John Thomson  

John Thomson's I Didn't Know That!

I believe it was ten years ago that the Mrs. and I attended the opening week of a new restaurant, East Side Mario’s. I really wanted to try the Phili steak sandwich, which was always a favourite of mine but very difficult to order in this part of the world. A young couple from Edmonton were the franchise holders and it was getting busy. Their Italian Wedding Soup caught my wife’s eye and is a favourite with her today. You can make a meal out of Wedding Soup and their delicious salad a luncheon favourite.

Prime Restaurants of Toronto owns the master franchise and has 86 East Side Mario’s in Canada. The company also owns four Bier Markt  pubs with something like 132 European beers on tap.  They also own 22 Casey’s  Bar & Grill restaurants and 24 pubs under many different brands. There are five ESM’s in British Columbia.

The Kelowna restaurant is operated by operating partner Nick DiMambro who also owns  the Kamloops franchise. The ESM in Lonsdale Quay Market was opened around two years ago as well and has a spectacular view of the City of Vancouver located next to the Sea bus terminal in North Vancouver. Cranbrook ESM is nestled in the Kootenay’s and is a favourite amongst the locals there. Raymond Wong and his wife Corinne own and operate that ESM.

A local man well known in the food and beverage industry Greg Capozzi is the new area manager for Prime Restaurants in Western Canada. Greg started in the food business when he was 14.  He was still going to school and working for The Keg in the lower mainland and eventually ended up in management and ran his own Keg . Then he and his partners took over four Keg franchises before moving back to Kelowna to a new job as food and beverage manager of The Coast Capri Hotel. Greg then owned the original Swiss Chalet in Kelowna.


This year a new section of four-lane highway will open in Lake Country. The new elevated route goes up into the hills and the old two-lane section of Highway 97 along Wood Lake will revert from the Ministry of Highways to the municipality. The old section of the highway will be renamed the Pelmewash Parkway.

Lake Country was seeking input from citizens in two public workshops last month. Participants were asked to attend only one of the workshops so that as many people as possible have a chance to give their views.


When I wrote the story on Target Canada last week I wrote about the new  Red Card and the instant rebate of five percent at the check out counter if you were using Target's credit or debit card.

Then I received this email from a reader:

“Regarding the Target story. There will be a Canadian Target MasterCard ordered by RBC which will offer the same discount.”


Tonight there is another meeting of CAFÉ and if you are in business and have family involved you should attend.

The Okanagan chapter of the Canadian Association of Family Enterprise, known as CAFE Okanagan is hosting their Next Generation event on Thursday, Februay 7th. If you are a 2nd or 3rd generation member of a family business operation, this evening presentation is for you. Statistics show more than half of family businesses in Canada  expect next generations to take over ownership or management within the next five to ten years. Yet nearly eighty percent have no formal plan in place. Succession plans start with communication and participation of the next generation. Hear from presenters that have lived the unique family business life through different circumstances and meet those of next generations from the central Okanagan.

The evening presentation takes place at the Elk's hall on Springfield Road on February 7th at 7 PM. Registration and information available through Carolyn Reimer at [email protected] or by contacting CAFE Okanagan President Kevin Wostradowski at [email protected] or 250-765-1326. 


This week the penny coin died although it will be around for a long time. Do you remember the big penny we had when we were kids? It was bigger than today’s quarter and my grandmother seemed to have a stash of them and when you did something for her she would reward you with a couple of these big pennies. I used to keep mine in a special place. They might still be there.

I wonder what they are worth today?


I phoned my cable supplier Shaw Cable and spoke with a young man and explained that I was watching a sports show on 224 and it was breaking up and had been doing that for two hours. He said that I should unhook the TV from the wall and stick my finger in the hole - that would ground the set.  Of course I replied, stick my finger in? I thanked him and went back to the terrible reception which was cleaned up in ten minutes. Now I suspect that somebody did something!


While I was watching the Super Bowl I was thinking to myself about the commercials I had seen already and I wasn‘t too impressed with this year's offering. Some were down right bad. Then near the end of the game came a commercial that featured Paul Harvey in an excerpt from his daily news radio show “The Rest Of The Story.”  This show was broadcast on ABC radio news network every noon hour. I believe one of the stations here actually carried it a few years back. It was his voice that stopped me cold and I wanted my readers to at least read the content of the piece. In the end we found out the two minute commercial sponsored Dodge Ram trucks. It was so beautifully done.

Here is the original script from Paul Harvey’s 1978 show. Chrysler had the inspired idea to make two minutes of his speech from the 1978 Future Farmers of America convention into the soundtrack for an ad for the Ram truck while supporting still photos of American farm life scrolled on the screen.

“And on the 8th day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, "I need a caretaker." So God made a farmer.

"God said, "I need somebody willing to get up before dawn, milk cows, work all day in the fields, milk cows again, eat supper and then go to town and stay past midnight at a meeting of the school board." So God made a farmer.

"I need somebody with arms strong enough to rustle a calf and yet gentle enough to deliver his own grandchild. Somebody to call hogs, tame cantankerous machinery, come home hungry, have to wait lunch until his wife's done feeding visiting ladies and tell the ladies to be sure and come back real soon -- and mean it." So God made a farmer.

"God said, "I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a newborn colt. And watch it die. Then dry his eyes and say, 'Maybe next year.' I need somebody who can shape an axe handle from a persimmon sprout, shoe a horse with a hunk of car tire, who can make harness out of haywire, feed sacks and shoe scraps. And who, planting time and harvest season, will finish his forty-hour week by Tuesday noon, then, pain'n from 'tractor back,' put in another seventy-two hours." So God made a farmer.

"God had to have somebody willing to ride the ruts at double speed to get the hay in ahead of the rain clouds and yet stop in mid-field and race to help when he sees the first smoke from a neighbor's place. So God made a farmer.

"God said, "I need somebody strong enough to clear trees and heave bails, yet gentle enough to tame lambs and wean pigs and tend the pink-combed pullets, who will stop his mower for an hour to splint the broken leg of a meadow lark. It had to be somebody who'd plow deep and straight and not cut corners. Somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed and rake and disc and plow and plant and tie the fleece and strain the milk and replenish the self-feeder and finish a hard week's work with a five-mile drive to church.

"Somebody who'd bale a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh and then sigh, and then reply, with smiling eyes, when his son says he wants to spend his life 'doing what dad does.'" So God made a farmer."

It was a beautiful thing Chrysler did and our hats go of to them.

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