Food Thoughts

Creating Meaningful Social Media Connections

Creating Meaningful Social Media Connections

March 2020

By Jae Doncillo & Robert Raymond

Let’s face it, when students are not happy with food service and quality in their café, they are going to tell the world, and so they should.  This action has provided the basis for how Dana Hospitality was able to seize several key opportunities to step-in and overhaul higher education dining rooms across Canada in recent years.  After all, transforming the food service experience, every day, is our brand belief and corporate reason for being.

People, Personality & Process provides the framework for how onsite culinary teams have delivered our Scratch, Fresh, Local brand messages in platforms that today’s students want to communicate through.  Connecting students to culinary teams helps build trusted relationships.  Adding personality captures the fun everyone can have with great food, and process brings the education element together so students can see “behind the scenes”, watch and participate in “buttery talks” as well as ask questions and get real answers.

As each semester and school year brings in new students, our on-site social media experts refresh their promotional programs with topics that are relevant and specific to each school.  While the content created for schools is different for business cafés, it is clear that posting frequently and consistently using topics and promotions are key to attracting robust engagement rates.

Insights and Trends for 2020:

1. Education will continue to be the highest performing on social media, however this will become more prolific in business cafes in 2020

2. While Community Messaging will work at places that have a residence hall or AYCTE (all you care to eat) setting, it is clear that shareable giveaways are very popular on Social Media as a way of driving traffic

3. It is clear that treating various social media platforms as a way to interact with our consumers allows their feedback to translate into our offerings



   Will you take the 2020 challenge?

January 2020, Robert Raymond

Did you know that you can try a complimentary soup sample in your café?

If you haven’t already, then we invite you to discover why our culinary teams are so proud of our scratch-made soups.

The soups enjoyed in our cafés are cooked from scratch onsite, in each kitchen every day.  What we do isn’t the traditional industry practice of opening a can and heating it up, not at all.  Our approach empowers Chefs to prepare fresh ingredients for scratch soups.  This may seem like a small thing, but it actually says everything about how our culinary culture puts in the time and effort to provide guests with great tasting soups and entrées in over 160 cafés across Canada.

Why do scratch prepared soups make a difference?

Because your Chef can source seasonally fresh, locally farmed ingredients you benefit from a variety of soups to satisfy everyone, from traditional favourites to Vegetarian and Vegan options.

Go ahead and “salt to taste”.  We lower the sodium in soup offerings in one of two ways.  Wherever space and equipment restrictions allow, our Chefs will prepare stocks (or soup broth) from scratch by roasting beef or chicken bones onsite so they directly control the amount of added salt used for taste, and can avoid adding extra as a preservative since it is being served that same day. Other kitchens have the ability to use low-sodium soup bases for soups and sauces.  In all cases, we allow guests the choice to add more salt as they feel necessary.

Another benefit is allergen awareness.  Since your Chef knows exactly what seasonings and ingredients go in to each soup, they can help answer any questions you may have without having to run to the fridge to look at packaging.

Your culinary team is listening.  Since your Chef creates a custom menu this week, for next week, if you have any feedback or preferences, please speak to your Chef.

So, what is this 2020 challenge?  Sample 20 of our scratch made soups in the first 20 days of the New Year, and tell us what you think in a short survey open until February 1, 2020.  Three lucky entries will be randomly drawn to WIN a free cup of SOUP for a month! (Limit 1/day).

Survey Link:

Don’t forget to try a free sample of the soup today.  A lot of love goes into every bowl.


Bowls are highly popular in many restaurants because they are flavourful, satisfying and nutritious.  In our cafés, a complete bowl includes a whole grain with a veggie base, topped with fresh vegetables or fruit, and guests have a choice of protein and a drizzle of sauce or dressing.  Bowls showcase a variety of dynamic colours that look beautiful and visually engage the eyes creating the WOW factor, and we all know we “eat with our eyes” first.

In bowls, plants are the star, so we encourage all Chefs to let them shine by changing the ingredients and flavour profile to showcase local seasonal vegetables and global flavours each season while adding scratch prepared choices that appeal to all guest preferences.

Bowls give guests the ability to personalize their meal and they also give our culinary teams the opportunity to be creative while controlling food costs by using expensive ingredients as a topping or garnish rather than the main ingredient in the centre of a plate.

Looking for a BOWL recipe that you can try in our café, or at home?

Visit to find new recipes loaded monthly.

Some recipes include:

• The Seedsation Bowl – great as either a Breakfast or Snack Bowl
• A POKE or a Deconstructed Sushi Bowl
• A Shawarma Spice Bowl


February 2020, Robert Raymond

As many guests look to the New Year for healthier eating choices, Dana Hospitality is proud to have joined the Half Your Plate program to bring enhanced personalization opportunities to our 160+ cafés across Canada.

The Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA) created the Half Your Plate campaign as a healthy living initiative developed to empower Canadians of all ages to eat more fruits and vegetables to help improve their health. The emphasis on filling half your plate with fruit and vegetables aligns well with the latest Canada Food Guide and their partners also include: the Canadian Cancer Society and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.

Half Your Plate provides simple tips on how to add fruit and vegetables to meals and snacks. The CPMA also offers a large recipe library for home cooks as part of their website

Since Dana Hospitality chefs and culinary teams cook from scratch every day and use fresh, locally sourced fruits and vegetables, we are well aligned with the Half Your Plate program. We create meals & snacks that make it easy to eat more fruit and vegetables every day. Our guests can look forward to more information to be shared throughout the year on our various in-café and social media marketing mediums.

Want to learn more this February?

Request any of the article PDFs below through this link:   

Articles Available:
• Stretch Your Produce Dollar
• Home Storage Guide for Fresh Fruit and Veggies
• Home Freezing Guide for Fresh Veggies and Fruit

Cooking At Home Tips & COVID-19 Resources

APRIL - Cooking At Home: Time and Money Saving Tips



Looking for more info?  Visit for practical tips, recipes, ideas, videos and more fruit and veggie inspiration.

Plus, the Dietitians of Canada share advice for the general public about COVID-19: