Kostuch Media Announces 2015 Pinnacle Winners

Sept. 16, 2015, Toronto, ON — Kostuch Media Limited, publisher of industry magazines Foodservice and Hospitality and Hotelier, has announced its 2015 winners of the prestigious Pinnacle Awards. Vancouver-based A&W Restaurants is this year’s Company of the Year winner for Foodservice and Hospitality magazine, while Mississauga, Ont.-based Marrriott Hotels of Canada has been named Company of the Year for Hotelier magazine.

Other category winners for Foodservice and Hospitality include Vancouver-based Aquilini Group for Regional Company of the Year; Pino Posteraro, chef/owner of Cioppino Mediterranean Grill as  Independent Restaurateur of the Year; Carl Heinrich,  executive chef/owner of Toronto’s Richmond Station takes Chef of the Year honours; while Mother Parker’s Tea & Coffee wins Supplier of the Year.

On the hotel side, this year’s Regional Company of the Year winner is the Easton’s Group of Hotels; Robert Mercure, general manager of Château Frontenac in Quebec City is this year’s Hotelier of the Year, while Toronto-based Houston Construction wins Supplier of the Year.

This year’s winner in the Company of the Year category, A&W Food Services Inc., has had a strong year, building on the strengths of the business. The company’s strategic renewal in 2012 led to enormous investment, innovation and change. In the past year, A&W disrupted the foodservice industry with its “Ingredient Guarantees” – beef raised without the use of hormones or steroids, chickens raised without the use of antibiotics and eggs from hens fed a vegetarian diet without animal by-products,  delivering to customers  ingredients farmed with care.

The company has also continued a decades’ long history of outperforming the industry, achieving 2014 sales of $986 million and posting year-over-year-growth of 10.6 per cent.  Same-store sales increased 6.3 per cent in 2014. In the first quarter of 2015, same-store sales were  up by 9.1 per cent  tying its  all-time record performance. A&W reached the $1-billion system sales threshold on an annualized basis in the first quarter of this year. Over the past two years, the company has added 74 units, for a total of 830 restaurants coast to coast with another 50 in the pipeline.

This year’s Regional Company of the Year has produced equally stellar results. Last year,  the Aquilini Restaurant Group acquired Top Table restaurants,  a company of premier restaurants established in 1981. Known as one of Canada’s leading hospitality brands, the restaurant group includes Araxi, Blue Water Cafe, CinCin, West and Thierry. The restaurants celebrate the West Coast, featuring local products and sustainability. In the past year, the Aquilini Restaurant Group also brought its food and beverage operation in-house at Rogers Arena.

This year’s Independent Restaurateur of the Year award is being presented to another Vancouver-based operator. Pino Posteraro, chef/owner of the imminently popular and successful Cioppino Mediterranean Grill, has been a fixture on the Vancouver dining scene since 1999. Since its launch, the restaurant has consistently been ranked as one of the city’s best restaurants by offering “Cucina Naturale,” a classical style of cooking emphasizing the use of fresh ingredients and complemented by one of the largest wine cellars in Vancouver.

The 2015 Chef of the Year is being presented to Carl Heinrich,  executive chef/owner of Richmond Station.  Heinrich is leading the culinary brigade in one of Toronto’s most inventive kitchens. Since opening his restaurant in 2012, the Stratford Chefs’ School graduate has  made a significant contribution  to the city’s culinary excellence by promoting a farm-to-table approach that features whole animal butchering. The restaurant consistently ranks among the top-ranked restaurants in the city.

As this year’s winner of Supplier of the Year, Mother Parkers Tea & Coffee has been an important supplier in the Canadian foodservice industry for more than 100 years. The fourth-generation, Canadian-owned family business services  iconic operators and retailers and is the the largest producer of  coffee and tea and the fourth-largest roaster in North America. In the past year, the company entered the Single Serve market with its recyclable RealCup and is committed to positively impacting the coffee-growing community with its WaterWise program in Ethiopia.

On the hotel side, Marriott Hotels of Canada made headlines this past year by acquiring the Canadian-owned Delta Hotels & Resorts brand. With this strategic acquisition, the hotel company has added 32 hotels to its stable, becoming the largest full-service hotel operator in the country with the widest geographic footprint with a total of 122 properties. The company has a total of 45 new properties in the pipeline and anticipates having a total of 220 hotels by 2020.

This year’s Regional Company of the Year,  The Easton’s Group, is no stranger to the Ontario hospitality industry. The privately owned family business is the owner, developer and manager of 13 hotels in Ontario. During the past year, Easton’s Group of Hotels acquired the Holiday Inn Toronto International Airport, opened a TownePlace Suites in Thunder Bay, Ont., and launched the first dual-branded Marriott hotel in Markham, Ont.

Robert Mercure,  this year’s Hotelier of the Year, is the GM of the iconic Château Frontenac in Quebec City. Mercure  is a Fairmont hotel veteran and over the past two years, has helmed a $66-million renovation of the historic property.  Since the renovation, the hotel has experienced a record year both in revenues and profits. Group room nights are increasing by close to 40 per cent due to additional meeting space; average rates have jumped 15 per cent while occupancy has increased eight per cent.

Rounding out Hotelier’s award recipients is this year’s Supplier of the Year,  Houston Construction, a family owned renovations company operating in Canada since 1981. This past year has been one of the company’s most profitable years with a projected 28 per cent sales increase. Over the past year, HCL has introduced many new products and techniques solidifying its standing in the industry for delivering quality and completing projects on time.

On the heels of a recent acquisitions spree by Cara Operations, Kostuch Media will be presenting it with Newsmaker of the Year honours.  Over a matter of a few weeks this September, the company purchased  New York Fries as well as a significant share in the McEwan Group, helmed by celebrity chef Mark McEwan. This follows last year’s merger activity with Prime Restaurants as well as purchasing a stake in the Keg Restaurants. The acquisitions promise to change the face of the foodservice landscape in Canada.

In addition to presenting its regular Pinnacle Awards, Kostuch Media will also be presenting the Rosanna Caira Lifetime Achievement Award. This year’s recipient is George Cohon, founder of McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada/Russia. Cohon was instrumental in the opening of McDonald’s Restaurants in Canada  in 1967 as well as launching the McDonald’s brand in Russia in 1990. He has had a lasting impact and influence on the restaurant industry in Canada. Cohon is also one of this country’s greatest philanthropists  having started the Ronald McDonald House Charities Canada/Russia.

According to Rosanna Caira, editor and publisher of Kostuch Media Ltd., “With so many strong companies and individuals in the hospitality industry, determining our annual crop of winners continues to be a challenging endeavour. However, I’m pleased to say that this year’s edition represents a wonderful cross-section of the industry, and highlights many of the most prolific restaurant and hotel companies in Canada’s dynamic hospitality industry.”

Since introducing the first industry award in 1988, Foodservice and Hospitality has honoured a diverse group of leaders for their continued success and achievements, representing every facet of the industry, from upscale restaurants to quick-service chains. Each of this year’s winners are distinguished for their contributions to the image of the industry through civic, educational and community involvement, as well as their efforts in establishing innovative concepts in foodservice or hotel management. Past winners include The TDL Group; Starbucks Canada; Donald Ziraldo and Karl Kaiser of Inniskillin Wines Inc.; and Four Seasons Hotels founder, Isadore Sharp.

Hotelier magazine’s first annual Hotelier of the Year award, representing similar achievement in the hotel industry, was presented in 1994 to hotel executives Robert DeMone, Canadian Pacific Hotels & Resorts; Michael Beckley, Commonwealth Hospitality; and Simon Cooper, Delta Hotels & Resorts.

For more information or to attend the event, please contact: Rosanna Caira at (416) 447-0888, ext. 224 or rcaira@kostuchmedia.com

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