Jamie Ayles and Chris Dean from Bow Valley BBQ in Canmore
Before founding Bow Valley BBQ, owners Jamie Ayles and Chris Dean both worked in the hospitality industry – so they have a special appreciation for the challenges facing small businesses right now. They’re trying to help the community however they can, and still cooking up plenty of award-winning BBQ sauce.
“We are proud to be able to provide some support in our community during these times. Doing what we can, when we can, is the most important function we can offer through this.” - Jamie Ayles, co-owner of Bow Valley BBQ.
After years of working in bustling kitchens, Jamie Ayles decided it was time to harness his craft to create his very own business. “I started Bow Valley BBQ when I was a chef in the food service industry,” Jamie explains. “I wanted to become an entrepreneur using my passion for food.”
He began producing a line of gourmet condiments and BBQ blends (winning a few awards along the way) and secured major distribution with national grocery chains and dozens of local restaurants. Their diversified client base has helped them through COVID-19, which forced many restaurants to reduce operations. “Food service sales have dropped to near zero for the time being,” Jamie told us. “But retail at the grocer level has made up for it.”
His team has implemented a number of new procedures and protocols within their facilities to ensure the day-to-day operations remain safe. Jamie says all extra work has provided some much needed structure during the pandemic. “We are fortunate to have our day-to-day jobs to focus on. It's the weekends inside with limited activities that are more challenging.”
As everyone faces their own challenges – from family matters to professional hardships – it’s the little moments of empathy that really hit home for Jamie. “We’ve seen members of our community purchasing groceries for complete strangers, which is very inspiring and humbling.”
“We’ve seen the best of people more often than the worst of people lately.”
In the face of border restrictions and supply chain disruptions, Jamie is hopeful this pandemic will spark a Canada-first consumer movement. “We believe Canadians will be more focused on Canadian-made products and have a strengthened desire to support local business,” he says.
“It's important to recognize that we’re all part of the same small community.”
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