Jim Pink is no ordinary restaurant operator. The owner of the beachfront Oasis Grill House in scenic Pasadena, Newfoundland runs a strictly seasonal summer business from June to September.
by Jane Auster
The rest of the year, he runs a decidedly different operation – as an elementary school principal – though not your typical principal, he’s quick to add.
Pink is the third owner of Oasis Grill House, which opened in 2006. The restaurant, as its name suggests, is a real oasis for beach lovers. Situated on the shores of Deer Lake in Humber Valley, the restaurant features an enormous outside deck seating 70 literally on the beach, with seating for another 90 inside.
Since Pink took over Oasis Grill House two years ago, he’s worked hard to return it to the ambience and menu of the first owner.
“Some of the original ideas were more grill side features, so we have a barbecue outside and more of a beach-style look inside, which is especially popular for theme weddings,” he says.
Pink’s also brought back the popular pub grub favourites. “We are all pub style, with wings, beach burgers including chicken burgers, a lot of finger foods like deep fried pickles, steak frites, breaded cod, mussels, battered shrimp, and onion rings,” he says.
To make his menu truly pub-friendly, Pink turns to his distributor, Ryan Bugden of E.L. Bugden for tips, trends, new information, and sellable promotions. “He knows I am trying to find some unique things that customers will like,” the restaurant owner notes.
Earlier this year, Bugden introduced Pink to Operator Insights, an ITWAL program which launched in May with an eye to enhancing operator education and engagement.
Pink was interested not only in supplier promotions, but also new ideas for his pub menu. He had his eye out for educational tools to help him run his business as well as innovative menu suggestions. Increasingly, he is turning to Operator Insights for insights and inspiration from different suppliers.
“I use the off season to try new things. Since I’ve had the restaurant, I’ve changed the menu a couple of times. Ryan helps me bring in new items, and some of these things become staples,” he says.
In addition to receiving new product samples and promotions from his distributor, the operator is particularly interested in finding new recipes he can adapt to Oasis Grill House.
“I’m looking for something where I can add my own flair to make it unique to me,” he says.
Through Operator Insights, earlier this year Pink learned of different sauces from one supplier, E.D. Smith, and was able to adapt them for his popular wing menu. “We are always trying different sauces, done quickly. I am going to put more focus on wings that you can’t get elsewhere,” he notes.
It’s this type of menu inspiration Pink is finding whenever he checks out the Operator Insights site.
For next summer he’s considering adding a coffee and dessert component to his menu – something different for his beachfront business. “Most people don’t ask for it,” he says, “but if I don’t have it, I hear from them!”