Jesse Harris, Kevin Doyle and Bianca Shiels of Mimi’s Burgers in Vancouver
Like so many local restaurants, Mimi’s Burgers experienced significant financial strain as a result of COVID-19. But as owners Jesse Harris, Kevin Doyle, and Bianca Shiels explain, the virus was no match for the incredible generosity of their staff and customers.
"I'm beyond impressed by the way our entire team works together…this will eventually pass, and each and every one of us will have learned something valuable from the experience." - Jesse Harris, co-owner of Mimi’s Burgers.
Opened in 2018, Mimi’s Burgers had already been running a successful takeaway operation in Kitsilano, grilling up juicy burgers made from fresh ingredients. But when the pandemic struck, it presented a whole new set of challenges that would have to be handled by a small but dedicated team.
"A six-person operation at 10+ hours a day is no joke!" says Jesse, one of the restaurant’s co-owners. "It's been fascinating to watch everyone come together over the last month and turn the assembly line into a well-oiled machine."
With strict limitations in place all across the country, the team had to rely on hard work and self-sacrifice to keep the business afloat.
"I was actually blown away at the generosity of one of our staff members that does the majority of our cooking," Jesse recounts. "After this pandemic hit, we – like everyone else –were struggling financially. This team member immediately offered to volunteer his time to match our long business hours because he genuinely enjoys coming into work and believes in the brand we've created."
"We would’ve been hard-pressed to get everything done each day without him, and we truly appreciate him."
There are plenty of other considerations that had to go into the team’s new pandemic strategy. "We're incredibly careful in both back-of-house and front-of-house," Jesse says. The team has implemented rigorous product cleaning and equipment sanitizing procedures to ensure guest safety, frequently washing hands and always wearing gloves. They also provide hand sanitizer and take-away wipes to customers.
Though the situation is tough for all restaurants, the team at Mimi’s has used this moment as an opportunity to improve their marketing strategy. "We’ve been able to focus a little more on building our brand, as being able to interact more closely with the public has helped us get our name known within the community."
The long weeks and extra hours have put a strain on the staff, but Jesse says the reward is worth the hustle. "It can feel a little like we're burning both ends of the candle," he says. "But at the end of the day, we're a family and we're proud of what we do."
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