Week of Sept. 20, 2010



Van Houtte Sold to Green Mountain for $915M
The Montreal-based Van Houtte, a coffee provider, producer, marketer of brewing equipment and licensee of Keurig machines and K-Cup single-cup packages, has been sold for $915 million to the Waterbury, VT-based Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. “Our primary interest certainly was the brand, the manufacturing operations in Montreal, and obviously their expertise and knowledge in producing and marketing Keurig K-Cup portion packs,” Green Mountain CEO Larry Blanford said of the acquisition of the company, which had sales of $445-million in the year ending Aug. 21. Van Houtte’s president and CEO, Gerard Geoffrion, will remain in his role in Canada after the deal closes.

Last year, Green Mountain bought Canadian retail chain Timothy’s Coffees of the World Inc., and earlier, two other Keurig licensees: Diedrich Coffee Inc. for US$300 million in May and Tully’s Coffee for US$40.3 million in 2009. Keurig was acquired by Green Mountain in 2006.

Michelle Obama Challenges Restaurant Industry
U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama has urged the restaurant industry to consider reformulating children’s menus with healthier ingredients and promote more nutritious kids meals. “I’m not asking any of you to make drastic changes to every single one of your recipes or to totally change the way you do business,” she said in an address to the National Restaurant Association. “But what I am asking is that you consider reformulating your menu in pragmatic and incremental ways to create healthier versions of the foods that we all love. That could mean substituting wheat pasta for white pasta in your regular recipes, or taking…an existing dish and cutting the amount of butter or cream.”

B.C. Server Challenges Bar Dress Code
A server at the Shark Club, in Richmond, B.C., has filed a complaint with that province’s Human Rights Tribunal. According to the CBC, the server, Karolina Bill, filed the complaint because she feels the uniform she was ordered to wear, which is comprised of high heels, a mini-skirt and a low-cut top, amounts to discrimination and is a violation of her human rights. The club, and its parent company, Northland Properties Corp., reportedly filed an unsuccessful application for the complaint’s dismissal, but according to the CBC, a date has not yet been set for the tribunal hearing. For the full story, click here.

More Information for Potential Franchisees Urged in Ontario
Franchisees rights and franchisor information is currently outlined in the Arthur Wishart Act (Franchise Disclosure), 2000, but after recent public reports of swindling, Bill 102 has been introduced. The bill, which passed its first reading last week, would amend the 2000 act by requiring an expanded information document for prospective franchisees, including a wide range of advice, such as when to consult a lawyer and accountant. The proposed amendments are scheduled to be debated Sept. 23 prior to a vote on whether to give the bill second reading. For more information, click here.   

Provincial Ministers Respond to Federal Sodium Voluntary Mandate
Provincial health ministers have agreed to develop regulations that would add teeth to the federal government’s voluntary limits established by a sodium working group led by federal Health Minister, Leona Aglukkaq. “What the provinces will be recommending to the federal minister is that, while we accept the voluntary targets put forward,…the provinces are going to have their officials work to develop a national regulatory mechanism,” provincial spokesman, B.C. Health Services Minister, Kevin Falcon is quoted as saying in the Nanaimo Daily News. “We will accept the voluntary targets but we want them backstopped by a regulatory mechanism that will kick in should industry fail to meet the voluntary targets that have been put in place.”

Joey’s Celebrates 25 Years with $25,000 Gift
Calgary, Alta.-based Joey’s Restaurants is preparing to dish out $25,000 towards a community project or idea submitted before Oct. 31. Customers can put forward entries for projects that will help revive a community, group, facility or charity and have a lasting benefit on others. The nominee must give their permission for a nomination, which should be submitted with a short YouTube-type video and a short story, with pictures, about why the project in question should win. “We want to celebrate our 25th year by giving back to the people in the towns and cities that have supported us and contributed to Joey’s success,” said Joey’s founder, Joe Klassen. “Our Community Revival Project is the first time we’ve invited Canadians to tell us where to designate our financial support. We strongly believe in giving back but, this time, people can truly mobilize their communities to improve, renovate or financially support a local initiative.” An online vote will take place between Nov. 1 and 30. For more details, click here.  

Boston Pizza Launches Online Ordering
Boston Pizza, Richmond, B.C., now offers online ordering for takeout and delivery at all of its 340 locations across the country. Branded Finger Cooking, the new online feature offers access to combinations of more than 100 menu items, including salads, pasta and pizza on original, thin, multi-grain or gluten-free crust. “Takeout and delivery is the fastest growing segment in the casual-dining category, and with our user-friendly ordering system we have made it easy to bring the Boston Pizza experience, along with the same restaurant quality food, to your home every time,” says Steve Silverstone, executive vice-president of Marketing for the chain. “We expect takeout and delivery orders to become yet another occasion for Boston Pizza fans to enjoy our food.” To get things started, Boston Pizza is giving away a free order of its Bandera bread with each first online order at bostonpizza.com.

A&W’s ‘Cruisin’ for a Cause’ Raises $700,000
Vancouver-based A&W Food Services of Canada Inc. recently hosted its second annual ‘Cruisin’ for a Cause’ fundraiser, which nearly doubled last year’s total, raising more than $700,000 for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada. “I am very proud of both the A&W and Multiple Sclerosis Society teams’ passion and commitment to this important cause and hope our partnership can help to make a difference in the lives of the 55,000 to 75,000 Canadians and their families living with MS,” said Paul Hollands, president and CEO of the QSR chain. Staff from more than 700 A&W restaurants across Canada raised funds through the sale of classic car cut-outs, donation boxes and donations of $1 from every Teen Burger sold on Aug. 26. The charitable initiative also raised funds and awareness for MS through a variety of events, including classic car gatherings, retro music, car-hop service and car-hop relay races.

Gunawan Named Chef at West
David Gunawan is the new executive chef at West Restaurant in Vancouver. Gunawan has risen to the top quickly since joining the team at the fine-dining hotspot in 2007. This spring, he made the jump from executive sous chef to chef de cuisine, and now he’s set to lead the kitchen. “I am proud to accept this exciting position,” said Gunawan. “I have had the opportunity to assemble and lead a kitchen brigade that is completely invested in excellence. I look forward to building upon this tradition at West and the challenge of continuing to exceed the expectations of our guests.” The Singapore-raised chef, once an aspiring engineer educated at Indiana’s Purdue University, has cooked in the U.S. and Canada.

Six Junior Chefs Post Expo 2010 Shanghai Recipes
Six young chefs from across Canada have revealed their secret recipes to mark the launch of the Canada Pavilion’s new online publication, Top Secret Recipes from the Chefs of the Canada Pavilion at Expo 2010 Shanghai, which offers insider tips and recipes for Canadian cuisine served to Canada Pavilion visitors. Wayne Murphy, executive chef of the Canada Pavilion and coordinator of the Culinary Arts Program at Ottawa’s La Cité Collégiale, led a team of graduates from culinary schools across Canada, including: Melissa Hryb of Red River College, Winnipeg; Hugo Martineau of Collège LaSalle, Montreal; and Mariane Weber of La Cité Collégiale, Ottawa. To view the recipes, click here.  

Convenience Stores Benefit as Restaurant Consumers Trade Down
According to the “Convenience Store Foodservice Consumer Trend Report,” conducted by Chicago-based foodservice research firm Technomic Inc., 28 per cent of consumers think U.S. convenience stores provide a variety of tasty, high-quality food items. That said, 52 per cent would like to see more healthy food and 47 per cent would like to see a wider variety of healthy beverages. “Today, major convenience chains are actively developing healthier, higher-quality food offerings to benefit from trade-down restaurant spending and to compete more effectively with limited-service restaurants,” said Darren Tristano, executive vice-president of the research firm. “Competitors for food purchases are fast-food restaurants. Nearly half of consumers (49 per cent) said fast-food restaurants were their alternative for breakfast, 47 per cent for lunch, and 32 per cent for dinner. Consumers found made-to-order offerings highly appealing.”

NPD Releases Studies on FSR and Snacking
The changing face of Canadian full-service restaurants (FSR) is outlined in a new consumer study, “Full-Service Dining – How to Win Customers Back,” produced by the market research company NPD Group. The Canadian consumer survey builds on NPD’s continuing CREST studies, which were highlighted in a recent breakfast meeting at Toronto’s Sheraton Toronto Airport hotel with speakers Linda Strachan, Robert Carter and Arnie Schwartz of the Canadian foodservice group. Carter pointed out that while full-service revenues are down from a high two years ago, consumer traffic is trending up “slightly.” Consumers recognize the value of FSR over quick-service restaurants (QSR), including better food quality, greater variety, better service and the availability of specific items the consumer wants to eat. Only 13 per cent of FSR customers would have visited a QSR location on their last meal occasion.

Earlier this month NPD released another Canadian report, “Snacking in Canada,” which found Canadians snack more than Americans, and hold a more positive view of snacking, too. “Snacking remains the fastest-growing [meal] occasion in Canada in the past decade. In 2000, snacks comprised 22 per cent of all meals eaten, whereas that number has increased to just over 24 per cent in 2010,” the report states. “Over the course of 2009, Canada’s snack consumption was higher than in the U.S., with Canadians having eaten just over 300 snack meals per person compared to Americans whose snack meals totalled approximately 230.” However, Joel Gregoire, food & beverage industry analysts, said, “The real difference lies in what’s being consumed as Canadians are more conscious of the nutritional value of their food choices.”

DiRōNa’s 20th Annual Conference Kicks Off
The Distinguished Restaurants of North America (DiRōNa) 20th anniversary conference got underway Sept. 19 with a welcome reception and Canadian cuisine evening at the CN Tower/360 Restaurant. Welcomed by CN Tower’s general manager, Neil Jones, and chef, Peter George, the evening included tours of 360’s induction-powered kitchens that produce some 900 covers per day. “This program, starting with this evening, marks a new future and new directions for our organization,” said conference chair John J. Arena. This morning, Sept. 20, business sessions began with Garth Whyte, president of the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association, speaking on “A Vision for the Restaurant Industry. Why Should North America Care?” What’s more, some 200 DiRōNa members from Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, and special guests from Japan and Italy, will board buses for a full-day culinary and wine tour in the Niagara peninsula and a special lunch at the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, Vineland, Ont. The conference, held primarily at Toronto’s Fairmont Royal York Hotel, runs until Wednesday, Sept. 22. For more information, click here.  

Toronto and Montreal Make Top 10 List of World’s Most Expensive Cities
Toronto and Montreal are among the Top 10 most expensive cities in the world, according to an annual report from the Zurich-based wealth management company UBS AG. The 73-city report “Prices and Earnings: A Global Purchasing Power Comparison,” ranks Toronto as the eighth most expensive city and Montreal as the ninth most expensive hub, up from the 28th and 29th spots in 2009. This major jump in ranking is attributed to the rising Canadian dollar, up 27 per cent against the Euro from March 2009 to June 2010, and slower wage increases compared to other jurisdictions. The most expensive cities in the world continue to be Oslo, Zurich and Geneva, respectively.

Montreal, Vancouver, Toronto Lead Hotel Rate Increases
The impact of the rising loonie continues to be felt, as Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto posted some of the highest rate increases for hotel rooms globally, according to the Hotels.ca quarterly Hotel Price Index. The report shows Montreal is in second place with a seven per cent hike in hotel room prices to $145 per night in the second quarter of 2010 versus the previous year. Meanwhile, Vancouver was up four per cent to $147 per night and Toronto was also up four per cent to $133 per night — both tied for third place. “This is a reflection of the impact of exchange rates,” the report reads. “Canadians felt the impact of gradually rising prices as hoteliers saw demand rise and cut the depth of the discounts they offered travellers.” Globaly, Singapore is in the top spot with a 10 per cent year-over-year increase.

Four Seasons Plans Oman and Egypt Properties
Toronto-based Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts has announced two new Middle East hotel projects in partnership with the Switzerland-based development company Orascom Development. The management agreements include: Four Seasons Resort Oman, expected to open in 2013 with 200 rooms and 75 residential units in the sultanate of Oman and Four Seasons Resort El Gouna, expected to open in 2014 in the resort of El Gouna on Egypt’s Red Sea coast, with 150 rooms and 65 residential units.

Pacrim Hospitality Services Adds St. John’s, N.L. Hotel
Effective Oct. 1, the 128-room Battery Hotel & Conference Centre, St. John’s, N.L., will join the international management portfolio of Pacrim Hospitality Services Inc. “The service its loyal guests have come to enjoy will be enhanced by a planned renovation and re-branding of the hotel,” said CEO Glenn Squires. “Details of the renovation and re-branding will be announced very soon.” Located on the slopes of historic Signal Hill, the property offers a new fitness centre, newly expanded harbour view bar, two restaurants, 11 meeting rooms for 10 to 250 guests and two dining rooms seating 300 and 125 guests. Privately owned Pacrim Hospitality has a portfolio of 52 hotels in Canada and the U.S. with more than 5,385 rooms and suites.

Skyline Welcomes Three New Leaders
Three hotel veterans have joined Toronto’s Skyline Boutique Hotels and Resorts. Alex Gomez is now vice-president of Sales and Marketing; Mark Schwass is general manager for the Cosmopolitan Toronto Hotel and the Pantages Hotel Toronto Centre; and Christopher Gee is the new Food and Beverage manager for both downtown Toronto hotels. Gomez has two decades of hotel sales and marketing expertise developed at premium New York City properties such as The Peninsula, Millennium United Nations Plaza and Swissôtel’s Drake. Schwass has been polishing his résumé for the past 25 years with stints managing hotels in the U.S. and Canada, including the Cambridge Suites Hotel in Toronto, the Galleria Park Hotel and the Park Plaza Hotel in Oakland. Gee has held managerial positions with the Westin, Sheraton and Park Hyatt.


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