Five local businesses nominated for Ontario Tourism Resiliency Awards

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Five businesses in Windsor-Essex are finalists for eleven awards to be announced later this month by the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario.

The 2021 Ontario Tourism Resiliency Awards have been designed to reflect resiliency through innovation, collaboration and partnership during the COVID-19 pandemic.

WindsorEats is a finalist in five categories including the Innovation Awards category of Food Service and the Collaboration Awards category of  Festival and Events for its Outdoor Food Hall and Night Markets in Lanspeary Park.

The event was launched to help businesses without patios offer their products at a time when indoor dining was restricted due to measures designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Adriano Ciotoli, co-owner of WindsorEats, says tourism and hospitality were some of the first and hardest hit during the pandemic, and will probably take the longest to recover.

Ciotoli says they're really proud of the nomination in the Collaboration Award for its Outdoor Food Hall and Night Market.

"We were able to get the support of the City of Windsor, of council and the mayor jumping on board, recognizing this was a worthwhile effort to put forward and let us use Lanspeary Park," he says.

Ciotoli says the pandemic really made them take a deep look at their business and change how they operated.

"There is some good that will be coming out of it. I know we weren't the only business that is looking at it that way. They were able to make themselves much more efficient, which is going to be so much better when the pandemic is over and things go back to normal," he says.

Ciotoli says the award nominations are extra special because of all the struggles they went through to make sure they had revenue coming in.

"For us to be recognized for all the work we did when we were really, I don't want to say rock bottom, but held down pretty low in what we could do in terms of revenue coming in as a business and being able to survive over two years through those struggles, just makes it extra special just being nominated," he adds.

Iron Kettle Bed & Breakfast in Comber is a finalist in the Innovation Awards category for Accommodation and in the Francophone Tourism Operators category.

The Grove Hotel is a finalist in the Collaboration Awards for Indigenous Tourism Operator.

Pop Sandbox Inc.& Town of Amherstburg is a finalist in the Collaboration Awards for Independent Business.

Phog Lounge/Meteor Lounge in Windsor are finalists in three categories including the Innovation Awards for Beverages and Festivals and Events.

The award winners will be announced Oct. 27.