Clean-Cut Customer Service

As much as I’m trying to share information about companies that are across Canada and North America, I do like to occasionally give a shout out to local businesses that I’m familiar with.  One such company is Stork Cleaners, a laundry and dry cleaning business that’s been serving the local community since 1964.

Stork Cleaners happens to be owned by a gentleman named Fred, who lives in my neighbourhood.  The store was originally owned by Fred’s dad but is now run by him and his sister-in law.  The business has a large following and loyal clientele because they do great work.  Fred even offers a pick-up and drop-off service, knowing that many of his customers are busy and can’t always make it over to the store.  

I personally go to him for my shirts and suits, but I’ve noticed that a lot of people go to him for special items, such as:  wedding dresses, expensive coats, blankets, and other miscellaneous items.

Fred is extremely efficient, organized, and always a pleasure to deal with. If you happen to lose your ticket, Fred keeps his own records so that he can easily keep track of everything and find your items.  If you’re in a time crunch, Fred will do his best to make things work and will package or put your clothes on hangers depending on your preferences. On top of that, he’s very reasonably priced and easy to work with.

For someone looking for a cleaner or to wash more delicate items, I’d suggest Fred and the team at Stork Cleaners.

Stork Cleaners
416-635-0550
storkcleaners.com

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Winter and Holiday Activities

1. Distillery District

Known for its Christmas Market, the Distillery District transports its guests to a holiday wonderland filled with lights, Christmas stalls filled with food and knickknacks, as well as, live carolling. You can continue the fun by checking out the amazing displays at the annual Toronto Light Festival from January 17th – March 1st, 2020.

2. Hockey

In typical Canadian fashion, what are the holidays without hockey? Check out your local Minor teams, the OHL, the AHL, and if you’re feeling jolly, spring for those NHL tickets. If you’re a Leafs Fanatic, mark your calendars to see the team practice at Nathan Phillps Square on January 9th, 2020!

3. CNE Aurora Winter Festival

This is definitely the place to take your kids. From the rides and games to the ice rink, magical forest, and whimsical holiday-themed events, this is a ton of fun for the family. You can purchase your tickets online (Presto Cardholders get a 15% discount). You can also get your skate on and enjoy free skate rentals on Wednesdays!

4. Ballet

Christmas is the time to see the Nutcracker. Enjoy The National Ballet of Canada’s rendition of Tchaikovsky’s holiday classic until January 4th, 2020.

5. Ice Skating

Show off your skills! Check out DJ Skate Nights the Harbourfront Centre and get free skating lessons at the Bentway Skating Trail. You can also visit Ontario Place, Nathans Phillips Square or your local ice rink.

6. Courthouse visit

For all of you crime show enthusiasts, visit your local courthouse to see a real courtroom proceeding. Check out the court’s website to find out about the proper etiquette and to view the daily court lists to see which cases are being heard.

7. Trivia

Do you know what’s fun? Pub trivia. Go test your vast knowledge of pop culture, history, literature and science, and show off your trivia skills. Bar trivia is not just a holiday classic fun time, but an all year round great way to spend with friends and family.

8. Give back

The holidays are a time for giving. Check out some of the many charities across the city to help those less fortunate this holiday season.

Have a safe and enjoyable holiday season and a happy and healthy new year!

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Things to Do for Fall and Halloween

It’s that time of the year again, and with it, is another post about what you can do to make the most out of fall and Halloween. 

  1. Apple Picking: Although it’s getting a little late in the season, there are a variety of different farms that have corn mazes, markets, and activities for kids. Chudleigh’s is a popular farm, where you can pick apples as well as purchase baked goods from their bakery. Another great option is Pingle’s Farm Market, which also has a “fun farm” filled with animals, a giant slide, and a pumpkin cannon show. 
  2. Road Trip: Take a leisurely drive up to St. Jacob’s out west to see the changes in the leaves. While you’re at it, St. Jacob’s has a farmer’s market that goes on year-round on Thursdays and Saturdays.
  3. Wine Tasting: If you’re feeling it, you could also head to the Niagara region for wine tasting. There are a variety of wine tours, including ones on the lake, or ones paired with different types of cheese. 
  4. Haunted Houses: It’s the spirit of Halloween, and no Halloween would be complete without a haunted house. There’s your typical Halloween Haunt at Canada’s Wonderland, where monsters wander the park grounds, and there’s also Black Creek’s True Terror Stories at Pioneer Village in North York. The village has a massive 60-person escape game, where teams work together to solve the curse.
  5. The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Like every October, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is returning to theatres. The movie will be playing in cinemas such as Ted Rogers Cinema and Lower Ossington Theatre throughout the month. 
  6. Night of the Dread: The Clay and Paper Theatre will be hosting The Night of The Dread, a parade full of masks, puppetry, and dancing. The parade will start at Dufferin Grove Park on October 26th, starting at 6:00 pm.
  7. Pumpkins After Dark: Up at Country Heritage Park in Milton, walk along a quarter mile path which showcases over 5,000 jack-o-lanterns and over 100 pumpkin sculptures. It’s a great family event—especially for kids! 

Whatever you choose to do this year, please have a safe, warm, and happy fall season!

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Something to Consider For This Upcoming Election

For this blog post, I’d like to take the opportunity to talk about one of the candidates who is running in the upcoming election, that I personally know. Maria Augimeri is running as the NDP candidate in the riding of Humber River-Black Creek.

I first met Maria several years ago while a member of her family was working at SQM.  At the time, Maria was a City Councillor and she maintained this position for 23 years, until recent changes forced incumbents to run against each other in the last municipal election.   From time to time, we would have a chance to chat and she was always willing to provide me with advice and direction about business projects.  In addition, she would occasionally introduce me to people in the business world, constituents of hers, and even some of the folks at city hall.

Over the time I’ve gotten to know her, I’ve come to realize that she is one of the hardest working politicians out there.  In a day and age where you often hear about lazy politicians who are always on vacation or not doing anything, Maria’s the exact opposite.

She’s a workaholic, always at different meetings, on the phone, and often missing family and social engagements in favour of doing work for the community.  Maria has served, and continues to serves on different boards, including a previous stint as the Chair of the TTC, and her present position on the board for the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.  She’ll always take a call from someone who wants to speak to her, and when she’s out in her ward, people will often want to talk and ask her questions on a wide variety of topics.

Perhaps one of the telltale signs about how Maria operates is that I’ve gotten to know other people who were affiliated with her re-election campaign, and many of these people are actually Conservatives or Liberals, who still support Maria and her efforts.  While Maria is running for the NDP and we often disagree on each others views and perspectives I am completely confident that she would make an amazing Member of Parliament, and would be a fantastic representative for the people of Humber River-Black Creek.

If you happen to live in her riding, please consider supporting her. You can do so by making a donation or putting up a lawn sign, but regardless, please know that you are in good hands with Maria.

Maria Augimeri
https://mariaaugimeri.ndp.ca/

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My Oldest Friend in the World

In a previous blog, I mentioned that I found my accountant through my good friend and lawyer, Mitchell Rose. Mitch is my oldest friend in the world, as our moms met when they were expecting us. Ever since we were born, we’ve managed to keep in touch and when Mitch graduated from law school and was called to the bar, I am proud to say that I was one of his very first clients.

While Mitch continues to do legal work for me, in more recent times he has been focusing a great deal of attention on the mediation aspect of his business. Although he is still very much a lawyer, these days most of his work involves him acting as a mediator or settlement counsel.

In 2019, he started his own firm, known as Mitchell Rose Professional Corporation, with two divisions: Mitchell Rose Law and Rose Dispute Resolution. Mitch is the perfect person to be involved in mediation and settlement counsel work, as I have always found him to be a very level-headed and methodical lawyer. Mitch is practical, results-oriented, and is always thinking things through to the end and providing his clients with reasonable and sound advice. He also provides great value.

In some circumstances, Mitch has even suggested not pursuing certain actions or cases based on either the financial or emotional toll that it may take on myself and other clients. While this may have cost him money or fees in the short term, I have no doubt that this approach has served his mediation clients well, and will continue to serve him well as he attempts to grow his business.

Mitch also has an uncanny ability to look at things from many angles, always keeping the big picture in mind. With both personal or business matters, people in law often forget the human component. Whether it’s preparing or reviewing an employment contract or severance package, dealing with a neighbour dispute, or handling a debt collection issue, he takes into consideration the fact that he is dealing with people with various needs.

Mitch always works with a great deal of class, thoughtfulness, and kindness. While I have not personally had the chance to use Mitch for mediation (and probably couldn’t, due to our close friendship), I highly recommend that you or your legal counsel consider him for all of your mediation and settlement counsel needs.

Mitchell Rose
Mitchell Rose Professional Corporation
5000 Yonge Street, Suite 1901
Toronto, ON, M2N 7E9
416-227-3406
https://mitchellrose.ca/

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Leitner Headsets Stands Behind their Product

Although my blogs are often related to the Toronto area, or the region I live in, SQM is an international company, so I’m always excited when I have the chance to spread the word about businesses in other areas of the world.  Today, I’m glad to be able to put a spotlight on a company that is based in the United States, and ships their product to many other countries. 

Since I spend a good chunk of the day on the telephone, a number of years ago I decided that instead of straining my neck, I’d start using a headset (on a related note, wow does it make a difference….it is much more comfortable).  While I have had several different headsets over the past decade, last year my business partner hooked up a wireless version that is built by a company called Leitner Headsets.  The base is actually plugged into the phone, but the headset itself has no wires attached, and is charged when sitting on the base. 

While the headset is quite comfortable and reliable, over the past couple of months an issue has come up where the headset disconnects, lights flash, and it doesn’t work.  Since the headset wasn’t even a year old, I was getting mildly irritated, as I thought it would be a pain to fix, since the product was from the United States.  Nonetheless, I decided to call up Leitner Headsets to see what could be done.  On the first call, I was quickly connected to a gentleman, who immediately found my account.  He was extremely pleasant to deal with, and since he seemed to be quite knowledgeable, we ended up trying to troubleshoot to see if he could guide me through fixing the problem.  At the end of a short call, he told me that someone would check back with me in a couple of days to see if the issue was resolved, and if it wasn’t they would simply send me out a new headset. 

The very next day, the initial problem occurred again, but before I called them back, I decided to wait to see if I would get a call.  I didn’t expect anyone to call me back, but sure enough two days later, on the day that they said they would follow up with me, they actually did!  This second employee seemed confident that she could fix the issues, she asked if it would be okay to take me through some additional steps before sending me out a replacement headset.  Since the staff have a-can do attitude and the issues weren’t mission critical, I was fine with giving it another shot.

Again, the fix seemed to work for a couple of days and then I started running into the same issues again.  A few days later, I received another follow-up call, and when I explained to them it was still broken, they immediately said that they would send me a new headset. 

After the call, I received a couple of emails, including a note indicating that my headset was on the way, as well as a status update, and although they indicated that it may take up to a week before the new headset would arrive, three days later I received the package.  Even the package showed me that I was dealing with a customer-centric organization, as there were two stickers on the outside of the box.  The first, indicated that the package was “picked with customer love by Mitch” and “thanks for being a loyal customer since 2018” 

But that’s not all!  On the day that I finally got around to opening the box, much to my surprise, the company includes a handful of candies in the package  I can’t recall every receiving an added surprise, like this, and this small gesture certainly put a smile on my face. 

For these days where I’ve often said that successful companies stand behind their product, Leitner was great at troubleshooting and when they realized that wasn’t going to work, they sent me a replacement with no fuss, meaning no stress on my end. They have a great product and clearly a great culture that is focussed on customer service.  They are a pleasure to deal with, and I highly recommend them your headset and telecommunications needs. 

Leitner Headsets 
212-230-4525 
leitnerheadsets.com

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Unparalleled Experience

Several months ago, I heard about a popular Middle Eastern restaurant that had opened up in Toronto called Parallel. The restaurant is owned by the Ozery Brothers, of Ozery Bakery fame, and the creators behind the popular pitas that are available across the country and in some select locations in the United States. The Ozery Bakery has been around for more than 20 years and has grown from a small family owned bakery to a staple for alternative bread products. The Ozery Brothers’ new restaurant is sure to become a staple for Middle Eastern cuisine due to the great food, wonderful ambiance, and the overall unique experience that it has to offer.

Where the Ozery Bakery was the creation of just Alon and Guy; Parallel is a collaboration between Alon, Guy and their brother, Aharon. The addition of Aharon is apparent in how the space, location, and ambiance of the restaurant differs from that of Ozery Bakery. By having the three brothers all collaborate together, putting their individual skills and tastes into the restaurant, they have created a restaurant that is bursting with flavour and style.

Parallel itself is a small, open concept space that seats about 75 people. An interesting aspect of the restaurant is that it backs onto the kitchen, allowing diners to see what is happening behind the scenes. The decoration is minimal, though the art pieces that are on the walls, are statement pieces and draw the eye. The high ceilings and the trains that can be seen through the window, give the restaurant a chic, yet warm, ambiance that is reminiscent of a working, living warehouse.

Now, don’t be fooled by the location or the modern ambiance. The food is steeped in tradition, and the dining experience is based in community. The menu is all about shareable items and diners can share beer and food with the table. This adds to the overall experience and charm of the restaurant and makes Parallel a great place for a friendly get together, a date, or a relaxing night out.

The menu offers dishes that suit all likes and dietary lifestyles. Parallel offers gluten free, vegetarian and vegan friendly options, while also offering a selection of diary, gluten and meat dishes. The menu is not overly extensive, but there is enough variety that diners feel like that they can sample a wide variety of flavourful food, and non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages.

The acquaintance who told me about the new restaurant raved about how great it was and told me that they had already decided to go back. They were very excited, but there was a problem; it was so busy, they had to make a reservation a couple of weeks in advance and they didn’t know if they would be able to wait that long. Now I don’t know about you, but when there is a wait list that long, I know that I have to go and see for myself what the craze is about.

So that’s exactly what I did… two weeks after I had made my own reservation.

When I arrived, my guest and I were immediately greeted and escorted to a table that had already been set. The server was great; they were personable, friendly, and full of suggestions. There was a great variety of food and beverages available, and the atmosphere was lively. The Parallel salad was tasty, and the fried cauliflower was amazing! The mushroom dish was unique and delicious. The flavours of each dish were mouth-watering and memorable. They were plated attractively and were a decent portion size; though, I will admit that I found the restaurant to be a little bit on the expensive side, the food and the experience was well worth the money. I can’t wait to go back again and explore more of their menu, because if the food is as flavourful as the cauliflower or the salad, I know that I am in for an exciting treat.

Living in Toronto means that there are tens of thousands of restaurants that are available to choose from; and it has become increasingly difficult to find a unique, fun, and delicious restaurant that stands out. That being said, Parallel is one of those restaurants that is unique, memorable, and different, and in my humble opinion, everyone should try it and see for themselves how great it is.

Parallel is closed Monday and Tuesday, but it is open every other day of the week, offering both brunch and dinner. So, whether you are looking to try a new type of cuisine, impress a dinner date, or have a fun, relaxing brunch with friends or family, Parallel is unparalleled in providing great food and a great atmosphere, and you should definitely stop by to check it out.

Parallel
(416) 516-7765
www.parallelbrothers.com

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