Owners and originators: Marion and Mike McMaster
Our restaurant is now closed. This information is the background for our consulting and franchising business.
We have always liked good food. We either cooked it ourselves or ate in good restaurants. We’ve lived and worked in many countries and tried the best of the fare for decades. Every five years or so we’d be having a meal in a restaurant and say, “We should start our own restaurant.” It was never going to happen but made for a fun evening of talk. Then, returning to Vancouver after nine years in England, we decided that our “retirement project” would be start a bakery café that would offer high quality for the morning and lunch as well as bakery products and great coffee. Our model for the look and feel of the bakery restaurant would be like the best of the tea houses in the UK. All of the baking and food would be made from scratch from fine ingredients.
Our relatives and friends thought we were making a big mistake but here we are doing well ten years later.
Our Food Interest
Besides reading the likes of Gourmet magazine and other cooking journals and old cookbooks for our own inspiration – and recommended restaurants – Marion has studied and put into practical use her mother’s recipes and her own knowledge of natural ingredients for healing and maintaining health. We have continually tried to combine good food from an experiential point of view with good food from a health point of view. We continually strive for this balance in our restaurant.
Our travels in Canada, USA and Europe have continually inspired ideas that we incorporate at home – and in our restaurant.
We have never baked or cooked professionally before we decided to start our bakery café. So we took some baking lessons and developed our recipes from many sources as the basis for our venture. For instance, our vision demanded that all breads be baked fresh every morning. Even our muffins, scones and cinnamon buns get baked every day – and frequently twice a day – so that really fresh is available all day.
As a youngster, pie was my favourite desert. I noticed that I had stopped eating pie because we didn’t bake them much at home and in cafes and even fine restaurants I was always disappointed with the quality. So of course we bake fresh pies daily to our own standard.
Marion and I had run our own separate businesses for decades. When we returned from Europe we decided to do something together – and that was a bakery café. So we got a location, did all the design and rebuilding ourselves (with our family), got our menu together and opened our doors. We didn’t put a notice up hoping that not too many people would find us until we felt like we knew what we were doing. We got “slammed” within an hour of opening the door. People in the village ran out to tell others we were open. Then most things that could go wrong did go wrong. Even our coffee machine broke down before we hit noon.
So … We put a sign that read “We dipped our toe in the water and ……..
And closed for two days to reorganize, retrain and generally recover. Then we opened again – and handled the rush quite well. Fortunately we’ve been busy ever since.
Today, we have a remarkable record for the industry of retaining staff. While none of our original staff is with us in our 11th year besides family, the core staff has been with us for from five to ten years and even our part time staff has years with us. This seems to be a result of a good work environment, including an open kitchen, and the satisfaction people get from providing quality to customers, getting good feedback from those customers and ending with a friendly knowledge of many customers.