Will Niagara Bounce Back in 2023? – The Road to Recovery and an Unwavering Passion for Niagara

While our community has seen Niagara businesses struggle, adapt and pivot many times in recent years, one question dominates conversations with owners and staff alike: What can we expect in 2023?


With your help, hundreds of restaurants continued to have an engaged audience during tough times and Niagarans have really put their full weight behind #supportlocal when it was most needed.


When we look back, 2022 was yet another year filled with adjusting to new realities of closures, openings, and staff shortages. With the main tourism season ahead of us in one of the world’s most popular destinations, we wanted to know what we should expect:


April Brunet – Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Lais Hotel Properties Ltd in Niagara-on-the-Lake, says that “the first quarter of the fiscal year has some softer periods in the leisure sector, no doubt from messaging in the news around recession, rising costs for households and some shifts back to traveling to southern destinations.”



“However, we remain cautiously optimistic overall.  It’s wonderful to see the small meetings market returning consistently, and the weddings market remain strong this year.  Overall, we anticipate a year of stabilization”, Brunet adds.


The economy and news around it are definitely something that’s on everybody’s mind, but there were also other factors slowing the return of big numbers of tourists in 2022 that we will not have to worry about this year.


“I’m expecting great things!  In 2022 domestic tourism largely returned to pre-pandemic numbers, while international visitation lagged behind at half, because of the still existing ArriveCan app at that time.  Now that it’s been removed, I expect international visitation to approach pre-pandemic numbers, and snap back like a rubber band!  With the favourable exchange rate, American visitor travel to Canada should get a boost!” says Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati.


It seems that to date the region’s biggest driver for visitor numbers still are and will remain the Greater Toronto and Hamilton areas.


At Niagara Falls’ Greg Frewin theatre, which caters to a lot of groups along with individual visitors, Alanna Frewin says they are still seeing most of their visitors arriving from Toronto and southern Ontario.  “There seems to be a slow return of our US visitors, however, this is still very small. Our tour bus and group market is getting back into the swing of things and by fall should be laying the ground work for redeveloping these markets to their more robust fullness of previous years”, Frewin adds.


While it is widely expected that the Ontario tourism sector won’t fully recover to pre-pandemic levels until 2025, the Niagara region is not just sitting back and waiting until the tides turn in our favour. There are a lot of new things to discover for visitors and locals alike.


Niagara Parks Power Station & The Tunnel – Source: niagaraparks.com

Mayor Jim Diodati points out that “the new Niagara Parks Power Station is definitely going to be a new highlight.  That, along with the OLG Stage will be two huge new offerings for our guests and will keep people wanting more.  The exciting thing is that there’s always something new to come and explore here!”



At Greg Frewin Vegas-style theatre a new show at night is complimented by a show during the day that is familiar to most people who have ever visited the Falls: “We have developed a new show staring Christian Mascia who is a very talented magician Greg has been mentoring.  We’ve also partnered with Niagara Adventure Theatre (formerly IMAX) who is presenting their Niagara Falls adventure movie in our theatre during the day”, says Alanna Frewin.


The Gardens at Pillar and Post in Niagara-on-the-Lake
The Gardens by Vintage Hotels – Source: Vintage-Hotels.com

If you are looking to escape to Niagara Wine Country and spending some time in the Old Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, you’ll definitely want to take a stroll through the newest addition to the Vintage Hotel (VH) properties: “The Gardens [located across from the Pillar & Post] is a great example of how VH embraced adopting new experiences. The Gardens and the Ice Rink provide our guests a full season of options to enjoy while visiting.  We’ve created signature events and packaging that enable our guests to enjoy the great outdoors while savouring unique offerings from our culinary team and wine partners within the community”, states April Brunet.


Experience driven tourism is a very strong trend for travellers these days and Niagara is well positioned to get us back to where we need to be.  As Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodiati puts it: “People love experiential tourism and one of a kind unique experiences.  They love to eat and drink where the locals eat and drink. […] I think local restaurants should keep their focus on what they do best, their unique offerings.  Our local establishments put their heart and soul into their food and service offerings.  That’s what elevates a really special place and puts it on the map.”


“A location’s reputation is its secret sales agent that never sleeps.  We have so many of these unique and special locations in our community just waiting for the curious traveler to discover!”


Mr. Mayor, we could not agree more! We are excited about the opportunities that this season holds and for the path forward to an even stronger Niagara as a “have to visit” destination.


Make sure to check out all the great restaurants, wineries, and more on WhenInNiagara.com and create your itinerary for your next exciting visit.



Unleashing The Full Potential Of Ontario Wine Country – An Economic Driver For Niagara And Beyond

Ontario winemakers and grape growers see a future where their products will be the leading choice among wine consumers in this province, with more than three million tourists visiting Ontario’s wine regions each year to enjoy world class wines and hospitality.



Ontario’s VQA Wine and Grape Industry’s newly released 2030 Vision anticipates substantial growth in this important sector of the provincial economy, fuelling increases in investment, market share, jobs and related tourism.



“The growing recognition of the quality of Ontario VQA wines, the excellence of our wine country tourism experiences and the opportunities for growth will combine to take our world class industry to another level, with premium wine at the centre of a thriving economy and culture,” said Del Rollo, Chair of Wine Growers Ontario.



Among the projected growth targets within the next seven years, the 2030 Vision foresees:


  • More than 40,000 direct and indirect jobs in Ontario’s grape and wine production, tourism and hospitality sectors;
  • Annual Ontario VQA wine sales of more than half a billion dollars (up from $385 million per year currently), with all-channel share of Ontario’s wine market growing by 20 per cent (from current 13 per cent);
  • Three million annual visitors to Ontario’s wine regions (up from 2.6 million today);
  • A 75 per cent increase in capital investment by Ontario wine producers, with 4 million new vines planted over 20,000 acres.


“Are these ambitious goals? They are, but they are absolutely achievable,” said Carolyn Hurst, Chair of Ontario Craft Wineries. “To get there, we need to come together – the grape and wine industry, our culinary and hospitality partners, and government.”





Our wine industry contributes $5.5 billion annually to the province’s economy. In 2019, 22,000 full time equivalent jobs were supported in the agriculture, food and beverage, hospitality, tourism, education and research sectors.



With the increase of the #supportlocal and #drinklocal movements over the last few years, we can see a growing appetite and understanding for the amazing wines that are produced in our own backyard. And, in a lot of cases at a fantastic value compared to equally priced wines from around the world.



Don’t believe it? Haven’t tried enough? Curious consumers will, for now, have to venture beyond the limited selection available on liquor store shelves and engage with wineries or their agents directly.







Husband and wife team, Carl and Mira Boucher of Carl’s Wine Club, based in British Columbia, have done exactly that and made it their mission to bring wines from across Canada to more Canadian consumers. For the past three years they have tasted thousands of Canadian wines, and are offering their top scoring selections to winelovers across the country. Their journey into the depth of the Canadian wine industry is a testament to how many world class wines are being produced across the country and specifically right here in Niagara. Most of these products might never by discovered by the casual wine drinker as access to market is still very limited for Canadian wineries. If you are curious about what you have been missing out on, make sure to follow them on social media and join their live Wine Wednesday broadcasts. Carl & Mira engage with winery owners and winemakers from across Niagara and the rest of Canada and give you an opportunity to get involved in the conversation.



Exciting times are ahead for the wine, food, and wine tourism industry in Niagara and we are excited to connect you with all of it through our website www.WhenInNiagara.com, directory, and blog.




It’s National Pizza Day… Celebrate With These Local Pizza Joints & Niagara Wine Pairings!


Niagara is renowned for its delicious, and uniquely made pizza! The area is home to a variety of excellent pizzerias and restaurants that serve up some truly mouth-watering pies. Whether you’re looking to celebrate National Pizza Day or for some pie to enjoy during the Super Bowl this weekend, we guarantee you can find the perfect pizza and local wine pairing here in Niagara.


New to pairing wine with your pizza? The marriage of the two flavours is a perfect balance of sweet and savoury, with the acidity of the wine cutting through the richness of the pizza. Not only is the flavour combination of wine and pizza delicious, but they can also both be enjoyed with a variety of different toppings, flavours, and occasions






Hosting A Pizza Party With Great Wine And Great Company!


Hosting a pizza party is always a great way to get together with friends and family and enjoy some delicious food. Whether it be a special occasion, or just an excuse to get together, ordering from these local-favourite pizzerias will make the party extra special, and don’t forget to pair your meal with a nice bottle of local wine.






If you’re going for a classic crowd-pleasing pepperoni pizza, RT Pizza in Niagara Falls has been know for their “Niagara-Style” party tray pizzas. Locals can’t seem to get enough of their delicious pies, big chicken wings, and reasonable prices. To pair with this meaty pepperoni pizza, enjoy it with a delicious bottle of medium-bodied red wine, like the Burnt Ship Bay Cabernet Merlot, which is the perfect house wine that will have all your guests going in for a second (and maybe third) glass!


You Had Me At Pizza in Grimsby, is another amazing pizza place that serves up some of the best New York Style pies in the Niagara Region. They offer a variety of topping combinations, from “tragically Canadian” to more unique items like the dill pickle and magic mushroom options. All pizzas are also available in calzones and Detroit Style for those guests who want something different! If you’re looking for a unique and delicious pizza experience, You Had Me At Pizza is the place to go.





The Perfect Dine-In Pizza Experience (Super Bowl Ready!)


Although Niagara is filled with delicious take-out style pizzerias, there’s always an occasion where you’re looking to enjoy some pizza at a local dine-in restaurant. Skip the mess and visit one of those top-rated local spots.


If you’re venturing out from the classics when it comes to toppings, we recommend giving Zappi’s Pizzeria a visit. A staple in the Niagara Pizza Scene, Zappi’s is known for their delicious topping selections, pizza combinations, and great dine-in atmosphere. With a wide-selection of local beverages and wines to choose from, Zappi’s will not disappoint despite the occasion!






Handle Bar Hanksin Welland is the perfect sports bar to sit back, enjoy some delicious pizza and wings, and watch the upcoming game, including the Super Bowl this weekend. Their classic 8 inch and 12 inch pizzas are cooked to perfection, with a variety of toppings and pre-set combinations, we promise there is a pizza for everyone there. With a variety of original beverages, great food, and fun atmosphere, you’ll find yourself becoming a “Hanks Regular” in no time.




The D.I.Y Pizza Connoisseurs


Making pizza at home with family or friends can be a great way to have fun, spend time together, and enjoy a delicious home-made meal. Whether you’re making a classic cheese pizza or getting creative with your toppings, it’s always a great experience.


From picking out the ingredients to rolling out the dough, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in the process of making your favourite pie at home. If you haven’t tried it yet, a locally made sauce called Aldo’s Pizza Pie Sauce have been all the rage! Now available in over 16 locations across Niagara, their delicious blend of ingredients makes for the perfectly balanced sauce, guaranteed for any home-cook to love.


Another great benefit to a D.I.Y pizza night is the option to pair your custom za’ with locally crafted beverages. Change things up with a delicious white sauce pizza and caramelized onions, to pair, we recommend a medium bodied white wine, such as the Bella Terra Chardonnay. So next time you’re looking for a fun activity, especially one that pairs well with our local beverages, why not try making pizza at home!



It’s safe to say, that when it comes to delicious pizza (in all types of forms), Niagara is the place to be to really enjoy a classic pie. From New York Style to Niagara Style, there will always be a delicious pizza and a local wine to pair with your name on it.



The Perfect Valentine’s Day Date Night in Niagara

Niagara is a great place to experience a romantic date night. There are so many activities to choose from and delicious restaurants to dine at. For a fun and adventurous date night, you can visit The Tunnel at the Niagara Falls Power Station, take a wine tour of the Niagara wineries, or experience the magic of the Niagara Falls Illumination lights.


But, when it comes to restaurants, Niagara takes gold for having a local-favourite spot for every type of date night. Whether you’re looking for an intimate romantic dinner, a casual night out, or an adventurous excursion, Niagara has the right destination for it.







The Full Date Night Experience… Dinner, Drinks & Entertainment


Parkway Social in St. Catharines, is the perfect spot for a fun night out with your partner. Whether you’re looking for an exciting game of bowling, some classic arcade games, or a thrilling round of laser tag, Parkway Social has it all! Not to mention their amazing food and drinks menu (all available to be severed to you while bowling), including a wide variety of cocktails, beers, and other beverages. Plus, their friendly and knowledgeable staff will make sure you have an enjoyable experience.


If you’re looking for the perfect date night with dinner and a show, look no further than the Greg Frewin Theatre for a variety of captivating shows in Niagara Falls. Before the show, take advantage of their new dinner buffet made by their culinary team, or even order a la carte from the appetizer menu to share! Enjoy a drink with full bar service available as you sit back and watch the magic! This is an evening you won’t forget, and the illusions may even leave you and your valentine scratching your head!





The Perfect Romantic Date Night… Great Food, Great Company, and Great Wine


A true romantic dinner is a classic occurrence for Valentine’s Day celebrators, and Valley’s Restaurant in St.Catharines, is one of the top places to be! Valleys specializes in freshly made Italian-inspired dishes, from homemade pastas to delicious eggplant parmesan. Their extensive wine list features selections from the Niagara Region and all the way to Italy. The atmosphere is warm and inviting, as well as their staff will make you feel right at home. 


Casa Toscana is an absolute gem! Located in the heart of downtown Grimsby, it is the perfect spot to enjoy an intimate dinner, with amazing food. Their authentic Extra Virgin Organic Olive Oil is sourced from their own farms in Tuscany and can be refilled in jars on your way out! Their coffee, pastries and gelato for dessert are the perfect way to finish off a delicious meal. If you’re looking for quality food, a great atmosphere and a unique experience, Casa Toscana is the place to be!




The Perfect Casual Night… An Amazing First Date Atmosphere


If you’re looking for a laid-back, casual atmosphere for a date night, M.T Bellies located in Welland is the perfect spot for you! With a wide selection of drinks, and a variety of classic dishes, there truly is something for everyone. The welcoming mood makes it a great place to relax and enjoy a meal, so if you’re looking for a nice restaurant to grab a bite to eat and enjoy some treats, M.T Bellies is a must-try!


The District Tapas and Bar, located in the heart of St.Catharines on St. Paul Street is cooking up a flavour packed menu of their take on tapas! Serving mouth-watering tapas-style dishes such as chicken and pancakes, avocado bruschetta, and duck confit tacos, this location is the perfect place to bring your date and enjoy a wide-variety of sharable plates and unique cocktails. In addition to their tapas and delicious menu, their music, decor, and laid-back atmosphere is guaranteed to leave you and your company already planning their next visit.




No matter what type of date night you’re looking for, Niagara has the perfect restaurant for it.



Let Vintage Hotels Weddings Craft Your Perfect Niagara Wedding

Author: Don Fraser



Couples over generations have gathered to say ‘I do’ in Niagara style, in a romantic tradition known worldwide.



Few places, anywhere, compare to the region for its breathtaking views, embraced by a culture highlighted by superior local wines, produce, cuisine and entertainment. Vintage Hotels Weddings has a straightforward philosophy in planning these unforgettable experiences for wedding celebrants: “If you can dream it, we can create it.”



Its properties are first-class and perfect for ceremonies and receptions, in a portfolio that includes luxurious ballrooms to Monet-inspired water gardens, award-winning winery partners, plus an in-house florist and décor specialist to complete the experience.





“We provide so many wedding options for couples wishing to make that day memorable and true to them,” says Alex Blackadder, marketing manager for Vintage Hotels.



“Our mission has always been, exceptional individuals delivering exceptional experiences — and here, we are continuing that tradition.”



Those special nuptials, organized by the experienced Vintage Hotels Weddings team, could range from an intimate winery gathering for 15 — to a classy occasion accommodating 300 guests.






Flagship properties making the ‘I do’ come true, include Prince of Wales, Queen’s Landing and the Pillar and Post in Niagara-on-the-Lake — as well as Inn on The Twenty in Jordan. Other gorgeous, wedding-focussed winery venues are offered by your Vintage Weddings planner.



“Our Niagara winery partnerships started with Chateau des Charmes and Cave Spring Vineyard and it has expanded from there,” Blackadder explained. “The new sites including Bella Terra Vineyards, Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery and The Hare Wine Co. have extended the Vintage Hotels Wedding brand, by adding to our high-level of service and cuisine offerings. These wineries have created lovely and unique wedding venues for our clients.”





These winery options for couples might include exchanging exchange vows in a rustic barn setting, to tying the knot alongside friends and family in a rolling Chardonnay vineyard. “And it you want to get married in a stunning ballroom, of course we can arrange that,” said Blackadder. “Whatever the preference, we can create it for you.



“With all this choice, leave it to us to ensure your wedding is spectacular!”



Start planning your dream wedding with Vintage Hotels, visit www.vintage-hotels.com to explore their fairy tale wedding venue collection or contact one of their planners at weddingsales@vintage-hotels.com



Icewine Events Guaranteed To Satisfy Any Sweet-Tooth


As we enter into the 2023 Icewine Season, it is officially the best time to explore Niagara-on-the-Lake and take part in some of the wonderful Icewine themed events Wine Country has to offer. And don’t forget to share this article with your favourite Sweet-Tooth to start planning your perfect Niagara Icewine adventure today!



Explore Vintage Hotels Icewine Village & Plan Your Getaway



Being able to experience a variety of local Icewine all in one place has given Vintage Hotel’s Icewine Village the title of local favourite! And it doesn’t end there… While also hosting festivities such as ice skating and chestnut roasts, the Icewine Village and Vintage Hotels properties are the perfect place to spend the weekend away. Whether you wish to relax while sipping on delicious Icewine, or want to experience all that Niagara-on-the-Lake has to offer, their properties and curated packages make booking your experience as smooth as possible.





Planning a visit? You can now treat yourself to a “sweet” weekend away with their Icewine Lover’s Getaway Package! This package includes a delicious Icewine Martini, served alongside a charcuterie board in the Prince of Wales lounge. After you’ve had your fill of the Icewine festivities, spend the night relaxing in one of their guest-rooms and enjoy it’s elegant vintage décor, while experiencing the royal treatment their properties have to offer.



Discover more of Vintage Hotels Icewine Festivities and Book Your Getaway by Clicking Here.






The Popular Taste of Bella Terra – Icewine Celebration is Back!



Back by popular demand, Bella Terra Vineyards in Niagara-on-the-Lake is hosting their Icewine pairing every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from January 13th until January 29th. You won’t want to miss out on trying three delicious Japanese Cheesecakes prepared by their Estate Chef, to kick-off the 2023 Icewine Season.



This event is a wonderful opportunity to experience the unique taste of three different Icewine’s and to expand your knowledge of the pairing and winemaking process. The Taste of Bella Terra Icewine Celebration is sure to be an enjoyable and tasty experience for every sweet-tooth out there!



Book your reservations fast, this event SOLD OUT last year… Plus receive 15% off your booking by using the code “ICEWINE29” at checkout! Book now by Clicking Here!





The Annual Niagara Icewine Festival, Gala, & Discovery Pass



The Niagara Icewine Festival is an incredible experience for all locals and travellers who are looking to explore over 20 of Niagara’s Wineries and participating partners!



Each pass includes six Icewine and culinary experiences, you’ll have access to endless options of either sweet, spicy or savoury pairings. Don’t miss out on a chance to experience a great way to explore the region and taste all that Niagara Icewine has to offer.







In addition to their Discovery Pass, the Niagara Icewine Festival also hosts an annual Cool As Ice, Icewine Gala. This event’s focus is Ontario’s signature flavours, showcasing them through Icewines, cocktails, and mocktails, and a selection of delicious farm-to-table courses. Don’t miss your chance to experience this event set within one of Niagara Falls’ newest attractions, the Niagara Parks Power Station.



Check out the details and start to discover a new favourite Icewine by Clicking Here.






If you’re looking to explore the beauty of Niagara this winter, why not make your stay as comfortable and luxurious as possible? With Niagara’s wide variety of cozy bed & breakfasts and hotels, you can enjoy the perfect blend of relaxation and adventure. And make sure to “wine down” with some of Niagara’s world renowned “liquid gold” or “nectar of the gods”, as the winemakers call Icewine.



A Tale of Closures, Challenges and New Beginnings in Niagara

2022 An Adrenalin Roller Coaster for the Restaurants of Niagara


As we find ourselves at the end of a year that many thought would bring the highly anticipated bounce back after the pandemic, we are faced with the reality that 2022 came with its own host of unique problems which continued to push everyone’s adrenaline output to a new level.


While increasing costs of pretty much everything started to have an impact on people’s spending habits, the restaurant industry was also hit with rising interest rates and debts, staff shortages and the leftovers of supply chain issues combined with the lack of US travelers due to travel restrictions in the first half of 2022.



Finding staff was not the biggest challenge for Sean and Leah Norman of Meltwich Food Co (Niagara Falls), but mounting costs and supply chain issues definitely were. “Our budget was based on opening our doors in September, but our equipment did not arrive until November while the bills kept coming”, says Sean Norman. When finally opening in December amongst ongoing restrictions, the Norman’s were excited to see how supportive their community was of their new venture. “I posted about our opening in the Restaurants of Niagara Facebook group, and I can say now for sure that this group has been integral to our success, especially in our first 4 months”, explains Norman.



Restaurants of Niagara Members witnessed closures throughout 2022


Just like the rest of Ontario, Niagara saw restaurants close their doors for good this year due to the current challenges and other personal or business reasons. Especially in the second half of the year, the closures started to add up with Bremfield’s Bakery & Café (Port Colborne), John’s Family Restaurant (NFLS), Carson’s Pub (St. Catharines), HillFire (Fonthill) and The Rib Crib & Smoke Shop (St. Catharines) joining the list of places Restaurant of Niagara members were sad to see go.


But don’t think for a minute that in 2022 the culinary scene in Niagara stopped evolving and growing. More places with exciting international flavours continue to join the scene, and established Niagara culinary veterans continue to invest in our region. Longtime residents and new Niagarans will not run out of new places to try for the foreseeable future! We’ll get to some examples shortly.



The takeout food scene in Niagara has seen a lot of changes


While at the beginning of the pandemic a lot of establishments were not set up for takeout, most have continued to offer it throughout 2022. The majority of restaurants now offer online ordering on their website or through third party apps. Both were not common here just 2 years ago!


We spoke with Tim Empringham of Dine Niagara, which according to their website “connects hungry Niagara residents to great local restaurants, without commissions, markups, and fees you’ll find in the other delivery apps!”. Empringham states that “Since the reopening of restaurants we have seen a noticeable decline in takeout volume, which has been further impacted by price increases and inflation pressures. But the one thing that does seem to remain is a keen awareness of the need to protect and support our local restaurants. Our customers are still choosing to order, where they can be sure, that their money goes to the restaurants, not commissions. That will likely be the lasting impact of the shutdowns […].”




And there are lots of new places to try and support in Niagara!


Here are just some of the new businesses to add to your “must try list”:


Niagara Falls: RT Pizza, WeinLokal, Hijabeez Shawarma & Falafel House, Flavors & Spices, Fork You – Peruvian Restaurant

St. Catharines: 1954 Bourbon & Smoke, The Course & the Club House, Khas Patti Pan Indian Cuisine

Niagara-on-the-Lake: Nolaa’s Gluten Free, Keto & Vegan Bakery & Restaurant

Ridgeway: Rizzo’s House of Parm

Port Colborne: Bambi’s Bistro

Welland: Asia Fusion



And more exciting openings are on the horizon for 2023!!


Aiming for a January opening, Industria Pizzeria + Bar will be adding their 5th Ontario location at the Pen Centre in St. Catharines.


“We are excited to be expanding our business to include Niagara. This region is growing so quickly; and with Brock University being so close, we are looking forward to opening our doors to families, students, and groups of friends!” “The Industria concept can best be described as a contemporary family style eatery with a focus on pizzas and pastas made fresh from scratch”, adds business partner John Pietrangelo, a Niagara resident and established entrepreneur.


While this article does not claim to be supplying a complete list of all closures, opening and re-openings (e.g. the recent highly anticipated reopening of Ma Chinese Cuisine in St. Catharines), one thing is for sure: the now over 70,000 member strong Restaurant of Niagara group will always contain the latest on these topics and a great way to interact with owners, managers and staff of our beloved restaurants, café, bakeries and more!





We invite you to follow our official Facebook Page @WhenInNiagara to get access to our latest blog posts and more Niagara hospitality news and join the conversation at Restaurants of Niagara.


The WhenInNiagara / Restaurants of Niagara team wishes you and yours a happy and healthy Holiday Season and a great start to 2023!




Downtown St. Catharines Businesses come together to let it glow this Holiday Season

This winter Downtown Businesses have been expressing their creativity in the form of Holiday Window Displays inspired by the City of St. Catharines’ Let It Glow – A Celebration of Light.


“The Let It Glow initiative has been great for the downtown community providing a month-long celebration of light and spectacular installations that make shopping and spending time downtown extra special and enjoyable during the holiday season,”  says Rachel Braithwaite, executive director of the St. Catharines Downtown Association.


“Downtown is one of the best places to find unique gifts and to meet up with friends and family over the holidays, seeing the number of businesses come together to help illuminate our streets shows what makes downtown so unique.”


Participating businesses were given only a string of lights to start and encouraged to find inspiration from the City’s Let It Glow installations throughout the core.



The community was invited to vote for their favourite windows in three categories, Most Creative, Most Elegant, and Best Overall. Voting closed Friday night with 4 businesses being chosen.


Most Creative – (tie) Wind Japanese and Thai & {pocket}CHANGE


Most Elegant – Pink Bubblegum Vintage


Best Overall – Archives Wine & Spirit Merchants



Robbie Raskin, the owner of Archives Wine & Spirit Merchants, said it’s been a thrill to win the best overall window for their ‘Christmas in the Neighbourhood’ display. “What made it extra special was that we had the chance to decorate with our customers earlier in the month, so we share the award with them.”



“It’s so great to be a part of the Downtown community,” he shared, “and to feel like we’re contributing to a sense of warmth and togetherness during the holidays.”


If you haven’t had a chance to see the displays yet, fret not!


Most businesses will be open throughout the holidays and the Let It Glow installations will remain in place until January 8th.


This Wednesday, December 21st will be a noteworthy time to visit as the James Street Market will be hosting a Shop Small Glow Up in which dozens of downtown businesses will be staying open late until 9 pm.


We invite you to come to check it out and take in the magic of  Downtown.




Breakfast is Served at Restaurants of Niagara

Author: Don Fraser


Restaurants of Niagara members have tasted, and spoken. Thousands are taking notes!


Close to 70,000 continually-engaged members are sharing on-point places to eat and drink in Niagara. This is your go-to site, and everything is on the table.


There are so many niches: Residents and travellers to this beautiful region love their breakfast corners, those reliable takeouts, scrumptious cabbage-rolls and idyllic places for groups to wine and dine at, to name but a few… it’s a cornucopia out there!


Meanwhile, the linked Facebook group “Restaurants of Niagara” by WhenInNiagara.com is swiftly approaching the 70,000-member mark.


There is nothing comparable for gastronomic advice and discoveries in the area, all provided by locals, visitors and business owners.


Here, we choose one of many appetizing public threads that caught our eye: That perfect breakfast or brunch, after a coffee and a yawn… with friends in mind, for a bite and some gossip.


Below is a short and random sample of your recommendations and restaurant-owner pitches, so bon appetit! To stay current on other places to discover, please follow the When In Niagara Facebook Page and visit our other blog posts.



Eager Beaver, Niagara Falls

Sandy Horvat-McIntyre

Eager Beaver is doing breakfast on the weekends! Best eggs benny ever  service was awesome!



Dohboy’s Diner- St. Catharines

Tiffany Olah-Scott

Had breakfast today at our favourite place!!   

Huge portions. Delicious food. Great service.

Fresh bread, smoky flavored bacon & the best home fries!

And even got two cute donuts for the kids!

Check it out! — at Dohboy’s Diner.




The Breakfast Beacon, Fort Erie

Courtney Lucas

 Are you ready to kickstart this weekend? What are you having today? Are you trying something new? Don’t forget to stop by the Breakfast Beacon. We have A little bit of everything to satisfy your craving. Banana bread French toast… Classic breakfast… 5 different eggs Benedict’s….Homemade hamburgers… Rubens and the list goes on! See you soon.




Hi-Lite Restaurant, Niagara Falls

Wendy Marie

Hi-Lite Restaurant another delicious breakfast  my favourite place on a Saturday morning  




Bruce’s 2×4 Diner, Wainfleet

Helen Romagnoli Kotrus

Stopped by the ”new” Bruce’s 2 x 4 for breakfast this morning on the corner of Hwy 24 and River Road outside of Wainfleet. We’ve been coming to this restaurant for years but were not sure what to expect with the change in ownership. Wow! We were pleasantly surprised! Quite possibly the best eggs Benny I’ve ever had! They are served on biscuits instead of English muffins and came poached exactly the way I asked.




Small-Batch Cheese Creamery Offers a Slice of Niagara’s Bounty

Author: Don Fraser


The Niagara Peninsula is a renowned wine region, married with superior culinary experiences that are buoyed by local produce and delicacies.


Upper Canada Cheese Company joined this scene as a premium small-batch, cheese-making creamery and artisan-food boutique.


Located in Jordan Station, the creamery approaches the Niagara Escarpment and is near to the Comfort Family Farm in St. Anns, whose Guernsey cow single-herd provides milk for its award-winning, luscious and high-protein product.



Founding Partner Wayne Philbrick, who grew up on a Niagara peach farm, was an early enthusiast of Niagara’s bounty. A purchase of tasty cheese on a trip to Quebec inspired a project working with milk produced by the Guernsey herd.


“This really started as a passion for Wayne,” said Upper Canada Cheese Co. General Manager Jennifer Hart. “He was trying to get back to basics, with good-quality local cheese with superb taste and texture. He knew about terroir and how the cow’s milk changes, depending on the seasons and the forage.”


After experimenting with different 100% Guernsey milk versions, by 2005, Upper Canada Cheese Co. was founded with two well-received cheeses— Niagara Gold Cheese and Comfort Cream. Their expanded lineup of handcrafted products now includes goat’s-milk offerings, with the agri-business remaining Niagara’s only dedicated creamery.


“People come to Niagara to experience these fantastic wineries, breweries, cideries —  all the fruits and vegetables we grow and the restaurants we have,” Hart explained. “So the concept here, is to be an intrinsic part of this culture.’”


Upper Canada Cheese Co.’s business includes a wholesale part; distributing to groceries, specialty stores and restaurants. It also has a ‘cellar door’, where visitors can come and taste the cheeses and view it being made by hand.



An enticing main boutique, located on 4159 Jordan Rd., sells their cheeses as well as gift boxes, and charcuterie-friendly table treats like honey, jams, breads and crackers, olives, meats and seafood — most of it locally, or Canadian sourced. A selection of hand-crafted kitchen-oriented giftware is also displayed.


Upper Canada Cheese Co. has also started an online shipping service, whose coverage area includes Southern Ontario, Eastern Ontario, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City, with a quarterly cheese subscription available.


Even after 17 years in business, the shop and creamery site can still be a happy and unexpected discovery for people, laughs Hart. “Sometimes, visitors and customers tell us: ‘I didn’t know you were here, or ‘We just saw it, stopped to check it out, and had no idea how great Upper Canada Cheese was.’


“So there are still people finding us, and they’re really glad they landed here,” she said. “Every great wine region needs delicious locally-made cheese as part of the complement.”


For more information, please visit uppercanadacheese.com