It’s Business As Usual

   

  It’s Business As Usual At The Historic Old Mill Toronto
Now Under New Ownership

After 24 years owning and operating the century-old landmark Old Mill Toronto, Lark Hospitality President Michael Kalmar has announced sale of the iconic restaurant, hotel and banquet complex to a respected asset and property management group directed by Frank De Luca, long-time resident of Etobicoke.

Expressing mixed emotions at now “ending this chapter in the century-long ancestry of the Old Mill Toronto”, Kalmar cited “three distinctive elements functioning in harmonious collaboration over the past hundred years to bring this cherished aspect of our city’s cultural life to the international prominence it enjoys today:

“At the forefront were the visionaries, risk-takers, and entrepreneurs who guided growth and transformation of the ever- evolving complex throughout its existence – founder Robert Home Smith, followed by the dynamic William Hodgson, and latterly, George and Michael Kalmar, the father/son team who orchestrated the addition of a boutique hotel and spa in 2001, and established the Home Smith Bar which has become one of the city’s most popular jazz venues.

“Of primary importance, too, has been the generations of dedicated staff who have personified the value and importance of customer service as a guiding principle of Old Mill policies from our earliest beginnings.  And our loyal customers, a multi-generational roster who have enjoyed, and helped create the century of memorable experiences that enrich our history.”

Commenting on acquisition of the Old Mill Toronto and plans for its continuing operations,  principal Frank De Luca affirmed that it will be a “seamless transition”.  It will continue to be operated with respect for the establishment’s colorful heritage and a commitment to maintaining  the integrity of its current standing in the local, national, and global communities.  The vision for the future will reflect its celebrated history as a centre for the community.

For The Old Mill Toronto, contact:

Natalie Bauer – natalie.bauer@oldmilltoronto.ca      

Adam De Luca – adam.deluca@oldmilltoronto.ca



Let It Be GREEN

Let it be, let it be
Let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

Hotel guests of today are far more likely to be concerned about environmental issues such as recycling bottles, cans and paper at home as well as making greener lifestyle choices, such as organic food or fuel-efficient vehicles. As such, traveller’s today are concerned if their hotel is committed to environmental sustainability because travelling for leisure or business doesn’t mean we have to leave our green habits at home.

A “GREEN” hotel is an environmentally friendly property that take the initiative to implement very important practices and programs to reduce energy, water and waste. Hotels use an enormous amount of energy, collect an enormous amount of waste, and use a tremendous amount of water, it’s important that hotels embrace going GREEN and reduce the impact on our planet.

Ideas for going GREEN

Install thermostats & heating/air conditioning controllers in each room

Use non-toxic, earth friendly cleaning agents

Start a linen, towels and sheets, reuse program in all guest rooms

Implement fluorescent lighting. Use sensors /timers in frequently used areas

Switch to low flow toilets

Use low flow shower heads in guest rooms

Provide guests with bicycles, walking maps, information on public transportation

Apply window tint/film to reduce heating and air-conditioning demands in rooms

Educate staff & guests about going GREEN with brochures or signs for guests to follow

Use bulk soaps and toiletries (refillable dispensers)

Recycling baskets in all guest rooms, recycling bins in all public areas & back of house

Purchase Local Products 

Reduce food waste disposal

Implementing programs that involve management, employees, guests and the public to teach and encourage them to protect the environment and keep energy consumption to a minimum, hotels should create a ‘green team’ with the goal of continual improvement and scheduled re-evaluation and reporting.

The Old Mill Toronto has shown national industry leadership and commitment to protecting the environment through wide ranging policies & practices. We participate with the Green Key Eco-Rating program which is a rating system designed to recognize hotels for improving their environmental performance.



Valentine’s Day

Every year on February 14th, we exchange cards, candy, gifts or flowers with our special “valentine” all in the name of St. Valentine. But who is this mysterious saint and where did this tradition come from.

The day of romance we call Valentine’s Day is named for a Christian martyr and dates back to the 5th century, but has origins in the ancient Roman holiday Lupercalia, where young men randomly chose the name of a young girl to escort to the festivities. Pope Gelasius I recast this pagan festival as a Christian feast day circa 496, declaring February 14 to be St. Valentine’s Day.

The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

Another legend has it that Valentine, imprisoned by Claudius, fell in love with the daughter of his jailer. Before he was executed, he allegedly sent her a letter signed “from your Valentine.” an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories all emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and–most importantly–romantic figure.

In addition to the United States, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France and Australia. In Great Britain, Valentine’s Day began to be popularly celebrated around the 17th century. By the middle of the 18th, it was common for friends and lovers of all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes. 

In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland began selling the first mass-produced valentines in America. Howland, known as the “Mother of the Valentine,” made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures known as “scrap.” Today, according to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year.

This year why not make a special hand-made Valentines Day Card for your Valentine.





Baby Shower Planning

Traditionally baby showers are given for the families first child and only women were invited to “shower” the mother to be with gifts, celebrate new life and share their wisdom and knowledge of becoming a mother.  It was also considered that someone who is not a family member should throw the shower to avoid having it look like the family was asking for gifts.

Today anything goes and traditional rules are not followed as any relative, close friend, close co worker can plan an amazing baby shower both before or after the baby arrives, typically the last two months of pregnancy. And, although baby showers are predominantly still “for women only” holding a shower for both men and women is becoming more popular especially when it’s for the 2nd child.

When setting a date for the shower you should check with grand parents or other guests of honour to make sure they are available. It wouldn’t be good to send out invitations only to find that the most important guests can’t attend. Invitations should be sent at least 3 weeks in advance to an intimate number of friends and family.

Baby shower themes can also be great fun and sometimes helps to organize the party preparations, but are not necessary.  What about a tea party? Fancy table cloths, tea pots, plates and cups. Serve assorted teas, scones with clotted cream and jam, finger sandwiches etc. You can even theme your tea party; everything to do with pink or blue, of course that can only be done when you know what the mom to be is expecting.

Throw a long leisurely baby brunch shower! or how about breaking tradition and having a “Mommy Shower”. Instead of guests bringing baby gifts, everyone brings something to pamper the mommy, like chocolate, bubble bath, gift certificates for take out food, spa services, comfy clothes etc. If you opt not to have a theme, a simple, elegant bright decor with flowers are most appropriate, remember all eyes will be on the belly of the mom to be, so keep the decor simple and to a minimum.

Serving food at the shower is always easiest as a buffet. Serving finger foods allows your guests to try something different and by spreading small bowls around the party, allows guests to also mingle by moving around the room.  Keep food light and simple by serving such items as a veggie tray, fruit tray, keish, sandwiches, cheese & crackers, salads, deviled eggs, buns & cold cuts and lets not forget cute cupcakes. There is also no shame in pot-luck either!

Gift opening is the main event but baby shower games and prizes are always a fun way to create atmosphere and there are many games to choose from.  One unique idea referred to as “Diaper Extraordinaire” is simply putting together a gift basket filled with items like a bottle of wine and glasses, cheese and crackers, wine opener etc. and on your invitations write that there will be a draw for a gift basket that anyone would love. The price of a ticket is one small pack of diapers & wipes. Guests can enter as many times as they want. The lucky winner goes home with a beautiful basket while the mom to be will have a lot of  diapers that can be quite expensive.

When deciding on a gift sometimes practical versus cute for example can be the most invaluable.  Perhaps a group gift for those big-ticket items is the way to go – a stroller, car seat, portable crib, items that will endear you to the parents on a daily basis. Of course everyone wants to ooh and ahh at all the cute little outfits, blankets and booties. 

Send your guests home with a simple party favour. Perhaps something edible, like wrapped home made cookies or a boxed cup cake, a sweet ending to a beautiful shower and it’s a nice way for you to say “Thank you for coming”.

 



Old Mill Marks Centennial With New TTC Subway Sign

Old Mill marks centennial, honours area history with new TTC subway sign
TTC, MPP-elect Peter Milczyn partner on pictoral tribute

 

The Old Mill has made a name for itself over the past century as a place to celebrate milestone events, share family dinners and partake in afternoon tea.

It has become a fixture on the bank of the Humber River and cemented itself in Toronto residents’ family histories. While many people know of the Old Mill, fewer are familiar with its heritage, said its president Michael Kalmar.

“The story of the Old Mill is a wonderful story; it’s a good news story,” said Kalmar at a special reception to commemorate the centennial of the Old Mill, established Aug. 4, 1914.

In partnership with the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) and with support from former Etobicoke-Lakeshore councillor and Liberal MPP-elect Peter Milczyn, The Old Mill unveiled a pictoral tribute to the early history of the Humber Valley and Kingsway area at the Old Mill subway station.

“What’s the tie in between the Old Mill and the TTC? Both are important conduits to the area,” said Kalmar during the afternoon reception Wednesday, June 18 that brought together decades-long staff members for the centennial event.

The new signage, permanently installed on walls of the east and westbound platforms of the Old Mill subway station, incorporates rare historic photographs and drawings that date back to the 1600s when Huron Indians made their homes on the banks of the Humber River to the early 1900s through the First World War and the Depression era.

“A picture tells a 1,000 words,” said Kalmar, who pointed out the Old Mill got its start as a community centre. Its founder, Robert Home Smith, who built the surrounding neighbourhoods, wanted a place where everyone in the community could come and socialize. Long before the invention of social media or the television, the Old Mill was where residents came to share news of the day, to be entertained and have afternoon tea, Kalmar said.

“Really, we’re just custodians of a wonderful tradition that we have to make sure carries on,” he said.

Natalie Bauer, director of marketing and events at the Old Mill, chose the photos that make up the words ‘Old Mill’ at its namesake subway station. She said with each letter, she wanted to tell a story. She began with photographs of the Huron Indians living along the river. She called the project “a great experience.”

The TTC’s Chief Customer Officer Chris Upfold said a project such as this one helps the transit commission create links to the communities it serves.

“This is a great thing for our customers, a great thing for the TTC. We’re excited to be a part of it,” he said.

Milczyn said the project creates a “link between a local institution, our community and the transit system, the very lifeblood of our city.”

Speaking to the staff, Milczyn thanked them for their “contribution to so many special events in people’s lives,” including his own wedding.

“The Old Mill has a special place in my heart and many people’s hearts,” he said.

 

Staff photo/MARY GAUDET

Employees of the Old Mill, each with decades of service to the company, gather around the new sign for Old Mill Station. The TTC and the Old Mill collaborated on the project that uses photographs from the 100 year history of the Old Mill and area to spell out the subway stop.

For further information about the Old Mill’s centennial, visit Centennial Celebrations

Story  By Lisa Rainford / Bloor West Villager