Tag Archives: Small Business

In Need of a Party Planner?

As everyone knows, I often try to promote small and neighborhood businesses on my blog. In my particular neighborhood, Cathy Siegel owns the go-to store in midtown Toronto for anything and everything you would need for a party.

The store is called Party Rock and is located on Avenue Road between Lawrence Avenue and Wilson Avenue. Party Rock is a party supply and rental shop that has everything that you would need for a party – from balloons, to loot bag goodies.  If you’re looking for a themed party, she’s got everything from Star Wars themed balloons, napkins, plates, and cutlery to whatever craze is hot at the moment.  A lot of her party items are unique, so you won’t be able to find them in many other places.

Looking for everyday gifts?  Party Rock carries it all – from funky, fun socks to games the whole family can enjoy.   Sending the kids to overnight camp?  Cathy’s selection of fun pillows, stationary and bunk decorations can’t be beat.  There’s countless aisles of decorations, toys, and stuffers for any holiday that you can think of.  In more recent times, because everyone seems to be focused on puzzles, she’s started stocking a lot of different varieties, in all sizes and all levels of difficulty.

Cathy will also supply seasonal items, such as pool toys and swimming gear, and special occasion items, such as sombreros and piñatas for Cinco de Mayo. In addition, she’s able to do a variety of different balloons displays that include arches, names and numbers.  

Cathy and her staff also make for wonderful party consultants. People are known to use her for bar mitzvahs and bat mitzvahs, where she’s able to tie the party theme together with matching invitations and decorations.  She’s also more than willing to source out items for you – just because she doesn’t have it in-store, doesn’t mean she won’t be able to get her hands on it.  Whether you’re having a kids birthday party, celebrating a special occasion, or if it’s a large-scale event like a bar mitzvah or engagement party, Cathy will be able to handle all of your party needs.

Once you’re inside Party Rock, you will be like a kid in a candy store!  And for the record, she has the candy too!

Party Rock
1919 Avenue Road
647-966-0019
CathyPartyRock@gmail.com

 

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Salbro Bottles…A Package Deal

As some of you know, not too long ago,  my business partner and I started a second business called Minus H2O, where we manufacture ultra-concentrated cleaning products. The company began as a passion project with the goal of reducing carbon emissions and plastic pollution, while also saving consumers and businesses a lot of money.

In the early stages of developing the product, we knew that we would need bottles, and one of my colleagues recommended I contact a local company, known as Salbro Bottles.

I first reached out to them a couple of years ago and ever since, they’ve been amazing to deal with.  I had originally explained that we were a startup, and were unfamiliar with consumer packaged goods. One of the owners and his colleagues walked us through the process of recommending bottles, sending samples, and assisting us in making the best choice possible for our initiative.

Since that time, Minus H2O has grown and Salbro has also been very good to us when we’ve had special requests or needed special orders. They also took the time to help me with a presentation, where I needed 500 empty bottles to show a retailer how much plastic pollution they’ve been emitting.

Aside from their willingness to help, it’s great to be dealing with a company that’s looking ahead long-term. While many businesses these days would rather make money on the first sale, this company is determined to build a lasting, long-term business relationship.

Salbro Bottles has recently been purchased by TricorBraun, another packaging company, but the Toronto staff remains the same.  What’s even more important is that the company vision has remained consistent and they’ve been true to their word.  They’re just as helpful today as when I first met them.

If you’re ever in need of different bottles and packaging material in bulk, I highly suggest you give them a try!

Salbro Bottle
http://www.salbrobottle.com/
905-850-1190

 

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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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Cooking Up Five Star Customer Service

Caplan’s Appliances, on Weston Road, south of Eglinton Avenue, is a family-founded appliance store that first opened its doors in the 1940’s.  Their recently renovated store has a wide selection of brands to choose from, including:  Maytag, Whirlpool, Bosch, Sub-Zero, and Wolf, to name a few.  In addition to the long list of brands which they represent, a few years ago they opened up a separate Miele showroom right across the street from the main store.

The owner of Caplan’s, Bob Caplan, is an old friend of mine, and I have been doing business with Bob and his family for many years.  Since I know he treats everyone like he treats me…he probably treats others much better :-)…I’ve always been recommending him to my family and colleagues who have been in need of appliances.

I’ve visited Bob’s store many times before, and I felt that it was time I give his store a shout out, based on my most recent experience there.  Back a couple of months ago, I was in the market for a new stove for my aunt.  My aunt is 93, living on fixed income, and Bob was aware of this. Instead of selling us a high-end appliance, Bob had given the salesperson a heads up and they were able to find us a good quality stove at a reasonable price.

In addition, Caplan’s will offer to deliver the new appliance and take away the old one.  In my aunt’s case, we needed added assistance because the stove was a gas range, and it’s not something you can just easily unplug from the wall.  As a result, you need a gas fitter to disconnect the old one and install the new appliance.  As it turns out, the salesperson was kind enough to find me a gas fitter, and coordinated the timing so we were able to remove the old stove at the same time as they brought the new one in. The fact that they were willing to go the extra mile to help out my aunt for what amounted to a small purchase, just shows how much they care about their business and their customers.

Aside from the gas fitter, Caplan’s has partnerships with other people in the trades, including interior designers, builders, and construction companies. Bob is truly a one-stop solution for all of your appliance needs.

Caplan’s has been around for a long time, and they understand the value of having a customer for life.  Whether you’re looking for a starter or base type of appliance, upgrading to new model, looking to redo your kitchen and get high-end appliances, Bob and his team are there for you.

Caplan’s Appliances
416-767-1655
https://www.caplans.ca/

 

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The Buzz About Great Customer Service

For many years, whenever I was driving along Wilson Avenue, to the west of my neighbourhood, I noticed a small restaurant in a strip mall, called Buzz Buzz Pizza Family Restaurant.  Despite driving by the location numerous times I never had the opportunity to stop by until a few weeks ago when, ironically, after going to a restaurant in the area for dinner we found ourselves still hungry.

A few of us decided to stop off at Buzz Buzz for a quick bite, and to check the place out.  It’s a small restaurant, with seven to eight tables, the prices are reasonable, and is known for their Italian food, Greek food, and most of all…their pizzas.  Other popular items are their veal parmesan, veal sandwiches, meatball sandwiches, souvlakis, and salads.

Since the pizza on the first visit was absolutely delicious, about a week later, we decided to order the veal parmesan dinner, for delivery.  When it arrived we were surprised to see it included a big piece of veal, tons of pasta, garlic bread, salad, and a can of pop for $12.99.  The food arrived hot and fresh, however, I was told that depending on how busy they are, sometimes it takes about an hour for delivery.  Nonetheless, you can’t beat the price of their items!

Buzz Buzz is a family run restaurant, operated and owned by a Greek gentleman by the name of Tony.  He runs the restaurant with his wife, daughter, and a few other people.  Although they are also well-known for their delivery and take-out, they do have regulars in the area that stop by and eat while watching TV. The place also has a liquor license, so if you wanted to, you could grab a beer or glass of wine with your meal.  Perhaps the most telling sign about the business, is that every time I’ve been to the restaurant, it’s been consistently busy.

Tony and his daughter are a pleasure to deal with—they are amazingly friendly and are willing to bend over backwards for special requests.

In a day and age when the pizza business is dominated by big chains, it’s nice to find a local, friendly business that provides good food at a reasonable price.

Buzz Buzz Pizza Family Restaurant
416-630-7777
http://www.buzzbuzzpizza.com/

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Prioritize the Customer….Not the Size of the Project

A couple of years ago, my wife and I were travelling and went to the Grand Ole Opry, in Nashville.  While we were there, we bought a poster that displayed the musicians that were playing that night, but was done in a style that had probably been used since the early days of this venue.

Given that the Grand Ole Opry is a country music establishment, I thought it would be interesting to frame this piece of art in a different way, than simply using a frame.  In particular, I thought it would be cool to mount it on barn wood—wood from a barn—to play with the country theme.  After doing a bit of research I discovered barnboardstore.com: a store known for selling barn board and what is generally known as reclaimed wood.  In addition to barn board, they are also known for selling wood with live edges—in other words, wood with bark still on it.  Both types of wood are high-quality, and can be used for furniture, floors, and walls.  For me, I only needed a small piece of wood because I had a relatively small poster.

When I went to barnboardstore.com, they were very accommodating.  Even though this was a small project for them they let me pick out a piece of wood with the nice colouring I was looking for.  They also spend a few minutes helping me size and cut it, so all I had to do was glue everything together and put the poster on.

Because they took such good care of me I kept them in mind for other projects. My wife and I are currently in the process of creating some built-in bookshelves, and we wanted the counter of the bookcase to be barn wood.  Just like my first experience the staff were extremely helpful, and came up with ideas that made more sense and were more cost-effective.  All the staff are a pleasure to deal with, and this was something exceptionally notable because in a day and age where many companies are just looking for the “big sale” and spend as little time as possible with customers with smaller projects, it’s nice to see a company that puts the customer first.

If you have a project involving wood, and are looking for something a bit different, I definitely suggest checking them out.

Barnboardstore.com
416-471-9452
http://barnboardstore.com/

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Hungry for Hungarian Food?

A few weeks ago, I visited a popular, Toronto restaurant, that has been around for many years….Country Style Hungarian Restaurant. It’s a cozy Hungarian restaurant located at 450 Bloor Street West, and should not to be confused with the larger donut chain, Country Style.

Country Style Hungarian Restaurant has been around for over 50 years as a family-run business. It’s an old-school restaurant with classic red and white checkered tablecloths and wooden chairs and tables. They’re famous for their schnitzel, but some of their other go-to dishes include cabbage rolls and perogies. They of course, also have goulash soup and cucumber salad, and their wiener schnitzel is absolutely to-die for.

Aside from ordering a la carte, they also have a delicious platter prepared for two or four, which comes with a variety of meats, sausages, and potatoes. For those who are less hungry, there are shnitzel and chicken sandwiches. If you’ve saved a little room, they have great desserts including palacsinta…a Hungarian-style crepe with chestnut puree, as well as apple and cherry strudel. All of their desserts are tasty and most are homemade. Lastly, one of my favourite items on the menu is their raspberry soda…..a cold drink that is somewhat different from most pops.

Their food always comes out hot, fresh, and very quickly, and in addition, the service is great. All of the waiters are friendly and helpful, and if you ask for sauce on the side or other dietary requests, they are very accommodating.

I find the restaurant is busy at any time, especially on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, but you usually do not have to wait too long to be seated. After dinner, if you want to listen to live music, there’s are some bars in the area, as well as live theatres, all of which are accessible via public transit.

If you’re looking to experience a different, homey kind of restaurant, head on over to Country Style Hungarian Restaurant…you will not be disappointed.

Country Style Hungarian Restaurant

416-536-5966

http://countrystylehungarian.com/

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