Several months ago, I posted about having been dragged to a hearing test and receiving new, electronic hearing assisters. About a month later, I blogged about our dissatisfaction with the assembly-line medicine, the cash-register attitude and the lack of ethics, if not down-right illegal actions, of our first supplier. We took a bit of a financial hit, but turned in our first hearing-aids and went with the Arnold Hearing Center.
The whole feeling with Arnold’s was family-friendly and helpful. The new hearing aids we were given do more, and cost less. We can direct them with little remote controls. We got a Wii media broadcaster which plugs into the A/V output of our TV, and makes it seem as if we are right in the middle of the program dialog.
When we went back for some fine-tuning, I mentioned to the tech that I had blogged about the experience. He requested my website info, and read the post. He passed on the information to the company exec responsible for electronic communication. He, in turn, liked the compliment, and reposted it on the company Facebook page. When we went back for further adjustment, he thanked me, and wondered if the wife and I would be willing to attend a luncheon meeting to promote his supplier’s new Wii (why) system and give a little, man-who-uses-it appreciation speech.
We said we would be thrilled to repay all their kind service, especially for a free lunch. Then he said that he would like to get one more person. Since it was the daughter who precipitated the whole situation, we volunteered her.
The meeting was to be held at a place called Hacienda Sarria. In 1902, a large factory was built out on the edge of, what was then, Berlin, Ontario. It extracted sugar from locally grown sugar-beets, and helped the town grow into a city. Because of anti-Germany sentiments toward a pugnacious Kaiser, and a country about to drag the western world into war, Berlin changed its name to the more English, Kitchener, in 1912. Lord Kitchener, who the town took their name from, was a pompous British military prat, guilty of a couple of massacres, but, at least he wasn’t German.
Times, and sugar, changed. In 1920 the plant closed down. Over the years it was used for a variety of commercial endeavors, and large chunks off both ends were torn down. It sat vacant for several years until a Toronto entrepreneur bought it in 2004. He wanted to fix it up and make it his residence, but the bureaucrats were immovable. The land was zoned commercial, so commercial it must be.
Genius ensued. Plans were modified. All the fix-up proceeded, only now, one end of the bottom floor is rented to a tile company. Beside it, a coffee-roastery/coffee shop was installed. You can buy special coffees and/or enjoy them on the premises. The other end was made into a reception area with a couple of small meeting/dining rooms. The floor of the middle of the second story was cut out leaving a three-storey-high glass-roofed atrium. The floors are all done in ceramic tile. Gee, I wonder where they came from.
Behind the coffee-house is a fair-sized dining room and kitchens to serve it. The owner solicits wedding reception business. That room can have the tables removed for a dance, with patterned, softwood floor. The very Canadian owner wanted something Latin-themed. While it would never fool anyone from the southwest USA, the architecture vaguely resembles the Alamo mission, and the internal decoration leans south of the border.
Yellow brick and square wooden beams are everywhere, giving a rustic look. Ars est celare artem – the art is to conceal the art. Someone did a lot of work. New fancy lights, light switches, thermostats, motion detectors all exist, but they are understated, and look as if they just “grew there”. No cables or conduits are visible. Even the pipes for the fire sprinklers seem as if they are part of the original installation.
We weren’t allowed to go upstairs. The second and third levels are the owner’s living quarters. With the usual bureaucratic stupidity, the city insists that he can’t have the building as a residence, but the owner of a commercial establishment is allowed to reside in the building for security reasons. It’s not complete yet. He continues to add finishing touches.
There is an organic garden past the end of the parking area, where the chef grows fresh vegetables and herbs used in the kitchen. The owner had a local fabricator/artist fashion a double-size copper statue of Don Quixote. His horse was finished and installed, and then, a couple of months later Don and his lance were hoisted aboard. Plans include replicas of Sancho Panza and his mule, and a water-storage tower at the back of the garden will become a windmill.
The meal included a Caesar salad, tomato basil chicken with linguine, berries with fresh whipped cream and a Hacienda blend coffee from the roaster out front, or tea. The food was good considering the bulk, industrial, cook and hold requirement. I’m spoiled. While the presentation isn’t as elegant, I eat that well at home. The Hacienda’s presentation was top-notch. The tables were properly set and maintained. The service was crisp and friendly.
Sadly, the daughter and I had another appointment, and we had to leave before dessert and coffee, the subject of another rant, another day. She and the wife got a cup of the coffee while we were waiting for the circus to arrive. The wife thinks it’s great stuff.
We were treated graciously and efficiently by Hacienda, Arnold, and Starkey staff. Because of our afternoon appointment, we had to leave before dessert and coffee. While they probably would have been delicious, I had already exceeded my calorie allowance. Even though we were more than willing to put in a good word just for previous good service, the Arnold rep. made sure we had some nice parting gifts. The wife is already planning how to use our gift cards at Kitchener’s largest mall. All in all, a most enjoyable social outing we could not have afforded on my retirement pension.