by Anne Miller –
It was back in 1952 that Norman Vincent Peale penned a popular book called The Power of Positive Thinking. His anecdotes show how hopeful and optimistic people build resilience to cope with life’s challenges and so, can more easily bounce back from these setbacks. Our column this month features such a woman and how a positive attitude helps her deal with the effects of Covid-19 on herself and her business. Let me begin by asking you to visualize what things were like before this crisis presented itself to the world.
Imagine that you’re sitting in a little restaurant in Sidney, having lunch, when a group of snappy looking gentlemen strut in and start singing, a capello! Sarah Matchett, owner of The 5 and Dime, has warmly welcomed Ed Jobson and members of his barbershop quartet, off and on, over the past few years. Patrons love them and they love Sarah’s 50s-style family restaurant welcoming customers early in the morning with local, organic coffee and breakfast favourites. Sarah and her husband, Voit, along with a partner, Gillian, also own the more sophisticated Surly Mermaid, located by the marina, offering lunch and dinner to groups of loyal followers. Locals flock there to sit on the patio in the summertime!
That was then; let’s talk about now.
Given the severity of the crisis, Sarah and her husband, along with their management teams, made the very difficult and emotional decision to close both restaurants for now (at time of writing). They gave a lot of the existing food to the staff and made a few very large donations to the Saanich Peninsula Lions Food Bank. Furthermore, they made a large batch of chili for the ICU team at Victoria General Hospital, are cooking up pasta sauces and salsas to can and are making more donations to the community. Obviously, providing food is more than Sarah’s business; it’s who she is.
Sarah has been in the restaurant business since her first job at 13, working around school hours in Hay River, NWT. While her job became monotonous, she found it especially rewarding to influence someone’s day in a positive way. Since then, she has continued to serve the community within the restaurant business and gains great satisfaction as well as much experience. Today, she proudly employs 50 people in her two restaurants, employees who feel like family. While Sarah is disciplined, she believes in treating her staff with respect and giving them autonomy over their jobs. They respond with loyalty and exceptional work. Not only does Sarah understand the important link between her staff’s job satisfaction and business success, she also intuitively understands the significance of connecting with and caring for community. For now, Sarah continues to check in with their staff “to help connect them with the resources that they might need during this tough time.”
As she looks toward the future, Sarah is optimistic. She believes that most restaurateurs will show their resilience and will surely recover. In fact, she is excited to announce that she recently opened both restaurants for take-out and just resumed modified dine-in options at both as well, while closely following guidelines and precautions for safety. “Things are a bit slow to start but we are staying positive and hopeful and continuing to bring a bit of light to people’s days.” For now, she and her husband are keeping in good spirits, staying calm, staying kind and staying healthy. With that attitude and Sarah’s values and skills, she will fare well.
Photo by Janis Jean Photography