Romana Restaurant asks that Burnaby residents resolve to buy local this year.
Supporting local businesses is essential for a healthy economy, said Jenny Siormanolakis, whose family owns the Heights eatery.
"You have to support your community in order for your community to give back to you, and I hope that's what we see more of," she added.
There is a trickle-down effect to shopping locally, she said.
"If you give money to a small business, we're going to give it to three or four other small businesses, because small businesses support each other," Siormanolakis said. "If you support one small business, you're really supporting all of them. That's something we really believe in here at the restaurant."
Siormanolakis would like to see more Canadians spending their money here, rather than heading to the United States to find a deal, she said.
Local businesses support community initiatives and fundraisers, she added.
"It's us that are going to be giving gift cards and donations away, not those businesses down in Bellingham," Siormanolakis said.
While people do like a deal, they also want quality, she pointed out, something she feels her restaurant offers, even if it costs a bit more.
"People appreciate the fact that we're giving them the value of what they're paying for," she said.
The coming months can be a particularly hard time for small businesses, so it is a good time for residents to start buying local, Siormanolakis added.
"Just remembering, if they can support a small business, specifically in January, February and March, it'd be greatly appreciated," she said.
The restaurant did well in 2012, seeing an increase in small families coming through the door, according to Siormanolakis.
"I guess because now, my parents have grandkids in the restaurant, the restaurant became that much more family friendly," she said. "Business has always been up and down, but it's nice to see a lot more new families coming in."
This year is Romana's 40th anniversary and the family plans to hold monthly events up until the anniversary day, April 9 and right up to Hats Off Day in June, she said.
Today, Jan. 10, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., the restaurant is hosting an open house along with two neighbours, 4Cats arts studio and Staccato Music.
Kalpna Solanki, another small business owner in Burnaby, has focused on supporting local businesses since the company started, she said.
Solanki co-owns Martin's Marvelous - which makes and sells healthy, gluten-free products such as crisps, granola and cookies - with Martin Mroz.
"We've kind of really, really worked on staying true to our roots in terms of supporting local," she said. "I'll go to always support local as much as possible."
Sourcing local ingredients can be challenging, she said, but added it is worth it to stay true to their beliefs.
"If we don't support local, if we don't support our Canadian farmers, then who's going to support them?" she said.
The company launched the Martin's Marvelous line in April 2011 and used about 80 per cent Canadian ingredients.
"We're at more than 90 per cent Canadian ingredients now," she said.
This past year, the company also began buying only fair-trade organic sugar, coca and chocolate chips, Solanki added.
The company did very well in 2012, she said.
"We've seen huge growth. We've seen 100 per cent growth this year," Solanki said. "Being an entrepreneur and running a small business has its trials and tribulations, of course. But basically, compared to last year, we're in double the stores we were in - more than 400 stores."
Previously, the company only sold in Canada but now they sell their products in the United States, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Singapore, she said.
One of the benefits, oddly enough, of buying local ingredients is that it makes the products more appealing on the international market.
"We have stuck to really clean ingredients and Canadian-sourced ingredients," she said. "Canadian ingredients are seen as clean and wholesome."
As for the coming year, Solanki is looking forward to participating in and sponsoring the first Gluten-Free Expo in Vancouver on Jan. 13.
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