Amber has a lengthy history of employment at Bluefin Restaurant and Black Rafter Lounge. Her first job at the age of 15 was bussing tables at the Bluefin in her first year at Souris Regional High School in 2002. She eventually became a Server and a Bartender when she turned 19.
Amber left the food and beverage industry to work with the provincial government as an administrator. She later moved to Alberta and worked in administration from 2012 to 2015.
Amber moved back to the Island after the wild fires that devastated the Fort McMurray area where she was living. She began managing the bar at the Black Rafter Lounge. In October 2017, Amber took ownership of the Bluefin Restaurant and Black Rafter Lounge.
“We are a licensed establishment serving breakfast, lunch and supper, year-round,” says Amber. “We close only on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Ownership is a lot of responsibility, but I have a really good team.
“All of the experiences in my careers helped me get to where I am today. My previous employment gave me experience and expertise on a professional level. My work experience started at the same establishment that I own today.”
“My parents were enthusiastic entrepreneurs,” says Amber. “My mother’s family owned a restaurant in Bridgetown. She later bought it from her parents and turned it into a canteen and pool hall. At that time, my father was a well-established fisherman.
“My mom sold the business and bought a lobster fleet and became one of the first female captains of her own boat.
“I had excellent business mentors, and the reason I have a good work ethic is because of my parents.”
About the staff
“During the off season, November to March, there are eight full-time and five part-time staff,” says Amber. “Our busiest season is April to October, when we have 25 full-time and 10 part-time staff.
“The establishment offers employment opportunities for residents living in rural PEI, close to their homes, schools and daycare providers.”
• General Manager
• Kitchen Manager
• Diningroom Manager
• Line Cooks
• Prep Cooks
• Crowd Controllers for Black Rafter Lounge
Wages and benefits
“I offer industry standard wages in each department, and a comprehensive benefit package is available,” says Amber. “You can earn at good living working in the food and beverage industry in a position you enjoy.”
Is there a need for bilingual staff?
“There is one bilingual employee,” says Amber. “We have a need for bilingual staff, but it is an asset and not a requirement.”
Staff education/training required
“People serving alcohol must take the Responsible Beverage Server Course,” says Amber. “I also prefer people to have their Food Safety Training certificate. First Aid certification and post-secondary education are assets but not requirements. Work experience is the biggest asset in this industry, but we are willing to train.”
“We offer full-time and part-time employment,” says Amber. “It’s a fast-paced work environment. You are on your feet, and constantly moving. It’s also a fun place to work.
“Our hiring needs in the kitchen are on-going. The most difficult job to fill is Line Cook. The food and beverage industry as a whole struggles with finding kitchen staff.”
How do you attract, develop and retain staff?
“I am in the middle of an Employee Retention Program where I meet one-one-one with employees to discuss where they are excelling and where they need improvement, because I want the staff to journey with me in the business. We discuss their work needs and how they fit with the operations of the business.
“My business reputation speaks for itself in attracting staff. Employees come to work happy and leave happy, and good news travels fast. This results in attracting good employees.”
Best way to get your foot in the door
“The best way to get your foot in the door is to drop by the restaurant and see me.”
“I interview and hire on a first come first served basis. It’s all about the interview process. When I took ownership, I created management positions. I developed an intensive interview process to determine the right people for the positions. Interviews help me get to know the person better.”
Typical interview questions
• What are your strengths and weaknesses?
• What experience do you have in the industry?
• Situational questions: how you would troubleshoot an example issue?
• Give me an example of how you demonstrate being respectful in the workplace.
How to stand out during the hiring process
• Demonstrate respect and a good work ethic.
• List your transferrable skills from previous employment.
Amber does the interviewing and hiring. There is an initial probation period of three months.
When working for the company, what are the keys to successful employment?
“The best thing you can do is to be prompt and pleasant with staff and customers.”
Future business plans
“I plan to expand catering services off-site and on-site, which will result in more hires,” says Amber. “I am adding more seafood items on my menu. I know trained culinary professionals who can come in and help with this. The bigger my business expands the more people I will employ.”
Would you be willing to have job seekers tour your facility?
“Yes, job seekers are welcome to tour the business,” says Amber.
For more information about The Bluefin Restaurant and Black Rafter Lounge, contact Amber Jenkins, Owner, at [email protected] or call 902-687-3271.