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Thrifty, Nifty, Studio 50

Photograph of household items sold at Studio 50

Every year, as my anniversary approaches, I become increasingly stressed trying to find the perfect gift for Princess Wifey, but this year went much smoother!

My luck began, last fall, when my wife and our friend attended an art show, and came across a unique and masterfully-crafted, functional art piece.

The item was a piece from Studio 50’s Rock Bottom Collection, and consisted of two parts…a glass flask, and a base made of varying types of stone. Depending on what type of beverage it was being used for the stone base could be either heated up or frozen, resulting in the liquid in the flask being kept hot or cold.

After I learned that my wife had fallen in love with the piece, I was on a mission to purchase it in time for our upcoming anniversary, however, the art show only occurred a couple of times a year, and wasn’t going to be in town until after the big day. Fortunately, the products were available online, and while I preferred to see the various choices in person, I wasn’t going to be able to do so.

Enter Kim, from Studio 50, who I connected with first via email, and then over the phone. Kim was more than happy to answer all of my questions, with unfounded patience, and clarified how they shipped the merchandise, and how long it would take to arrive.

My only dilemma was deciding on a colour for the leather wrap that came with the set, and Kim was kind enough to send me samples of a couple colours, with the option of exchanging them if necessary.

At one point, she became so familiar with me, she would ask about the condition of my aunt, who had recently broken her hip. Although a little thing, I was quite impressed that she remembered, and grateful that she cared enough to ask about her.

Of course, I did end up buying the piece for my wife, and the package arrived quickly, and safely wrapped in paper and bubble wrap. Clearly they have their shipping down to a fine art!

Studio 50 also advertises a variety of stunning pieces, including a concrete table, a hardwood mirror, and much more. Prices are reasonable, and the pieces are truly beautifully made and intricately designed.

If you’re ever looking for a unique gift supported by excellent customer service, take a look at Studio 50!

Studio 50
www.studio50.ca
1-226-208-1428

 

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The Senator Restaurant is a Classic for a Reason

The Senator Restaurant in downtown Toronto

Hello there! My name is Clare Jenkins and I am one of the new interns at SQM Inc.  This week, I am taking over David Lipton’s Blog, SQM Picks.

A few weeks ago, my friend and I were debating where we could go for a good breakfast in the downtown core.  We were pretty hungry, so I suggested eating at The Senator Restaurant. For transparency purposes, I am an employee of The Senator Restaurant but have never eaten breakfast there until this day.

The Senator Restaurant is a cool, old school diner, that makes you feel like you are being transported back in time as you walk through the entrance. It is the oldest standing restaurant in Toronto and it is nestled next to the Jazz bistro and situated across the street from the Ed Mirvish Theatre on the corner of Victoria and Dundas.

There is no question as to why The Senator has been around for so long! The Senator welcomes all guests and has an old fashioned charm resembling the diners of the 1940’s. Guests enjoy the welcoming atmosphere, comfortable seating, tasty food, and the quick and friendly service.

The dinner menu provides guests with an array of old-fashioned comfort food including: classic meatloaf, chicken pot pie, liver and onions, and burgers. My favourite items on the dinner menu are the macaroni and cheese and the roasted beet salad with citrus dressing.

Considering I had never eaten breakfast at the Senator, I asked our server what he would recommend and Alan suggested I try the eggs Benedict with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. Since I’m a sucker for seafood, I opted for their smoked salmon Benedict. The best part? They smoke the stuff in-house! My benny was served on a homemade biscuit with runny poached eggs and a tangy, yet buttery and smooth hollandaise sauce that made me forget all the times I promised myself my summer body was the most important thing.

The Senator is a fantastic place to take the entire family. The meals leave you feeling warm and satisfied and can be modified for children and adults. If you plan to go in the evening, make sure you book a reservation, since they get really busy catering to theatre goers, students, families, and their regulars of twenty plus years.  If you do have to wait, make sure you check out some of their original menus, which list steak at 99 cents! Tasty food, fast service and an old school charm, definitely makes this place worth the wait.

The Senator Restaurant
(416) 364-7517
www.thesenator.com

 

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Thai It Once And You’ll Be Sure To Thai It Again!

Photograph of Thai food from Nana & Khao San Road

I work in the restaurant industry and like to consider myself a foodie since I get to eat out a lot.  One of the things I have lamented in more recent times is that there is nothing different out there. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve eaten tasty food at lots of establishments but nothing has really excited me in a long time. That was, until I came across Nana and rediscovered Khao San Road.

Both Khao San Road and Nana are owned by Monte Wan. Monte is pleasant, down to earth, and can always be found helping staff and engaging with customers. During my dining experiences at both restaurants, Monty usually makes an appearance. The first time I met Monte, I thought he was a friendly fellow customer asking us how our meal was. To my surprise, I discovered the man holding a beer and checking in on our table was in fact the owner. Now, whenever I go to either restaurant, Monte personally welcomes me back.

The food at each location is truly special. Both restaurants serve traditional Thai food with a twist and the cuisine always blows me away! Not to sound like a food critic, but the flavour profiles in the food are seriously incomparable.  I’ve tried many of their signature dishes including the Bangkok-style Pad Thai, the Red/Yellow Curry, and the fresh rolls and to this day, I have never been disappointed.

The menus are easy to read and affordable. One other thing to note about the menus – while they are somewhat different at each restaurant, certain menu items at Khao San Road are available at Nana during different times of the week. The restaurants ambiance transports guests to Bangkok’s entertainment district through good music and décor.

Finally, I have to mention the great service.  The staff are always pleasant to deal with, very knowledgeable, highly accommodating, and willing to take the time to suggest items on the menu.

While I have been to Khao San Road’s new location, the last time I ate at Nana was when the Tragically Hip played their last concert in Kingston. I was out for dinner with some friends and was a little disappointed I was going to miss the show (after all, the whole country shut down that evening!) but about 10-15 minutes before the concert, the staff lowered a screen behind the bar and streamed the whole show for all of the customers to enjoy. It really created a nice community feeling with the other customers at the restaurant and everyone left happy.

If you’re ever looking for a great meal, love Thai food and want to try something a little different, check out these two amazing restaurants. You won’t leave hungry, but you will leave happy.

Nana
647-352-5773 x 2
www.stnnana.com

Khao San Road
647-352-5773 x 1
www.khaosanroad.ca

 

 

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Driving Success with Excellent Customer Service

Maple Nissan Dealership Photograph

For many years, both my wife and I have been driving Nissan vehicles, and I’ve been very happy with them. In fact, I’ve been so happy that I bought out both leases and kept the cars longer then I might normally have.

Several years ago, I went to Maple Nissan in Vaughan, since I had an issue with the tire pressure sensor in one of my vehicles. I rarely contact the dealerships as I have a few trusted mechanics that I go to for all my work, but for something like this, I did my research, and learned that it’s better to have the actual Nissan factory product, which is significantly pricier than after market products.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, and the tire pressure sensor came on again. After checking the pressure in the tires and discovering they were all fine, I thought, there is a good chance that this was a problem with the sensor. Since the initial repair was done less then two years ago, and was somewhat expensive, I decided to follow up with the dealership. I called them up and introduced myself to the Service Manager, Matthew Grieco, and told him that I used to deal with one of his colleagues who no longer works there. I explained the issue to Matthew and told him I was a bit upset since it wasn’t too long ago that I fixed the sensors for the first time.

Matthew told me to come over to the dealership so they could make sure that this was in fact an issue with the sensor and have a look at what they could do about it. We then arranged a specific time and I headed to Maple Nissan.

As soon as I arrived at Maple Nissan, Matthew was there to greet me and had one of his mechanics take a look at the vehicle. After about 15 minutes, Matthew told me that they were reprogramming some of the sensors and this should take care of the issue. While I was glad that the problem seemed relatively minor, I was prepared for a hefty ding of a diagnostics fee (anyone who’s been to a dealer knows the feeling of receiving the dreaded bill at the end all too well). However, Matthew told me it was no problem and not to worry about a charge. Matthew said he was glad to take care of the problem and apologized for the inconvenience.

In a day and age when most automotive dealerships are making money off of service, Matthew could have easily charged me for diagnosing the problem but he took care of it, and kept me very pleased. Since then, I have told a few friends how great the service is at Maple Nissan. At Maple Nissan they stand behind their product and provide excellent customer service. It goes without saying, if I ever need to buy another Nissan, I’ll go back to them.

Maple Nissan
(905) 417-7211
www.maplenissan.com

 

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Putting the Sunny Into Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

Last year I wrote about Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre when my father was taken there after a car accident. Fortunately, my fathers visit only involved a short stay in the emergency room. In more recent times, my aunt fell and broke her hip and was transported to Sunnybrook by ambulance. Unfortunately, this was not a three or four hour visit but ended up involving surgery and a stay as an inpatient.

During this time, I saw firsthand how Sunnybrook’s outstanding service and commitment to health care extends far beyond the emergency room. Whether it be the Emergency Room nurses, the orthopaedic surgeon, the ward administrator, ward nurses, dietitians, and a host of other staff, Sunnybrook takes it upon themselves to ensure extra special attention and care is taken for elderly patients. The staff went above and beyond accommodating special requests such as finding my aunt food that would meet her needs, answering my numerous questions and taking the time to provide me with updates so that the family would feel as comfortable as possible.

Perhaps the most surprising sign, of how in tune Sunnybrook employees are with the needs of the people who come through their doors, can be exemplified by my interaction with the security guard working in the emergency room. While most security guards would have just sat there being seen and not heard, this gentleman said, “I hope your day gets better,” as I was leaving. His comment clearly showed compassion when dealing with people and it demonstrated that he understood if somebody was in the ER, they were probably not having a great day.

In a time when health care professionals consistently blame a lack of government funding for an inability to do their jobs, I never once heard such comments or got that feeling from any of the employees working at Sunnybrook.

The only thing that could have made my experience better would be better parking rates and longer business hours at the Tim Hortons in the hospital!

To the Sunnybrook Medical Team, thank you for all you do!

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
416-480-6100
www.sunnybrook.ca

 

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You Can’t Go Wrong Dining at Cobourg’s Buttermilk Café

A photograph of the Buttermilk Cafe in Cobourg ON

A few weeks ago on a Saturday afternoon, I was visiting an old friend who lives in Cobourg, Ontario. He chose to take me to a popular local restaurant called The Buttermilk Café for lunch.

When we were parking the car, he said he was recommending this establishment because the food was really tasty and the restaurant is known for providing excellent customer service. In particular, he told us about a time when he had a problem with his meal and how the restaurant bent over backwards to make it right and apologize for the inconvenience. To this day, he has not forgotten what they did for him, so as an aside, it just goes to show how service recovery can lead to loyal and long-lasting customers.

Within a couple of minutes of being seated, the server took our order and quickly brought us our drinks. Before we knew it, our main courses arrived and it was at that time when I realized I made a mistake on my order. I ordered an omelette thinking that it included red peppers, when in fact, it came with green peppers….which I can’t eat.

Just as we were beginning lunch , the server came back to check on our table and see how our meals were (table checks are another sign of a good restaurant!) and she noticed I wasn’t eating my food. She asked me if everything was all right and despite me insisting that the mistake was mine, she immediately scooped up the plate and said she would have it remade without green peppers. I told her it was unnecessary, since it was my own fault, but she insisted on remaking the omelette as “The Buttermilk Café wants all of their customers to be happy and satisfied”.

At this moment, I realized The Buttermilk Café clearly cares about their customers. Where most servers would have just been sympathetic and said sorry or something along those lines, this establishment wasn’t satisfied until the customer was.

The new omelette was just as terrific as the service, arriving hot and fresh.

Between the great home cooked food and a clear commitment to customer service and satisfaction, if you ever get out to Cobourg, you won’t go wrong dining at the Buttermilk Café.

The Buttermilk Café
905 373-7247
www.buttermilkcafe.com

 

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Putting the Home in Homewood Suites

Orlando Airport Homewood Suites by Hilton

At the end of my vacation, my daughter and I ended up stranded in Orlando, when our flight was cancelled, due to poor weather conditions.

With my rescheduled flight not leaving until the next evening, myself, along with thousands of other stranded travellers began looking for hotel rooms.

Although we were initially directed to a 1-800 number, that involved a long on-hold time, one of the airline employees recognized my increased stress level given the late hour of the day and my young daughter being on the verge of tears. The employee quietly suggested a few specific hotels that took good care of stranded passengers, and as a result, I called the Homewood Suites.

I immediately called the hotel and was surprised at how quickly they answered the phone. Despite it being after two in the morning, the employee was friendly, helpful, and provided me with a very reasonable stranded travelers hotel rate.

Once we confirmed the reservation, the employee asked me if I needed a lift to the hotel and sent a shuttle to pick us up. As soon as we arrived at the hotel, I was greeted by name and checked in within two minutes. The gentleman working was able to anticipate our needs before we even had to ask. He then offered to store our bags at the front desk while we ran out to grab a quick bite, and he let us know he added a late checkout to our account so we could sleep in the next morning.

The next day I had an equally enjoyable experience with the other staff members who were friendly, helpful and extremely accommodating. My daughter and I also had time to walk around the grounds. The facility is beautiful with big and modern spacious rooms, a large, bright lobby area, and complimentary breakfasts, afternoon snacks and dinner (including some wines and beers).

I can certainly see why many travelers make it their first choice. While I can’t speak for other hotels in the chain, this location definitely puts the home in Homewood Suites.

Orlando Airport Homewood Suites by Hilton at Gateway Village
Email: Luis Arancibia
Homewood Suites Website

 

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