Tag Archives: Toronto

Why you should visit the St. Lawrence Market

As is the case in many cities, there are always one or two popular markets where people go to get fresh fruit, vegetables, baked goods, high quality meats, and specialty foods. Toronto is no different, and for many years the go-to location has been the St. Lawrence Market.

The market, run by the City of Toronto, is located on 93 Front Street East, and is currently comprised of three main buildings: The South Market, the North Market, and St. Lawrence Hall. It’s a combination of vendors where you can buy anything from fresh meat and pastries to seafood, olives and cheese. You can also get breakfast and lunch, as well as coffee and juice.

My understanding is that the lake used to come right up to the back of the market and vendors were able to bring their fish right up from the water, but the shoreline has since receded.

The market always exhibits a fun, bustling atmosphere. The vendors are always kind, and it’s great to support small, community businesses.

There’s also a number of places where you can buy meals….for example, Carousel Bakery at the market is known for their superb peameal bacon sandwiches. Buster’s Sea Cove has amazing fish and chips and Uno Mustachio is known for their large veal sandwiches.

What people often go down on a Friday or Saturday morning and get their groceries for the week. Since the market is closed on Sundays and Mondays, a couple of hours before closing on Saturday afternoon some of the vendors will put their products on sale or mark down the prices. Regardless, you can always kick it old school and try negotiating a deal.

Whether it’s to stroll around, grab a bite, or do your grocery shopping, I highly recommend visiting St. Lawrence Market.

St. Lawrence Market
416-392-7219
http://www.stlawrencemarket.com/

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Ask and ye shall receive (great customer service)

Quite some time ago, I wrote about a great phone repair store called Stellar Cellular on College Street. The person who ran that store was named Richard, and he as an overall great guy to deal with, who did amazing work.

A couple of weeks ago my wife was having a problem with her phone, and so I reached out to Richard and asked him for some help. To my surprise, he said his store had moved out of town and he was not doing repairs anymore. He highly recommended Maaz at Ask Computers, and suggested giving them a call. Ask Computers is run by two brothers, Maaz and Mani, on Front Street.

I called up Maaz and mentioned his colleague, Richard said I should give him a call. I explained the problem with my wife’s phone and he invited me to stop by whenever I could. They’re closed on Sundays so I drove down on a Saturday, showed him the phone and explained the problem. Right away he knew what the problem was.

Unlike some places that gave you a ticket, Maaz writes up a work order and a quote, then has you sign off electronically. Additionally, he will also text you updates when repairs are underway and when repairs are completed. He told me he’d try and get back to me later that day, but otherwise it’d be done on Monday.

Much to my surprise, about two and a half hours after I dropped it off, I got a message saying it was ready. I stopped by again, paid him, and tried the phone out. The phone was working perfectly fine again, and I even got a follow-up email thanking me for my business and asking me to leave a review.

The location is a small store but it was neat and clean, and right away, between the look of the store and the initial conversation, I had felt I was in good hands the entire time. The whole customer service system he had in place was great—something you don’t see often in small businesses.

Whether you’re looking to buy computer equipment, get something repaired, or whether you just need advice, Maaz and Mani have a great store and I highly recommend stopping by for your tech needs.

Ask Computers

416-862-9595

Askcomputers.ca

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‘Tis The Season for Giving

I hope everyone’s holiday season is off to a fun and festive start!

One of the things I like to do all year long, but especially around the holidays, is support my community and those around me.  One particular group that I am involved with is Toronto-based Ve’ahavta. As some of you may know from my previous posts, one of the group’s main activities is to provide the homeless with meals and clothing.  During my involvement with this group, I’ve learned that they are always in need of fresh socks and underwear…articles of clothing that people often overlook. I myself never thought of this, and usually donated warm hats, mitts, gloves, and sleeping bags, however, when you think of it, clean, warm, dry socks and underwear is a necessity.

As we’ve done in the past, SQM is launching our annual, Holiday Sock / Underwear Drive.  I encourage all of my friends, colleagues, those on the SQM Team, and in fact…..anyone to send:  new socks, new underwear, or gift cards from either Walmart of Costco to the SQM office. We will deliver the items to Ve’ahavta, who will distribute them to those in need this holiday season and throughout the cold winter months.

We know that this is a busy time of the year and that everyone has their own charities and causes they like to support, but if you have the time or resources, please consider supporting SQM’s Holiday Sock and Underwear Drive.

Lastly, I’d like to thank everyone at SQM, including all of our office staff and field force, for all of your hard work and diligence. I would also like to thank all of our clients for their continued support and business.

Have a safe and enjoyable holiday season and all the best for 2019!

SQM

156 Duncan Mill Road, Unit 19

Toronto, ON  M3B 3N2

416-444-4491

www.sqm.ca

 

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Beck Taxi: A Driving Force in Customer Service Excellence

Over the past few years, there’s been lot written about the taxi industry, both here in Toronto and all around the world. Most of the news and conversations I hear are related to newer companies like Uber and Lyft which promote themselves as a “ride share service” (I’m still trying to understand how they take cars of the road). While the taxi industry isn’t without its challenges, there are some great companies that are still involved in this business.

One of the best operators in the GTA, that is easily identified by its telltale green and orange vehicles, is Beck Taxi. Beck is a family-run business that has been in the industry of getting people from point A to point B for over 50 years.

Where some operators choose to do the minimum or near to the minimum standards required by laws and regulations, it seems to be part of Beck’s DNA to exceed the requirements, in an effort to provide an outstanding experience.

Whether it’s creating an app to keep up with technology (they actually had their app quite early on) and make their service more convenient to customers, putting their drivers through in-depth training (no longer required by law), or taking older vehicles off the road before they have to be replaced, Beck clearly strives to provide the best customer experience.

While there are always challenges associated with staff in the service industry, I find that Beck drivers and dispatchers are usually quite friendly, polite, and professional. I also find that for almost all cases, they’re safe operators of their vehicles and are respectful to others on the road.

Between increased competition, increased costs of gas, insurance, and other expenses, driving a taxi for a living is certainly not as easy as it seems. In this changing industry, Beck continues to do a wonderful job providing a very safe. comfortable, and enjoyable customer experience.

Beck Taxi
416-751-5555
http://www.becktaxi.com

* While I always highlight great businesses, for complete honesty and transparency, it should be noted that members of my family own taxi licenses that are leased / used by Beck.

 

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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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The Hidden Gem of Orillia

While I’m usually visiting my friend in Orillia for some fun and relaxation, a couple of weeks ago I decided to beat the long weekend traffic by heading up a day early. My plan was to simply work on the Friday from up north; however, since my wife was also working, she ordered me out of the house so I didn’t distract her. As a result of my eviction, I decided to go work at the library, and when I got there it dawned on me what a great city Orillia is. Not just to visit, but to live and work in.

In terms of the library, I was completely surprised by how modern and new the amenities were. From updated computers, to quiet rooms that you could book, to free WiFi, and all sorts of amazing programs and activities.

But the library was really just the tip of the iceberg to the other benefits of living in the community. As mentioned in my last blog, Orillia has a large number of chain retail stores (Costco just opened up there), tons of shopping, and a variety of restaurants. In addition to a variety of amenities, the city also has a modern hospital that has recently expanded.

When it comes to transportation, the city is close to the highway, has public transit within the city, and if you need to get down to Toronto, there’s a number of options (if you can get to Barrie there is also GO trains and busses).

One other thing that I’ve come to notice in Orillia, is that there aren’t really many traffic jams. Even in the summer time, with people going to the beach or the cottage, traffic generally moves along smoothly. While there are still cars on the road, it’s never crazy busy like Toronto’s main streets or the 401, so it is also a less stressful commute. Another bonus for drivers is that for whatever reason, the gas is much less expensive than it is in the city, with the price being as much as 15 cents less a litre!

When it comes to real estate, the market also seems to be much more reasonably priced for both buying homes, renting apartments, and leasing office space.

Orillia is the OPP’s headquarters, so I have to think it’s a relatively safe community. I’m not sure what the employment opportunities are like, but it has just about any of the amenities that a larger city would have.

As I get a bit older, I realize that there’s certainly an allure to being able to work during the day and only be minutes from the beach or a boat for the evening and weekends.

A lot of people have migrated from Toronto to Barrie, but it might be worth looking another 20 minutes north to Orillia, for another potential hidden gem.

 

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The King of Ramen

Several months ago, I was watching a TV show called You’ve Got to Eat Here, which was highlighting a restaurant in the Toronto area called Kinton Ramen. Since then, the company has expanded to open several location in the GTA.

For those of you that don’t know what ramen is, it’s a unique Japanese dish that consists of soup, noodles, and a protein, all served in a big bowl at a bar or a small table.

The location that I’ve now visited a number of times is located on Yonge Street in between Sheppard and Finch. Every time I’ve been there, whether it’s for lunch or dinner, it’s always busy but despite the fact that every table is always taken, the line moves fast because people get served quickly, eat quickly, and then leave.

For the ramen, you have different options including thick or thin noodles and pork, chicken, beef, fish balls, and more for your options of protein. Everything I’ve tried arrives steaming hot, nicely cooked, and is super tasty. It’s also not an expensive meal, so two can dine for under $40.00 including tax and tip.

The staff at this location are incredibly friendly, knowledgeable about menu items, always willing to make suggestions, and work extremely efficiently. Within minutes of placing your order, your drink is delivered and if you’ve ordered an appetizer it comes hot and fresh, with your delicious ramen right around the corner.

Personally, I always chuckle when people are leaving, as all the staff shout “thank you” and “good-bye” in Japanese. The restaurant has a fun and lively atmosphere. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for something different and authentic, whether it’s a quick lunch, heading out on a date, or just grabbing a bite.

Kinton Ramen North York
(647) 350-7887
http://www.kintonramen.com/canada/

 

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