An Open Letter to the Restaurant Industry in Calgary


On the weekend, I shared this status on Facebook.

Wednesday. I was at a pub where people had to wait for over 2 hours for their food.
Tonight, I went to a restaurant where the server decided making his food before getting mine. Then serve the person behind me. I walked out.
Then I go to another restaurant. The lady told me the guy that ” prepared the food” was taking out the garbage.
He returned to prepare the food, but forgot one important thing…
He forgot to wash his hands.
My conclusion. The restaurant service industry in Calgary needs improvement.

I wanted to follow up on this discussion a little further. Particularly because there was some good discussion around what I said. Which indicates too me there is something going on with the service at restaurants in the Calgary area.

So with that in mind, I decided to write an Open Letter to the restaurant industry in Calgary. Hopefully this can start a discussion on if, and how, the service can improve in Calgary.

Dear Restaurant Industry,

I realize that I’m speaking to almost 3,000 restaurants in Calgary. I realize you all are different.  You have different themes.You serve different types of foods. You have different price points and customer demographics. However, you all have one thing in common.

You are in the service industry. And being in the service industry, you realize there is an expectation from customers that they will be treated well.

Unfortunately, there is something missing. There are some customers that have felt the service is lacking.

I would like to start with three examples I mentioned above. The first one was at a well known sports pub in the city. This was last Wednesday when there were 3 Game 7 Stanley Cup Playoff games on.Due to that, there was an expectation that it would be busy.And it was. The problem was that the food ordered at our table took 2 hours to come out. The other issue was the quality of the food was lacking. Specifically, it seemed like wings were cold.

The second example I have is a restaurant that makes a donair. I approached the counter to order. Only to find out that the server was busy and quite frankly, very slowly making his own food. I waited over 5 minutes to see the family behind me get service. I was somewhat of a regular and was disappointed to be treated that way.

The third example was on the same night. I went into it to find out the server was not available as they were taking out the garbage. The person returned and clearly did not wash his hands. He put on gloves, but I saw no hand washing.

Now, before you site these as isolated incidents, I would like to point out a couple of more. There is popular bar downtown that has a dress code. The dress code includes no runners. We were at this restaurant for over an hour and moved tables twice to actually get service. We then were informed by our friends entering later that they could not go in because of their footwear. Only to realize that looking at one of the servers was actually wearing runners. You respond this is one bar? Many bar’s are gaining reputations of arrogant bouncers who are selective on who is lucky enough to get in to their “special club”. Or who at the bar is able to get a drink.

There is also a well known cafe in Kensington that expresses “Gratitude” that has the reputation of not being gracious to their customers. This is not only from the servers, who have been extremely rude to customers, but the actual owner as well.

I understand there are some current issues going on here. It’s tough to hire and keep quality staff. This is leading to staff shortage and, quite likely, stress amongst those that are working more hours.

However, I would like to point somethings out too you.

The first thing I would like to point out is several are doing this well. As an example, the recently closed down Lido Cafe in Kensington. They were in business for over 70 years. The last owner, Pam, worked 7 days a week for over 25 years. When I asked her the key to success she told me that she treated her customers like family. She valued her customers, she knew their names. She recalled customers that came every day. Those who had their first date. Customers who had children and those children became regulars.

What is also interesting is that the menu never changed. The prices stayed the same. The service stayed the same. And people kept coming back. So, it is possible to provide something special to your customers that take the time to come out. 

The second thing I think some need to be reminded of is the power of the word of mouth. It is a well known fact that negative news spreads faster than good news. As you know, there is many outlets, such as Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and Foodie bloggers that will share their experience. So the bad service you might give has the potential to travel faster than ever. But, so does the good service.

In the current climate of Calgary, the average restaurant business span is around 5 years. This would indicate that your time is short in making a strong lasting impression on customers. Quite frankly, there is many of you that understand this and do it well.

Unfortunately, there are a good chunk of the 3,000 restaurants that don’t. And fairly or not,it’s impacting the  reputation of the service industry in Calgary.

On behalf of the customer base in Calgary, I ask that you take the time to value and care for us who come to your restaurant. This means server’s, chefs, bartenders,  managers,and of course owners.

If you are interested in  that, then one of two things should happen. First, you should step away so someone who wants to be in the industry can get involved.

Or, what is more likely, we will walk away. And never come back.


Kevin Olenick



Agree or Disagree: We should take sex trafficking at the Super Bowl seriously

Agree or Disagree: We should take sex trafficking at the Super Bowl seriously

This is an article from CBC News about sex trafficking during the Super Bowl.

Members in Congress heard Monday that the Super Bowl is the “single largest human trafficking incident in the United States”.

However, some do believe this hype is overblown.

Julie Ham is a former researcher with the Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women said this in the article via email.

“These concerns aren’t valid. The idea that trafficking increases during large sporting events is an unsubstantiated rumour.”

What do you think? Should we take this seriously?

Agree or Disagree: We are having better conversations about Mental Health

Agree or Disagree: We are having better conversations about Mental Health

Mental illness affects people of all ages, educational and income levels, and cultures.

Approximately 8% of adults will experience major depression at some time in their lives.

About 1% of Canadians will experience bipolar disorder (or “manic depression”).

You can read more at this link

Clearly, it would seem that there are more conversations, more awareness about mental health.

Do you think we are having better conversations about Mental Health?

Let’s talk about that.

Agree or Disagree: Society discourages you to be a Good Samaritan

I have happened to notice there has been a few incidents in the news that has reminded me of this story.


A few weeks ago in Edmonton, there was an incident on the LRT where a man was beaten to death by another passenger.  This was not a late night incident, but in the middle of the day in front of other passengers


There was also a story in the Calgary Herald about several youth attacking someone on the C-train. Again not at night, but in the middle of the day.


It would be really easy to ask why people are not quickly responding. In the case of Edmonton, there was some who did. But in the other sense, the problem is you don’t know what someone is carrying a weapon or something else.


There have also been cases where people have been taken advantage of for being a Good Samaritan.For example,  cases of giving money to someone who is pretending to be poor. Or other similar scams.


You probably are aware of the story of the Good Samaritan. If not, you can reads it in the book of Luke Chapter 10 Verses 25-37


There are those moments that make you Stop.

There are those moments that make you Stop.

I’d like to tell you how my day started.

It was busy. This being the last day of class, it was a combination of tension, relief, joy and a little stress.

Some might say it was a Full Moon out. The energy felt different. it was one of those days where everything seemed a little topsy turvy. And, although it is very rare I feel that, this was one of those days.

But suddenly, perspective hit.

A town called Newtown Connecticut is 3, 927 km or 2, 440 miles from where I live in Calgary Alberta. It is a town that until today, I have never heard of.

But today, something horrific and unspeakable happened. A young man walked into an elementary school with 2 9mm handguns, and apparently from reports his brother’s identification. He opened fire leaving 18 children dead instantly, 2 children dying in hospital and 7 adults dead.

It just makes you Stop.

When I heard of this news, I searched my Social Media sites to wonder what was going on. About 5 hours ago, it seemed like a huge bunch of anger, shock, outrage. Admittedly I was a part of this, but politicing as well. From both sides and perspectives.

Generally, I eat lunch and go for a walk. I was taken back to my stressful day. I was then reminded that our day was ending early so we can celebrate Christmas. And then, many of us get to go home and hug their children and their loved ones tonight. Then this weekend, we will shop for Christmas gifts. We will want to get the best deal on the best Christmas gifts for our loved ones. We might fight someone for a parking spot. Or race ahead of someone in line. I’m not sure if it about us being selfish, or it just being a natural instinct of a stressful time.

Watching the news when I got home, it struck me how the news reporter on CNN was describing how fast this moment happened. It reminded how quick the moment seems to be that Christmas comes. And the time we take to prepare for that one moment in time to show how much we love someone.

Christmas isn’t the only moment we do this. There’s Valentine’s Day. Birthday’s. Anniversaries. Weddings. All of those days that come that we take that we intentionally show our love. But somehow in our rush to impress, maybe we miss the rest of those days to show it throughout the year. The moments we wished we said how we felt about someone. But we never do. And then the moment is gone.

in Social Media, on the news, there has been debate about God, guns, mental illness and whatever else we will continue to unpack going forward. These are important debates, but I’m not sure it’s the true solution.

In the midst of the rush, just Stop. Put your arm around someone. Remind those people that are close to you that you love them. Honour those who are the heroes in your life.

The time we have today is precious As you pray for those thousands of miles away, remember those who are close to you now.