If I’m going to be honest…

I actually wash dishes, serve food, and work in the back of a kitchen for my living, 12 hours a day for 6 days a week.

The marketing part is the most impactful part of what I do, but only takes up 1 hour of my time.

I’ve been holding this part of my life back for a few years now, because it feels out of place to share on a platform like my blog.

Everyone here is in their cozy home offices, and get off by 4 or 5 PM. They are negotiating for salaries well above 80k. They get time to themselves and their loved ones.

I wish everybody who lives the life described above is aware of how grateful they should be.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t feel shame or want words of pity.

I’m actually happy doing what I do for my family’s restaurant.

I just wish more people knew of and respected the other kind of work there is in the world (the kind that isn’t so comfortable and nice).

That is all.  

Anna, out.

The first chapter of my career will be about my parents

Loud, greasy, chaotic, overwhelming, stressful, tiring, and it’s over 20 years old. 

If you’re new here, let me introduce myself. 

My name is Anna and I work at our family restaurant business as my main job.

I’ll be honest, it’s not the most flashiest place to be but I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. 

Here’s why. 

  • 25 years into my life, I’m beginning to realize how much my parents had to work for their lives in Canada (15 hours shifts being the norm)
  • I’ve been at the family business ever since graduating college, and I’ve learned so much more at the restaurant than at school. 
  • This is a rare opportunity for me to get to know my own family, as my parents were always at work (and rarely at home) when I was growing up

Most of my own friends won’t understand these experiences, but I’ve accepted that. 

I’ve decided that I’m going to dedicate this small but critical part of my career to my parents. 

That means building the best business I can for them. 

It also means giving people like me pride for being raised by hardworking minority parents. 

Loud, greasy, chaotic, overwhelming, stressful, tiring, 20 year old thing—you and I’ve got work to do


What Working In A Family Business is Like

Working in a family business is tough. 

Your parents are your bosses.

You take personal drama to work (after all you live and work with the same people).

And life-work balance ceases to exist. 

Though I find it challenging at times, it’s one of the more rewarding experiences in my life.

I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. 

How I Handle Family in a Family Business Environment

My parents have been working together as partners for over a decade now. Needless to say, I’ve seen many moments where they don’t get along. Things aren’t always sunny in a family business. 

On the other hand, there are lots of times where my parents do get along and things run smoothly. 

For me, I officially entered our family business 2 years ago. Since then, I find that it has drastically changed the relationship I have with my parents. 

Before, I would be the child. I would do things, ask for permission, and not have a lot of say. 

Now, I’m starting to see that we’re partners. The choices we make are for the benefit of the family business machine.

But back to the question, how do you balance family when they’re also your co-workers?

You can’t handle your mom the same way you would handle a co-worker that just did something wrong. There is no HR department to report to when your dad hurts your feelings. In the same way, most people don’t go home after a long day of work to see their co-workers chilling in the living room. Most people don’t wait for their manager to get out of the washroom before they can do their morning business. 

This is a long-winded way to say that I’m not sure if there’s a balance to family business work-life balance. At some point I believe it just becomes your version of life.  

I got into a heated argument with the CEO at our company (AKA my mom)

For all the love and respect I have for her, it would be a big fat lie if I said that family businesses are perfect in any shape or form. 

It’s tiring to be around your co-workers all the time. It’s also tiring to be around your family all the time. In a family business, you live, eat, sleep, and work with your co-workers. It’s just how it is. 

I’m not crying over it. I just have my limits as does everyone else. Today is not my best day, but I’m sure we can move on. 

How Posting on the Internet Saved Our Family Business This Year

On this day last year, we were in the beginning stages of COVID and was really feeling the impacts of it on our family restaurant. Unfortunately we saw that many food businesses did not survive the storm. Some days we wondered if we would survive, too. Being the most internet-literate person in the family business (out of my mom, my dad, and me), I took it upon myself to start creating a digital presence for our restaurant. Not because I thought it would work, but because we needed to try something new. Something that wasn’t just waiting around for regulars to come back during a public health emergency. 

And so Instagram became a good friend.

After 60 days months of posting seriously, we were contacted by a local news and entertainment company which helped our business tremendously in its bleakest times. In the following 200 days, more and more people kept sharing our photos with their friends on the internet, and more people came through the doors.

1000+ internet posts later, we now have new customers regularly order through Instagram pictures or tiktok videos at the cash register.

I’m grateful we’ve made it this far. It’s been a tough year to say the least, but I realize that social media is much more than the work distraction we make it out to be. It’s a skill, and it’s worth more than what most people believe it to be.

The Day I Left School

The day I left school was the day I went into the restaurant industry full time. It was the same day that I was reminded what they teach at school is only so narrow.

There was no way school was going to teach me how to handle a lunch rush of 100+ meals in 2 hours. 

Also a very low chance of learning how to handle a 200 item menu and calmly communicate with an upset customer at the same time.

There are an unlimited amount of things I don’t know, and I think that that’s an incredible thing.

How Our Family Restaurant is Doing Instagram in 2021

I’ve been posting regularly on our restaurant’s instagram account for about a year now, and at this point I’ve been seeing the slow but real life changes and benefits of having a social media presence as a local food business, even through the COVID-19 pandemic. 

What I found to be most important in the past 365 days is this:

I shouldn’t listen to my mom.

And of course, I can’t leave without an explanation so here goes. My mom believes in something along the lines of, “If it’s not picture perfect, we shouldn’t share it.”

On the other hand, I want to post the rough, the real, and the action because I believe that’s where the charm of our restaurant really is. We don’t pride ourselves in food aesthetic, or specialty cultures, or a nicely curated feed. Instead our food is for the everyday human being who come from humble immigrant roots. It’s not fancy, nor is it supposed to be. 

Had I asked for her permission every time we had to make a post, we would not be on anybody’s radars at all. 

Since then, we’ve 10x’ed our following count (numbers beware, 10x is fun to say when you start with really low numbers), and have around 3-4 new customers on average every day who order in person via our Instagram feed.

I’d consider that a win to me in January 2021.