FACILITYCalgary publisher Mark Kolke, in conversation with Chuck Rose
July 23, 2013
Since Jan. 15, 1996 as manager and currently majority owner (90%) of Hose & Hound Pub in Inglewood, Chuck Rose says he has arrived at a place in his life where he is truly happy.
He’s been in the news a bit – a long term tenant of the City of Calgary, his bid to buy the facility fell short, but he is heartened by a long term lease recently signed with the new owners that is subject only to their closing of the purchase on September 1. The sign says ‘we’re staying’. His commitment to the surrounding Inglewood community which is a loyal customer base is strong. Weathering recent floods together (he was closed for 1 week) has dampened business but not spirits. Slow, he says, but not much more than the usual post-Stampede lull.
“When I was 3, singing along with the radio, I told my mother that’s what I wanted to do – to be a singer when I grew up” …. Chuck Rose. These days his primary singing gig is at The Rose & Crown in Banff where he has been entertaining locals and tourists, every Monday night for 25 years. After more than 30 years traveling across Canada, Vancouver born singer/songwriter (think James Taylor/Gord Lightfoot rather than Ian Tyson if you are wanting a genre) Rose blended stability of home life in Regina, then moving to Calgary in 1986, weaving singing gigs and workaholic intermittent restaurant management careers – everything, he says, preparing him for where he is now.
While we are the same age and have many things in common, it is the world of public speaking (we are both Toastmasters) where we met. Sitting in a pub on a Thursday afternoon is not my normal activity – but that was the only time he could fit me in – so regale me he did for a couple of hours.
The length of this piece cannot capture the trials and tales fully – but child #5 in a family of 7, son of a car salesman and a war bride (he says they were both great singers), his influence was music which has been paying its way for him from high school days (and it seemed a good way to meet girls) through bar gigs and a restaurant ownership/management resume that was begun with hard work and seems to have produced, finally, a calm and wisdom of middle-age where the unhappy kid worked through issues of competitiveness, arrogance and low self-esteem to ‘amazing learning' in recent years.
I asked Chuck what qualities distinguish preferred colleagues, collaborators and suppliers?
. . . it’s always about relationships. Trust and loyalty. People wanting to sell me something don’t get far without those. One of our strongest relationships is with our service and maintenance people – we’ve stayed with them even when they change jobs and go to a new company. We trust their advice.
I asked what distinguishes his business, and why his customers choose his establishment over competitors?
. . . there are lots of things we do well – a family atmosphere, customers and staff know each other on a first name basis, people come here because they are treated like family.
What do you lose sleep over, what do you worry about?
. . . hardly anything at all
I asked Chuck how he sees Calgary business, from a restaurant operator’s perspective over the next 90 days?
. . .by September I expect business will be back to normal but I fear a number of restaurant operators who were flooded and not adequately insured won’t be able to re-open because they weren’t carrying business interruption insurance which leaves them in no man’s land.
And for the next 5 years?
. . . there are always ‘flavour of the month’ places – trendy for a while, but many don’t last – that seems to be the nature of this business. People love comfortable food. In the pub business, if you don’t have good food, you won’t survive and do well.
As a recovering workaholic, what describes life/work balance for you?
. . . my wife and I are both voracious readers. We like to go out to dinner. I used to like wine tastings, but I suffer too much after! I’m involved with Toastmasters, I’m a freemason – not a service club, more like a fraternity. We help good men become better men. I’m half-retired. I spend 3 hrs/day at the Hose & Hound 5 days a week. I help out. I have great staff, strong managers. I provide directional leadership.
Who or what influenced you most – that has made a difference in your life, or that was a major turning point?
… Alan Bates has been a mentor, employer and partner through much of my restaurant career – a number of different restaurants. I stopped being a workaholic 11 yrs. ago. I got a nose-job after I shattered a plate glass window because I was in such a hurry delivering a catering order. As I was having my wounds tended, all I wanted to know was whether the food was OK. I was a workaholic and, before that, I was proud of it. I’ve learned to delegate and assign things, to be prepared - that things won’t always be done my way, and to hold people accountable. We bought a restaurant in Eau Claire – Whiskey Creek – we bought it right and went on to sell it for half what we paid. That was hubris.
What are you reading?
… The Silent Path: an introduction to meditation, by Michael Eastcott, The Power of Now, by Eckart Tolle and Churchill’s Wizards: the British genius for deception 1914-1945, by Nicholas Rankin.
. . . 2008 Toyota Yaris. Currently on the market for something I like better.
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