BY DUCK PATERSON
Holiday trips for longtime employees didn’t happen with COVID-19 travel restrictions in place, but they can happen again now.
“By being with the company for a number of years, long-term employees reflect a stable work environment, which improves morale,” said Jason Kelland, co-owner of the A&W restaurant in Ladysmith.
Jason, along with his wife and co-owner Lori, announced two years ago that they would be rewarding longtime employees with holiday trips to show the company’s appreciation.
“Unfortunately the COVID pandemic rose up and all the travel restrictions came into effect, so our employees had to wait,” Lori said.
Well, the wait is finally over for Katherine Aleck and Kelly Frenchy, who will be travelling to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, at the beginning of November. Aleck, who has worked for the local A&W for more than 11 years and Frenchy, who has worked there for more than 13 years, were handed their tickets last week by Lori and Jason. Frenchy, who is married to Aleck’s daughter Loretta, will be taking his wife and 11-year-old son along with them.
Aleck said they have never really been off the Island.
“I’m very excited, others have gone on trips and have said how great it was, but for me this will be an experience. Not only will this be my first but I am doing it with my grandson, daughter and son-in-law. That’s exciting for me,” she said.
Aleck is known at the A&W as the ‘ring queen’ as one of her main jobs is to produce the restaurant’s onion rings.
“This is my second home,” she said, “and everyone knows if I’m not at home then I’ll be at my home away from home.”
As far as working every day, she said the owners are great to work for.
“It’s all family, everyone gets along,” Aleck said.
Frenchy said the family is looking forward to the trip as it will be a first for him and his wife and son. The family will be staying in an all-inclusive resort.
“This will be quite something, lying on the beach or just sitting around the pool,” he said.
The Kellands, who also own the A&W Restaurant in Mill Bay, say the basis of their business is the staff.
“We are a very personal business,” Jason said. “Our staff are not just the face of our business but they are the hands and feet. They are the backbone that the public sees. We could have the best burgers but if we don’t have dedicated staff the customers don’t feel welcome and won’t come back. So we have the best staff who produce the best burgers.”
Lori said ownership wants staff members to be happy, and also to recognize them, thank them and reward them for years of hard work.
It must work because as the Kellands said, they changed how the restaurant operated during COVID, but the business kept up “barely scathed,” with full credit to the staff.