Kayla Sebastian

The Wooden Spoon Bistro’s empathetic owner and adept chef claims a spot among the Top 10 Business People of 2018

Kayla Sebastian stands in front of her store signage

Kayla Sebastian is the chef and owner of The Wooden Spoon Bistro in Grand Forks. — Photo courtesy Kayla Sebastian

The Wooden Spoon Bistro has been filling bellies in Grand Forks since 2013 with homemade-style goodness. During that time, owner and chef Kayla Sebastian has expanded the restaurant into a bigger space and garnered critical acclaim for her outstanding culinary skills and business savviness. In the past few years, The Wooden Spoon Bistro has racked up over 20 Best of Business awards from Kootenay Business magazine including Platinum awards in categories such as Breakfast Place, Brunch Place, Caterer, Doughnut/Muffin Place, Coffee Place, Family Restaurant and Overall Favourite Restaurant. In 2016, Sebastian won a Kootenay Business Influential Women in Business award. Community Futures has recognized the restaurant by giving it the Business Service Excellence award. Now Sebastian gets to add the distinction of being one of the Top 10 Business People of 2018 to her list of accomplishments.

Kayla Sebastian stands in front of a wall of wooden spoons

Sebastian is a risk-taking entrepreneur. Her gambles have paid off in a big way for The Wooden Spoon Bistro in Grand Forks. — Photo courtesy Kayla Sebastian

Why did you choose this line of work?

I’ve always loved the creative side in culinary arts. The beautiful thing about it is (that) every day is different; whether it be learning new cooking techniques, planning new menus or creating daily specials. It doesn’t get old!

What are some of your proudest accomplishments?

Opening The Wooden Spoon was a dream come true. To have it be successful right out of the gate makes me so humbly proud of everything I’ve worked so hard to create.

We moved into a new spot last year. For me, that was when I truly felt proud to create a space and make The Wooden Spoon the vision I’ve always had for it.

What’s something interesting about yourself that not many people know?

I didn’t always know I wanted to be a chef. As a child, I could only cook grilled cheese sandwiches and French toast and I managed to burn them every time! Years later, when my friends heard I was going to culinary school, they were quite surprised.

What’s the biggest risk you ever took?

When my husband and I moved back from Australia to get married, we had only been wed for two months and the opportunity arose to buy an existing business. Within 24 hours, I made the choice to take the risk. I had no menu, staff, equipment or name for the restaurant. Three weeks later, the doors opened and here we are today.

At what point did you have real, tangible evidence that your business was going to make it?

It wasn’t until I found our current location, which is triple the size of our original, that I was like ‘OK, this is for real, we’re here to stay.’ We started out with four staff and now in high season we run with 16 to 17 people.

What’s changed in your business over the years, and what hasn’t?

My outlook on how a business should be run and how my staff should be looked after. They’re all like family to me. I try really hard to keep my staff happy and I think it shows because they stick around. Our industry usually has a high turnover rate.

What practical advice do you have for entrepreneurs?

It’s a lot of work. A lot. But there's nothing more satisfying than owning your own business and knowing that you created it.

When it gets tough, just remember it’ll all be worth it in the end. Always keep learning, regardless of your trade or business. Knowledge is key.

Kyle Born

Kyle Born is a writer for Kootenay Business and his initials match that of the magazine—it must be fate that brought them together. View all of Kyle Born’s articles

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