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T.C. Demaresq browses for business news


Centre Saege

A new restaurant by Scanway, owner of Sweet Basil, Cheapside Cafe and Scanway Catering, is set to open at 5883 Spring Garden (at Carlton) in late September. Saege Bistro will combine the allure of fine dining with the relaxation of a family restaurant, in a bid to become “everyone’s favourite neighbourhood bistro.” “There are very different dimensions on Spring Garden Road,” says Geir Simensen, Saege’s executive chef and son of Unni Simensen, who founded Scanway in 1981. “The one side is downtown, which is very hectic, though has its own finesse and flair, but on the other end, there are thousands of people that live there. We want to address that clientele with a nice neighbourhood restaurant. Very friendly. Not an intimidating kind of restaurant. We feel there’s enough of those restaurants down the other end of Spring Garden.” Following in the Scanway tradition, Saege will feature lots of fresh, local food. “But it’s not going to be complicated food,” says Simensen. “It’s going to be very identifiable, very fresh. We’re going to use as many local ingredients as possible, so our menu will fluctuate with the seasons.”

Circle of life

Alternative Organic International Inc marks one year in business this summer. The firm, based at 6942 Isner in Halifax, deals in organic waste resources management, converting organic solid-wastes such as food scraps, food-processing wastes, farm wastes and high-fibre wastes like cardboard, into composts and compost teas (a liquid made from compost). AOI operates on the principles of soil ecology, following the logic that healthy soil produces healthy plants. “You have the whole food web that is in the soil,” explains AOI president Dietmar Tholen. “It starts with bacteria and protozoa, up to nematodes, up to worms. All the micro-organisms are working in the soil to get our food healthy. As soon as we spray something against them, we kill one or more of the organisms in the food chain, the whole food chain collapses, and we have unhealthy soil.” AOI deals extensively in vermiculture (growing earthworms for use in processing organic-waste resources), and recently sold 500 pounds of worms to a farmer in New Brunswick. The role of the worm is to eat decaying organic material. The material mixes with specific micro-organisms in the worm’s gut, and is then evacuated back into the soil. After passing through the worm, the different minerals and micro-organisms become more easily available to plants. “That’s why we try to increase the bio-diversity in the soil,” says Tholen, “so that more nutrients and more minerals get to the plants. The healthier the plants are, the more beneficial it is. It is extremely important to everybody. We all live off the soil. We all get our food not out of the grocery store; we get it from the soil.”

A slice for the ladies

Pizza Girls opened mid-May at 7037 Mumford. The restaurant is part of a chain created by the daughters—Angela, Maria and Johanna—of Peter Dib, the original owner of Sackville Pizza in Sackville and Appetizer’s Pizza in Dartmouth and New Minas. According to a statement by Dib, “Three of our daughters decided to continue the tradition, but with a new name that can be used in all the restaurants. Being all girls, they chose Pizza Girls.” The original Pizza Girls is located in Fall River, with seven other restaurants across Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and three more scheduled to open soon. Mike Gillis owns the Mumford Pizza Girls, and says the franchise owes its success to an emphasis on customer care, quality food, cleanliness and tradition. “One of our slogans is ‘it’s pizza the way it used to be,’” says Gillis. “We make our own dough here, we fry our own bacon, we do our own hamburger, we do everything from scratch. We even make our own spice on site for the pizza sauce.”

Raise a glass

Wine Spectator magazine has awarded The Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for 2005 to The Five Fishermen Restaurant at 1740 Argyle. “The award isn’t just about having the biggest or most expensive wine list,” says Five Fisherman sommelier Sean Buckland. “It’s also about creativity in the selection of wines.” Buckland is an avid supporter of Nova Scotian wines, and the restaurant’s wine list includes a full page dedicated to local wines. “The food of the land you serve has to work with the wines of the land,” says Buckland. “When it comes down to it, pairing great food with great wine and good company, to me, that’s what’s important in life.”

Coffee, clothes and comics

Starbucks Coffee, home of the oddly-sized yet internationally recognized portable status symbol, will begin construction of its new Halifax location in the old Royal Bank building on Spring Garden in October. Construction was supposed to begin earlier, but the building isn’t ready yet. … American Apparel, the sweatshop-free clothing manufacturer, is rumoured to be opening an outlet in Halifax. Stay tuned for more details. … Wilkie’s Wonderful World of Comics has moved to 2091 Gottingen next to Taz Records. It will be operating on a cash-only basis for the next few weeks as they get the store up and running. … And happy first anniversary—which just happens to be the paper anniversary— to Duly Noted on Quinpool.

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