Meeting Minutes - Court Desautels - Neighbourhood Group of Companies - Feb. 2nd. 2017
This meeting was held at Trinity United Church and was called to order by President John Proctor at 9:56 am with 42 members present. President Proctor opened by welcoming guest presenter Court Desautel. There were no new guest present at this meeting.
President Proctor reminded everyone that the Valentine's Day Dinner is approaching and members should get there tickets ASAP so that we can inform the Mandarin Restaurant of how many people will be coming. He also provided some background for today’s presentation by saying that some time ago he had the good fortune of having dinner at the Borealis Restaurant and meeting Court Desautel’s father. On Wednesday’s at the Borealis, there are dinner specials and you can bring your own bottle of VQA wine for dinner and there is no corkage charge on the wine.
Julian Sale introduced guest speaker, Court Desautel, President of the Neighbourhood Group of Restaurants – Borealis Grill & Bar, Miijidaa Café & Bistro, and The Woolwich Arms Pub, (The Wooly Pub). Court’s passion has been deeply rooted in the hospitality sector and he has worked in kitchens and restaurants since the age of 14 around Guelph and Toronto. He went to George Brown College where he received a Diploma in Business Management. His true passion is to create the most sustainable restaurant group and help pave the way of how restaurants will do business in the
Court Desautel Court related how he worked his way up by starting to wash dishes every Sunday in his father’s restaurants, then going to school in Toronto to get a Diploma in Business Management and then he did a time working as a DJ in Toronto. Eventually he went to Australia where the only work he could find was in a restaurant. During this experience he learned the lesson of buying locally and the benefits of doing that. It was then that he realized what his father had been trying to teach him about running a restaurant by letting the local ingredients and flavours speak for themselves. Court learned from his Australian experience the importance of buying locally and supporting local farmers and growers.
His father had run and lost several businesses but kept the Woolwich Arms which had been converted into a fine dining restaurant by an interim owner. He decided to keep as a bar as it was and converted the dining area to a pub. His thought process was to try to figure out what Canadian food was. So he started selling only local beers and to buy only locally grown or produced foods. His father owned several restaurants/pubs in several other Ontario cities. Some of them suffered economically and went out of business but they kept the Woolwich Arms in Guelph.
In 2008 Court’s dad assisted him in opening up the Borealis Restaurant and trying to find what a local restaurant is in Canada. But in Canada it is difficult to get certain fresh produce so from December to March they have to get imported fresh produce. At the same time he started to think about where the other things associated with the restaurant business comes from, such as equipment, plates, glassware, uniforms, paper goods and energy. Although the cost may be higher to buy these things locally, it didn’t matter, they committed to buying locally.
The business expanded to open Miijidaa Restaurant. Miijidaa is an Ojibwa word meaning “let’s eat” and similar to the French expression, “Bon appetite.” In looking for the roots of food in our country they decided to look to the indigenous peoples for the name of the restaurant.
The philosophy of the restaurants in the Neighbourhood Group is “doing well by doing better.”
Focus on quality over quantity
- better before cheaper - revenue over cost - nothing else matters except #2 3) Add value 4) Engage - with key stakeholders: Suppliers, the employees and the environment.
Next week they will receive the award for Restaurant of the Year for Ontario.
There are five things to consider that matter when it comes to marketing to chose what goes on their menu.
Taste: the most important thing is that the product tastes good. So they go to farms and breweries with their staff to learn how the product is grown or produced.
Nutrition & Health: they use locally grown fresh produce and the fish they use is from the west coast and is caught by line using barbless hooks and then immediately shipped to Guelph.
Environment: attempt to reduce their carbon footprint by using sustainable energy methods and they are completely carbon neutral company. They use green electricity. They did an analysis on the amount of waste they were throwing out and reduced it by half and recycled dry waste and organic waste was given to local pig farmers to use as feed.
Community: They give back to the community by assisting in the Speed River cleanup and by working with local breweries have contributed funds for the Grand River Conservation Foundation and have pledged $75,000 to the nature center being built at Guelph Lake. They also do a lot of tree planting and help with KidsAbility by providing meals. They work with the Lucky Iron Fish Project by contributing to communities in need.
Economy: “Think globally, eat locally.” Buying locally supports, strengthens and diversifies our region economy. “Be the change.” People using business for a source for good. We have to strengthen our economy if we are going to help anyone else.
In the 1950' s we spent 50% of our income on food but now we spend 10% of it on food. How did this happen? How did we make ourselves accountable and authentic? This is one our biggest challenges and proudest moments.
There’s a company called the “B” Corp that provide a certification and there are only 17 restaurants in the world with this certification and we are four of them making us the largest group in the world with that certification. It took five years to get this certification with a lot of frustration along the way. There are 2,000 companies in the world with this certification in 56 industries in 45 countries.
“B” Corp is equivalent to what “Fair Trade” is to coffee. Essentially this process is what encompasses our entire business. It means using business as a force for good is good for business.
What does this mean? It means:
Good for workers
The company implemented an employee benefit package. Every employee who works over 25 hours per week is eligible for the benefit package and if the employee works for the company for over three years the company pays 100% of the health package. Employees are able to buy shares into the company. 2) Good for the Community The company donates approximately 1% of profits to community groups or projects. 3) Good for the environment Working with the University they determined how much waste they were generating so that they had a baseline to work from to reduce their waste. 4) Good for the long term As a “B” Corp they have to recertify every two years. This is a very intense process and it took five years to originally get certified. 5) Good to the core This means it has to be in your DNA as a company to do this. The rewards are endless. For instance, one employee who joined the company was recently diagnosed with epilepsy and her medication was costing $1400 per month. With the benefit program when she got on it, her costs were completely covered.
How is it measured? By: - Impact assessment - Governance - Workers – paid a living wage (in Guelph it’s $16.50/hr.) and in addition the company pays benefits - Community - Environment - Customers It’s all about transparency. At their governance meetings all employees are welcome to sit in on the meetings while being paid. And if they can’t make it, the company will sit down with them and open the books for them to look at them and show where they are bleeding money or making money. Then the company will show how the employee can help the company or how the company can help the employee.
The score for the company can be found on the “B” Corp website. The system is out of 200 points total. The average score for companies is 51 points. The Neighbourhood Group scores 87.5 points and you have to be over 80 points to be “B” Corp certified. The highest ranked companies score about 97 points.
Court Desautel’s philosophy comes from a quote by Adelle Davis who was a food activist in the 1940’s and 50’s: “We are indeed much more than what we eat, but what we eat can nevertheless help us to be much more that what we are.”
Court Desautel concluded by saying: We can vote as activists with our dollars.
Following the presentation, Mr. Desautel responded to questions from the membership.
Julian sale thanked Mr. Court Desautel presented him with a token of appreciation which Mr. Desautel indicated he would be donating to charity.
Julian Sale reminded members to continue to provide suggestions for speakers to the Speaker’s Committee.
Activities Committee – Ken Dick Ken Dick to informed us about Valentine's dinner at the Mandarin on Tues. Feb. 14th. - People should arrive before 6:30 at the door of the Mandarin. An area has been set aside for the club. Two things being planned for the spring, one being the anniversary dinner in April.
Coffee Club – Gary Luck - next Thursday at the Airpark Café – Come before 10:00am to get seat space.
Next meeting Feb. 16th with Robin Smart speaking on “Finding Your Way: People living with dementia.”