Tag Archives: Toronto Business

A Special Thank You

 

Many years ago, SQM did a project for a gentleman by the name of Wassim, who works for a Canadian company called The Travelway Group. The company is a distributor of various travel related products: suitcases, gym bags, and travel accessories. One of the products which they have the licensing rights to are for various cartoon and superhero lunch bags, overnight bags, and knapsacks, such as Dora the Explorer, Frozen, and the Avengers.

Although it’s been several years since we last did any work for the company, I’ve kept in touch with Wassim. From time to time I’ve asked Wassim for a favour, related to some of the charity initiatives that SQM is involved with. In particular, when I’m working on any children’s related initiatives, I’ve called up to see if it’s possible to get some old or extra items that may be sitting around the warehouse, to pass along to the various organizations we are working with.

While I try not to take advantage of his generosity, whenever I’ve asked for something, without hesitation he takes down the delivery information and within days I’ll have a box full of items at my front door.

During my time in business, I’ve always made an effort to support those companies that actively support charitable causes…and especially the ones that myself and SQM are involved with. As a result, I wanted to do a shout out for the team at the Travelway Group for being a great partner and a great supporter of myself, and SQM. Thank you very much!

The Travelway Group

http://www.travelwaygroup.com

 

 

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7 Numbers Restaurant is Number One in Customer Service

 

For many years, there has been a restaurant in Toronto known as 7 Numbers. It’s a quaint and casual Italian restaurant, with food that could be best described as homemade meals and cooking.

The original restaurant is on Eglinton Avenue between Bathurst and Avenue Road and the second one is down on the Danforth. The owner of the restaurant, Rosa, is often standing right in the kitchen and is an absolutely lovely woman.

You have a couple different options to choose from when you come in: appetizers, primi / first courses, and your secondi / main entrees. In addition, there is the options of ordering a prix fixe family style meal, that includes a sampling of appetizers and several pastas, along with your choice of a main course.

While there are some staples on the menu, they do change it up from time to time, so there’s always something new or different. While all of the food is quite tasty, my absolute favourites are the calamari, the fig and goat cheese salad, and the veal lasagna. As for mains? My go to dishes are the duck leg, the lamb shank, and one of the other popular choices….the veal meatballs. You get two huge meatballs with a tasty cheesy treat inside. In terms of drinks, there are several options for non-alcoholic and alcoholic, with wine served by the glass or the bottle.

The seats and decor are very casual, with brown paper-covered tables, chalkboard menus, and colourful lighting. The kitchen is right at the front of the restaurant, so whether you’re looking inside or standing out, you can see exactly what is going and how your food is being prepared.

It’s an awesome family business, with Rosa running the uptown restaurant while her son runs the downtown location, and both provide great service. Between the atmosphere, the service, and the amount of food you get, it’s a guaranteed fabulous meal for a reasonable and fair price.

A number of my friends and colleagues have made 7 Numbers their go-to place and it’s become a place where regulars hang out all the time.

If you’re looking for some authentic, homemade Italian food, 7 Numbers is always a top choice. Buon Appetito!

 

7 Numbers

www.sevennumbers.com

 

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Top Ten Things to Do This Holiday Season

via GIPHY

There are plenty of fun and festive things to do this holiday season. Here is my Top 10 places to check out:

  1. Toronto Christmas Market – Experience the magic of the holidays with carols, hot food, and plenty of handcrafted goods to choose from! Treat your kids to a storytelling session or pictures with Santa himself. You can explore the Distillery Christmas Market until December 23rd. Admission is charged on weekends only, beginning at 5 PM on Fridays.
  2. Skating at City Hall, Harbourfront, or The Bentway Skate Trail – Sharpen your skates and head on over to the shoreline of Lake Ontario, Nathan Phillips Square, or underneath the Gardiner Expressway. If you don’t have your own pair of skates, you can rent them for a small fee. Show off your skating (and dancing) skills at the Harbourfront Centre on their DJ Skate Nights!
  3. Christmas Lights Across Canada 2018 in Ottawa – It’s obligatory to include at least one light festival in every holiday list. Take a trip to Canada’s capital to be dazzled by festive lights across the city and the Magical Winter Lightscapes show projected on the Parliament Buildings.
  4. Day Trips to Niagara  The Falls are always stunning in the winter. There are plenty of casinos, restaurants, and museums in the entertainment district.
  5. Rochester, NY  For a quick overnight trip, visit Rochester, New York. The holiday spirit is very much alive with Christmas Markets and plays such as “The Nutcracker”. I also highly recommend the Minnesota Children’s Museum, as it has great exhibits that emphasize education mixed with fun.
  6. Ripley’s Aquarium  To see amazing creatures from under the sea, there’s always Ripley’s Aquarium. For the holidays they have special events such as breakfast with Santa! The aquarium is open daily from 9 AM to 11 PM.
  7. Eat Out – It’s never a bad time to take your family out to a nice dinner or lunch for some quality bonding time. Of course, nothing beats a home-cooked meal but sometimes it’s nice not to do the dishes. For those lazy mornings, go out for a nice brunch!
  8. Afternoon Tea – Feeling fancy? Head over to Fairmont Royal York for holiday tea and sandwiches at the Library Bar every Saturday and Sunday. A special new year’s day tea is also available on January 1st.
  9. Skiing and Snow Tubing – If you don’t mind heading up a bit north of Toronto, the ski hills are open at Snow Valley and Blue Mountain! For something a bit different, try out snow tubing—it’s easy and fun for the entire family.
  10. Great Wolf Lodge – The Lodge transforms into Snowland for the holiday season. Not only do they have a life-sized Gingerbread house, but they also have daily holiday events. You can also enroll the kids in North Pole University

Whatever you choose to do over the winter break, all of us at SQM hope you have a safe and enjoyable holidays!

 

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Behind the Scenes of Great Customer Service

Last week, I mentioned my daughter’s bat mitzvah, and the beautiful invitations that we sent out.  As part of the celebrations, we also wanted to jazz things up a bit, and so my wife decided to speak to somebody about décor options.

We didn’t want to have an overly fancy, lavish setup, nor were we interested in going crazy with our budget.  We did want to have a nice centerpiece on each table, some décor for the buffet area, a guest book so our daughter would have a souvenir to remember things by, and we also needed to have something for the table cards.  While some people go crazy depending on what type of celebration you’re having, we wanted to keep things somewhat low key but still elegant, whimsical and special.

Enter Lori from Behind the Scenes Creations. My wife had been referred to a few people, but as soon as she spoke to Lori, she knew she had found someone she could work with….something just clicked. Lori was creative, energetic, warm and understood our need to stay within our budget.

For the centerpieces, one of the themes throughout the function was the pineapple because it’s my daughter’s favourite fruit (and the symbol for hospitality). As a result, Lori put a pineapple on each table, on an attractive wooden platform, alongside a terrarium with cacti and succulents (another one of my daughter’s favourite things).  For the table cards, Lori handmade mini glass terrariums that mimicked the centerpieces, that were filled with live succulents.   Lori built stand up letters for the buffet, using flowers, for my daughter’s name.  Lastly, Lori suggested we put together a nice photo album (we did this at Costco) that everyone could sign.

With the exception of the photo album, Lori put together all of these items on her own.  Recognizing the manual labour that went into these pieces, I’m still amazed she was able to do this….and at an extremely reasonable price.

The telltale sign of success were the compliments we received.  Whether it was the comments regarding the centrepieces, the numerous people who asked to take a centerpiece (and the pineapples!) home and the many, many, MANY compliments on the table cards, Lori obviously is doing something right. If you’re in need of a superb event and decorations planner, someone that you will love working with, I implore you to consider Lori.  She did a fantastic job of bringing our vision to life for us.

Lori Himelfarb Weiss
Behind the Scenes Creations
416-566-6641

 

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An Invitation to Great Customer Service

Several weeks ago, my daughter turned 13 and had her Bat Mitzvah. As part of the celebration, we had a luncheon for friends and family. In the lead up to the event, one of the things we needed to do was to send out invitations to all the guests. While everyone does this a little differently…by email, handwritten notes, online invitation services, etc…..my wife wanted to send out a professional, beautiful paper invitations that was appropriate for this particular celebration.

My wife spoke to a few of her colleagues and met with a few different invitation designers. One of them was Gail Agensky, owner of Paper Heart Custom Invitations. As soon as my wife met with Gail, she knew she was going to be “The Person.” Gail was always responsive in terms of calls and emails, she was creative, she was always available to talk even before we put down the deposit, and she was always making suggestions for the theme of the card. It was no contest…my wife decided we were going to use Gail for this work – she was the one that could create the elegantly whimsical invitation. My wife also loved the idea of supporting a woman in a small Canadian business.

In addition to coming up with a stunning invitation and envelope, she also suggested a thank you card, using the same style and theme. Gail even helped us design a customized stamp so everything would be tied together nicely. She was also reasonable in terms of price, compared to other quotes we received. Gail obviously knows that a combination of great work and reasonable pricing is the recipe for success.

Aside from getting many, many MANY compliments on our invitations, when we mentioned her name, people have said they know and use Gail, and have nothing but great things to say about her and the highest regard for her work.

If you’re looking for a creative person to do beautiful graphics, Gail and Paper Heart Custom Invitations should be your first and only stop!

Gail Agensky
Paper Heart Custom Invitations
(416) 781-6423

 

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Who Doesn’t Like Brunch?

We all have those lazy Sundays when we get up late, and look forward to having a hybrid meal that is not quite breakfast and not quite lunch. Here are some of my recommendations of some great places to go to in the GTA for a nice brunch. After all, you have to take a lazy, personal day, once in a while!

Aunties & Uncles – One of the best brunch places around! The restaurant is near College and Bathurst and serves up a perfect combination of breakfast and lunch items. Choose from your good o’l’ pancakes to your basic sandwiches. It’s open from 9 am to 3 pm, and the restaurant only takes cash.

The Stockyards – Located on St Clair Avenue West, The Stockyards is a small, restaurant that specializes in smoked foods, but has a number of other awesome items on the menu. When it comes to brunch, they are known for their fried chicken and waffles as well as their smoked trout sandwich, biscuits and sausage. Of course, you shouldn’t rule out their amazing brisket as well.

Starving Artist – If you’re in the mood for something casual, one person at the office recommended Starving Artist. The whole menu is waffles (even the desserts), but you can get different kinds of waffles like benedict waffles or sandwich waffles. They have a great way of presenting the food, and it’s a fun place to go to!

Rose and Sons – Rose and Sons is a delicious deli place that has a tasty brunch menu, with things like the New York cheesecake pancakes, pastrami, and chopped steak and onion grilled cheese. This small restaurant is on Dupont Avenue and while a bit pricier then other delis, it’s well worth it.

Centre Street Deli – For those of you who can’t make it downtown, there’s a local deli in Thornhill that serves a variety of chicken and beef platters and sandwiches. Although they are known for their smoked meat sandwiches, their breakfast menu also includes eggs, bacon, toast, pancakes, and omelettes. It’s an easygoing family-friendly location – perfect for something delicious and casual.

Rol San– If you like dim sum, this is the place to go! The restaurant is located on the east side of Spadina Avenue, two blocks north of Dundas, across from Kensington Market. If you swing by on a weekend, be prepared to wait a little due to its popularity. The dim sum menu is expansive, but you also want to try some of their other dishes from the regular menu. Get a taste of some authentic Chinese food and consider visiting Rol San.

Steve’s Restaurant– Steve’s is a classic restaurant, and while the original location on Bathurst Street closed a couple of years ago, their second restaurant on Yonge Street, in Thornhill, is still very much up and running. Their famous all day breakfast menu is to die for, with things like back bacon and eggs, New York steak and eggs, and a great club sandwich. They also serve up a mean omelette, with pancakes, crepes, and waffles to choose.

Easy Restaurant– In Parkdale, on Queen Street West, you’ll find Easy Restaurant. They specialize in Mexican food and have an all day breakfast menu with amazing omelettes. Choose from breakfast burritos, a breakfast quesadilla, or a guacamole BLT.

Maha’s– If you’re in the mood for something different, look no further then this popular restaurant which serves up Egyptian food. Try the Egyptian falafel, Maha’s award winning lentil soup, or the Cairo classic. The service is friendly, the menu is unique, and I’d definitely recommend Maha’s if you’re looking for something other than bacon and eggs!

 

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Opening Doors to Great Customer Service

It was around five years ago when I was in the market for a new garage door that I met Steve Minakakis. Steve is an extremely talented one-man company, who owns and operates Maple Leaf Garage Doors. He happened to be living in my neighbourhood at the time and immediately came over, brought some brochures, and suggested a few different options. In addition his prices seemed to be on par, if not better, than several other companies. Steve had said he could do the job fairly quickly and so we chose him to install our garage door. He proved himself to be extremely responsive, available, and easy to work with.

Steve was also in charge of installing my garage door opener and in a unique demonstration of kindness, he offered to let me purchase the item myself and save a few dollars, as opposed to having him purchase it and charging me more for his services. Steve made several recommendations and told me where to buy the exact model, so I had no problem finding what I needed.

On the day he came to install everything he arrived promptly and on time, conducted his business efficiently and quickly, and within a few hours he was completely done. Not only did he get the job done, he set it up in such a way that it fit my needs. It looked good, had excellent safety and security measures in place, had a battery backup and a keypad, and it came with a remote.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I started having trouble with the opener. There seemed to be a ghost inside of it and as a result, my garage door had been opening on its own in the middle of the night or at different times of the day.

I ended up first calling the garage door opening company, Chamberlain, and they did some troubleshooting with me. With their help we finally narrowed down the problem. Even though the opener was out of warranty, Chamberlain sent me a replacement part free of charge. Since there was some wiring involved, rather than do it myself, I called up Steve for his expertise.

I asked Steve if he could come over at his earliest convenience. He had told me it might be a week or so, but I was pleased to discover that Steve had been able to swing by the very next day. I stepped into the garage after a long day’s work, and he had clearly been there because all of the parts had been replaced and the old parts were taken out and neatly put aside.

I immediately called up Steve and asked him how much I owed him, and he assured me that it had only taken a few minutes of his time. He said that I could help him out by leaving a review on HomeStars, so I did as well as highlight him and his services on the SQM Picks blog.

Steve has the right recipe to a happy customer: a good quality product, reasonable pricing, fast and efficient work, great customer service, and he doesn’t nickel and dime his customers. Steve looks at the bigger picture of growing his business by taking care of the little items that matter to the customer. I highly suggest Steve and his wonderful work ethic for any of your garage door needs.

Maple Leaf Garage Doors
416-856-8452
http://www.mapleleafgaragedoors.com/

 

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