An Edmonton entrepreneur has a chance to make his mark on the country’s culinary industry as the new board chair of Restaurants Canada.
Patrick Saurette, owner and operator of The Marc restaurant in Edmonton, was elected chair at the association’s annual meeting Sunday in Toronto, the organization said in a news release.
“As an independent restaurateur, Patrick will bring tremendous value to the association,” said Shanna Munro, president and CEO of Restaurants Canada. “With his leadership, we are in good hands to continue to extend the reach, relevance and impact of Restaurants Canada across the country on behalf of our members.”
Saurette said he believes one of his main roles in the one-year term is to reinforce the voice of the independent restaurant.
“We want to make sure we have a healthy, stable environment, where there’s predictability in our daily ongoing businesses,” Saurette told CBC News.
As the owner and operator of a small French bistro south of Jasper Avenue on 106th Street, Saurette said he knows what it’s like to wear a plethora of hats.
“We’re plumbers, we’re human resources, we’re accountants and we’re hosts and cooks,” he explained. “There’s a lot of moving parts to an independent restaurant, so to know there’s an association there to assist you with some questions, I hope is reassuring for a lot of people.”
Saurette has worked in the hospitality industry since he was 16. In 1993, he started with il Portico Restaurant Group, where he became an operating partner.
Saurette opened The Marc with his wife and business partner Doris Saurette, in 2010. He’s also been the restaurant representative on the Edmonton downtown business association. Saurette first joined the Restaurants Canada Board of Directors in 2008.
A critic of minimum wage hikes
The entrepreneur has been a vocal critic of the Alberta government’s minimum wage hikes over the past few years — increases he says are too quick for the industry to adjust to.
“There are large adjustments that are made from political decisions,” he said. “It has a serious effect on our viability.”
He said the chorus of concern from his colleagues is growing.
“You never really hear from people until they’re in trouble or they’re worried or they’re greatly concerned, and I hear that volume going up by the day.”
Saurette said Restaurants Canada provides data and advice on a range of products and services, and tips on dealing with government policies and changes.
Restaurants Canada represents 30,000 businesses in an industry that directly employs more than 1.2 million Canadians.