McKecks wins Employer of the Year award
By Sue Tiffin
May 2, 2017
When the Wiso family came to Haliburton from Syria last year, McKecks Tap and Grill staff offered the teenagers in the family a serving job.
“For me, if you’re a teenager in Haliburton, you work in the summer and you work part-time during school,” said Karen Frybort, general manager. “That seems to be a normal Canadian thing to do.”
“We very much wanted to make a Canadian life for these kids who are being integrated into this new world,” she said.
Frybort said Hasan Wiso was adamant that he wanted to use English, but some words borrowed from other languages – like quesadilla and poutine – proved confusing.
She acknowledged that using a new language and communicating with a team in a fast-paced restaurant could be tricky. To make things run smoothly, Frybort translated common words used in the McKecks kitchen into Arabic online and made cheat sheets for the Wisos to help them learn.
“Now Hasan can work completely alone,” she said. “He’s one of the fastest, he smiles and he tries to converse.”
“It’s great,” said Wiso. “Everyone is nice to me. I felt so happy because I saw someone who helped me.”
It’s that commitment to supporting youth to contribute to their community, help fund their future goals and work toward learning life and work skills that earned McKecks an Employer of the Year Award from the Employment Ontario Eastern Regional Group.
“They’ve used many of our services in the past, and they’re really committed trainers,” said Shanthi Bascombe, employment and training consultant at Fleming CREW employment centre in Haliburton. “They’re committed to training youth and staff, and we’ve worked together to help support them to do that.”
Fleming CREW helps support employment in local businesses through services including job posting boards and funding for training.
McKeck's accomplishments, according to the award nomination, have included mentoring staff, apprenticing youth in the kitchen and annually sponsoring Blue Line bursary awards for students furthering their education in culinary/hospitality programs, the arts, sports or teaching.
The Employer of the Year award was given at the Employment Ontario Eastern Region Conference held at the Pinestone this year on April 24.
“We were surprised, we were very surprised,” said Frybort. “When we were sitting at the table watching the montage of our business and what we do, everyone looked at each other and said, ‘this is us! What a cool place!’”
Frybort said staff is active in giving back in the community and in the workplace, but does so naturally.
“When you’re in the stream and going, you don’t stop and look at it,” said Frybort. “We’re always our hardest judges anyway, and we’re always trying to do better anyway. It’s not, do it because it looks good, it’s do it because you care.”
The McKecks staff appreciates the award, but won’t let it go to their heads.
“We won’t rest on it,” said Frybort. “We’ll move forward, ask what else we can do, and keep going – we have to get ready for the summer.”