Tommy's revives 'Tunnel' tradition July 12 2024

The Tunnel Bar B Q lives! The venerable and popular one-time restaurant – which had legions of fans on both sides of the border and folded its tent a decade ago soon followed by the death of owner Thom Racovitis, continues in another iteration, as Tommy’s Bar-B-Q in the Roundhouse Centre across from Devonshire Mall. Run by long time former Tunnel employees Thom and Lesley Stoiantsis, the resto opened in 2017, first on Erie St. before moving to the former Outback Steakhouse in the Roundhouse. Thom – also known as Tommy – began working for Racovitis, his uncle, when he was 15 in 1967. “I did the managing and all the buying and made the barbecue sauce,” he says. As people have discovered Tommy’s the resto has built a loyal following; after all, who didn’t like the original Tunnel? And the restaurant has virtually the same menu – ribs, chicken, combos, fries, a variety of sandwiches and salads. And the desserts! The exact same cakes and pies that were almost as legendary as the ribs at the original Tunnel. Strawberry Romanoff, Black Forest, Swiss Chocolate, Chocolate Windmill, apple, coconut and banana cream pies - all made in house. “Our bake shop is in the kitchen and they start at 6 am and they’re usually out of there by one and then we open up our service at three,” Tommy says. Even the rotisseries are from the original resto. One of the few new additions to the menu is the Beef Ribs. “They’re a huge seller, because not too many (restaurants) have beef ribs. I don’t know of anybody else really,” he said. Some of the staff are the same. “Some employees like (his manager) she’s been with us for 36 years,” he says. “She worked at Tunnel, The (affiliated former) Other Place, The Marketplace (formerly at the Holiday Inn) and now with us. We have a few drivers that have been with us, a cook whose been with us over 25-28 years.” So, no need to mourn the original Tunnel, just head to Tommy's.

Fest Windsor's top food celebration June 28 2024

Shahdesh Singh found it a comparative breeze this year getting city approval to host the second annual Windsor Food Festival. The head of the PSD (Production Stage and Décor) event planning company learned the ropes last year but still attracted 7000 people to the Riverfront Festival Plaza. “It’s just that I was new and I did not know how to do that, and it was my first time dealing with the city,” Singh said. “Last year was difficult but this year it’s going smoothly.” Singh, who moved to Windsor in 2020, create the festival because he didn’t see anything like this in Windsor. “I understand there are some events on a small scale but not on the festival plaza,” he said. Not only is it a culinary spectacular. But it provides performing artists with a wide stage – literally – to perform and with exposure to new audiences. And PSD doesn’t charge them to perform. There will be singers dancers, drummers, many from the South Asian community, of which the festival has a distinctive stamp. “It’s where people can come, gather, enjoy, socialize,” says Singh, and has provided a meeting place for the city’s large Asian community. “The international students and the international community, they need this,” he said. Last year there were 18 stalls and this year so far 28 have been booked and the deadline for booking is July 4. Some 60 artists have also booked to perform “and we’re still open for bookings,” he said. And while South Asian cuisine will be a signature feature a wide variety of foods, from wings to poutine to burgers, will be available. Some of the vendors will be restaurants, others pop-up. All will be inspected by the health unit. The event will be held July 12 – 14. Admission is free with registration (for statistical purposes) or $2. After July 4 a map and vendor list will be posted to the website.

Photo: Windsor Food Festival

Next up for Golden Harvest: a full cafe June 14 2024

Golden Oven European bakery has been a delightful addition to the local food scene since opening last fall with plans for a sit-down café in the next few months. Owner Sonia Abro and husband Ablahad moved to Windsor from Munich, Germany, where they also ran a bakery. But Abro had family in Windsor and wanted to make the move to Canada. People have raved online about the small bakery at 1794 Westcott Rd., open seven days. “We were surprised by the many different pastries having different textures from light and airy to layered and flaky to moist and chewy, being delicately flavoured to perfection,” one customer wrote. “My wife and I both agree that Golden Oven European Bakery is now our number one go to bakery.” The bakery has a variety of fruit pastries, croissants and breads, all baked fresh and using European ingredients. “We do European style I don’t think they have it here in Windsor,” Abro said. “We have 15 – 20 different kinds of breads.” These include healthy Good Heart with seeds like poppy, sunflower and flax. There’s Apple Cinnamon bread on weekends, the namesake Golden Oven bread with black and green olives, cheddar cheese. “This is bread you can pull apart and just eat as is,” Sonia says. There’s Smokey Onion, Orange Cranberry, Cranberry Walnut and Blueberry. And the pastries taste different because European cream is used which doesn’t give that too sweet taste. “It’s not sweet at all, it doesn’t affect the flavour,” she says. “Lots of customers say, ‘We didn’t have this kind of cake before.’” Sonia says some customers use the sweet breads to make French toast or simply dip in butter and eat. Patrons are obviously going away happy. “I don’t have any bad reviews, they always come and go with a happy smile,” Sonia says. “Another lady told me that she doesn’t want to come to the bakery but her feet told her to go,” she laughs. The croissants are large, flaky and buttery. Said a customer: “Hands down the best croissant I’ve ever had.” We can’t wait for the café to open.

Photo: Golden Harvest's facebook page

Toto Cafe wants to up coffee house vibe May 30 2024

Toto Café has upped the coffee house vibe to a surround sight and sound experience. The newish eatery at 12211 Riverside Dr. E. in Tecumseh melds different concepts to come up with a unique ambience. “We believe that every detail, from our concept to our decor, is an integral part of the story we're eager to share with you,” owner Joe Proeski says. The idea behind the cafe is to bring people together and create community. Proeski says the concept is “rooted in the idea of fostering genuine connections and creating memorable experiences.” The design blends “contemporary elegance with cozy charm,” he says. Customers will find “warm tones, natural textures, and inviting seating arrangements that invite you to linger awhile.” These include custom-made lighting fixtures made by local artisans to curated artwork on the walls. Proeski says the café is committed to a food experience of “innovation and authenticity.” Check out Toto’s signature Lotus energy drinks “crafted from natural, plant-based ingredients,” to the eatery's “decadent selection of pastries and desserts.” Proeski and staff have “years of experience” in hospitality ranging from restos to cafes, pubs and nightclubs, bringing the best of these to Toto. “Our vision was simple yet profound,” he says. “To create a space where people from all walks of life could come together, share stories, and savor moments of joy and connection over great food and drinks.”

Photo: Toto Café

Couple expand to "Pan-Asian" cuisine May 13 2024

ChopstiX, which recently opened at 152 Lesperance Rd. in Tecumseh, isn’t offering “fusion” food, at least not yet. But what it is offering is a “pan-Asian” menu, and that’s pretty unique for the Windsor area. Owner Lam and Justin Harb already had a following from their Pad Thai on Wyandotte St. downtown, which they ran for a decade. But it was small and only offered takeout. And an alert to the civic powers that be: It was difficult operating in that area because of the homeless and addicts with “a lot of garbage and needles,” Lam says. The couple now has three small children and didn’t want to expose them to that negativity. They took some time off and then the former Healthy Mama vegetarian restaurant space became available. “I walked into the place and felt instant connection!” Lam says. Asian food runs deep in Lam’s family. Her family originally opened Simply Thai in Tecumseh. Lam also travelled extensively in southeast Asia and her father urged her to open her own resto. “My dad thought that I needed some kind of inspiration,” she says. “So, he immediately sent me there for four months and I travelled pretty much with a backpack and stopped at stalls and watched people cook. I just kind of picked up the technique from my native country and created a menu right there for fun." She brought it home and her father said, "Great let’s go look for a restaurant." Meanwhile, Lam and Justin have been soulmates since college. While Lam concentrates on the food Justin focusses on the restaurant’s concept and aesthetics. As she says, “I’m the authentic and Justin is the modern.” So they’ve branched out from just serving Thai to Vietnamese and Chinese. “Not everybody’s into authentic Asian cuisine but I feel that people are ready to be introduced to it,” she says. But the couple has opened the door to expanding into a fuller “fusion” of cuisines and mixtures. “We’ll definitely get into more varieties,” she said.

Windsor FB group chats up restaurants May 2 2024

Windsor has its own restaurant chat site. It’s Windsor Food Spotters on Facebook. It was created two years ago and has almost 13,000 members. The unrestricted site is constantly updated with all manner of resto and bar discoveries, opinions and general discussion about the area’s dining scene. Today, for example, the lead off post is about Torus Doughnuts. “Over priced and overrated” says one contributor. Another “F--- donuts, stay hard” whatever that means. Another cites Terra Cotta Pizzeria (original spelled incorrectly) pizzeria downtown, giving shout out for its two for one pizza night. “With everything going through the roof these days price wise we could not believe the deal. 4 pizzas, 2 pints, and a litre of wine for $85 bucks. Take out the alcohol your looking at roughly $35 for 4 pizzas that were wood oven baked. Unreal.” Chimes-in another, “I haven't been there in ages someone told me they closed down, glad to hear they didn't, their pizza is delicious.” On a different topic, a poster wanted to know if any patios are open yet. One person replied, “We ended up going to Kildare House.” Someone else posted a pic of the Erie Street GastroPub. Others contributed: “River’s Edge”, “The Barrel House” and so on. A different poster is looking for a job for an experienced sever. “I have my smart serve and many years of experience but still unable to find a place to work part time.” Several commentators offered leads. Another poster praised Walkerville Eatery. “We got some dill pickle pizza, taco pizza (they had a BOGO half price deal on Wednesdays) and some delicious sliders (the kid - vegetarian goat cheeseburger, conquistador - chorizo burger, and the parm - chicken parm burger) with Parmesan fries. Yummy.” And is this sacrilege in Canada's motor city? This poster actually said they preferred Windsor pizza with “round and crispy” - as opposed to the Windsor traditional shredded - pepperoni. “Well done zza from Napoli Pizza.” Surprisingly, most people agreed with him.

Sicilian cuisine stars in Riverside April 17 2024

John Fuerth’s Capone’s Grill & Pasta Shop at 5880 Wyandotte St. E. in Riverside will be celebrating its eighth anniversary in July serving up distinctly Sicilian style Italian food. Fuerth has had a long background in the restaurant industry – “since I was a kid actually” - and worked in well-known eateries as far back as Bentley’s Roadhouse and Cadillac Jack’s. In 1992 he opened Jake’s Eastside Pub & Grub on Lauzon Rd. then sold it in 2004. But he had studied under a Sicilian chef de cuisine and always wanted to open that kind of restaurant. The opportunity arose in a vacant space that was a onetime dessert shop and the long-ago Elaine (French) Bistro. Sicilian food uses fewer ingredients and is heartier with solid meat and fish, with dishes wrapped in sauces like Marsala, Piccata and Sicilian. “We do some really nice stuff here but it’s not 10 or 12 different things that you have to put into a dish to make it good," Fuerth said. "Sicilian is more of a rustic type cuisine.” The resto’s menu has plenty of meat and seafood dishes. Fuerth's customers’ fave? “I probably do about 40 pounds of veal a week.” Meanwhile. typical dishes might be Braised Beef Tenderloin pasta with sautéed mushrooms with choice of noodles, Sautéed Prosciutto with onion, mushroom, spinach and grape tomatoes tossed in a cream sauce. Or Shrimp & Crab stuffed Sole (or other fish) topped with a white wine cream sauce, served with garlic mashed potatoes and sautéed vegetables. The Riverside location, comfortably seating 32 with a small bar, perfectly fits since Fuerth grew up in the neighborhood and there is no other Italian restaurant in the area. “There's nothing else like it out here," he said. Post-Covid, the restaurant is only open three days a week but does private parties other nights. That makes sense. “When we were allowed to reopen again it was 'like you know, we’re going to stick to the Thursday, Friday, Saturdays because everything – labor food costs fixed costs – have skyrocketed' – that if you’re not busy every day you’re not making money.”

Photo: Google Street View

Three new game-changers on scene March 17 2024

At least three news restaurants by higher profile restaurateurs or generating social media buzz have opened. The first is Vito Maggio's Nauti V’s Oyster Bar in Walkerville, not far from his long-time artisan Vito's Pizzeria. The "nautical themed" resto - when was the last time there was an "oyster bar" in Windsor? - will seat 60 and the space, with its very contemporary furnishings and minimalist exterior design, "exudes hip," a press release says. Several attempts to reach owner Maggio were unsuccessful. Appetizers include the “indulgent Oyster Flight" and the “spectacular" two or three tiered seafood tray, which likely will be a hit. Among entrees, check out the Squid Ink Linguini and the succulent Vito’s Branzino. But not just fruits from the sea are on the menu. Meat lovers’ cravings are being sufficed with dishes like Ribeye, Chicken Roulade and Braised Lamb Shank. Desserts include Chocolate Ganache Mousse, an aromatic Earl Grey Tart and Lemon Cheesecake served with spiced crumbled candies and orange caramel. Meanwhile, closer to downtown in a small plaza on Pelissier St. just south of Wyandotte St. is Soul by Mr. Spoon, owned by 20-year chef Patrick Weatherspoon, who agreed to an interview but didn't follow up. The southern style soul food resto features everything from outdoor BBQs to catfish, sausages, collard greens, cornbread, yams, and mac and cheese. It looks like a fun, niche addition to the city's already diverse food scene. Meanwhile, out in Colchester, The Wreck at Colchester Harbour hopes to turn what had been a previous and somewhat nondescript greasy spoon onto a full blown bar and grill. Obviously someone has seen the potential of a resto overlooking Lake Erie and capitalizing on the boaters and swimmers (in summer) who flock to the area. "Local owners, local chefs, locally sourced, fresh food - come taste the flavours of Essex County!" their website boasts. But nowhere does it indicate the names of the individuals behind it. WON reached out and the owner (unnamed) agreed to an interview but didn’t respond further. The menu includes a lot of pub food but with a special emphasis, as fits the setting, of fish - perch, pickerel (never can have too much of that!), haddock plus shrimp and calamari. There's also a ton of burgers, sandwiches and wraps. While all three new culinary offerings should be applauded it would also be nice if the owners made themselves available to tout their offerings. Marketing, after all, can help sustain an already tough industry.

Photo: Google Street View

Servers now get regular minimum wage

WindsorOntarioNews.oom February 14 2024

People may question tipping after the provincial minimum wage was raised for restaurant servers to $16.55 an hour effective last October. That was up from $15.50. In 2021 the rate was as low as $14.25. Liquor servers in bars are also earning the same though in 2021 they made as low as $12.45 an hour. That’s according to Service Ontario, the government web site. The increases were “tied to the Ontario Consumer Price Index for 2023.” The fact servers were always considered underpaid as per the general wage rate was a reason for tipping - or at least tipping generously – in the first place. But now that they make the same as the general working population, some may question that…..Toronto-based Paradise Fine Food, which has an outlet in Windsor on Dougall Ave., is in hot water after a social media post. Owner Mohamad Fakih was responding to a customer who said online “I’ll never set foot in Paramount Foods ever again” and “terrorist sympathizers don’t deserve my business.” Fakih responded (post since taken down) “we don’t want your money. Please don’t bring us blood money.” But Fakih said he was accused of a false antisemitic motive. That didn’t stand well with one of Canada’s largest Jewish organizations. “With his social-media post, this Order of Canada recipient reminded many Canadians of the days when Jews were not welcome as patrons in various establishments throughout the country,” said Richard Robertson, B’nai Brith Canada’s manager of research. “The hurt caused by his message was amplified by his usage of the phrase ‘blood money,’ a term reminiscent of the classic antisemitic trope of blood libel”…..Poor Red Lobster, which has an outlet in Windsor. Last year it launched Ultimate Endless Shrimp at $20 per. Customers took advantage, so much so the chain lost $11 million during its third quarter. “The proportion of the people selecting this promotion was much higher compared to expectation,” Chief Financial Officer Ludovic Garnier said.

Photo: Restaurants Canada

Dining-in coming to Ghanaian eatery January 29 2024

It’s opening inside dining next week, March 6th marks a two year anniversary, and it’s up for the 2024 Chamber of Commerce ‘New Company of the Year’ Business Excellence award. It’s Zuleeats, the until now take out only and increasingly popular Ghanian eatery at 2760 Howard Ave. Helmed by Chef Zule (Zul-ee) – “everybody calls me Zule” – Ankamah (photo), the resto opened during the pandemic and was perfect for the type of takeout food culture that lockdown inspired. Chef Zule opened it after being laid off from her former job. “I had always loved cooking” so she decided to “jump back in” to her first love, selling meat pies and eventually opening the bricks and mortar location, which is celebrating its two-year anniversary on Ghanaian Independence Day. “In spring 2021 we got into the Downtown Farmers Market and that’s when we really got the great exposure.” Chef Zule is a Ghanaian native and longtime Windsor resident. But meat pies, perhaps owing to the country’s one-time British colonial status, is a huge staple of the country’s diet. “Every event that you go to no matter how formal it is there’s going to be meat pies somewhere,” she said. The resto has both meat (beef and chicken) offerings as well as vegan and vegetarian. Each filling has a unique blend of tasty seasoning wrapped in a golden brown pastry. Also on tap are sausage rolls and Ghanaian meal specials such as fufu, okra, jollof rice and chicken). There are also sweets including that Canadian fave, butter tarts. Everything is handmade, baked fresh with high quality products. Zuleeats products can also be found at various retailers in Windsor and Essex County. The dining-in option should open next week after Chef Zule gets her liability insurance. “Just two tables because we don’t have the space for anything more, so it’s going to be almost Subway style,” she said. The little outlet is also branding itself with a red and white logo and enamel pins, reusable insulated shopping bags and - yum – Zule’s House Blend Seasoning.

Photo: Zuleeats

Deadline looms to repay Covid loans January 15 2024

The deadline is looming for restaurants to repay their CEBA loans, handed out during the pandemic. The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loans, up to $60,000, must be repaid by Jan. 18. The loans helped struggling small businesses including restaurants, one of the hardest hit sectors, during the spread of Covid-19. Industry organization Restaurants Canada says there are three options for restaurateurs. Pay the full amount and retain $10-$20,000 in loan forgiveness. If they can’t pay by Jan. 18 they can seek refinancing from a financial institution to repay the loan, and still retain the $10-$20,000 in loan forgiveness. But they must apply for refinancing before Jan. 18 and be successfully refinanced by March 28 this year. “Interest rates and the term of the loan will be set by the financial institution providing the refinancing,” Restaurants Canada says. “From what we are hearing, it will likely be a higher rate than the 5%”. If restaurants can’t repay this week and aren’t able to refinance “because of profitability/creditworthiness of your business,” interest stars accruing at 5% annually on the entire loan including the otherwise $10-$20,000 in loan forgiveness. The full loans would be due by Dec. 31, 2026. However, owners can repay at any time before that date incrementally or in one fell swoop. “This represents a bigger loan amount to repay, but at a lower interest rate than you could get from your financial institution.” Restaurants Canada says it continues to fight the deadline. “We have launched a letter writing campaign to the Finance Minister and continue to have regular meetings with Ministers at every available opportunity to detail why extending CEBA is the best solution for our industry." Members are asked to sign an online letter.

Patio season begins March 15 for St. Paddy's Day; get those applications in Dec 13 2023

The city has developed new guidelines for outdoor patios. They can be a maximum 15 per cent of indoor capacity, must have a 30-metre setback to residential buildings, no more than four street parking spaces can be taken up and they “must be defined by a railing or similar boundary,” according to an administrative report. Restaurateurs and bar owners must submit a “fully dimensioned and labelled property map and floor plans” including orientation of tables and chairs and design of railing. Tents, stages and deck approvals must be submitted separately. Patios can only operate at most eight months per year from March 15 to Nov. 15. “This time frame was selected to allow operation from the St. Patrick’s holiday to when cooler weather and snowfall would be expected to start,” the city says. Applications must be made every year “to ensure that the proposed patio meets the continuously changing provincial legislation and standards, city by-law requirements and associated policies or procedures.” Restos and bars with previous patios will be reviewed for neighbourhood impacts and complaints. Liquor applications to the AGCO are separate but done only after city patio approval. The city application fee is $570 plus HST or $644.10. The fee includes fire and buildings inspections and planning review.

Diagram: City of Windsor

Vito eyes eastside catering warehouse Nov 29 2023

Vito’s Pizzeria owner Vito Maggio is looking to build a catering warehouse in Ford City on St. Luke Rd. just north of Wyandotte St. E. Vito Maggio Holdings Inc. owns the now vacant property that at one time had four homes on it, demolished 10 years ago. The 134,000 sq. m. warehouse “will be used to support the applicant’s other businesses. Primarily, the building will be used to store equipment and materials for a local catering company,” a city planning report says. The building would also be “compatible” (artist rendition above) with other residential properties along the street and will use “higher quality durable materials.” That’s consistent with what is desired for community revitalization by a Community Improvement Plan (CIP) grant program for which Maggio has also applied. The program puts a freeze on current property taxes for 10 years while the assessed value of the property increases. The property’s current value is $6000 and the future assessed value is estimated at $140,000. The grant would be $4,789 or $47,890 over 10 years. That’s based on the different between the current tax paid ($248.25) and estimated annual future tax of $5037.66. The location is at the end of St. Luke Rd. at a turn before the railway tracks.

Image: City of Windsor

Most Canucks dissatisfied dining out Nov 13 2023

If you’ve been less than thrilled about your restaurant dining experience lately you’re not alone. Only a mere 30 per cent of Canucks were either “very satisfied or satisfied” about dining out over the past year. In other words, they weren’t getting value for money or were dissatisfied “based on the money they spent,” according to Dalhousie University’s agri-food analytics lab. Restaurants have been struggling since the pandemic and trying to cut costs. That’s perhaps understandable but diners still see – or don’t – what’s on their plates, and they’re not happy. Almost 70 per cent “observed that portion sizes at restaurants have notably decreased compared to a year ago,” the survey found. Diners in Quebec were most satisfied at 40 per cent while those in Saskatchewan were least – 17.3 per cent. Meanwhile, people are changing what they order when dining out or cutting back on dining altogether to avoid high prices. “80.1% of respondents acknowledging that higher menu prices have influenced their dining-out choices. An additional 8.0% reported that they no longer dine out at all." And a significant 88.3% of Canadians say "they're dining out less due to higher overall food prices compared to a year ago.” More than 80 per cent “have become notably more selective” in choosing where to dine while some 77 per cent “now predominantly opt” for more affordable dining. Discounts, rebates, and loyalty programs are increasingly popular - 76.2% of us preferring them.

Traditional steak and seafood in Windsor? They've got you covered October 30 2023

Yes, the restaurant world is awash these days in an almost infinite variety of ethnic and fusion cuisine. And it’s all a good thing. But sometimes you just want to go and have a great traditional style dinner of steak and seafood. And one of the best places to do that in Windsor is Take Five Bistro. Now in its 12th year the 60-seat resto on Erie St. E. is run by Cody Northgrave and Paul Sauve. For those with a long memory the building at one time housed Aldo Goldberg’s and then a short-lived bistro. Take Five specializes solely in dinner and features signature steaks like filet mignon, ribeye and New York, in a couple of sizes or cut to order. There’s also racks of lamb and thick cut pork chops. Seafood includes lobster, crab cakes, salmon and calamari. Northgrave said when the partners took it over the resto space – “dark and gloomy” but in an intriguing old world way – was perfect for a steak place, especially more than a decade ago when the city’s dining offerings were more limited. With its wainscoting and tin ceiling, the room has that “New York or Chicago vibe,” Northgrave said. The owners also wanted a different cuisine to stand out on Italian-centric Erie Street. The original clientele was professional class heavy with lots of doctors, lawyers and executives. That has morphed somewhat into families, a lot of people on dates - including marriage proposals - and special occasions; the resto has a sizable private back room. The owners experimented with live music when they first started but ironically that drove customers away. “So unfortunately, we stopped doing the entertainment and just focussed on the food,” Northgrave said. Competition? There is The Keg. And the now defunct City Grill “was our kind of competition for a bit there.” The restaurant has now earned its creds so much so that Caesar Windsor’s Neros Steakhouse often sends it overflow customers. Besides a regular dinner menu Take Five offers prix fixe for those who want the elegance but spend a bit less.

Photo: Google Street View

Central Texas style BBQ with a twist October 13 2023

Sawyer’s Craft Barbecue puts its own unique spin on barbecue while keeping to a core tradition. Opened since Canada Day weekend and occupying the spot at 1000 Drouillard Rd., formerly of The Grand Cantina which has moved to Walkerville. You might call it “craft” because of the deliberate care and curation that goes into its dishes. Run by a group of owners with experience in the resto industry – Richard Bayley, for instance, used to run The Butcher’s Table catering – the foursome for two years brought their Central Texas style BBQ to the Downtown Windsor Farmers’ Market, which proved hugely popular. Cantina’s move opened the Ford City space “and we decided to take that leap,” by opening a full restaurant with patio, Bayley says. What’s Central Texas? Think large cuts such as brisket simply seasoned with condiments like Kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper, smoked slowly at low temperatures over flavoured wood fire. Bayley says the owners “wanted to pay homage” to that authentic tradition, so find brisket, ribs, house made jalapeno cheese sausage, and creative twists like Brisket Fried Rice, even Brisket Hummus. All foods are prepared in house including ranch dressing, potato salad, pickles, and rubs. Mammoth hamburgers are also on the bill. All beers and cider on tap are local as per the “craft” name. The resto also, well, crafts its own cocktails. Diners have been flocking. Online comments: “Wonderful authentic BBQ restaurant sorely needed in Windsor!” “Visited Sawyers last night and the food was phenomenal.” Even a complaint about Canadian prices wouldn’t deter: “I will certainly be back though.” Sawyer’s teams with The Pastry Place & Bake Shop for desserts. The restaurant seats 40 indoors, caters, and will be offering a pickup/delivery option in the near future.

The 'Thompson' twins in city & county Sept. 25 2023

The Thompson House is one of those Windsor delights you may have never heard of. Tucked away on the city’s east side in Olde Riverside the handsome green and red “English style” building has the look and feel of, well, a genuine English pub! “We're here to offer a good old British vibe right in the heart of Windsor. But more than that, we want to put the ‘house’ back in public house.” And it seems the owners have done that along with their companion Thompson Manor Streak & Seafood restaurant in Kingsville. It may be surprising that the Thompson House was “constructed from scratch” eight years ago, because it has such a storied look to it. Previously a gas station was located at the Wyandotte St. E. address (at the corner of Thompson Blvd!). “We worked with an interior designer and woodworker to make sure the vibe of historic England became etched into its walls,” the pub says on its website. (Several attempts to reach management were unsuccessful.) The pub has nine imported and specialty pints on draft as well as a long array of premium and domestic pints. And, yes, there’s wine and lots of cocktails. As befits an English public house you can expect some traditional English food classics - and rarities in Windsor - like Bangers and Mash, Cottage Pie, Chicken Pot Pie and of course Fish and Chips. There’s live music Thursday – Saturday. Now, over to Kingsville. What used to be the charming Annabelle’s Tea Room and Restaurant on Main St. E. is now Thompson Manor Steak & Seafood. The upscale menu is extensive, from Malpeque Oysters to Bouillabaisse, to Flounder to Lobster Pasta, lamb and, well, steaks. The county's leading dining community's reputation continues intact.

Photo: Google Street View

This restaurant hits the sweet 'Spot' Sept. 11 2023

It’s kind of like dying and going to dessert heaven. But you didn’t die, this is actually real and it exists right here in Windsor. It’s the fantastical over-the-top dessert heaven called D Spot. Opened in March in the new plaza at the corner of Tecumseh and Huron Church roads the franchise offers more sweet items than you could probably ever imagine. From more than a dozen cakes to incredible waffle combinations (strawberry and banana with Nutella anyone?) to S’more Twists. And on the ice cream front there are crepes, Belgium creations, pancakes with virtually every imaginable sweet topping like cookie dough and strawberry and cream cheese, Skillet Cookies with munchy butter toffee or white chocolate. It’s not all sweets believe it or not. You can also drop in for burgers or poutine. When D Spot creator Samir Desai of Scarborough thought up the concept almost a decade ago he noticed there weren’t many good restos open late that offered sweets, perfect for after a night on the town. Hence one group of desserts called Chocolate. The Windsor store seats 45 and franchise owner Darsh Patel moved from Brampton to open it. He says the concept is more than family friendly, with a colourful interior, a space – or “spot” - designed “to enjoy with family and friends, get relaxed, kind of like that.” There are so many incredible desserts you might just get a sugar high from looking at the menu! And there are loads of creative names like My Crepe Ate Your Brownie, Sweet Destruction and Cookielicious. Hidden Gem (chocolate lava cake wrapped in…) has been a crowd pleaser as has Enlighten Me (cake loaded with lotus cookie butter crumble…). Patel's fave? Croffles, sort of like waffles, but... There’s even vegan ice cream. And if you just want a refreshing drink there are smoothies galore, milkskakes, hot chocolate, teas and coffee. This might be your most fun night out yet.

Upcharge - that singular resto word August 30 2023

A word that seems unique to the restaurant industry of late is an “upcharge.” A dictionary definition calls it “a charge or payment that is additional to the usual or basic price; a surcharge: ie., "a gluten-free crust option is available for a small upcharge on all pizzas." More and more restaurants are adding upcharges to the menu. They could be everything from sauce toppings and garnishes to as basic as bread and water - yes! But the charges may catch diners by surprise because of their sudden proliferation and the fact many didn’t exist before. Why the variety of these add-ons? Some blame the pandemic, and for good reason. “Let's not forget the pandemic put many restaurants out of business,” the industry website Mashed says. The charges can go by different names: supply chain surcharge, a kitchen appreciation fee or even a fuel surcharge. By mid-2022 almost 40 per cent of US restaurants were adding the charges; it’s likely considerably higher now. Another reason for them has been increased charges to merchants for credit card transaction fees. And let’s not forget basic inflation, which is affecting restaurants as much as the average consumer if not more. “Skyrocketing food costs are making it hard for restaurants — who already run on slim margins — to remain profitable amid a challenging business environment,” says Reveal. Some restos have been creative about the charges, introducing new menu items or offering customized creative dishes for small extra fees. “With some strategic pricing, guests could end up opting to spend a bit more to get more food while, behind the scenes, the upcharge is favorable to your food cost ratios.” There are other rationales. “If you’re still able to get an ingredient that your culinary team thinks could be made optional or it’s still readily available but just at a higher cost, considering making it an upcharge add on as well,” the website advises restaurateurs.

Finally, a full-fledged pancake and breakfast house comes to Windsor August 14 2023

Stacked Pancake and Breakfast House is growing like topsy, with 50 locations mainly throughout southern Ontario and 30 more opening by the end of the year. The outlet on Windsor’s east side at Lauzon Pkwy. and Enterprise Way opened just a few months ago and another (by a different franchisee) is planned for Amherstburg this fall (see sidebar). A decent full-fledged breakfast place is something the area has long needed, especially with the continual closures of longtime favourite mom-and-pops. Eastside franchisee Paresh Desai said that’s certainly the reason Stacked came into this market. Head office in Barrie did its research and found a huge gap in local breakfast offerings. The restaurant is open 7 am – 2 pm and serves only breakfast and lunch with an all-day breakfast. Conversely, “if somebody wants lunch item in the 7:00 in the morning, we serve them,” he said. The resto seats 100 and is open seven days. The breakfast menu is extraordinary and blows most others including those of chains away, offering virtually every niche breakfast dish you can imagine - from pancakes and waffles to omelets, eggs benedicts, wraps, hashes and traditional bacon and eggs. And some are over the top like Apple Cheesecake Pancakes, Choconana Vanilla French Toast and Banana Double Berry Waffle. The are 16 different types of pancakes alone. Our order of Apple Cheesecake Pancakes certainly was a shot of sugar and then some, but delicious and - the true test - the pancakes themselves met the fluffiness test. The side order of ham was generous. Lunch specials aren’t to sniff at either, from well stacked and innovative burgers to soups and salads. Our experience (at the Wasaga Beach outlet) was that the restaurant interior’s booths had wooden seats and a few tables with decor depicting Fifties products or local history. Service was efficient and the food fresh. Desai says the restaurant offers a homey family atmosphere.

In inflationary times, Turkish food may hit your pocketbook just about right July 25 2023

You might want to saunter on down to Windsor’s only Turkish restaurant just for these scrumptious dishes alone. Pide is famous Turkish flat bread that is served almost like a boat with the ingredients poured into it. You can get it stuffed with cheese and egg, cheese and Turkish sausage, meat or meat and egg. It’s traditional Turkish street food but guaranteed delicious and filling. Or there’s Lahmacun, Turkish pizza without the cheese. It’s a thin crust topped with spicy ground meat. Both dishes are on offer at Maison Istanbul at 600 Wyandotte St. E., the four-year-old family run restaurant helmed by Hassan Yildirim. The restaurant, open for lunch and dinner (noon – 11 pm; not-licensed) has an attractive façade and seats more than 80 people, serving up Turkish and, yes, some Canadian food as well. Sally, one of the restaurant’s staff, says the customer base is “very mixed” with people coming from outside the city including Detroit. Other popular Middle Eastern dishes are donairs (like shawarmas) and kebab sandwiches. A "trio donair", for example, comes with beef, chicken and adana (lamb). But, hey, this is Canada, so poutine is on the menu too. There’s the regular kind as well as chicken and beef poutine. There’s also chicken wings. Sally says the Turkish Pide and Lahmacun dishes are served larger than what you’d typically find at Turkish restaurants. So for less than $10 – keep that in mind during these days of inflation - you can get yourself quite a meal. Meanwhile, the restaurant’s kebab dishes can be split among several people, another economical way to dine. Sally says the restaurant keeps busy and attracts both good size lunch and dinner crowds. What is Canadian diners' first time reaction to Pide and Lahmacun? “They love it, they say they have never tried food like this before and it’s really good,” she says. What’s the secret to Turkish cuisine? Spices, Sally says. But not the hot kind. “I would say different flavours and a lot of spices but it’s not (hot) spicy.” The other secret is the delicious flat bread, especially when made in-house, “and here we make fresh bread.”

Windsor's Elissa Stannard, one of McDonald's Outstanding Managers July 10 2023

Congratulate Elissa Stannard as one of a rare number of Canadian McDonald’s restaurants managers who have been awarded Outstanding Manager of the Year. Elisa, manager of the McDonald’s on Wyandotte St. E. near Pillette, has worked her way up through the company since starting 29 years ago. “It was definitely not my intention, it was a part time job that I had during high school and I had several different jobs during the same time frame and I just always stuck with McDonalds,” she says. The reasons have a lot to do with the combination of supportive skill development and the family atmosphere within a McDonald’s. “The people, the way that I was treated, valued, my opinion was valued, it was another family,” she says. “I worked at different places, retail, it never was the same feeling as it was when you worked at McDonald’s.” That training included hands-on learning of all facets of both food preparation and the business side of running a busy fast-food restaurant with hundreds of customers daily. “You’re thoroughly trained on every single aspect of things – machinery, how to talk to people, how to assemble orders,” she says. Jason Trussell, McDonald's Franchisee, says Elissa “shines” as a team leader, ensuring “excellent quality, service, and cleanliness in her restaurants.” The award only goes to five per cent of managers among the more than 1400 McDonald’s restaurants in Canada. Winners were scored on sales, client satisfaction, employee training, coordination of local marketing programs. Elissa says it’s a testament to the company that many, like her, have stayed on and become senior employees. “When I look at my colleagues I probably have the shortest years of service within my colleagues at my level,” she says. It’s also a kind of democratic bottom-up and not top-down managerial system. About 90 per cent of members begin there careers as crew.

Photo: McDonald's

The Grand Cantina moving into growing Distillery district restaurant cluster June 29 2023

The Grand Cantina is moving into what is becoming a restaurant row on Wyandotte St. E. The five year old Mexican fusion style restaurant will leave its Drouillard Rd. digs in August and relocate to the corner of Wyandotte and Devonshire Rd. into what used to be two storefronts, now totally renovated as part of developer Rosati Group’s purchase of several buildings in what has become known as the Walkerville Distillery Square District. The move means all of owner F & B Hospitality Group’s four restos will be within a few blocks of one another. This includes F & B Walkerville - the original restaurant opened seven years ago - neighbouring Funky Chow Kitchen, opened during the pandemic and Taloola Café. Co-owner Rosemary Woods says the main reason for the move is that it allows the popular restaurant to double its capacity. “Drouillard Road was awesome, we absolutely loved it there,” she said. “We were really sad to leave that spot. But we filled up, there were only 40 seats inside." The closeness of all four restaurants also provides Group synergy and logistics. For example, if one resto is falling short on some ingredients another may be able to fill the gap. Woods says the new space will have the same “cantina vibe” as the former but with some modifications and upgrades, as well as a larger bar. “We’re known for our margaritas,” she says, but they would like to expand their cocktail line. F & B’s cuisine generally might be described as fusion. “We don’t call ourselves Mexican,” Woods says of Grand Cantina, because there are aspects of other cultures. Same with Funky Chow Kitchen which has Chinese, Japanese and Filipino influences. The Group bought Taloola Café when Woods, a customer, learned the previous owner was retiring to Portugal. “We didn’t want to see it go,” she says. Woods runs the F & B Hospitality Group with business partner John Alvarez.

Image: F & B Hospitality Group

Pop-up expands Kona's W'ville footprint June 15 2023

Kona Sushi, with four locations in Windsor-Essex, has temporarily set up shop at 2090 Brant St. in Olde Walkerville. But the “pop-up” location dazzles with exterior colour and design and opens up what is otherwise a sleepy street one block north of bustling Wyandotte St., in, actually, a footprint twice as large. The reason for the move, which could last until the end of the year, is landlord Rosati Group’s renovation of Kona’s former home at 1801 Wyandotte, four blocks away. Rosati is overhauling the entire two storey 100-year-old building, which used to house The Twisted Apron (since moved to another Rosati renovated building at 1968 Wyandotte E.), as the developer renews many buildings in the renamed Walkerville Distillery Square District. Ironically, the temporary space is at least twice the size of the original. “It’s a lot more space for us than we’re used to but good,” co-owner Joaquim Lourenco says. They moved a month ago and Lourenco was impressed. “We had shelving, outlets, lighting, it was all kind of set up for us.” There’s more dining, a bigger kitchen and bar. Outside the building has a distinct black, gold and red façade with Kona’s iconic “K.” The building had been empty and at one time was a Canadian Legion. Lourenco says the pop-up is a bit of out of the way but that could be good. For one thing it opens up the sleepy street. For another it allows more parking and easier food pick-ups. “People, they just happened to be walking by and then ‘Oh wow, I didn’t know that Kona Sushi was there,” he said. “So, we’re definitely relying on those customers who already know us well and the return customers to make sure business still stays good.” Once renos are completed at Wyandotte, Kona expects to move back into its corner location and will sit side by side with The GOAT Tap and Eatery in the former Twisted Apron space. Kona has three other locations in LaSalle, Tecumseh and Lakeshore.

Photo: Kona Sushi

Please note that all fields followed by an asterisk must be filled in.

Please enter the word that you see below.


Tommy's Bar B Q spinoff Tunnel Thom's opening next week

Coming next week to Dorwin Plaza. A spinoff of Tommy’s Bar B Q – Tunnel Thom’s. That was the nickname of owner Thom Stoiantsis, who long worked at the famed Tunnel Bar B Q downtown and then with its closure, opened Tommy’s seven years ago. (See article this page.) The takeout at 2407 Dougall will be loaded with tantalizing sandwiches in the famed Tunnel tradition – Ruebens, Po’s, Paninis. “And we’ll be able to supply other people who want our baked goods,” he says. And it will also double as Tommy’s second bakery in addition to the main location at the Roundhouse Centre. – 12/7/24

Sample food and more at annual Italian fest

You don’t have to go to Italy to sample a wide selection of Italian delights. Just head across the border to the annual Fiesta Italiana at Freedom Hill County Park July 19 -21. Besides food the free event celebrates Italian culture with live music, evening fireworks and family fun. Highlights include Don Christo’s Cigar Room and Tito’s Handmade Vodka. Musical acts include The Bronx Wanderers with a “Back to the Future” performance of 50s, 60s, and 70s hits, Ray Massa’s EuroRhythms playing traditional Italian folk and swing, Aaron Caruso’s operatic songs, and Mark Randisi performing the Sounds of Sinatra. – 9/7/24

New Motor City weekend brunch spots

Doing the Motor City this summer? There are several new brunch spots if you're out of the town, taking the Riverwalk, or enjoying a ball game at Comerica Park. Alpino (photo) in Corktown brings back the 1980s which fondues , potato pancakes and Detroit News columnist Melody Baetens’s “obsession”, Hamrick sandwiches with truffle ham, salumi cotto and an arugula blend. Ash Bar in the Siren Hotel is a vintage throwback with Belgian waffles, numerous eggs dishes and imaginative sandwiches. Bar Pigalle has modern French cuisine in Brush Park with mushroom and leek quiche, duck and waffles, cinnamon brioche French toast and a cured salmon plate. Cibo Modern Mediterranean in the Cambria Hotel offers shakshuka, fried chicken and biscuits, smoked salmon benedicts and a dry-aged smash burger with egg. Hamilton’s in the Godfrey Hotel has house cured salmon over a potato pancake, avocado toast and a breakfast sandwich on a house made English muffin with bacon, maple-onion jam and cheddar. – 25/6/24

Local franchisee among top two McHappy fundraisers

Local McDonald’s franchisee Jason Trussell and his team was one of the two top fundraisers among McDonald’s restaurants in Canada on McHappy Day May 8, raising more than $235,000. Almost $9 million was raised across the country for Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) Canada and local kids’ charities. Trussell and staff in fact raise money throughout the year including the Big Red Shoe Run, providing staff with free meals in exchange for a $1 donation and encouraging local businesses to make donations. “Every McHappy Day Trussell and his team try to be a bit better than the year before, this year his team sold over 10,000 pairs of McHappy Day socks,” McDonald’s Canada says. This was the 30th anniversary of the event. – 11/6/24

Photo: McDonald's Canada

Windsor Red Lobster outlet is not closing

Windsor’s only Red Lobster location will remain open. That’s despite a bankruptcy filing for the chain which will see numerous outlets closing, at least in the United States. A restaurant staffer said said “we have no plans on closing” but indicated the Canadian chain would follow suit like the US with a “restructuring.” The chain opened in 1968 and the Windsor location, on Tecumseh Rd. E., has been a fixture for decades. What may have done the company in was a recent all-you-can eat shrimp special for $25. But there apparently were other factors, such as corporate mismanagement, changes in ownership, and a “difficult macroeconomic environment.” The chain had more than 500 US locations and 27 in Canada. – 27/5/24

Photo: Google Street View

Tim Hortons replaces plastic dome lid with tacky white paper

On a weekend trip – and ordering at Tim Hortons for the first time in months - I was startled that my coffees were served with a tacky white cover with flip drinking panel of old. No dome top? The reaction from the server was muted. This occurred again in Toronto. Then an almost simultaneous news story appeared. An Ontario Conservative MP castigating Tim’s for removing the plastic dome lids and replacing with paper “separating in your mouth.” Lianne Rood says at least plastic lids are recyclable. The company ditched the domes to be “plastic free,” an official said. – Ron Stang, 13/5/24

Make sure to check those tip percentages

You know the credit card devices when paying the resto bill that asks a tip amount? Sometimes the percentage requested is inaccurate. One Instagram sleuth checked out the dollar amount for each of those percentages and found that for the food ordered, the percentage amounted to more than the dollar amount for what should have been for those percentages. “The screen automatically generates the tip percentage options for you in hopes that you won’t look at the dollar amount it’s factoring!" he wrote. "Every single choice was way off!” When he selected the 15% tip option for a $27 bill it asked a tip of $6.22 when it should have been $4.05. The 18% option asked $7.47 when it should have been $4.86. – 7/5/12

Diet drug cutting restaurant business

For some reason, taking the new popular prescription weight loss drug Ozempic is lessening the amount of visits to, and money spent, in restaurants and take-out. A Morgan Stanley AlphaWise Survey found 63 per cent of those using Ozempic and similar drug Mounjaro spent less in eateries than before using the injection drugs. And 61 per cent are cutting back spending. “There is growing evidence that the drugs have a meaningful impact on consumer behavior and spending on groceries and restaurants,” Morgan Stanley concluded. One million Canucks are taking the drug. And more than 31 million Yanks are forecast to take the weight loss medicines, called GLP-1s, by 2035. – 23/4/24

New eats at the old ballpark this season

New eats this season at Comerica Park include the Marrow bacon burger, Breadless falafel bowl and Slows Bar BQ’s burritos. The local namesake restos join Yum Village, Breadless, Taqueria El Rey and the Lobster Pit Stop returning for another year with delectable delights. Marrow’s also has a braised barbacoa torta, buttermilk fried chicken sandwich, grilled Spanish sausage and a wedge salad made with beef bacon. Well-known Slows features three burritos - a smoky pulled chicken, pulled pork or a vegetarian. And don’t forget Detroit Water Ice Factory’s “tiger blood” located near the ferris wheel. We’ll let you guess the drink’s ingredients. – 9/4/23

A'burg's Burger 67 moving to Lord Amherst site

Burger 67, a fixture on Amherstburg's Murray Street for the past three and a half years, will be moving into the Lord Amherst pub location now that the pub's owners have indicated they will be closing the venerable tavern which has served up beer, spirits and food for more than a decade. The news was reported on the pub's website. Burger 67 owner David Bshouty says he has no official move-in date but it will be "in the next few months". He couldn't be more specific because a closing date hadn't been set. He will move the resto entirely to the new location. The current location at 67 Murray is a few doors down from the pub and the resto opened as part of a kind of rebirth of the historic downtown street in recent years. Its current capacity is 40.- 12/3/24

Two eateries closing

Two eateries are closing. Big Papa’s Pizza in Riverside is shutting down notes the proprietor on his FB page. “Mainly due to my legs and health issues,” says Jeff. Meanwhile southern style BBQ Georgia Rae’s Hot Chicken on Tecumseh Rd. E. is closing after Feb. 4. The same proprietors own Ottawa Street’s Mamo Burger Bar. They decided to close Georgia Rae's so “we can focus on making sure our dine in customers have the best experience possible. “ – 31/1/24

Photo: Facebook

Resto merch is hot

Restaurants struggling with income post-Covid may want to consider another line – merchandise. “Food is now fashion,” Brandon Harrar, a creative advertising professional in Montreal told the Toronto Star. “The restaurant tee is the new (pop) band tee.” Alex Wong, Toronto-based sports writer and T-shirt aficionado, said, “You want to rep your neighbourhood. You want to rep your favourite restaurant in the same way that you want to rep a Raptors jersey if that's your favorite team.” Resto “merch” as its known, in TO and elsewhere, is having a moment. Restaurants and bars are selling hats, shirts, mugs and hoodies like never before. – 16/1/24

Another new breakfast place is coming to the Burg

A new breakfast place is coming to the Burg. After years of abandonment the former Tim Hortons building downtown will host the new resto, with a passerby reporting this week that a sign indicates so, and tables and chairs stacked ready for use. The exterior has also had a refresher. This follows the opening of the Stacked pancake chain this fall in the plaza attached to the Sobeys store. Speck’s, another longtime breakfast haunt, is just around the corner from the new eatery. The once ever popular Maria’s closed during the pandemic– 3/1/24

Photo: Google Street View

Only in New York?

Some Big Apple restos are using a social media trick to lure customers. They pretend they’re blind dates on dating websites. You read correctly. Diner Taylor Paré thought she was meeting a blind date only to arrive thinking she’d been stood up. But she forked out $45 for a cocktail and meal anyway. She found someone had a similar experience at the same restaurant. “This is such a shame,” Paré told NY Post. “Women in New York have to be wary of lies coming from men, but now it seems we have to worry about the restaurants, too.” – 4/12/23

Hot dogs like you've never had them before

Hot dogs never had it so good. Crave Hot Dogs & BBQ, famous for its incredible hotdog toppings, is opening a second outlet in Michigan in Ann Arbor. This follows the opening of the first one in Canton. At the heart of Crave’s menu are their specialty hot dogs, featuring creations like the “Cheesy Mac Dog” – a jumbo hot dog loaded with mac ‘n’ cheese, crispy bacon, and shredded cheddar cheese. The chain also features a self-pour beer wall. But as the name suggests there’s lots of ribs, pulled pork, pulled chicken, and brisket, served on plates, in sandwiches and in bowls. – 27/9/23

"Seated diners" down

If the rising cost of living has you cutting back on dining out you’re not alone. OpenTable reports “seated diners” are down in cities across the country – in Toronto 10 per cent compared to last year during the first 10 days of September. The restaurant reservation service also saw the volume of reservations decrease below 2022 levels for three consecutive months. Across Canada the volume of diners with reservations this summer has been less than those the previous year. OpenTable, to which restaurants subscribe, tracks online, phone and walk-in reservations. – 13/9/23

Dougall Ave McDonald's play structure revamped

The McDonald’s play structure on Dougall Ave. has been totally revamped. The outlet first opened in 1976 and has undergone an “extensive renovation.” Chief among the new features are exterior graphics “inspired by Windsor’s iconic landmarks,” the company says in a release. There’s also a “stylish” new party room, USB outlets to “support students” and refreshed exterior including a light and water feature. – 30/8/23

Photo: Google Street View

WFH demands all meals now be made tax-deductible

With so many people working from home Canadian restaurants are now calling for all meals eaten out to be tax-deductible. “Allowing restaurant meals to be a deductible business expense would further incentivize business owners and their employees to hold meetings or events in restaurants, which would further increase patronage and traffic for other businesses in downtown cores and community hubs across Canada,” Restaurants Canada says. Another proposal is to open the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, used in agriculture, to help fill post-pandemic resto vacancies. – 17/8/23

New pancake place coming to the 'burg

Ever since long-time and venerable Maria’s closed during the pandemic people in the ‘burg have probably been wondering about some type of breakfast replacement, though Speck’s also has long been a town fave. Not to fear. Stacked Pancake House will likely be opening in the Sobeys plaza “fourth quarter,” realtor Colin Mortell of Innisfil says. The just-finished plaza, attached to the grocery and developed by Mikhail Holdings, is becoming restaurant row with Quesada and Firehouse Subs already there. In front is a Wendy’s. Stacked Pancake House is a breakfast-forward resto with a myriad pancake, waffle, omelet and traditional bacon and egg offerings. It serves breakfast throughout the day and has a lunch menu. And it's a stone's throw from the former Maria's.– 3/8/23

Bavarian Inn matriarch dies

Dorothy Zehnder, beloved matriarch of Frankenmuth’s Bavarian Inn, died this month at age 101. Zehnder started at the inn in the 1930s when it was known as Fischer’s. She and husband William “Tiny” Zehnder (who predeceased her) took over the business and made it the international destination it is today. It serves almost one million people a year. The restaurant of course is known for its chicken dinners and other German foods and has long been popular with Canadians. – 20/7/23

Major renos for resto hub Strathcona Bldg

The Strathcona Building, 1801 Wyandotte St. E. is undergoing a major revamp that has affected three restos. The former home of The Twisted Apron has moved permanently east and across the street to 1968 Wyandotte St E., itself a developing block of restos with The Grand Cantina soon moving in. Rosati Group, which has bought up and is redeveloping many buildings along the already burgeoning Olde Walkerville strip, is redeveloping the historic brick building inside and out. Kona Sushi may move back into its corner location though its owner also likes its temporary digs a few blocks away. And in the place of Apron will be 4100 sq. ft. The GOAT Tap & Eatery (image). – 6/7/23

Well-received Turkish restaurant has closed

Alaturka Turkish Restaurant, which garnered great social media reviews, has closed in the former Devonshire Motel (now iCheckINN) restaurant location on Howard Ave. Attempts to reach the former owners were unsuccessful. The restaurant space is currently vacant. “Alaturka Turkish Kitchen is committed to promoting the importance of real Turkish food,” its FB page said. One review on TripAdvisor called the fare “excellent halal food” in a “very pleasant” atmosphere. The eatery’s FB page shows a couple, apparent owners, but gives no names. One customer last February asked if the resto had closed permanently. – 22/6/23

McDonalds adds "pillowy" buns

McDonalds is tweaking a few little things it hopes will add up to bigger profits. Its classic burgers will now be served on more “pillowy” buns. And taking a book from artisan cooking it will now serve up the meat with caramelized onions, placed on patties still they're cooking. And, just as important, the cheese will now be gooier. For Big Macs the tantalizing special sauce remains, only now customers will get more of it. “We found that small changes, like tweaking our process to get hotter, meltier cheese and adjusting our grill settings for a better sear, added up to a big difference in making our burgers more flavorful than ever,” chef Chad Schafer, McDonald’s senior director of culinary innovation, said. – 7/6/23

Restaurants get break on credit card fees

Small businesses like restaurant owners are getting a break. In its recent budget Ottawa announced it would lower credit card transaction fees. But it’s taken awhile. The organization representing restaurateurs, Restaurants Canada, said it worked with the feds through two budget cycles before getting the break with this spring’s budget. The association said the fees “represent an additional burden to our restaurant operators.” Those with annual Visa sales below $300,000 will qualify for the lower interchange fees, and those with Mastercard sales less than $175,000 will similarly qualify. – 25/5/23

Local eats on tap this year at Comerica Park

More Detroit cuisine is on tap along with baseball at Comerica Park this season. These include Taqueria El Rey, Detroit 75 Kitchen food truck, the Lobster Pit Stop, Breadless, Yum Village, Guernsey Farms Dairy, Rising Stars Academy and Atwater Brewery. There’s even gluten-free such as the Buckwild sandwich served by Breadless wrapped in Swiss chard (photo). Bert’s Marketplace will serve sauced-up ribs. – 11/5/23