On my recent trip back to Ottawa I noticed some very positive developments in both the food and the retail sectors. The one thing Ottawa once missed was local flavour on a world-class scale. I’m happy to say that’s far from true these days, and almost makes me a little homesick for the small town, big taste experience of which I just partook. The gastropub experience was truly world-class. Special merits to Jordan at the Hintonburg Public House.
BE BIG ON TASTE. NOT PORTIONS.
Good food and drink doesn’t need to be overly dressed up or presented in an excessively fancy way. The food here is neither huge nor especially fancy. It’s just damn tasty and interesting.
SERVE LOCAL TEXTURE. NOT LOCAL TRENDS.
Everywhere I went in Ottawa was serving pulled pork. Maybe it’s because I’m not at all interested in pork or food trends, that one of things that stood out about the Hintonburg Pub’s menu was the absence of a pulled pork anything. If every place you go to is serving something, they’re not a trend maker any more. It’s the small details that make the experience. Not having something can be better than having it.
USE LOCAL BRANDS WHENEVER POSSIBLE.
You can drink Coke anywhere in the world. You can drink Starbucks coffee anywhere. I don’t want reliable when I go somewhere. I want flavour. I want quirk. I want to try a beer or a soda I can’t have anywhere in the world. Nothing’s perfect in this world. But there’s a lot that’s mediocre. And we have big brands to thank for that. Draw in talent by using whatever nearby talent you have. Your customers, suppliers, neighbours and investors/bank manager will thank you.
LET PEOPLE SEE YOUR GOOD GRIT.
When I go to a eatery or pub I like to see the talent behind the scenes. The people who make your products should interact with the clientele. It’s reassuring whether it’s a baker or a brewmaster, or your chef. The only person I don’t want to see is the plumber. You can keep him or her invisible please. The accountant too. Sorry plumbers and accountants.