If Moncton can claim to be the Hub of the Maritimes, then Hynes Restaurant, located on Moncton's bustling commercial Mountain Road, can claim to be one of the most popular dining hubs of modern Metro Moncton.
Sooner or later, a large percentage of the population and those visiting the Moncton area, find their way to Hynes. In the same location since 1957, and established in 1939, this third generation family restaurant’s fare is a popular destination and rarely without a line up to get in.
From the early morning construction crowd to late at night shift workers seven days a week, a steady stream of students, medical industry service professionals, and visitors fill the 122-seat restaurant. A staff of 55 keeps Hynes Restaurant, a Moncton institution running smoothly.
Jamie Hynes, like his father Buddy before him, uniquely greets customers at the door, and seats dining guests, in much the same way that Jamie's grandfather did in the depression era 1930's Moncton. Long time manager Sue Hudson, a cousin, spares Jamie off the greeting duty, as they continue the family tradition of personally greeting incoming customers and finding them a spot in the close quarters of the restaurant.
"Sue is like me, and she too grew up in this business," he says.
Today's modern Hynes Restaurant runs on detailed computerized financial recording and reporting of average meal costs as Jamie brings food service cost accounting and expense control programs into play to better manage the business return side. Reams of detailed reports are available to him that helps to identify popular menu items, as well as recording the number of table turns per staff shift. But Jamie says that when it comes to greeting and meeting customers, he and his father are old school managers.
"We believe in meeting customers at the door as a personal touch. People expect us now to be here, and to be minding our business and tending to customers."
"I can go away and know that Sue Hudson is there greeting customers at the door. We have a high volume business in a small footprint and its takes careful coordination. We will serve 300-400 breakfasts on a weekend morning, and with our staff in the kitchen, it takes a special kind of staff with four-line cooks to keep up with the orders."
"I have a good support staff with Sue, and now Josette (Jamie’s wife who trained as a nurse), since she joined the business operation about a decade ago when our children Catherine 18, and Patrick 15 went off to school.
"I am lucky with the staff I have. I can leave here in the afternoon, even if Sue, or I am not here, and be confident that things will run smoothly. The staff knows what they are doing. They work hard. They say you are nothing without a good staff, and I could not agree more," says Jamie.
Hynes has a number of long-term employees, many of whom have over 25 years of service, and some current employees go back beyond Jamie's assuming management of the restaurant in 1990.
Jamie says he got his education after high school in what he refers to as Hynes 101, from his father, Buddy, and mother Dorine over the years.
Jamie and his wife Josette are fully in charge now as the third generation of Hynes management, but on occasion Buddy and Dorine will come over from their home, located immediately behind the restaurant, and have their lunch. Many of Hynes long time customers are like family as well as business friends. Many still drop by the elder Hynes' lunch table to say hello. Buddy Hynes is a Moncton restaurant industry veteran and icon.
" I refer to Buddy as my unpaid restaurant management consultant," says Jamie, with his easy grin making the point that this is still very much a family run business. "We don't always agree on things, but that makes it all the better to find ways to try and do things better every time.,” he says.
"My grandparents Jim and Bessie Hynes started the restaurant business we have today. Then it was called Jim's Lunch, and was located on the corner of High Street and St. George, where a popular drug store chain has a store now. In the late 30's, their first diner location was considered to be on the outer edge of the then Moncton.
In 1957, the present Mountain Road location opened, and the name was changed to Hynes Restaurant. Shortly after it opened, Buddy took over from his parents. At that time in the mid 50's, Moncton's Mountain Road was a largely northern rural highway into the city connecting through Moncton, to Dieppe and with the highway to Halifax, and PEI.
After six months of operation in the then new Mountain Road location, Buddy and Dorine took over Buddy’s parents, and continued to build the volume of business till their own retirement in 1990. Jamie says he never thinks about retirement. "I love what I do. I enjoy this business and my work every day.”
The present restaurant seating capacity was expanded over the recent years with a new wing that was attached to the entire length of the original building.
What is less visible to the customer is what happens in the lower level of the new wing. There is a full-service laundry which keeps up with the demand for linens, and a prep kitchen hums with staff, while the nearby baking kitchen creates the smooth, deep dish pies with signature deep frostings for pies and high top layer cakes.
"We cook all our signature desserts here and this gives us added quality control for our customers as well as cost control. Our homemade desserts are big sellers for us," says Jamie.
"It may seem hard to believe today, but many thought my family had made a huge mistake in moving to the almost rural edge of then Moncton’s Mountain Road."
The family was aware that the then new Moncton Hospital had just relocated some distance West, and just off of Mountain Road, and believed it would be a traffic draw to Mountain Road. A second hospital in Moncton was just a few short blocks away and further to the east along the Mountain Road highway corridor.
This foresight about strategic location traffic holds true today, as on any given morning or evening, groups from both of Moncton's hospitals often will have an end of shift meal. The option is always available to order from the restaurant's all-day breakfast menu. Today, Mountain Road is the Metro areas’ retail core as well as a high volume traffic connector to growing sub-divisions located in Moncton's growing northwest residential area.
What Jamie Hynes has learned about the food service business can be boiled down to these crucial points.
Consistency. "Customers know when they come into Hynes what they are going to get in terms of service, pricing, and the quality of the meal. The secret is to give customers what they want. People come here, and consistency is the biggest thing we offer.
It is a tribute to the staff that they are the ones who are doing it (consistency). I guess the conductor is only good as the people playing the music. That is how I think we are successful.
Attention and Retention. "You have to be hands on in a restaurant. You have to be here (on the floor), to run the business for your customer."
Personal Touch: "Customers expect us to be here, we are married to this business. We know the customers and know what they want, and what they value in a meal, and in the menu selection."
Staffing: We are fortunate to have many 25-year veterans here, and have retained a lot of staff over the years, and they know our customers well. They know what they are ordering even before they speak. Keeping them is key."
Performance Information: We know our average customer transaction sale number for every shift and monthly report. We have to be efficient to make money. We know how many staff we have or are projected to have for a shift in order to make our numbers for the day. This restaurant business is a numbers game now.
Be vigilant: Pay attention. Take care of what you do, and stay close to the customer.
Be frugal: Hynes Restaurant has no Facebook page, no website, and only a Yellow Pages based web information. Hynes still advertises on promotional print items like matchbook covers.
About UNIPCO: “When I joined in 1992, there were only 28 members at that time. I appreciate UNIPCO because they work for you. Salesmen calling on you take up too much of your time. I have more time to work on my business and not theirs.
I like that UNIPCO has my back and do a lot of work for you by watching the prices of what we buy. They are helping you with your businesses' bottom line, not someone else's”, says Jamie.