The Dam also provides mentorship opportunities and programs that focus on social, physical, spiritual and emotional well-being.

Canadian Economic News a Mixed Bag
Canadian retail sales increased 1.2 per cent in September (in current dollars +1.0 per cent) to $34.9 billion, the seventh monthly increase in 2009, according to Statistics Canada. The gains are in sharp contrast with the drops in retail volume experienced in the third and fourth quarters of 2008, with September 2009 sales still down -3.3 per cent from the previous year. The increases were widespread with six of eight sectors showing gains. Retail sales rose in eight provinces in September with Quebec (+2.2 per cent) leading the way. By sector, food and beverage stores saw sales rise 1.3 per cent, led by supermarkets (+1.5 per cent).
• StatsCan is reporting that Canadian industrial employment increased by 15,900 in September, up 0.1 per cent, with 55 per cent of the 305 industries surveyed reporting gains. The agency commented, “This was the largest number of industries adding to their payrolls since July 2008.” Eight provinces recorded payroll gains in September, lead by Ontario, Quebec and Alberta. British Columbia and Prince Edward Island posted small declines.
• Chartered accountants’ confidence in the Canadian economy has soared in the third quarter, with profit, revenue and jobs all on the rise for the first time in a year, according to a quarterly survey, the CICA/RBC Business Monitor, undertaken by the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants and The Royal Bank of Canada. The study of senior accountants found that 46 per cent were optimistic about prospects for the economy over the next 12 months, versus only 28 per cent in the second quarter and a dismal two per cent in the final quarter of 2008. “Canadian businesses have faced enormous challenges and pressure from global economic uncertainty in the past year,” said Shauneen Bruder, executive vice-president, Business and Commercial Banking, at RBC. “While no one can predict the speed of economic recovery with any certainty, it is encouraging to see such a big shift in positive economic data when compared to the latter half of 2008.”
• Canadian consumer confidence has declined in November because of concerns over employment, according to a Conference Board of Canada survey. Its monthly consumer confidence index fell for the second consecutive month, losing 5.7 points to a reading of 79. When asked about their financial situation, 13.9 per cent said it was better now than six months ago, down one point from October and up -0.6 points from the beginning of the year. The Conference Board commented, “Oddly, consumers’ responses have failed to reflect the significant improvements in global equity markets over the past six months…The results indicate that consumers expect a drawn-out recovery.”

NRN/HVS Executive Search Complete U.S. Chain Pay Study
Nations Restaurant News magazine and HVS Executive Search have partnered to create the first ever, annual, chain restaurant management compensation report covering 22 executive positions, including direct compensation, benefits and total rewards. The HVS-NRN 2009 Chain Restaurant Executive Compensation Study was conducted in September and October and includes data provided by 78 responding companies, including 55 private companies and 23 publicly traded firms. Of the respondents, 20 were multi-concept companies and 58 were single brand operations. The report includes 39 casual-dining companies, 19 fast-service firms, 11 family- dining or cafeteria concepts and nine fast-casual concepts. The responses given generally reflected 2008 total compensation packages. HVS’s recruiting consultant, David Mansbach, commented, “The biggest surprise was the lack of long-term incentives offered among the respondents. The median amount of long-term compensation packages, encompassing stock options or other incentive grants, only hit six figures in a number of cases, and for some positions, such incentives were not even granted.”

Choice Hotels Honoured for Excellence in Diversity
Choice Hotels International, Inc., Silver Springs, Md., has been recognized as the 2009 Top Franchise for Excellence in Diversity by Oliver Tree Publishing, Inc., publishers of the Black EOE Journal, Hispanic Network Magazine and Professional Woman’s Magazine. The award was announced in the publisher’s 2009 “Best of the Best” Annual Review Series, now in its 18th year. It is presented to companies providing the best career opportunities for minorities.

Four Seasons to Open 183-Room Hotel in St Petersburg, Russia
Toronto-based Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts will be opening the 183-room Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Russia in 2011. The US$135-million property will feature two restaurants, seven conference halls and a four-storey spa complex. It is located at Voznesensky Prospekt in the Palace of Lobanovy and Rostovskie Dukes, historically known as “the House of Lions.” Michael Masalov, chief director of ownership company Tristar Investment Holdings (a subsidiary of Venture Investments & Yield Management LLP), estimates that the payback period on the investment will be five to seven years. Colliers International estimates that St. Petersburg needs seven-to-10 such luxury hotels. InterContinental Hotels Group plans to enter the market with the 120-room boutique hotel Indigo in the historical part of the city in 2013.

JostCo Purchasing Partners with Riegel – Mount Vernon Mills
Toronto-based JostCo Hospitality Purchasing will be supporting textile manufacturer Riegel – Mount Vernon Mills, Inc., based in Johnston, S.C,, to expand its penetration of the Canadian hospitality market. JostCo founder Jost Lehner, an experienced procurement executive, said the new partnership “will provide the Canadian hospitality segment with a one-stop opportunity for all things textile, including table linen, sheets, towels, pillows, aprons, bar accessories, table skirting and much more.”

New Data Has U.S. Economy Recovering
New data is showing that the U.S. recession may have bottomed-out and that the key factors for recovery are in place, including jobs, consumer spending and housing. “Economic conditions this Thanksgiving are the best we have seen in three years and we expect an even better climate this time next year,” said Bernard Baumohl, chief global economist at the Economic Outlook Group, based in Princeton, N.J., to the Financial Post. “Not only is the probability of a double-dip recession receding by the day, but we’re also starting to see signs the economy is on a much stronger footing than anyone would have imagined just a few months ago.” The Financial Post also reported that the U.S. job loss rate has declined with claims falling 35,000 and dropping below 500,000 for the first time since January, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Consumer spending exceeded analysts’ estimates, rising 0.7 per cent in October, along with a 0.2 per cent increase in personal incomes. Sal Guatieri, senior economist at BMO Capital Markets, told the Post, “With job losses slowing, the 90 per cent of the labour force still working must feel somewhat better about their financial prospects. If they can keep spending, that will go a long way to helping the other 10 per cent without jobs find work.” Commerce Department data on housing sales showed new-home sales up 6.2 per cent in October, which was up 5.1 per cent from a year earlier; it marked the first annual increase in 47 months.

HST Could Be a Non-Starter in Ontario and B.C.
The Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) proposed for July implementation in Ontario and B.C. could be a non-starter after all. In a shrewd all-political move the Harper government intends to introduce federal legislation this week to confirm the rights of provinces to choose to implement an HST (which is a harmonized GST/PST tax). Their intent appears to put the opposition federal Liberals on the spot, since both Ontario and B.C. have Liberal provincial governments that support an HST. The Conservative move will force the federal Liberals to declare once and for all whether or not they support the HST, since both the federal NDP and the Bloc Quebecois oppose the HST, and have benefited with this stance in recent by-elections in the two provinces. The Harper government says the legislation will be technical, and not a confidence vote that could force the government to fall. The federal Liberals have been unclear about whether they support the HST. Some of its members and media commentators have been recommending that the Liberals oppose the HST, which is widely un-welcomed by the public and business groups such as the hospitality industry, in the two provinces. If the Liberals did back the HST, then they could also face recrimination from voters. The Canadian Press noted that Draft HST talking points prepared for Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, and subsequently discussed with Liberal House Leader Ralph Goodale last Thursday, say, “This is not a complicated decision. Either Parliament supports the right of provinces to choose a harmonized value-added tax or it does not.”

Mandarin Celebrates 30th Anniversary
When James Chiu, his brother George and long-time friend K.C. Chang formed a partnership in 1979 to buy a restaurant in Brampton, Ont., called the Mandarin, they had no idea how it would change their lives. As immigrants from China, via Montreal, where they held a variety of jobs, the trio had to sell all their belongings, share a two-bedroom apartment and pool their money for the investment. Twenty-hour work days were commonplace, but almost from the outset the restaurant was successful, with lineups often snaking outside the door. Fast-forward to today and the restaurant that popularized Chinese buffets — and now boasts 21 units in Ontario — is celebrating 30 years.
• With enough glitz and glam to rival a Las Vegas production, the team at Mandarin invited many of its long-serving suppliers to attend a splashy Supplier Appreciation Night at the Garden Conference Centre in Brampton. The evening began with a musical production starring the three partners, all decked out in pink (the company colour). “We’re tickled pink that you’re here to support us tonight and that you have supported us over the past 30 years,” said George Chiu in welcoming guests to the three-course celebration, developed by Humber College’s Ontario Culinary Olympians Rudi Fischbacher and James Bodanis and prepared by the school’s students. Throughout the evening, Mandarin fêted the long-standing relationship with its suppliers who returned the favour. Donning costumes and creating their own tribute to Mandarin, performed to the music of YMCA by the Village People, the suppliers took to the stage with much aplomb. Later in the evening, Mandarin honoured its suppliers by presenting them with awards. Among the winners were Coca Cola, Topper’s Linens and GFS. Dan Gordon, president of GFS, flew in from Michigan to be part of the festivities. Much has changed in Mandarin’s history during the past three decades, but what hasn’t changed is the company’s continued focus on its four pillars of strength — value, service, teamwork and community. The company is committed to opening one or two new restaurants annually.

 

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