The family behind one of my favourite restaurants in town, are Alex, Phil, Timmy and Alister Kinsman. I wanted to share some “behind the scenes” or “back of the kitchen” stories with you to highlight the commitment they have made to this gem over the last ten years. For some backstory, during my time at McMaster, I worked evenings at Saving Thyme to help pay for school and got to work with Alex, Phil, and the team for about two years all in all. Those duties included (but were not limited to) dishes, hosting, delivery driver, catering server and back of house DJ to control the tunes in the kitchen.
I spoke to Alex and Phil a few weeks ago to see if they would be interested in being my first business champions, and they were thrilled to chat about Saving Thyme. If you ever drive past the plaza at Appleby and New where they are located, you will notice lights on in the back at almost every single hour of the day (someone’s baking!). You know croissants are in the oven, takeout is being prepared and baked goods are going to be super fresh!
“We live, work, and play in this community. Our son goes to school here, our business is here and we live just around the corner from the shop. It means everything to us.” – Phil Kinsman
Running a restaurant is no easy gig. I see them put in 20-hour days, day after day and week after week. This grind mentality is what you see in successful restauranteurs, the constant push to deliver quality products to their customers. In fact, I bared witness to times of literal “blood sweat and tears” which could have been caused by a mishap in an order or having a tough conversation about where next month’s rent is going to come from. This never deterred them from moving forward. They never gave up.
I remember when they told the staff that they were going to expand and take over the site next door to create more seating. This was a huge endeavour that could not have been a better investment. I mean this in the nicest way but plan to wait for a seat for brunch on a Saturday or Sunday morning between 9-1 pm. Their breakfast sandwich is to die for, and the ham and gruyere croissant has caused a life long battle between my taste buds and my waistline.
I remember a specific moment after a hectic night of offsite catering events. We had a busy dine-in crowd, were flooded with deliveries, and all of us made a pizza in the back. It was myself, Alex, Phil, Timmy, Carly, and our server Emma. It was a 20-hour day for them. I knew they were exhausted. They decided to take a quick 20 minutes to actually EAT some food. While I was in the dish pit, I decided to capture this moment.
This is Saving Thyme.
Behind the beautiful French décor, white and grey accent walls and treats in the front display. A family. A hard-working, dedicated, talented, caring and supportive family. You don’t forget these moments, nor should we. For some reason, I just knew I had to capture it.
In fact, while these difficult times progressed, they made sure to continue paying every single member of the team a minimum wage of $15 an hour (including servers), and enrol every single full-time team member on a benefits package. These are the kind of people Alex and Phil are. Taking care of their team (which they often refer to as their family), and it feels like family when you’re at Saving Thyme.
“Our restaurant has only survived this pandemic because of the generous support of the Burlington community” – Alex Kinsman
It’s important to remember that behind every small business, is a business champion (or champions). They are people, neighbours, family, friends or co-workers. People who take a huge risk to start their own adventure in the hopes that they can deliver a product or service that people will utilize and enjoy. That’s what makes them champions. That’s what makes Alex and Phil champions.
My ask to you!
I read something last week that I wanted to share with you all. It said something on the lines of “We’re quick to leave a bad review after one bad experience at a small business, but if timmies messes up our double double, we’re back the next day with no bad review”. After hearing the story of Alex and Phil and for the upcoming business champion stories I will share, I want to leave this with you. Before you leave a critical review of a small business, give it a day. Reflect, take some time to think about it and then maybe go directly to the owners to share your concerns rather than negatively post about them online. They need all the support they can get right now during these tough times. Now…. go get a croissant!