Mel Totten and Brad Sutherland wore wide smiles on March 12 in Calgary when they accepted four franchise awards for the success of Ricky’s All Day Grill.
Their work as manager and chef, respectively, was recognized as being outstanding among the Alberta South/Kootenay division of about two dozen restaurants. Now on display in the restaurant at the Highway 3/3A intersection are awards for franchisee of the year, outstanding sales performance, best marketing and operational excellence. (The restaurant previously won the Rising Star Award last year.)
“It’s nice to be recognized among people who have long experience in the Ricky’s franchise,” Totten said yesterday.
She and Sutherland assumed their key responsibilities at Ricky’s late in 2012. Both were well known to restaurant customers in Creston.
“To do so well against restaurants in large centres like Calgary and Lethbridge means that we are doing it right,” Sutherland said.
Totten is especially thrilled with the Outstanding Sales Performance Award, which the Creston operation won by increasing business by a whopping 23.5 per cent in 2014.
The Franchisee of the Year Award came as a result of regular site visits by the Ricky’s management team. Totten said for Creston to win it was an honour, and shows Creston is on the map.
Totten said that after working for independent mom and pop restaurants, she enjoys the support offered by one of Canada’s leading groups of franchise restaurants.
“They know what they want and they have a history of success,” she said. “They have high standards.”
Sutherland echoed those sentiments.
“This restaurant works because of the Ricky’s brand,” he said. “They operate throughout Canada and have a proven system — if you follow what they provide and stick to it, it works.”
Like most restaurants, keeping staff is a challenge, but the chef said it is not an insurmountable hurdle. About 20 employees are on staff, divided evenly between the kitchen and service area.
“It’s a challenge, but it’s really about communication,” he said. “Here, everybody gets to understand the bigger picture. Proper communication gets everyone working together. Our staff knows why they are expected to do things a certain way — consistent quality of the food and service are key.”
He said it’s exciting to be part of a growing company. There are now 70 Ricky’s All Day Grills across the country and the acquisition of ABC Country Restaurants will mean there are more than a hundred restaurants by the end of the year.
Sutherland and Totten agree that the restaurant’s success is a reflection of local support.
“We get great support from people throughout the Creston Valley,” she said.
Sutherland says the menu, which has more than 100 items, is a key factor.
“Our Big Breakfasts are popular, as are our burgers, steaks and ribs, and the introduction of prime rib on the weekends has gone over really well,” he said. “Just as important, though, is that we address dietary needs. We have a gluten-sensitive menu and we are happy to accommodate customers with specific dietary requests.
“And we use top quality products. For example our prime rib is certified Alberta Angus beef.”
The Ricky’s brand is a good one, Sutherland said, and it works in markets large and small.
“We’ve proven that even in a small town it can do well.”