Local “Mom & Pop”

The following is a review posted to our facebook page, tripadvisor, yelp & urbanspoon sites on Saturday, July 19th and the response that followed.

mom and pop shop censored

I do greatly appreciate the time you took to come down from Edmonton to check us out. However, your review on our facebook page leads me to believe that you have access to our facebook page which would show you our hours of our operation. Along with our website, twitter, tripadvisor and urbanspoon pages. All available online from the comfort of your home, without having to make the trip to Ponoka to find this out.

I am deeply sorry that we missed out on the opportunity to look after you and countless others that have stopped in on a Saturday or Sunday to only find out that we are closed. I have made every effort I have available to me to ensure that this is public information and do not wish for our hours, or lack of, to leave a bad taste in someone’s mouth.

I am torn between how to continue this conversation. On one hand Iwant to address the points you have made. On the other hand I want to let you know what it is we truly do here.

What do we do?

We do operate a catering company out of Cilantro + Chive. This is how the restaurant came to be. By luck and a whim in 2008 we catered a couple of events for close friends and family and then it took off. Within one year and zero advertising we booked a solid Christmas season.  With a fulltimejob, we juggled many more events and struggled with the opportunity to focus on catering. We looked for venues to get in to fulltime catering and after a couple of failed opportunities, this opportunity came open. We opened the restaurant in 2012 to coincide with what we had already been established.

In the beginning of May 2014 we found ourselves at a fork in the road. With a looming staff shortage and numerous catered events on the books, I was left in a hard place, with 3 options.

1. Cancel all catering events and shut down what had brought us to this point and focus on the restaurant.

2. Close the restaurant and focus solely on catering.

3. Try and juggle Saturday restaurant with Saturday weddings and hope for the best.

It was a big decision that was not easy. I did not want to jeopardize anything that we had built here. I did not want to alter the menu and bring in more quick serve items. I wanted to remain true to our local suppliers and local support that has been with us since the day we opened.

In June we made the decision to close Saturday & Sunday and open Monday to Friday.

Some side notes to your comments.

Start up? Well, we are no longer in the honeymoon phase of our operation. We can’t giggle and laugh off any of our errors or mistakes.

The restaurant has been open for over 2 and half years now. 2 and half. That is an eternity in an industry like this. High staff turnover, market vulnerability and disgruntled guests have jeopardized countless other operations. In an industry where 75% of independent operations fail in the first year, and if you’re lucky enough to make it through to the next year another 75% + of those’ lucky ones’ fail by the end of year two. (depending on whose figures you read) If you follow that math, less than 7% of independent restaurants opening today will be open in 3 years.  Time will only tell if we can become ‘legendary’ and beat those odds.

I have seen a handful of restaurants already fold in central Alberta do to a shortage of labor. You could argue that if you paid more you’d have staff. In theory yes. I could pay someone $25 an hour or greater to cook your meal. Are you going to help offset that expense for an additional $10 for the steak sandwich you ordered? I can’t answer for you, but I probably wouldn’t.

Mom and Pop shop? This hurts. It really hurts.

One hand I could be more proud to be a Mom & Pop shop. I couldn’t be more proud to be the one who is here two hours after we closed to fix the toilet. The one that is here two hours before we open looking after the orders and the inventory, scheduling, marketing, juggling financial decisions, being hands on and looking after our guests and honestly meaning it when I say ‘Thank you’ to each and everyone who has come through our doors. 80+ hour work weeks aren’t for everyone.

Mom and Pop shop?

My mother has had one heck of a run with her ‘Mom and Pop’ shop. She has been in business for well over 25 years. I’ve been on the back end watching her come home through her ups and downs. She is still in business today.

My father had one heck of a run at his ‘Mom and Pop’ shop. It didn’t have the best results. I couldn’t be more proud of him for his ambitions and dedication to what he did. Again I was on the back end of seeing him come home through his ups and downs.

Now with a son of my own, this is where business and personal meet. I hope years down the road my son is proud of me and the decisions I have made.

Mom and Pop shop? I am more than comfortable with being a mom and pop shop. Somewhere you can come in and feel comfortable. Get to know who is behind the counter, in the kitchen and talk to the owner. Decisions can be made quickly and effectively.

I am deeply sorry for the time you wasted to try us out. To try and give us your hard earned money. I am sorry. I wish we could be open 7 days a week, breakfast, lunch and dinner. I love what I do and creating menus and creating dishes and love the reward of satisfied guests at the end of the day. That is what I live for. That is why we opened.

I cannot be everything to everyone. This is who we are as an organization and these are our values.

All the best on your trip through Ponoka and central Alberta.



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