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Table Beer Launch Prompting Important Tables-Side Conversations

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It all began with a Facebook post on February 1st 2018. Shoel Davidson used the #BellLetsTalk platform and campaign in displaying immense amount of vulnerability and courage through a social media post sharing his ongoing challenges surrounding mental health, and sharing the compassion and willingness to help others experiencing the same. It was this post which inspired the beginning of Mind The Bar.

Shoel Davidson, Successful Vancouver-based Restaurateur, and hospitality industry veteran of 20+ years, started as a dishwasher, and worked his way through every aspect of the restaurant scene. “I’ve battled with my mental health throughout my life, including struggling with depression & suicide during my teens, depression & anxiety as an adult, as well as often resorting to alcohol as a coping mechanism to deal with my mental health throughout my hospitality career up until a few years ago.”

In 2017, Davidson recalls a series of events in both his personal and professional life which resulted in heightened depression and anxiety levels – leading him to consider taking an extreme measure – his own life. “It was here that I realized I wasn’t okay and that I needed help.” Davidson continues by saying, “I was (and am) very fortunate to have an amazing circle of loved ones, friends and family around me that supported me in this. However I had a lot of difficulty finding the information, resources, and professional help I needed.”

This moment of realization and self-awareness prompted the start of a journey that led him to be inspired to do something about it, and make a difference towards others sharing similar experiences as himself – especially those working in the industry. Davidson also expresses that at this time he was eager to investigate and find “alternatives towards a more positive lifestyle within the industry that didn’t resort or revolve around the normalized substance abuse that persists within it.” 

“I brought the seed of an idea to my business partner, Christina Cottell, which I’ve opened both Gringo Gastown (6 years ago) and Dixie’s BBQ (3 years ago) with. She was incredibly supportive and urged me on.

This led to my starting a conversation among a select few friends and peers within the hospitality industry, many of whom would later become the founding members of Mind The Bar, about my vision and how change might occur.”

“The enthusiasm and synergy around what we were trying to do was truly special, and we quickly built the initial framework of the Foundation as well as short and long-term goals we hoped to achieve” says Davidson. The goal of Mind The Bar is to operate as an intermediary in connecting people wishing to seek support such as through counselling within the mental health sector.

The intent is to “establish a vetted shortlist of mental health professionals who are interested in working with the Foundation, who offer an affordable sliding scale fee, and [whom] ideally have some background or understanding of the hospitality industry.” Fast forward only a few months after the initial brainstorms and discussions had commenced, and the Mind The Bar Foundation was officially recognized under the BC Societies Act in September 2018. Now registered under the BC Societies Act, the Foundation’s intention is to work with and provide information and assistance to everyone within the hospitality industry throughout British Columbia.

“Mental health is something that affects us all, regardless of where we live, and it is therefore our goal to assist in establishing associated division of the Foundation within each district that will be overseen and governed by local representation. Surrey has a massive and proudly diverse hospitality community that we are already beginning to work with at a grassroots level” Davidson explains.  

Russell Breweries staff, Jimmy Darbyshire and Doug Embury, had known Davidson, and his business partner, Cottell for a few years as they had been an account of the brewery with their Gringo restaurant. The Russell Breweries pair heard about the launch of the Mind The Bar project and saw it as an opportunity to help. “Jimmy & Doug were incredibly supportive of the initiative from the beginning & were very eager to get involved however possible” explained Davidson.

“They (Darbyshire and Embury) approached Christina and I shortly after our launch event about creating a beer specifically for raising funds for Mind The Bar. After speaking with the Board of Directors I told them that if they were going to make an officially collaborative beer it would have to be (a) low-ABV/alcohol, to assist with reducing excessive drinking within the hospitality community, (b) inexpensive, because we wanted it to be affordably available to everyone no matter how limited their budget may be, and (c) very drinkable, because we wanted it to be easily enjoyed by everyone. The boys at Russell took these ‘guidelines’ and their MTB Belgian table beer was the end result.”

When asked why they chose this particular beer for the collaboration, Russell Breweries Darbyshire explains how “the “Table Beer” was very fitting as that is where a lot of conversation happens, at the table.

It drove home the idea that we need to talk about the problems our industry is currently facing.” “I think it speaks for itself that they knocked it out of the park on this one, and the sales tell me I’m not wrong” says Davidson about the low alcohol alternative that is helping bring awareness and raising money.

To learn more about the Mind The Bar initiative, check out their website here. Although the website is currently under construction due to the mass amount of information, resources, and hours required to go-live, you can still find information on certain resources and information on how to get involved. Although an official ‘go-live’ date cannot be confirmed at this time, Davidson confirms that they are working as hard as they can in order to launch a functional ‘Phase I’ stage of the website very soon.

The goal is to have the initial launch assist people in better navigating pertinent resources and information such as requesting assistance in finding mental health professionals, and information on the Foundation itself – how to volunteer or become a member. “The website will be constantly evolving as we gather more information, resources, feedback, and as the Foundation and mental health awareness within the hospitality industry grows” explains Davidson.

What’s most amazing about the evolution of this Foundation in such a short time is that all of the “the recognition and reputation surrounding Mind The Bar has spread solely by word of mouth. Initially, within the immediate Vancouver hospitality community following our launch in June 2018, then gaining international attention after our first place win in the 2018 Tahona Society’s Collective Spirit Competition” recalls Davidson.

In addition, Davidson adds that the amount of popularity and support the Mind The Bar Foundation has received has “a lot to do with the overall and increasing readiness of the hospitality industry, and society in general is to acknowledge the subject of mental health, and the desire to breakdown the stigma surrounding it.”

“When we first began speaking about some of the struggles we expected to encounter introducing Mind The Bar to the Vancouver and BC based hospitality industry, we believed it would take us at least a few years to convince our peers and the greater restaurant community that not only was there an egregious problem with mental health, addiction and workplace harassment within our industry but that it was long overdue to change the mentality and perspective around it.

What we discovered is not only were we wrong about how many were ready to listen and get involved in making a positive change but the amount of praise we received for ‘finally’ doing something about it” says Davidson. Russell Brewery began with two brothers in 1995, back when craft breweries were next to none. As one of the original 10 craft breweries in BC, they put Surrey on the map as being an early leader in the craft brewery scene.

Now, Russell Brewery has not only successfully passed the test of time over two decades, but has continued to grow and prosper amongst the 200+ breweries province-wide! They even underwent a rebrand over the past two years and freshened up and diversified not only their branding, but their beer offerings as well! “We have since traded hands a few times [since launching in 1995], but our mission is still the same – to offer innovative and exciting Craft Beer to this ever-evolving market” says Darbyshire.

“Although presently, Mind The Bar official membership is still limited to its original founding members, we have dozens of individuals who have been volunteering their time and assisting us with numerous facets of the Foundation as we continue to build the initial framework necessary to best utilize the skills and enthusiasm of new membership. Something we will be doing within the immediate next few weeks is the preparation for our upcoming AGM” says Davidson.

Davidson continues, “There’s still a long road ahead but something I’m most excited about it this next chapter when we can finally open the doors to new members.”

As for the Russell Brewery beer collaboration – you may be wondering, will this beer be continuously sold or is it a campaign with a closed-frame of time? Darbyshire says “We would love this to be an ongoing campaign. I think there is lots of opportunity to build on what we have already started.” And with an additional $6,000+ aimed to fundraise through the collaboration prior to year-end, time to buy to support an amazing cause! Partial proceeds from each 4-pack and keg sold will be donated directly to Mind The Bar Canada. For a list of the 300+ locations currently carrying the beer (to consume on tap or to purchase), check out the list here.

To follow Russell Brewing Company, check them out on their affiliated pages:

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Robyn is a status-quo disruptor, an old-soul, and has a serious passion towards continuous learning driven by a curiosity for the unknown. A creative and equally analytical thinker with experience in leadership, project management and marketing strategy. When she’s not working you can find her in the kitchen, searching for new music, or meandering local thrift stores, antique stores, or flea markets for a unique find.

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Food & Drink

Bring Italy to You with the Art of Aperitivo

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The pandemic may have shifted your travel plans, but if this year has taught us anything, it’s to learn how to adapt. With international travel looking unlikely for the foreseeable future, now’s the time to bring home the best cultural experiences from your favorite destinations and recreate them with your close friends and family, no boarding pass required.

Craving a taste of Italy? Take a break from this unsettling time and bring the beautiful Mediterranean sunshine to you with the art of the Italian aperitivo. As per the Italian tradition, aperitivo is the time of day to take a break to unwind with friends. This custom is present throughout the country; it’s a state of mind and an attitude which demonstrates gratitude for everything that makes life possible.

Here are three simple ways you can master the culture and art of aperitivo:

1: Give yourself some time to slow down

  1. The aperitivo represents the time of day when taking a break is most needed, so it’s of utmost importance to put yourself in a relaxed state of mind. Stop scrolling, sign out of Zoom, and connect with your socially distant bubble.

2: Recreate an Italian-inspired ambiance at home

  1. Aperitivo is always best enjoyed in the relaxed comfort of your own home. Treat your guests to an Italian-style spritz like Bella Amari on your patio during a sunny September afternoon. An effortlessly refreshing beverage, Bella Amari balances sweetness with bitterness and is available in three natural flavours: Blood Orange, Pomegranate Cherry and Limone.

3: Prepare a delicious charcuterie platter al fresco

  1. Italians consider it important to prepare the body for a meal by slowly waking up the appetite, hence the concept of a small snack beforehand. Charcuterie, mozzarella, bruschetta with fresh herbs (maybe from your quarantine patio garden), pickled olives, peppers and gourmet chips served with a spritz over ice can all enhance your aperitivo.

With seemingly so many moments, vacations, and celebrations on hold this year, it’s more important than ever to practice gratitude for the small joys in life, like spending time with your close loved ones, that likely would have been easy to take for granted in any other year. Salute!

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Food & Drink

Pandemic Puts Sustainability at the Top of the Shopping List for B.C. Residents

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Oroweat Organic releases new research revealing an increased desire to shop locally and eat sustainably following the outbreak of COVID-19

B.C. residents are prioritizing eating locally-sourced food and making more sustainable food decisions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a newly commissioned study by Oroweat Organic. The research shows that fears around food scarcity at the start of the pandemic have shed light on the importance of being more self-sufficient, in turn leading to a greater desire to support local food producers and adopt more sustainable eating habits.

The survey was commissioned by Oroweat Organic, sustainably baked bread produced locally in Langley, BC, to mark its launch in Western Canada. Results revealed that 85 percent of B.C. residents are more aware of the importance of supporting locally-sourced food as a result of the pandemic. Additionally, one in three residents are more likely to prioritize locally-sourced food, and notably, this stands true regardless of household income. When it comes to sustainability specifically, 75 percent of B.C. residents are more aware of the importance of eating sustainably and the environmental impacts of their food choices, as a result of the pandemic.

While survey results indicate that shoppers are putting more focus on sustainability, this year’s unique and unpredictable back-to-school season raises concern. Fifty-two percent of B.C. residents are worried about their ability to juggle their schedules in the ‘new normal’ this fall and 48 percent worry this will impact their renewed efforts to shop and eat sustainably.

This September, three varieties of Oroweat Organic hit shelves in Western Canada, making sustainable and healthy bread options simple and accessible for British Columbians. The brand is locally produced in B.C., using sustainable baking practices and certified organic ingredients.

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Food & Drink

Celebrate National Organic Week With the Launch of Coors Organic

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Did you know that tomorrow marks the beginning of National Organic Month (or even more widely celebrated, Organic Week (Sept 7-13)? To help celebrate this month, Coors has launched the latest addition to its line introducing: Coors Organic a new, organic beer that is brewed with one thing in mind – simplicity.

Coors Organic decided to offer a simple way to feel better about your choices for Canadians looking to integrate healthier alternatives into their day-to-day lifestyle but who feel overwhelmed by all of the options to choose from. Next time you are reaching for a beer, enjoy an organic option and feel good about the healthier choice you made.

Certified organic, 90 calories and 4g carbs (per/355mL), this light, refreshing organic lager is expertly brewed with minimal ingredients including organic hops, organic barley, and water.

Product:

  • Made with three simple ingredients: Organic hops, organic barley and water.
  • Certified Organic
  • 3.8% ABV
  • 90 calories, 4g carbs (per 355ml)

Taste:

  • Light and refreshing malt-forward taste with a crisp and clean finish.

Availability:

  • Coors Organic is available at BC Liquor Store and Independents.
    • Single can – $3.05
    • 12 x 355ml can – $27.50
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Food & Drink

Introducing: Le Cheeseburger Week 2020

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From September 1st to 7th, Le Burger Week is back with a cheesy twist, and, it’s called, Le Cheeseburger Week

From September 1st until September 7th, 2020, gather up your appetite because Canada’s beloved food festival, Le Burger Week, sponsored by Saputo & Lightspeed is back! With Saputo, Canada’s cheese dynasty in the mix, this year’s catch is cheese, cheese, and more cheese, thus transforming Le Burger Week 2020 into Le Cheeseburger Week. Chefs & restaurants across the nation must abide by one rule – integrate cheese or “fauxmage” (vegan cheese) into their burger, because, why not? In addition to providing Canadian’s with a delicious and fun experience, Le Cheeseburger Week is committed to giving back to their local communities notably, through their 2020 affiliation with United Way Centraide. Get ready for the cheese to melt, Canada, as you dive in, mouth first, to Le Cheeseburger Week!

Heading into its ninth year, Le Burger Week has become an annual autumn foodie tradition to look forward to. Restaurants across the nation are asked to think outside the bun and create a unique burger reflective of their overall concept, style, and cuisine. The 2020 edition will replace the traditional call to vote for the best burgers with a call to help through the charity partnerships. Both Lightspeed and Saputo will be awarding the “Lightspeed Choice” & “Saputo Choice” awards to their favourite burgers!

We understand that this year is different, but one thing remains the same – Canada’s love for burgers. To adapt to the current landscape, many of Le Cheeseburger Week’s participating restaurants will be offering their burgers for take-out and delivery, so that customers can still enjoy the festival whether they plan on dining-in or indulging in the comfort of their own home with mobile ordering apps, like Lightspeed’s.

For the past few years, Le Burger Week has remained committed to giving back to communities across Canada. This year, a proceed of select burgers sold in Canada will be going to Centraide and United Way ; philanthropic organizations that collect donations to support a vast network of community agencies that help individuals and families. Locally and nationally, their goal is the same – to create opportunities for a better life for everyone in our communities. United Way Centraide uses local knowledge to make community investments that provide the greatest impact including; food programs, housing programs, job skills training, continued education opportunities, amongst others.

Created in 2013, by Montreal-based entrepreneurs Na’eem Adam and Thierry Rassam, the idea for Le Burger Week was born out of their shared love of burgers and an understanding that their fellow Canadians shared that same love. Adam and Rassam wanted to create a fun and exciting way for burger lovers to interact and support their favorite restaurants, while, at the same time, providing restaurants with the chance to build greater public awareness through their participation. As co-founder Na’eem Adam explains, “Le Burger Week began as a fun local food project to celebrate our city’s (Montreal) love for burgers. Over the years, we have grown into a national festival that continuously helps to stimulate businesses across the nation.”

On September 1st, burger-lovers across the nation are called upon to get stomachs hungry as they get a chance to discover the very best (cheese) burgers that Le Burger Week has to offer. Bon appétit!

For more information regarding Le Burger Week, please go to www.leburgerweek.com.

About Saputo:

Saputo produces, markets, and distributes a wide array of dairy products of the utmost quality, including cheese, fluid milk, extended shelf-life milk and cream products, cultured products and dairy ingredients. Saputo is one of the top ten dairy processors in the world, a leading cheese manufacturer and fluid milk and cream processor in Canada, the top dairy processor in Australia and the second largest in Argentina. In the USA, Saputo ranks among the top three cheese producers and is one of the largest producers of extended shelf-life and cultured dairy products.

In the United Kingdom, Saputo is the largest manufacturer of branded cheese and a top manufacturer of dairy spreads. Our products are sold in several countries under well-known brand names such as Saputo, Alexis de Portneuf, Armstrong, Cathedral City, Clover, COON, Cracker Barrel*, Dairyland, DairyStar, Devondale, Friendship Dairies, Frigo Cheese Heads, Joyya, La Paulina, Liddells, Milk2Go/Lait’s Go, Montchevre, Murray Goulburn Ingredients, Neilson, Nutrilait, Scotsburn*, South Cape, Stella, Sungold, Tasmanian Heritage, Treasure Cave and Woolwich Goat Dairy. Saputo Inc. is a publicly-traded company and its shares are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol “SAP”.

*Trademark used under license.

About Lightspeed:

Lightspeed (TSX: LSPD) powers complex small and medium-sized businesses with its cloud-based, omnichannel commerce platforms in over 100 countries. With smart, scalable and dependable point of sale systems, Lightspeed provides all-in-one solutions that drive innovation and digital transformation within the retail, hospitality and golf industries. Its product suite enables SMBs to sell across channels, manage operations, engage with consumers, accept payments and ultimately grow their business. Headquartered in Montreal, Canada, Lightspeed is trusted by favorite local businesses worldwide, where communities go to shop and dine. Lightspeed has staff located in Canada, USA, Europe, and Australia.

For More Information, Please Visit www.lightspeedhq.com.

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Food & Drink

Uber Eats Celebrates 1 Year of Starbucks Delivery With BC and Canadian Trends Data

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To celebrate the one-year anniversary of Starbucks on the Uber Eats platform, Uber Eats has released top trends highlighting Canadians ordering habits at Starbucks.

While COVID-19 prevented many of us from going in-store to grab our favourite Starbucks beverages and treats, Uber Eats Starbucks orders tripled from March-August 2020 compared to August 2019-March 2020.

So, what are Canadians ordering? From coast-to-coast, Canadians love their Starbucks Caramel Macchiato – it’s the most ordered beverage on the platform. And while Alberta and British Columbia prefer it hot, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Saskatchewan like it iced.

Overall, order sizes have increased since March with many customers ordering food along with their favourite beverages. The Starbucks Birthday Cake Pop, which is the most popular food item on the platform, is a Canadian favourite in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Ontario, while Canadians on the East and West coasts love the Double Smoked Bacon, Cheddar & Egg sandwich. Both Nova Scotians and British Columbians enjoy this savoury breakfast item more often!

Below are some fun facts highlighting the Canadian love for Starbucks on Uber Eats:

  • A Torontonian placed the most amount of Starbucks orders in one year ordering 342 times.
  • The largest Starbucks order placed through Uber Eats was delivered to the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre. The order contained 8 bagels, 8 banana bread, 8 blueberry scones, 8 carrot muffins, 10 classic coffee cakes, 8 lemon loaf, and 3 coffee travellers.

What province orders the most Starbucks coffee on Uber Eats?

  • British Columbia
  • Alberta
  • Manitoba
  • Nova Scotia
  • Ontario
  • Saskatchewan

What province orders the most Starbucks tea on Uber Eats?

  • Saskatchewan
  • Ontario
  • Nova Scotia
  • Manitoba
  • Alberta
  • British Columbia
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