The redevelopment at Lansdowne Park is bringing a number of exciting new dining and nightlife options to Ottawa, and one of the most anticipated openings is JOEY Restaurants’ latest location, JOEY Lansdowne. Fresh on the scene are General Manager Andrew Nasr and Executive Chef Brady Kinnel, JOEY veterans who can’t wait to make JOEY Lansdowne a massive hit in the Ottawa hospitality market.
Andrew, you have been working with JOEY for quite a while and you have been involved in a number of restaurant openings. What makes you most excited about opening JOEY Lansdowne in Ottawa?
Andrew: Every store open has its special characteristics, but what I’m most excited about this one is the first impression on the whole city. There are mixed reviews with the Lansdowne project and I’m so thrilled for us to be able to create a spot where everyone can treat themselves. Creating a restaurant from ground up is such a rewarding feeling, especially in such a warm community that is very new to you.
What’s it like to work for a company that is growing at such a rapid pace, Brady?
Brady: It’s an exciting challenge to have in front of you, that’s for sure! I believe our growing company allows such a great opportunity for young chefs to make a name for themselves with us. For me, coming in and challenging them in all aspects of being a chef is awesome. And, in a lot of cases, challenging me to be a better chef for them. I like competition so this keeps me coming to work every day with a smile on my face.
How did you get your start in the industry, Brady, and how did you begin your career with JOEY?
Brady: I got my first job in a small pub called Bottoms Bar and Grill in Sun Peaks, BC. It was a great little place and I needed a full time night job so I could snowboard all day. Once the season was done, I moved to Kelowna, BC, at the same time that JOEY Kelowna was under a big renovation. I applied willing to take any position and was hired right on the spot. It was exciting to be a part of something brand new and was a big step up from a local ski hill pub, that’s for sure. That was almost eleven years ago.
What is it that JOEY offers its employees that makes it such a great place to work?
Andrew: JOEY has so many different paths for our partners. Yes, we teach you how to be great in the industry; however, you learn so much about yourself as well! Whether you want to learn how to operate one of our restaurants or simply pay your way through school, JOEY has a path for so many options and at the pace you set. You’re always learning.
Ottawa is well-known as a great pub city. What is it about JOEY Lansdowne that will attract the Ottawa pub-goer?
Andrew: You tell us the occasion and we will accommodate to that. JOEY can really cater to any occasion: first date, anniversary or just a bunch friends getting together. Oh, and you’re also getting amazing food and drinks at very reasonable prices. Just wait and see!
Brady, from a Kitchen standpoint, what’s the most difficult aspect of opening a new restaurant?
Brady: I think the most difficult part is the hiring; you get to meet a lot of amazing people and to narrow it down to your final opening team is an exciting and difficult process for sure. It is a stress you carry with you ’till opening day, I think. [apply on EightSix]
Andrew, you’re a Calgary Flames fan in a city of Senators. In a seven-game series – Stanley Cup Final 2015, perhaps? – who wins and why?
Andrew: Calgary wins in OT [overtime]. Heartbreaking loss for Sens fans but, at the end of the day, I have to go with my heart.
Brady, how has the move from BC to Ontario treated you? Any surprises?
Brady: No crazy surprises, I don’t think! With how quickly we opened in Toronto, I didn’t get to venture much outside of the city. And, honestly, I loved Toronto so much I wasn’t looking to leave the downtown core too often. Ottawa, though, is a new adventure for sure. Looking forward to spending some time at the lakes around and doing some camping. It’s been a long time since I have done that and Ottawa and the surrounding area has a lot to offer.
On your off days, Andrew, what can you be found doing?
Andrew: Like the rest of Ottawa, I’m a huge runner. Chances are you’ll see me somewhere along the Canal or exploring Ottawa running around. Gives me the excuse to enjoy a few glasses of wine after!
We’ve heard that many chefs are not too particular when it comes to cooking at home for themselves (because they are too tired of cooking at work all day). Brady, would this describe you or do you enjoy spending your free time creating great meals at home? What’s your go-to after work meal?
Brady: This is definitely me, at least during the work week. As for my days off, I still do love cooking and creating great meals. Finding a really good cook book and experimenting with new recipes is always a great way to spend a Sunday in my house. Does wine count as an after work meal?