7AM to 7PM, 7 days a week, for 17 days.
Those were the hours we chose to run with for the 2010 Winter Olympics. There was no magic hospitality industry formula for determining when we opened or when we closed, the staffing level or the schedule.
As a slogan, it had a nice ring to it. We were going to take the ball and run with, and change on the fly if necessary.
Excitement really started to build as the torch relay got closer to Vancouver. We were serving more and more people with Vanoc (Vancouver Olympic Committee) or IBC (international Broadcast Center) credentials, and the ubiquitous red mittens. More and more of our customers had accents, credit cards issued by foreign banks, and logo apparel of different nationalities.
The opening ceremonies were Friday, February 12th. We decided we’d start wearing our Olympic souvenir hockey jerseys on Monday the 8th. Mink bought every staff member either a Canadian jersey (their choice of home or away colors) or that of their country of origin or family ancestry.
Ben Best is from Dallas, Texas. Vancouver’s a hockey town. Poor guy took more than his share of abuse for those three weeks. How prescient was his Team USA jersey in a sea of Maple Leafs?
The Games got underway and we got slammed. Throw Valentine’s Day into the chocolate mix, and that first weekend was nuts. The volumes we did were staggering. All of a sudden, twice weekly deliveries of dairy became daily deliveries. Suppliers who couldn’t get downtown because of parking restrictions took to loading my unlocked car in the middle of the night in front of my house. Five hours sleep a night became a luxury.
By the 16th we found our rhythm. We could handle the hordes. We got our breaks back. No one missed lunch. Everyone got to pee when they needed to.
We were missing a lot of our regulars, but meeting people from all over the world. They found us because the Cafe fronts the pedestrian greenway that got them from Robson Square to the Olympic cauldron. That was a huge draw.
It was Olympics on the TV from open to close, but unless a gathering crowd was hooting and hollering for someone or some country specifically, we were oblivious to what was going on. Except for hockey.
To live through the preliminary round loss to the US, and make it to the gold medal game against that very team, our neighbors to the south, our largest trading partner, the country that causes us to get a cold when it sneezes, made for levels of pandemonium hitherto unknown. And on that final Sunday of the Games, after busting our chops so furiously getting it done, the only sensible thing to do was close the Café and let the staff watch the game, and take to the streets afterwards.
I scraped the auxiliary hours off the window, but left the Go Canada Go tagline and the small Canadian flag. I taped a piece of company letterhead below, saying “Closed Early for Hockey”.
I went home and watched the drama unfold from the comfort of my living room. My staff stayed downtown, watching with 250,000 of their closest friends. And in true Canadian fashion, Ben and his jersey came through the celebration unscathed.
Mink Chocolates Inc.,
Mink A Chocolate Cafe Ltd.
Call the store: 604.633.2451
Call my mobile: 604.376.3464
Call toll free: 1.866.283.5181
Watch: www.youtube.com search mink chocolates
In Person: 863 Hastings Street West, Vancouver, BC V6C 3N9