Chez Yvonne’s Success Formula: Service, Service, and Service
Chez Yvonne’s Restaurant, located in PEI’s famous Cavendish beach area community, is focused on providing a large, bilingual menu of tasty items for the seasonal dining customer.
Owners Paul and Linda Larkin feature a large menu offering prepared from locally sourced ingredients. . “Our menu offers many of the same menu staples that we have had for years. Our volume continues to grow, and we now offer gluten-free menu choices, as well as vegetarian diet options,” says Linda.
Founded in 1968, Chez Yvonne’s is named after Paul’s mother, and his parents operated it for the first 20 years. For the past 26 years, Paul as the main chef, and his wife Linda have grown their business operation, and is recognized as a drive-to location for Islanders and seasonal visitors.
The casual dining restaurant seats 100 inside, and offers a seasonal 40- seat deck outside.
“Our most ordered dish is fish and chips. On Sundays, we feature our turkey dinner, which is prepared using local turkeys that we raise ourselves. Paul raises 12,000 turkeys a year as well as some chickens. We also sell turkeys to other restaurants and hotels.”
“We buy a lot from local suppliers, and we publish our local supplier list in our menu. We purchase local vegetables in season as often as we can.”
“Customers today are looking for local products on our menu. People were asking for local beer so this year we added Island Draft Beer.
Linda says that today’s customer is looking for a dining experience. “People don’t want only to eat out anymore, they prefer it to be an experience. I find that the quality of service is more important to customers than anything else. If you are a good server and you take good care of your customer as soon as they walk in the door, then that sets the stage for the meal. It’s their total experience as a package that counts,” she says.
Chez Yvonne’s is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, seven days a week, and will employ 40 full-time, and 10 part-time employees from June 06 to September 27, this year.
“We are fortunate with our staff, because many of them have been here for several years. We give a gold watch for ten years of service, and it is amazing to me that we have given out 25 gold watches.”
“Our long-term staff train the new younger staff in the importance of service delivery. I think we are very lucky in having so many come back year after year.”
“Both of our children were here for seven years, and one was a server, and one was a cook. Our first-born just completed first year Medical School. Our youngest, who was the cook here, just graduated in the wind turbine industry last June, and is working all over Canada,” Linda says.”
“I think we were the first in this area to join UNIPCO. We have been with UNIPCO for nearly 20 years. We have saved thousands of dollars on our purchases every year, so we are happy being a member of UNIPCO.”
“We know we can count on UNIPCO to do our price monitoring for us. Being a member saves me a lot of time at the back door. Everyone in the food business knows that we are satisfied with UNIPCO,” says Linda.
Linda says that decisions about marketing is a tough call. “You are never quite sure with marketing as to where new business is coming from, but I do know that now with the Internet. We still use the local newspaper, but I think that the web is where everybody is going now to find information for their vacation or travel.”
“We will focus on our new website and Facebook page. Every advertisement that we do in the future will be linked to our website and to our Facebook page.” I assigned a staff person to take over from me because I found I did not have the time to do the updates. She will respond personally to customer comments and reviews.”
“We offer our menu in either English, or French and as a result, we have customers in both languages that come here every summer.”
Challenges that the Larkin’s face in their restaurant business. “Probably marketing would be something that we need to learn more about,” says Linda.
“Training is also an issue. Our staff are pretty good on the training side. But I would like to find a training service that can help us train our staff on current best practices in how they can enhance our customer’s experience.
“I think it would be great if there were courses available for staff on how do you treat a customer, including taking an order properly, and serving the customer’s order in a friendly manner.”
“How do you talk to customers is becoming a problem, because all the new younger servers and chefs coming in, are so digital.
For these new, younger staff, talking is not easy for them, and they don’t communicate that way anymore. They would text them rather than speak to them. Having said that there is still a lot of great employees out there,” says Linda.