WHAT’S IN STORE: Eco-friendly Walnut Grove students vie for technology prize

In this week’s business column, there’s a lot of talk about booze and food.

Students at Walnut Grove Secondary are being recognized for their contribution to the environment, and that honour could earn the school a $20,000 shopping spree at Staples.

The local school is one of 20 in B.C. and 100 across the country to be a finalist in the Staples Canada and Earth Day Canada Superpower Your School contest.

There will be 10 winners, and the local school is hoping to walk away with $20,000 worth of new technology – which is intended to help students learn, discover, and enhance their education.

Good luck to the WGSS Ecovators. The winners will be announced in April, and here’s hoping they’re among them.

Either way, congrats and thanks for helping make the world a greener place.


As promised

Speaking of Walnut Grove, the doors were thrown open on a new restaurant in this North Langley neighbourhood this week.

Monday marked the grand opening of The Italian Osteria & Cheesebar, another culinary undertaking by the team at Joseph Richard Group.

The 180-seat restaurant took over the space previously occupied by JRG’s Oak & Thorne Public House at 202nd Street and 88th Avenue. Oak & Thorne move moved across the street earlier this year.

This is the first Italian concept restaurant for JRG. Its other establishments include 14 public houses and three S+L Kitchen & Bar restaurants.

The menu was designed by JRG culinary director Matthew Stowe (Top Chef Canada winner) and the JRG culinary team comprised of executive chef Andy Slinn, corporate chef David Jorge (MasterChef Canada winner), as well as the Chef of The Italian, Jason Harper.

The Italian theme is one that has always been on the radar for JRG, with individual dishes like handmade ravioli, creamy risotto and San Marzano tomato soup featured on current menus at other JRG establishments.

At The Italian, the flavours of Italy will be the star attraction, said JRG CEO and co-founder Ryan Moreno.

“In Italy, sharing food and drink, and bonding with extended family is a centuries-old tradition, and that idea of bringing family and friends together to share great dishes is what we’re all about at our establishments too,” Moreno said.

From pizzas and handmade pastas to sauces and refined desserts to finish a meal, The Italian will explore the full range of culinary experiences that Italy has to offer.

An exciting new adventure for foodies will be the restaurant’s cheese bar, which will provide new ways to try some of the favourite and lesser known cheeses of Italy, where 450 different types of cheeses are produced.

The concept will also feature a community wine table that will allow guests to try select premium wines normally only available by the bottle, by the glass on a rotating feature wine menu.

“Not only is Italian food one of the most comforting and universally loved cuisines in the world, but the fish, fruit, and vegetables that make up the Mediterranean diet also make it one of the healthiest in the world,” said Stowe.

While the restaurant is open only for dinner currently, Harper said the plan is to open for lunch within the next few months.


Free chicken?

Here’s a different take on the dine-and-dash concept.

Langleyites can dash and dine, and help less local food banks in the process.

Nando’s is preparing for its second annual #NandosDash!, and inviting people to lace up their running shoes and get ready to race to two of 44 Canadian Nando’s restaurant on Sunday, March 25.

Between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., guests will get to enjoy a free flame-grilled quarter chicken with PERi-PERi fries in exchange for a non-perishable food item for the Langley Food Bank.

Nando’s has two restaurants in Langley, one in Walnut Grove, and another along the Langley Bypass – which went through some extensive renovations last summer.

Nando’s was hatched in South Africa in 1987 when Fernando Duarte invited his friend, Robbie Brozin, to a humble Portuguese eatery in the heart of Rosettenville, South Africa, to try some mouth-watering PERi-PERi marinated and basted chicken.

It wasn’t just the best chicken Robbie had ever tasted; it was love at first bite! The rest, as they say, is history.

Today, there are more than 1,200 Nando’s restaurants and PERi-Peri in Canada, America, the U.K., and 19 other countries.


Getting to know folks over a coffee

Tim Hortons challenges Canadians to get to know their neighbours, and they’re offering caffeinated incentives.

Fifty per cent of Canadians hardly know their neighbour, but agree coffee is a great icebreaker.

This past month, Timmy’s surprised real Canadians in communities across the country with the opportunity to meet their neighbour for the first time.

Although wary at first, the conversations revealed these neighbours have much more in common than they would have thought.

In the comfort of their front yard, over a fresh cup of Tim Hortons coffee, strangers became friends, future plans were formed and true connections were made.

Whether it’s in the restaurants or the backyards of their guests, Tim Hortons been helping people connect over coffee for decades, said company president Sami Siddiqui.

A recent survey commissioned by Timmy’s revealed that despite the lack of connection, 67 per cent of Canadians would be open to going for coffee with their neighbour.

But, 35 per cent said they just don’t know how to initiate the meeting.

Tim Hortons hopes to make connecting easier and encourages Canadians from coast-to-coast to get outside and meet their neighbours.

Besides coffee, studies have shown there are many benefits to neighbourly connections, from relationship building to feelings of inclusion and positivity, which all lead to fostering stronger communities.

“There is an inherent power to human connection and real benefits to relationships within our communities,” said Emily Levitt, Cornell anthropologist.

“It’s so important to foster real, in-person connections with one another to build strength and a sense of security,” she added.

Do you know your neighbour?

Tell Timmy’s why you want to share a Tim’s coffee with your neighbour on Twitter or Instagram using #CoffeeWithNeighbours and tag @TimHortons for a chance to win one of hundreds of $10 TimCard prizes so you can make it happen.

Whether it’s inviting a neighbour for a freshly brewed coffee at the local Timmy’s or buying a new neighbour a coffee, the company is calling all Canadians to get to know their neighbour and make a connection.

Visit www.timhortons.com/neighbours for full contest rules.


Focus on the drink

For just a few minutes of your time, I’d like to focus on the drink, to tell you about a new beer that will help local veterans.

No, I’m not trying to convince anyone that imbibing in the consumption of alcohol will help you.

But, Whitewater Brewing Company and the Royal Canadian Legion launched a new craft beer in B.C. a few weeks ago – the Legion Lager – that will be sold in the local legion branches, as well as bars, restaurants, and liquor stores.

The part that warms the cockles of my heart, a portion of beer sales will go to the legion.

“This is one more important way for Canadians to support the work of the Royal Canadian Legion,” said Dominion president David Flannigan.

“Funds raised will help us with veterans’ programming nationally and within provinces and territories.”

Legion Lager was first pioneered in the Ontario market in 2017. Since then it has gained increasing popularity and can now be found in select LCBO stores and grocery outlets throughout that province.

“We’ve been anticipating the move into British Columbia for quite some time, and we hope our crisp and easy-drinking lager will be successful here as well,” said Whitewater founder Chris Thompson. “We are proud of our creation and of the contribution it will make to helping our veterans.”

Flannigan added that many legion branches already sell beer in their lounges, with the expectation the lager will go nation-wide in the months to come.


New liquor store

Tucked back a bit from Glover Road, nestled between the Husky gas bar and the Milner chapel, is one of Langley’s newest businesses.

It’s the Glover Liquor Store, and it was opened late last month near the intersection of 216th Street and Glover Road by Jaz Sandhra and his partners.

What was a gas station some 70-plus years ago, and more recently an auto shop, has now been transformed into a liquor store that pays tribute to its building’s history.

Is it the first of more liquor stores to come for Sandhra and his pose? It’s hard to say for sure, Sandhra said.

“One at a time,” he added. “We’ll see.”


Dry grad support

Turning the spotlight a few degrees to the left, I also want to share with you some new about an effort to support dry grads in this and other communities.

BC Liquor Stores are giving dry grad events the thumbs up as part of their annual fundraising campaign.

Throughout the month of March, the provincially run liquor stores are encouraging customers to donate a dollar or more to support alcohol-free graduation celebrations – and that includes the stores in Langley.

In return for the donation, customers receive a bright “thumbs up” sticker to write their name on and display in-store to show their support.

All the donations made at the Langley stores stay here with the local school district’s public schools, as well as participating independent schools.

The contributions by liquor store customers top up funds raised by parents, students and teachers who work all year to raise funds for dry graduation celebrations.

In 2017, 270 high schools in B.C. shared more than $322,000 raised from the annual campaign.

Lauding grape growers

And here’s another beverage alert.

As many know, the wine industry – which has several proponents here in Langley – have been the subject of some threats by Alberta.

Well, the province of B.C. has partnered with the BC Wine Institute to focus people’s attention on the industry – and especially during the month of April.

Did you know that British Columbia is home to 929 vineyards, including more than 350 licensed wineries.

B.C.’s wine industry employs about 12,000 people, and contributes approximately $2.8 billion per year to the B.C. economy.

So, along with the proclamation of BC Wine Month in April, the province has committed $100,000 to the BC Wine Institute to help in the promotion of local wines to British Columbians.

“B.C.’s vineyard owners and winemakers produce award-winning wines, while providing good jobs and economic benefits to their communities,” said Lana Popham, minister of Agriculture. “Our government is committed to helping winemakers create and expand markets for their products internationally, and in our home province, which remains, by far, the most important market for B.C. wines.”


Drinking cannabis

And again, speaking of beverages, have you heard of a venture where a federally licensed producer and distributor of medical cannabis is looking to create a cannabis-infused beverage for the medical and future adult-use cannabis markets.

Just an FYI, when some of you dare to ask ‘What’s next?’

Among Canada’s best managed companies

Trotman Auto Group (TAG), which operates along the Langley Bypass – a few doors across the border in Surrey – has just recently been named one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies.

In the best managed program, sponsored by Deloitte, CIBC, Canadian Business, Smith School of Business, TMX Group and Mackay CEO Forums, TAG was picked as one of the country’s leading businesses.

TAG, led by Mike, Mitch and Brad Trotman, owns and operates nine full-service automotive dealerships in the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, Kootenays, and Vancouver Island. They employ more than 500 people.

The awards recognize Canadian-owned and managed companies with revenues of more than $15 million, that demonstrate innovation, strategy, capability, and commitment to sustainable growth.

“Innovation across all categories throughout the organization has underpinned much of our success,” said Trotman Auto Group’s CEO Mike Trotman.

“It’s much more than just financial performance,” said Peter Brown, of Deloitte and co-leader of Canada’s Best Managed Companies program.

“The ingredients to success also include overall business performance and sustained growth. It takes dedication and commitment from the entire organization.”

This was the first year for TAG to accept a nomination and provide a submission to the program.

Applicants are evaluated by an independent judging panel comprised of representatives from program sponsors, in addition to special guest judges.

2018 Best Managed companies share commonalities that include a clear strategy and vision, investment in capability and commitment to talent, Brown explained.

“It is a tremendous honour to be recognized with this prestigious designation,” said Mike.

“Our team has worked hard to raise the bar for excellence in our industry, and this award is a reflection of our incredible people, teamwork and commitment to continuous improvement.”

2018 winners of the Canada’s Best Managed Companies award will be honoured at the annual gala in Toronto on April 11.

This local company wasn’t the only one to win such a high distinction.

A restaurant chain, with two restaurants in Langley, was also a recipient.

For the 17th consecutive year, Boston Pizza Canada is a CBMC award recipient, as well.

Every year, hundreds of entrepreneurial companies compete for this designation in a rigorous and independent process that evaluates the calibre of their management abilities and practices, explained Boston Pizza International president Jordan Holm.

“We have been included in this program for 24 years now, almost as long as the program itself and that is a big testament to the strength of our brand and the success of our company,” Holm said, noting his company made it into the platinum club again, a designation for businesses that have earned best managed status for at least seven years running.

“We are grateful to all of our guests, franchisees, employees and business partners for allowing us to continue to grow and prosper.”


Mike, Mitch and Brad Trotman own and operate Trotman Auto Group, based along the Langley Bypass. (Special to the Langley Advance)

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