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Mike Cohen

La Pizza Week 2024: Discovering Lo Dico in St. Laurent

    La Pizza Week doesn’t stop at restaurant doors. For the third year in a row, La Pizza Week and DoorDash are joining forces to support local restaurants in growing their business – all while bringing the fun to even more customers.

    Ryann, Sam and Miriam at the Berri-UQAM store.

    What do you get when you mix the concept of Whole Foods, the major grocery store chain noted for its organic and healthy products, with a convenience shop format? It is KaleMart24, the brainchild of Oussama (Sam) Saoudi.

    The new pioneering natural convenience store chain unveiled its first store at the Berri-UQAM metro station in early March. A second locale followed at the Jarry Metro with a prime location across from the Bell Centre slated for June. I stopped by for a visit upon the invitation of operations director Ryann Goldstein and once inside I was blown away by what I saw at this innovative store concept which promises to redefine convenience shopping while promoting health-conscious lifestyles. “Where Wellness Meets Convenience,” is their slogan.

    KaleMart24 is breaking through the mold of convenience stores being associated with junk food by offering healthier choices that cater to a mobile-savvy younger generation.  Curating specialty brands and products, KaleMart24 includes all the usual sections of a convenience store, along with a small personal care section, and even a small organic pet section.  

    Watch my video chat with Saoudi and Goldstein

    Saoudi told me he came up with the idea in the winter of 2023 and started to put his plan into action. Goldstein came on board in August.  Business is booming at the two locations. Frankly, I have never seen a place like it. “My goal is to have over 200 locations across Canada by 2028 and expand to the US. We are redefining the depanneur.”

    The launch of  KaleMart24 represents a culmination of extensive research, innovation, and a steadfast dedication to meeting the evolving needs of modern consumers. With a carefully curated selection of products, organic snacks, and eco-friendly household essentials, this pioneering store concept offers a holistic shopping experience tailored to the discerning tastes of health-conscious individuals on the go. 

    “Our aim is to seamlessly integrate convenience and sustainability, empowering customers to make informed choices that support their well-being and the health of our planet, ”   said Saoudi.

    There is a wide variety of ready-to-eat and fresh sandwiches, wraps, fruit cups  and salads.   I sampled a delicious English muffin with bacon, cheese and egg as well as a chocolate and a bag of pistachio nuts.  They have a variety of fruit drinks, fresh coffee, danishes and an endless array of snacks which are on the healthier side.

    “I actually saw Sam on Linked In and he had a wonderful post of the concept before it was even open,” Goldstein said. “ Since I  was practicing to become a health coach I had some background into this as well. I started in late August from scratch, picking products and putting them on the shelves. We have really done it all.

    “It is a great place. People today are more educated and what they are putting in their bodies. We really think this is where the world is going. It is super trendy.”

    From biodegradable packaging to energy-efficient operations, every aspect of the store is thoughtfully crafted to minimize ecological impact and promote a more sustainable way of living.

    My old friend Tony Flanz from Think Retail is working with KaleMart24 to grow the brand and find other locations. For more details, including  looking into a franchise, go to www.kalemart24.com

    Ferreira Café leads the pack for Montréal en Lumiere straight from Portugal

      Every year when the list of culinary participants for Montréal en Lumiere comes out, I scan about the different restaurants and see which new ones I’d like to explore.

      Enter Ferreira Café, which on Friday, March 1 will host restaurateur Leandro Mota and his chef Leonardo Costa from Canastra do Fidalgo located in Costa Nova, Portugal, along with winemaker Carlos Campolargo from the same region.  They will offer special festive lunch and dinner menus.