Comes for the sushi, stays for the culture: East Izakaya, St.Catharines,

East Izakaya is a high - end all - you - can - eat Japanese restaurant located in St. Catharines.  The Japanese word izakaya (居酒屋) is made up of three kanji with the meaning, in order, “stay-drink-place.” A spot to grab a drink, settle in, and get comfortable


East Izakaya presents guests with a modern Japanese pub experience using the freshest and most delicious Japanese cuisine. After 10 years of hard work and development, East Izakaya has become a must-visit restaurant for travelers and the community.

Shane Connolly, CEO, Wind Group Inc.

Established in 2008, East Izakaya St. Catharines is the first restaurant of Wind Group. Since 2008, East has contributed significantly to the local culture and cuisine scene of the downtown area, solidifying its position as one of the most popular restaurants of downtown St. Catharines. George Tran, Onside Media met with Andrea, the current manager at East Izakaya to know just a tiny bit more about the establishment.

What’s do you think is the core purpose of East as a restaurant and Wind Group as a corporation?

Wind Group is the embodiment of a dream to bring the best of Asian cuisine to North America. The group is represented in Ontario, Canada by three different restaurant brands Last Izakaya Wind Japanese and Thai, and Ma Chinese Cuisine. Currently, between those brands, six locations operate in St Catharines, Niagara Falls, and Mississauga. Wind Group’s mission is to present Asian hospitality and culture to North America, and we want to be the bridge that links North American and Asian cultures.

Tell us a bit about your team?

A team is not a group of people that work together. A team is a group of people that trust each other -Simon Sinek. The saying,” hindsight is 20/20 means that you can see things clear after the fact. I want to challenge this theory. As we move through the late stages of 2021, we are still unclear about what to expect, but we’re optimistic as we navigate the unknown using these time-honored strategies: Trust in your team; be ready to adapt and overcome together, and sail into the foggy abyss arm – in – arm.

Our motto is that” If there are not satisfied employees, there are no happy guests. “We are a big family, and big families help each other. Our goal is to provide our team with all the tools and knowledge at our disposal to grow and forge their own path as individuals. The world of gastronomy is a place of passion, curiosity, commitment, and reliability, and we work hard to cultivate long-term skills, capabilities, responsibility, and identity.

Wind Group – Team

We want our team members to feel like each restaurant is their home. We offer our guests unique experiences and elaborate dishes to expand their palates and their perception of Japanese, Thai and Chinese cuisine and culture.

Wind Group employs a team of more than three hundred people. With each location we open, we create jobs for both professionals and students and spread benefits to the cities and neighborhoods we belong to. We work with multiple local and international companies to recruit and develop individuals looking for training, even offering part-time work during their studies.

For over a decade, Wind Group has provided a career path for those seeking employment in the hospitality industry. The cities of St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, Mississauga and surrounding areas have all seen an influx in job opportunities provided by Wind Group. We are proud to offer steady employment for team members who join the Wind Group family.

East Izakaya, St.Catharines

How is the brand impacting society at large?

Wind group has also been a strong advocate for community involvement. Participating in events such as the Empty bowl that help raise awareness for affordable housing—donating over 80,000 CAD through various promotions during the pandemic, focusing on first responders and essential workers as the main focus point.

Your views on the hospitality industry in 2020-21?

The restaurant industry is facing a tough time as the pandemic seems to keep coming back, and new policies to fight them are introduced. Through 2020, the restaurant has had to go through multiple period of operation, complete closure, partial closure, delivery only and now with new mandates. Since the vaccine mandates are implemented, we have seen a noticeable drop in customer visits, and many customers are also turned away due to lack of vaccination. However, we believe that Canada can completely eradicate the pandemic with perseverance, and our restaurants are proud to be a part of the fight against the pandemic.

Our store focuses on quality and customer services means that most of our guests here leave with a full stomach and a smile on their faces. These can be reflected through the hundred of reviews on Googles, Yelp, and many other sites. The customers loved our food and services, and we love them for trusting in our services.

How did your brand prepare for the Covid protocols?

As the COVID – 19 pandemic took a stranglehold on the world, Wind Group adapted first and foremost by going into “protection mode”. Our Health and Safety committee worked diligently to maintain a safe working environment. Directions to staff were critical, with the ultimate goal of keeping our teams safe. From the start, the entire company received updates on the recommended ways to stay safe. Staff members that did not feel safe to leave home were allowed to stay home. Remote work was approved and an internal communications portal was established to ensure that all queries are answered immediately.

Although we have created a safe space for staff, new conditions and procedures were in place for daily operations to be a COVID – free zone Staff at each location were trained in meticulous techniques to ensure that our restaurants were doing the utmost to keep our guests safe.

Products leaving each location via take-out were also subject to the same detailed procedures. Part of adapting means rethinking your business. While take-out was a business component before the pandemic, during 2020, it became the business. Wind Group immediately changed its agenda to ensure that guests who are required to stay home receive the same level of quality, service, and safety when ordering takeaway as they would receive as in-house patrons.

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Instagram: East St.Catharines

This story is authored by Huu Nghia Tran,(George Tran) Content Writer, Onside Media, St.Catharines, Canada.  If you have stories to share kindly email: –


SOURCEWind Group, Canada


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