Tuesdays at Ten: Edgar and Joe’s Café

Edgar and Joe’s Café
Edgar and Joe’s Café
Aug 05, 2014

On Tuesday August 5, 2014 we had the pleasure of talking with Neil Burnett, Café Manager at Edgar and Joe’s Café in London, ON. The Café employs many people with disabilities, is always bustling, has an mouth watering menu and is located at 255 Horton Street East.

Truly look at each person’s value to your organization. Having or not having a disability shouldn’t come into the equation if you’re fair to each job candidate.

Neil standing in front of the Edgar and Joe's menu board and holding a cup of fresh coffee.
Neil Burnett, Cafe Manager at Edgar and Joe’s Cafe

Twitter Transcript: 

Ability First: Thanks for joining us for this morning's #Tuesat10 Neil! Can you give us a brief overview of who @EdgarAndJoes is as a business?

Edgar and Joe’s Café

Edgar and Joe’s Café: Thank you for having us! We are a Cafe that brings fresh, healthy and affordable food to @SoHoLdnOnt

Ability First: Your food always gets rave reviews! How long have you been in business?

Edgar and Joe’s Café

Edgar and Joe’s Café: Ahhh, thanks! We’ve been open close to 1 year now.

Ability First: It’s incredible how much you’ve accomplished in this time frame. How many employees do you currently have?

Edgar and Joe’s Café

Edgar and Joe’s Café: We’re very appreciative of all of the support that we receive. In total, we have 16 staff, right now.

Ability First: Always wonderful to see #LdnOnt support great businesses! How many of these employees have a disclosed disability?

Edgar and Joe’s Café

Edgar and Joe’s Café: About 1/2 of our staff were hired through @Goodwill_OGL Career Centre – about 1/3 have a disclosed disability.

Ability First: Did you personally have any prior experience working with #PWD [Persons with Disabilities]?

Edgar and Joe’s Café

Edgar and Joe’s Café: Absolutely! Disclosed/non-disclosed/visible/non-visible- I’ve worked in the restaurant industry for many years.

Ability First: The restaurant industry has really embraced business case of hiring #PWD. Would be great to see this in all sectors. How did this prior experience working with #PWD help shape your outlook?

Edgar and Joe’s Café

Edgar and Joe’s Café: Honestly, when you’ve been in the industry for a while you realize the challenges with your team, with staff, difficulty of filling certain positions, challenges of fluctuating times of busy and slow, you can really appreciate their likes/dislikes, abilities/disabilities and what they can add to the team.

Ability First: What were your feelings on hiring someone with a disability?

Edgar and Joe’s Café

Edgar and Joe’s Café: There are so many different responsibilities and jobs in a Cafe or I’m sure any workplace, really. Initially, I’d partner with agencies for dishwashers/cleaners because I had obtained great success with employees who literally loved their jobs, which is rare for these positions that have a lot of turnover! But when you get to know your staff more, disabilities become disclosed, and it helps break down stigma.

Ability First: Two points you made are so important: that employee turnover is very low with #PWD & we must work to break stigma. Why did you decide to hire someone with a disability?

Edgar and Joe’s Café

Edgar and Joe’s Café: We knew that we wanted to use @Goodwill_OGL Career Centre to hire people who needed a hand up. There are many people who want to get into the food industry that access the @Goodwill_OGL Career Centre and we have a unique opportunity to leverage classroom training @Goodwill_OGL with hands-on training in Cafe.

Ability First: And @Goodwill_OGL Employment Services is a great place for employers to find their next amazing employee! Can you describe some of the positions filled?

Edgar and Joe’s Café

Edgar and Joe’s Café: We cross-train for front and back of house. Our favourite stories are when we hire wonderful people with a passion for food but no real restaurant experience. It really showcases the @Goodwill_OGL platform.

Ability First: How have your employees with #disabilities worked out for you?

Edgar and Joe’s Café

Edgar and Joe’s Café: Great! We trained them during slower times and kept giving them additional responsibilities, gradually staffing them at busier times, and before long, they were some of our most talented/capable employees!

Ability First: That is something we hear echoed time & time again by employers, that #PWD “most talented/capable employees”. Were there any preconceptions you had about employing someone with a #disability?

Edgar and Joe’s Café

Edgar and Joe’s Café: Honestly, at this point, not really.

Ability First: How has working with #PWD over the years helped eliminate the stigma that so often is the case?

Edgar and Joe’s Café

Edgar and Joe’s Café: The stigma changes once you become more knowledgeable, work with agencies who support #PWD, and share in the success of having an employee with a disability.

Ability First: What are most common misconceptions you hear other employers talk about when they hear you hire #PWD?

Edgar and Joe’s Café

Edgar and Joe’s Café: Restaurant owners/Managers have pretty long/busy days. There are definite misconceptions that hiring #PWD can create more work for them. Some may even believe that it will cost them more money. Basically, I feel that a lot of assumptions are made based on the disability which they may not even understand, and how that could affect them in their role.

Ability First: How do you attempt to correct these misconceptions?

Edgar and Joe’s Café

Edgar and Joe’s Café: I mean, spending the time to tell them how hiring someone with a disability can save them time and hassle is usually a good start! That’s what makes their job easier.

Ability First: What employer doesn’t want to save time & money? A great way to do so is by hiring #PWD as you’ve demonstrated. Have you ever faced any of your own personal barriers?

Edgar and Joe’s Café

Edgar and Joe’s Café: Absolutely, we all have our challenges. I look around my friends and family and see physical challenges health issues and mental health challenges. They’re some of the most amazing people I know.

Ability First: Do you think this has given you a more open outlook on hiring for #PWD?

Edgar and Joe’s Café

Edgar and Joe’s Café: Great point! Definitely! Every job isn’t right for every person. Understand that person, realize their strengths, and you’ll have a clearer idea how they can fill a need for your business.

Ability First: How has @Goodwill_OGL Employment Services worked with you?

Edgar and Joe’s Café

Edgar and Joe’s Café: For us @Goodwill_OGL is there throughout the whole process. They pre-screen candidates, set up interviews, help the staff get set up, and are their for support and extra training if needed. It’s been seamless.

Ability First: What is your advice for potential employers?

Edgar and Joe’s Café

Edgar and Joe’s Café: Just to be accepting. Truly look at each person’s value to your organization. Having or not having a disability shouldn’t come into the equation if you’re fair to each job candidate.

Ability First: That’s such great advice for employers to improve their business #PutTheAbilityFirst. Please finish this sentence, “I hire for #AbilityFirst because…”

Edgar and Joe’s Café

Edgar and Joe’s Café: …because I want the best candidate and to build the best team.

Ability First: You have an incredible team over there! Thank you so much for joining us this morning & sharing insights Neil.

Edgar and Joe’s Café

Edgar and Joe’s Café: Oh, great! Thanks very much and I appreciate all of this and the work that you do.

Ability First: Thanks to everyone that tuned in for #Tuesat10! Make sure to check out @EdgarAndJoes & support #LdnOnt businesses that #PutTheAbilityFirst.

To find out more about our Tuesdays at Ten series please click here.  Please tune in as we talk with Boler Mountain about hiring people with disabilities on Tuesday September 2, 2014 at 10am.