The management team at 293 Wallace Street Restaurant (from left to right: Hiro Takeda, Nicole Craig, Brent Gillis, Sarah Steberl, Andrew Loewen) September 2018
I recently did some work on what my life coach calls a “Life Purpose Statement.”
Though seemingly a big task, it was quite an easy and enjoyable process for me. Instead of a statement, however, I decided to develop a document, much like an Employee Handbook, but for my life.
Sounds a bit ridiculous at first, but let me share why I decided to do this.
When I first started 293 Wallace Street Restaurant in Hope, I was well aware of the fact that the chances of hiring a team of employees who were passionate and driven to pursue careers in the cooking and serving professions was going to be slim. I needed to find a different purpose for our staff, a way of motivating them to join me in pursuing my goals.
This began the most useful and worthwhile period of my life, where I had to come up with a Mission Statement and a set of Core Values for our restaurant.
I thought about why I wanted to open a restaurant in Hope (which, quite frankly, was a question I was asked many times, mainly with a sense of skepticism by those who asked).
I wanted to create a food style that was different from other places in town. I knew that the market was there in the summer months, with many people traveling from Vancouver to the interior and stopping in Hope for a bite to eat and to fill up on gas. I wanted to create a restaurant that not only catered to them, but helped the local community feel proud of the food that was being served here.
I wanted a nice place for the locals to go to, when they wanted to celebrate, when they had friends and family come and visit. I wanted a place where we could introduce people to new ingredients, whether it be douglas fir kombuchas, elk and bison, or ants.
Those were all obvious. But the main reason was because I saw that the young people of Hope had limited options when it came to employment, and I wanted to provide them with a place that was intentional about their personal growth.
Plating with Jason Harper, former co-owner of 293 Wallace (May 2013)
Yes, we wanted to serve ambitious and interesting food for our guests, but we wanted to also create a culture of excellence and drive, and teach transferable life skills. You may not want to become a chef or work as a server for the rest of your life, but the things you learn at this restaurant will help you to achieve anything, whether it's to become a lawyer or a doctor, or have the confidence to believe that you can do more than you thought you could.
Through this thought process, i developed this mission statement:
Our vision is to contribute to the Hope community in its growth through the use of local
products and businesses as well as to take the time to mentor our staff and to be a positive
influence in their lives.
Our goal is to challenge our guests to be genuinely open-minded and trusting of our abilities to
create a memorable dining experience.
Our dream is to be a destination restaurant for the town of Hope, providing local clientele with a
unique dining experience, as well as provide a worthwhile experience for those travelling from
the Greater Vancouver area.
We promise to stay true to the values of our small town, providing genuine service, appreciation for family, and emphasis on relationships.
Then the next step was to expand on each idea, which would inevitably create our core values.
This mission statement and set of core values would become part of our employee handbook, which would be part of the orientation process for all staff members upon getting hired. They were held accountable for reading and agreeing to this document before they were to start with us.
The great part about this was that it was a living document. It could be changed if we felt that it was necessary. But on top of that, it provided a litmus test for us in every decision that we made. I could personally refer to this document that all of us have agreed to in order to make the right decision for the team. It provided an opportunity for us to challenge the decisions we made, to ask “is this decision conducive to the direction we want to go?”
Standing with a few of the cooks (from left to right: Jon Steberl, Manee Warren, myself, Brent Gillis) October 2014
We were able to ask if menu items and preparations of ingredients fit into the dream of being a destination restaurant in Hope. Our menu writing techniques and content on social media were guided by our goal of challenging our guests to be open-minded, developing a relationship of trust.
Our service style, training regiments, and having a kids menu were all things that we were motivated to improve to stay true to the values of our small town. Coming up with events in the winter such as dinners featuring a whole pig, a martini event that welcomed recipes from locals with a prize for best martini, and special tasting menus helped us to build relationships with our guests, and opened up opportunities for guests to interact with each other.
All this work resulted in a working environment where our staff felt challenged and pushed out of their comfort zone while still feeling supported by our management team.
So when it came time to create a Life Purpose Statement for myself, to help me find direction in my life, and to provide a set of values which I could use as a backbone for the decisions that I make, this format made sense to me.
Though I’ve changed so much since the first rendition of the 293 Wallace Employee Handbook, I am thankful to say that some of the core values still remain the same.
A passion for challenging and supporting people in their growth, as well as a desire to teach and learn are still there. The drive to do something different, special, whatever that ends up being still burns in me. But more than anything, an openness to working together with people to accomplish something I wouldn’t be able to do on my own still remains at the core of my love for relationships and community building. I love challenging and being challenged by people. And I love accomplishing things with them.
Through that, I’ve learned openness and a willingness to understand other points of view and perspectives. And hopefully, in time, it will teach me patience and understanding.