Opinion

Coffee with....who's going to cater the caterer's retirement party?

Dave Timmons will hang up his catering whites next August, but says he will still work at Smitty’s restaurant in Port Alberni, which he owns. - WAWMEESH G. HAMILTON/Alberni Valley News
Dave Timmons will hang up his catering whites next August, but says he will still work at Smitty’s restaurant in Port Alberni, which he owns.
— image credit: WAWMEESH G. HAMILTON/Alberni Valley News

A fixture in Port Alberni’s restaurant and catering scene is hanging up his smock this summer.

Dave Timmons, 53, who owns Dave’s Catering, says he’s calling it a day this August.

“I already own a couple of restaurants and I’m quite involved in the community so it’s time to let something go,” Timmons said. “My wife and I are going to spend some of our time travelling and then we’ll see.”

Timmons, who also owns Smitty’s restaurant in Port Alberni, says he’ll continue to run the popular eatery as well as another he owns in Parksville.

Timmons has come a long way, literally and figuratively, since his childhood on Canada’s east coast.

He was born in New Waterford, Nova Scotia, in 1959, but his parents moved him and his five siblings to  Newfoundland and Labrador three years later.

Timmons’ favourite subject in school was math and his favourite pastime was playing sports— soccer and basketball specifically.

After high school Timmons attended St. Francis Xavier University where he was a striker for the mens soccer team.

Timmons was as good a student as he was an athlete, and earned a business degree with a major in accounting.

It was the early 1980s when Timmons graduated from university. Canada’s economy was flatlined and there were few jobs for anyone, even someone with a business degree.

Timmons’ first job after university was washing dishes at a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, he said. He also worked as an accountant at a large law firm there.

Timmons later became the eatery’s manager, and it quickly became the busiest KFC around, he said. He also met his wife Jane, who worked at the restaurant.

Timmons left KFC and worked for Xerox, a move he said was an invaluable experience. “I went through training and seminars in Washington and Virginia. It was a good couple of years,” he said.

Timmons was on the lookout for a good opportunity and one landed in his lap in 1988 when he bought Smitty’s in Port Alberni. “I worked a lot of long hours and long days so I figured if I was going to work that hard then I might as well work for myself,” he said.

“I just put my head down and got to work when I got here and here we are.”

Timmons was also a part-owner in the Kingsway Hotel until he sold his interest. “My soccer buddies and I went there after games, it was our watering hole,” he said. “We got drunk one night and bought it.”

The restaurant business would flatline sometimes so Timmons looked for a way to buttress his share in it. He saw another opportunity in catering events. He already had infrastructure and staff; and Dave’s Catering was born.

Timmons catered small events such as post-funeral meals right up to large gatherings. His most memorable job was in Toquart Bay five years ago at a gathering of canoes.

“It was for 700 people and we got word that the canoes were going to be five hours late,” Timmons said. “People ate in the dark of night and we had to collect our dishes out of the sand the next day. I can look back and laugh, but it sure wasn’t funny then.”

Timmons gets so busy that he sometimes forgets to write a job on the calendar and has to scramble when a panicked client calls. Or, his staff arrive at a job only to find he wrote the wrong date. “You’ve got to be ready to go. Service is just as important as the food.”

For a man who serves food to others Timmons has his own favourite meal, he said. “Prime rib and prawns. You just can’t go wrong with those.”

reporter@albernivalleynews.com

Twitter.com/AlberniNews

 

(Edited: for grammar in headline)

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