While Niagara Falls is known for some of the most popular tourist attractions around the world, the city offers a lot more than cascading waters.
Local businesses are truly the backbone of Niagara Falls, working hard to support both locals and tourists.
One thing that really matters is the place these companies call home – it’s why these four businesses pride themselves on being locally grown and globally known.
Starting in the basement of the Hockton’s home in 1991, this family-owned wholesale company has quickly grown into a leading provider of souvenirs and custom prints.
Niagara River Trading Company works with retailers all across Canada, including national parks, zoos, museums, wineries and more. Manufacturing its goods locally, the items make their way all across the globe in the suitcases of tourists who have visited many popular Canadian attractions.
Hugh Hockton, CFO, says the company has “grown by leaps and bounds over the past few years” and that growth is only going to continue.
In fact, they are currently working on an 80,000-square-foot expansion of the warehouse and growing their workforce to over 100 employees.
— Hugh Hockton, CFO, Niagara River Trading Company
Being dedicated to their customers is a big reason for their growth, according to Hockton. “We always do what we say. We’re upfront and we try to deliver the best customer service possible.”
“We’re very focused on listening to our customers and what they want and trying to get our customers to stay with us.”
This new restaurant in Niagara Falls has a goal of sharing Cuban culture with the locals and tourists.
Since opening in May 2023, owner Daelys Faife has been working hard to bring guests an authentic Cuban experience through cuisine, signature cocktails, decor and music. The restaurant even offers live entertainment, including Cuban Tropicana-style dancers.
“The main dishes, even appetizers and the desserts are very much traditional that you would find if you would go to Cuba,” Faife’s wife, Marija, shares.
“The music that we play during dinner service is traditional Cuban and the cocktails [are as well]. You can find the pina colada, the mojito, the daiquiri, those are authentic Cubans.”
Daelys Faife learned to cook from an early age in Cuba and his passion continued once he moved to Canada. He worked in the industry for many years, even opening and selling another restaurant, before creating Havana Restaurant & Cocktail Lounge.
Faife now uses his global knowledge to grow a local food joint that his customers love.
Marija says, “he is all about providing good customer service. And even though he’s in the kitchen and doing the cooking, he tries to come out as much as he can and check on tables and get to know and meet his customers.”
Inspired by a globally known Brazilian recipe for Pão de Queijo, Paloma Lara and Andrew Hoto have added their own Canadian twist to their popular Cheese Dots.
Since the traditional recipe calls for a very specific cheese, making the treats outside of Brazil can be difficult. That’s why Lara set out to find the perfect Canadian cheese to make their own version.
It took around a year of trial and error, but after Hoto brought her Oka, one of Canada’s oldest cheeses, Lara’s creation came to life and she was able to start selling it across the province.
“We tried a lot of cheeses. Oka was also the only one that gave the strength, flavour and aroma that we were looking for. When you bake the original, the one from Brazil, you can smell it across the house and people start gathering around the table. So it was really important for us to have that scent from the oven as well. And we got that with Oka,” Paloma Lara shared.
Paz Bakery has been selling its Cheese Dots at different retailers across Ontario since 2019 and they are quickly becoming a hit with the locals. Lara hopes to continue to grow the number of retailers where you can find their creations.
— Paloma Lara, Paz Bakery
Opening in July 2020, Blackburn Brew House’s goal was to become the local craft community of Niagara Falls.
Focusing on creating an atmosphere where everyone feels welcomed, the hub has become the spot to drink beer, eat food and enjoy events.
The facility houses a retail store, kitchen, taproom, patio, event space, board room and more.
Stephanie Szabo, Office Administrator, says one thing that sets them apart is the quality of their beer. Their brewer has 30 years of experience and works hard to create “exceptional, passionate brews” for customers.
— Stephanie Szabo, Office Administrator, Blackburn Brewhouse
While this spot is a great local hangout, it is a place where anyone around the globe can gather.
Szabo says they are starting to see more people from the United States make their way up to their location. “We can still be a local hangout place for them too.”
Niagara River Trading Company, Havana Restaurant & Cocktail Lounge, Paz Bakery and Blackburn Brew House are all locally-grown companies that are globally known in different ways.
Whether tourists are buying their products, or recipes are being inspired by global foods, each of these spots continues to make a name for themselves in the Niagara Falls landscape.
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