Dining out: Brantford restaurant hot spots

As Brantford grows as a city, its options for dining grow as well.

A city with a population of nearly 100,000 is bound to have diverse tastes. Over 100 different restaurants are located in Brantford. Some are outposts of popular franchises, such as Harvey’s and Boston Pizza, while other restaurants offer something unique and original to draw in customers. Whatever your interest, the Brantford dining experience has something to offer you.

Some restaurants have built up their reputation in Brantford over decades, while other restaurants are new to the city. One case of the latter is Burrito Brothers, a restaurant that opened only five months ago.

Located on Market Street near the Laurier Brantford campus, Burrito Brothers specializes in serving burritos, tacos, nachos and soup.

“We offer chilli that people can customize, similar to the service at a Subway restaurant. We also put a real emphasis on serving fresh food,” says Lacey Hossack, menu developer of Burrito Brothers.

The young restaurant is currently spreading news by word of mouth, and intends to reach out to Brantford’s student population more in the coming months.

Other Brantford restaurants focus on more traditional food, but they add their own unique flair. Zaza’s Pizzeria is an example.

The restaurant serves wood oven pizza, as well as pasta and sandwiches. It is the only restaurant in Brantford that serves Sicilian rice balls.

The restaurant’s primary focus is on producing high quality food. This has helped the business grow during the recession, as its target market is not an audience who is looking for deals.

Zaza’s Pizzeria has been open for three years. To open the restaurant, Matthew Polillo, the owner and founder, had help from Enterprise Brant who guided him through his business plan. They paid him compensation via unemployment while he set up the business, and he received help from his family as well.

“It was challenging to open the business at first,” says Polillo. “There are plenty of expenses you don’t foresee in your business plan. But so far we’re doing well. We have an established clientele and we seem to be doing better every year.”

Zaza’s Pizzeria is far from the only Brantford restaurant appealing to a niche market. Faisal Malak opened his own restaurant in downtown Brantford two years ago, and The Pita Pit has been thriving ever since.

The restaurant capitalizes on the pita’s recent rise as a popular meal in western culture. While there are other pita-focused restaurants in Brantford, The Pita Pit attempts to draw clients in with recipes such as beef wraps and falafels. Unlike many other pita-focused restaurants in town, The Pita Pit uses fresh meat, as opposed to frozen.

Malak owned a restaurant in Toronto prior to opening The Pita Pit in Brantford, and he builds on his experience with it. He emphasizes that a restaurant’s success requires years for customers to grow and trust it.

Other Brantford establishments adapt their businesses due to popular demand, pressing economic concerns, and even the weather. Shaydeans Ice Cream normally operates on 603 Colborne Street, but it is currently closed due to the weather.

“In our first year in business we tried to stay open all year through the winter,” says Brenda Rideout, founder of the ice cream shop. “But that didn’t really work out. So we don’t have a set opening [and] closing date. We’ll probably open around March break and close around October, but that really depends on the weather.”

Shaydeans Ice Cream mainly produces ice cream and ice cream cakes. They also produce a variety of other cold drinks, such as slushies and smoothies. They round out their selection by serving hot dogs, apple temptations and nachos.

A major focus of Shaydeans is the unusual types of ice cream that they offer. They serve flavour burst ice cream, which places syrup on vanilla ice cream to change the taste. This allows them to produce a variety of unique combinations. They also produce crunchy cream ice cream, which features candy inserted into soft ice cream.

Shaydeans is also the home of the Waffle Bowl Banana Split, unique among ice cream parlours in Brantford.

Currently Shaydeans is attempting to reach out to the Laurier Brantford community. Several years ago they attempted to provide coupons to Laurier freshmen with their orientation package. However the marketing plan was unsuccessful. Despite this, Shaydeans continues to thrive in the Brantford community.

Brantford is also home to more traditional restaurants. Goo’s Take-Out is in its third year of operation, and serves a great deal of traditional western food. Items on the menu include wraps, poutine, French fries and hamburgers.

“We get a lot of students coming in here … it’s really great for business. Overall I’m satisfied with our success,” says Patty McNeil, an employee at Goo’s Take-Out.

Regardless of your dining preference, it’s easy to find the meal you’re looking for in Brantford. As the city continues to grow, dining opportunities will continue grow along with it.

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