About six weeks ago, Chef Leighton Fontaine took over management of the Osborne Village Café and in that short time his sales have already tripled.
Although Fontaine has been cooking in hotels and other restaurants for 11 years, taking over the Osborne Village Café in the Osborne Village Motor Inn is his first experience as sole manager and executive chef of a diner.
The café has gone through numerous operators in the past 10 to 15 years and Fontaine, with seven part-time employees, hopes to make an impact with this urban diner.
Fontaine says he initially studied to be a teacher but realized that if he had to work at something for the rest of his life, "I might as well do something that I really enjoy." ‘
So he changed course and embarked on a working education, starting as line cook and working himself up to sous-chef, always under the tutelage of excellent executive chefs who recognized his work ethic, passion for cooking and his excellent managerial skills.
Osborne Village Café has always been known for its all-day breakfast and Fontaine is continuing the tradition but with new items on the menu ,such as beet-and-potato latkes that have gone over very well and quinoa pancakes made with real butter and maple syrup.
"I do everything from scratch except for the bread," Fontaine says. "It is a very labour-intensive menu even though some if it is quite simple."
So far Fontaine has not invested any money in advertising but he did start a facebook page that has helped bring in some customers. A lot of his new trade has been word-of-mouth, he says.
"I thought I would be struggling the first couple of months and winter is never good for a restaurant but so far business has been very good."
Helen Lepp Friesen is a community correspondent for Fort Garry. You can contact her at email@example.com.