Heinz Helps

Heinz Helps lifts Canadian restaurants to new heights

Heinz Helps lifts Canadian restaurants to new heights

Canadian restaurant operators face many difficulties in their line of work, from maintaining thin margins on their bottom line to standing out in a crowded culinary field.

These are extraordinary and challenging times in the foodservice world, with operators continuing to face strong headwinds brought on by labour shortages, inflation issues, and supply challenges. While everyone has struggled, no one in the industry has had to push harder against those headwinds than the independent operator.

In support of independent operators during these challenging times, the Heinz ketchup team created a program called Heinz Helps aimed at providing independent Canadian operators with a much-needed financial boost.

Heinz independent restaurant customers from across Canada were given a chance to win $20,000. In order to compete, they needed to rally support from their customers asking them to vote for their restaurant. The independent operator with the highest number of votes in their region received the prize money, with Heinz Helps awarding $20,000 to five deserving winners, one per region.

Apart from the program’s financial boost to the winning businesses, the contest brought other benefits to participating restaurants, not least deepening the sense of community and the emotional connection between the nominated restaurants and their customers.

“Our goal as a brand was to help our valued restaurant operators through these tough times and bring forth that sense of community that really drives the success of these restaurants,” said Sabitha Ganapathipillai, Heinz AFH Brand Manager. “We developed a program that not only helped restaurant operators but also allowed them to bring their valued guests along on this journey.”

The five winning independent restaurants were:

  • West region: Barb’s Fish and Chips
  • Central region: 1st RND (West Edmonton Mall)
  • Ontario: Bluebird Café and Grill
  • Quebec: Restaurant Snack Shack
  • Atlantic: The Blunt Bartender

For those restaurants, not only will the $20,000 prize money prove invaluable in helping their operations, but the support of their customers means so much.

“We had so much support from mostly the local community,” said Barb’s Fish and Chips of Victoria, B.C. “To have our customers support us with their vote and make the effort was really heartwarming. When I found out about winning, it wasn’t so much about the prize but the fact that we got it through the loyalty of our customers.”

Canadians’ passion for and commitment to supporting their local business such as restaurants was evident throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and that is a theme that has continued post-pandemic. Heinz wanted to shine a light on that sentiment by giving Canadian consumers a chance to help their favourite local restaurant in a meaningful way beyond just patronizing their dining rooms and takeout counters.

“We had guests coming in every day saying, ‘I voted for you today’,” said Bluebird Café and Grill of Orangeville, Ont. “It was so nice to see because we have such a loyal community. For us, it’s about giving back to the community, and we try to find new ways to do that.” Bluebird added that the prize money will help them upgrade much of their cooking equipment, something they have prioritized for their business.

Other winners also expressed that the prize money will be a huge help to their business.

“It does big things for a small business like us,” said Quebec’s Restaurant Snack Shack. “We can get a lot accomplished with that.”

Overall, the digital campaign amassed more than 13,500 consumer votes, 25,000 site visits, and 38 million brand impressions. Ganapathipillai said Heinz is “so happy with the results and glad to see the restaurant owners not only excited about winning, but also touched by the support they received from the community.”

To make the most of its diverse culinary talent and to continue to strengthen the bond between Canadians and the businesses that serve them, Canada needs to help its local, independent restaurants to thrive in circumstances that can often be tough.

With the help of programs like Heinz Helps, that is exactly what’s happening.