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El Catrin A Gem In The Distillery District

Courtesy of blogto.com

Courtesy of blogto.com

I recently found a fabulous restaurant in the Distillery District in Toronto ON. It is called El Catrin.

Located adjacent to the Mill Street restaurant, El Catrin is a pleasant surprise. I absolutely love Mexican food and I haven’t found anything really really good in the city until now.

El Catrin is my new fave Mexican restaurant! The outside patio is stunning with the wrought iron chandelier lighting, heaters and the fire pit to warm you up during a crisp evening.  Inside the restaurant is stunning. There is a great room filled with Mexican art and enough space to host a large dinner group/party. The bar area is long and is great to meet friends for a drink.

The food wa‎s superb. Fresh guacamole dip with chips was awesome as a starter. The fresh, upscale Mexican food with great flavors was a nice change from the typical Mexican food.  The Manager stopped by our table and we had a chance to speak to him.  He mentioned that the chef is from Mexico and is bringing the authenticity of the food to El Catrin.  He also mentioned “with a 1000 covers on a Saturday”, he was happy with the results.

The Distillery District is a great spot in Toronto for Dining.  Be sure to have a meal at El Catrin….Yummy!!

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Trattoria Timone In Oakville Offers A Dining Experience That Won’t Disappoint

Image courtesy of tripadvisor.ca

Image courtesy of tripadvisor.ca

One night after work, a colleague and I decided to go out for dinner.  She had been to this restaurant before but I have not.

I must say, it was such a great experience.

The hostess greeted us with a smile and sincerity. She seated us to our table by the window.  The décor of the restaurant is beautiful with the open kitchen, the open airiness of the space, the wood, tile and wrought iron.  Although a large space, and surrounded by other diners, we were able to have a conversation without others hearing what we were saying, without hearing the clanging of the kitchen, etc. The acoustics in the restaurant are great.

The Food….The food was fantastic.  I tried their pate appetizer which was being offered that day and our server informed me that was made fresh that morning.  It was fresh and very tasty.  We proceeded to have a pasta dish which was one of the best seafood pasta dishes I ever had. The pasta is made fresh daily in the restaurant……and you can taste the freshness…not sticky, mushy pasta.

The service of the staff was excellent.  Our main server was very informative and helpful when asking questions about the menu and dish items.  Our server was friendly, enthusiastic and always smiling.

I highly recommend you go and eat at this restaurant…you won’t be disappointed!

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Start Selling Gift Cards With The One Tree Gift Card Software

Screenshot courtesy of crunchbase.com

Screenshot courtesy of crunchbase.com

Most hoteliers and restaurateurs don’t realize it, but they’re missing out on a lot by not offering gift cards to their guests. The gift card industry has hit its peak this 2013, making it easily one of the most sought after gifts for all occasions.

Launching your own gift card program can sound daunting, but you don’t have to do it yourself. Just recently, One Tree software, which provides gift card solutions to businesses, has launched its gift card software specifically for hospitality businesses.

What One Tree offers is an online gift card package that can easily be downloaded and installed into the hotel’s or restaurant’s website. Once installed, the app can be fully customized—from the pricing and the terms and conditions to how the gift card will look on the hotel or restaurant website.

With the gift card software, you can sell gift cards directly from your website, the front desk or phone. It is also a fully automated system, so you can track the sales, gift data, and customer responses directly from the software.

The cost of the software is fairly low—a fixed monthly fee of £50. This isn’t a bad price to pay for a fully integrated custom software that offers a service as complex as gift card solutions.

With the One Tree software, you can sell online gift cards for hotel accommodations, or meals in the hotel restaurant. Restaurants, on the other hand, can customize gift cards for special menus, wine, or for corresponding cash amounts. You can also use the gift cards to pre-sell and promote special family or visitor packages.

The software has a built-in management portal, where you can create gift cards, market it to your guests, manage the finances, or redeem voucher codes.

If you’ve always planned on selling gift cards but don’t quite know how to do it, perhaps this is the final push that you need.

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Shop Small Biz Day

courtesy shopsmallbiz.ca

courtesy shopsmallbiz.ca

Shop Small Biz Day is taking place this Friday, October 25th across Canada.
For those of you who don’t know what Shop Small Biz is all about, it is a celebration of independent, Canadian owned establishments and it is also a day set aside to educate the public on the importance of shopping local.
The great news is that it is free and easy to join in on the fun. Just make sure to spread the word that it is Shop Small Biz Day and your patrons will do the rest! If you choose to promote your Canadian, independently owned establishment this October 25th, make sure to maximize your exposure by tweeting your participation with the hashtag #shopsmallbiz. Also post your participation on the Shop Small Biz Facebook Page, and don’t forget to include your restaurant location. This is where the many media outlets who are reporting on the event will be directing the public so this is where you will be seen!
This Friday is Shop Small Biz’s second annual event, and is sponsored through a partnership between CFIB and Interac – it took place on a Saturday last October and thousands of businesses and shoppers alike celebrated the day by participating in Shop Small Biz Day deals, promotions and sales.

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Looking For Gluten-Free Options In Vancouver And Toronto?

A Kupfert and Kim lunch. Photo courtesy of blogto.com.

A Kupfert and Kim lunch. Photo courtesy of blogto.com.

Whether you’re sensitive to your customers on a special diet, have celiac disease, or just want to be adventurous, serving gluten-free options in your menu is something to be proud of. Having gluten-free options in your menu not only signifies your sensitivity to your customers’ needs, but also your craftsmanship as a restaurateur. After all, a lot of responsibility goes into serving gluten-free options, from making sure that there’s no contamination to serving a delightfully tasty meal to your customers.

That being said, some restaurants in Toronto and Vancouver have stood out and are the talk of the town for their gluten-free delights.

1. Kupfert & Kim at First Canadian Place, Marketplace, 100 King St. W. Toronto. Tucked in First Canadian Place and available only for take-out, Kupfert & Kim deserves some snaps for its vegan and wheat-free dishes, including cappuccino made with rice milk (with perfectly done espresso at that), soothie, ball snacks, and, its glowing pride, Dan’s Salad. It’s most known for its breakfast menu, which boasts steel-cut oats, almond, and house granola.

2. Live at Located at 264 Dupont St.(North East corner of Dupont and Spadina) Toronto. Almost every other review out there praises Live—and rightfully so. Some of their standouts are the raw food sampler, the raw version of enchiladas, raw pizza, and Moroccan stew. This gourmet vegan restaurant is a bit pricey, but is worth a visit at least once, if only for the experience.

3. Arepa Café at 490 Queen Street West Toronto. Its steady line of customers during lunch and dinner hours should be indication of what Arepa Café fdelivers: a satisfying variety of Venezuelan dishes, from arepas to fresh juices. Try their desserts, like the alfajores: a generous serving of dulce de luche beween two biscuits. There aren’t a lot of Latin-inspired restaurants that offer gluten-free food, so Arepa Café is a welcome delight.

4. Havana at 1212 Commercial Dr, Vancouver. While most of their offerings are not for the gluten-free, there’s a special section dedicated to gluten-free options, such as the tostones and the mazina tortillas. This Cuban-inspired restaurant also houses a Theatre and Gallery, which makes it an even more compelling place to go to.

5.The Naam at 2724 W 4th Ave, Vancouver Open 24 hours a day, this restaurant offers some amazing gluten-free options in generous servings, including tortilla chips made with corn, gluten-free bread, Tuscan Nachos, and Chilaquiles Enchilada.

6. Sandbar at 1535 Johnston St, Vancouver. Although a fish restaurant more than anything else, Sandbar offers gluten-free options that are worth a try, including its pizza and pasta. It’s pretty fresh and tasty, and well worth the visit.

These are only some of the gluten-free choices that abound in Vancouver and Toronto, among the many restaurants that are paying attention to this trend. What are your favourite restaurants offering gluten-free choices? Perhaps you’re a restaurateur who offers such choices yourself—share your menu!

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New Sleep And Wellness Device Provides Optimal Sleep Quality For Hotel Guests

The NightCove product. Photo courtesy of zyken.com.

The NightCove product. Photo courtesy of zyken.com.

More than anything else, the sleep quality of your guests will determine hotel guest satisfaction and loyalty. This is more difficult than it sounds—after all, your traveler guests and tourists have different sleeping habits and altered body clocks that are difficult to control.

The hotel industry has come up with several ways to make sleep quality of hotel guests as satisfying as possible. One recent innovation is the NightCove, a sleep and wellness device developed by Zyken.

Designed by Patrik Jouin and sleep scientific expert Professor Damien Léger of the Paris Hotel Sleep & Wakefulness Center, NightCove is a combination of scientific LED lighting and acoustic technologies that provide guests with a well-rested sleep followed by waking up gradually, full of energy. It also has ambiance programs and iPad/iPhone connectivity.

Interestingly, the NightCove experience extends not just during nighttime—the usual sleeping time. It works day time through evening. In the morning, it provides the conditions perfect for relaxation or a short nap. At night, NightCove  simulates conditions that are ideal for optimal for natural sleep.

NightCove provides four programs for optimal sleep quality: Sleep, Nap, Wake-Up, and Mood. The Sleep program features sound sequences that eventually decrease in intensity and light sequences like a twilight—this helps the secretion of melatonin and eventually allows a the guest to fall asleep smoothly. The Wake-Up program helps a person wake up full of energy by introducing light and sound sequences similar to dawn’s. The Nap program induces a person to sleep for 10 to 20 minutes—the most efficient nap durations, according to experts, while the Mood program helps a person relax without induced sleep.

NightCove is already used in a number of luxury hotels like the Sofitel Paris Arc de Triomphe, Four Seasons Maui, Art Peace Hotel in Shanghai, Sofitel London St. James and Four Seasons Paris George V to name a few.


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Writer/Consultant Provides Industry Insight


Craig Pinhey is a successful wine, beer and spirit writer and consultant. He started out working in engineering but a passion for writing, poetry and good drinks brought him to his current field. Born in New Brunswick, Pinhey moved to Toronto for his job and is now back in New Brunswick.

He spoke to Shauna Chase about his work and why he loves it. You can find the rest of the article here.



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