The first year is always a challenge for new business owners but what the new owner of The Ranch Restaurant can affirm is nothing is possible without dedicated staff.
“We’re a team and our strength is our people,” said Chris Cullen, who took over the business on 7th Avenue in Keremeos last year on Sept. 6. “Without dedicated staff that feel like they are more than just employees, you have nothing.”
Cullen moved from Vancouver after spending years as the owner of an automotive shop. The restaurant’s style and the slower pace in Keremeos appealed to him, he said. It serves home-style cooking, homemade soups and delicious desserts. It also has a great selection of daily deals.
“I like old things. I like comfortable things. One of the main reasons I gravitated toward The Ranch is because it is exactly the sort of place I look for when I am on the road. I don’t want to go to McDonald’s. So it fits the bill,” he said.
Keremeos residents may not have known the restaurant was under new management because Cullen explained his aim was not to change it.
“I didn’t get involved because I didn’t like it. It just needed a polish. All new tables and redo the signage. Make it what it was years ago when it was new,” he added.
“I’ve been doing everything I can to make the place the kind of place I want to go to. It has to appeal to everybody. I don’t want it to be a niche. I don’t want it to be a thing of the moment or follow any trends. I just want to be the comfortable place that everyone wants to go to.”
Cullen, who has always owned his own business, said the first few months were rocky, and the experience is a constant learning curve. He made mistakes such as thinking continuity was more important than making a big splash.
“I should have done the opposite because it’s been very slow for people to figure it out because for the longest time no one knew it has changed owners.”
Cullen said he focuses on online reviews to keep things in tip-top shape.
“I read them every day. What people think of the place is important.”
If the joint gets a bad review, Cullen responds to it.
“You’ve got to make sure that people know you do care. Feedback is important. If somebody says something negative, you fix, that’s it. You deal with. You don’t sweep it under the rug.”
Back to the topic of employees, Cullen said he wants them to feel like they can take initiative. If they come to him with an idea and if he thinks it won’t hurt business, he said he tells them to run with it.
“They all seem to like that,” he said. “We’ve got a good team. I just give them the tools to do the job properly.”
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