"I always wanted to own a business. It wasn’t about being my own boss but creating a place that reflects my values, beliefs and passion. One day, I found myself in need of a change. The chip stand in Earlton was for sale, I knew that with my determination, my hardworking ethics and my love for food, this was the change I was seeking. I walked into this adventure thinking to myself if it works – great, if I fail – that’s ok to, I’ll just get up and start again.
When you own your own business, you need to put your heart and soul into it. You do it because it’s what you love doing. For me I love all aspect of food and it is my art! After only one season of Dida’s as a chip stand, we built a restaurant from the ground up. Building Dida’s was about creating a space to share within the community. When customers come to Dida’s, I want them to feel like they are walking into my home. This is a place free of judgement, where all are welcome. I see my long wooden counter as my kitchen island, where people can interact, eat delicious comfort food and feel a sense of belonging. There are many challenges that come with owning your own restaurant; it’s not easy – many hours of work, accounting, inventory, recruiting, promoting and so on. But Dida’s has become my life and I will keep working hard to bring my entire Dida’s vision a reality.
Jordan became part of the Dida’s team in May 2018. Honestly, I hired him because he applied for the job. For me it was about giving him a chance, just like I would with anyone else. When Jordan started working with us, I made sure he had a good space where he felt comfortable and that he knew he was part of this team. He peels his potatoes close to the cooking line where he can still see other staff members and the customers. Jordan is so well-known in the community and knows so many people, so it was important to set him up in a place where he wasn’t hidden. I love having Jordan here, he is part of the Dida’s family. Jordan is a caring young man who always manages to put a smile on my face, even when I am having a hard day. How can you not laugh or smile when he’s around.
As an employee, Jordan is hard-working, dedicated, reliable and so attentive to what needs to be accomplished. When at work, he keeps himself busy and always asks how many bags he needs to peel and if we need any potatoes cut into fries. No other employee can peel a potato as fast as him. Jordan is truly invaluable to our team, and we are so lucky to have him. One time, it was so busy in the restaurant, Jordan was here for lunch with his family and it was such a hectic day that I ran out of cut fries. I just looked at Jordan and asked if he could help and without a second thought; he walked to the back of the restaurant – completely broke his routine and started cutting the potatoes so I could cook some fries. After that, he noticed that there weren’t any peeled potatoes left, so he went to the shed grabbed a 50 lbs bag of potatoes, clocked-in, put an apron on and peeled a bag for me. He knew we needed potatoes. It brought tears to my eyes to see how responsible this young man was. That is the kind of person Jordan is, he saw that I needed help and he did it. How many people do you know that would do that? I see Jordan being part of our team for a long time. I am hoping to work with him and support him in taking on new responsibilities at Dida’s in the future. It will be his decision and whatever he is willing or comfortable doing, I will make it work. It always goes back to Jordan, supporting him and making sure he feels comfortable – and I know he does.
April is Autism Awareness Month and I wanted to show Jordan that he is important to the Dida’s family. We will be wearing our Light it up Blue Shirts all month. We support him and I want the community to know how proud we are to have Jordan, a young man who has autism on our team. For me this is also a way to show other businesses that you can support families and individuals with special needs. I encourage others to look at the possibilities and hire people with special needs, because everyone deserves a fair chance. You can learn so much from working with an individual with exceptional needs, and they become great assets to your business.
In my opinion, everyone deserves a fair chance or that second chance. Since Jordan joined our team, I am more aware of the importance of seeing the world this way. Society tends to focus on differences and believe that individuals with special needs can’t work or accomplish specific things, and that is simply not true. I wish the world would stop believing in these stereotypes and see all the possibilities that each person has to offer. Everyone has their own unique challenges and we shouldn’t treat someone differently because they have a disability. That is one of the values I want Dida’s to be known for, that no matter who you are, what challenges you may be facing, you are always welcome in our home."