“All our employees work part time,”
Marc Peetsma, co-owner of Griffintown Cafe, Montreal, Quebec
WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS?
Our restaurant is also a cafe. We serve lunch and dinner. All week, we have fresh food including sandwiches, salads, pasta and grills. We also have brunch on the weekend. All our products come from the market, and customers recognize the quality of our meals. We have also forged a musical reputation for ourselves. Our band, Bharath and his Rhythm Four, plays in the restaurant every Friday. We used to come here to play, and a few months ago we decided to buy the place.
WHAT PROPORTION OF YOUR EMPLOYEES WORK PART TIME?
All our employees are part time. My two associates and I manage the entire restaurant ourselves and are only hiring part time for now. I have part-time kitchen and wait staff as well. The sous-chef is part time, but the chef is one of the partners.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF PART-TIME WORK IN THE RESTAURANT BUSINESS?
Part-time workers give us more flexibility in particular. We can call the wait staff at the last minute, and we can react more quickly. We adjust the schedules based on the work. Of course, this cuts down on the costs of an employee. Our labour costs vary a lot. At lunch, for example, we need several waitresses because all the customers arrive at once, but in the evenings, people are not in a hurry—they want to spend time in the restaurant.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE DISADVANTAGES OF PART-TIME WORK?
The unexpected sometimes arises. Luckily we, as the owners, are on site and able to deal with things. If an employee can’t come in, one of us pitches in. It’s convenient, but not ideal. And I think that part-time employees don’t have the same emotional attachment and sometimes don’t put as much of themselves into their work. I say this based on my own experience. In a restaurant, the relationship with customers won’t be the same between someone who only works there occasionally and someone who’s been there 40 years.
WHAT ARE YOUR RECRUITING OBJECTIVES FOR THE FUTURE?
For sure I’m going to have to hire more people. We’re attracting more customers, and we’ve started to advertise. The restaurant is expanding, and we’re going to need new employees. The better the business does, the more we’ll hire. I’m going to continue with part time, but I’m also planning on hiring full-time staff. The chef, who is also co-owner, works 90-hour weeks. I’m going to have to hire people just to keep him from going crazy! I’ll maybe promote the sous-chef to part-time chef, but we’ll see.