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Aja Lapointe (Restaurateur)

Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert?

After this last year of being home almost exclusively with my immediate family while on maternity leave during a pandemic, I’m inclined to say introvert as basic socialization seems relatively foreign to me at this point.

Truthfully though, I’m an extrovert through and through. There are few introverts who can pull off spending their careers working the front of the house as a hospitality professional. You absolutely need to thrive in the presence of others, work well with a team and have a genuine gift of gab.

What has life taught you recently?  

To expect the unexpected and to count my blessings twice.

If you could instill one piece of advice in a newborn baby’s mind, what advice would you give?

Let it be known that as a mother with two children under three, trying to choose one pivotal piece is an enormous challenge.

Top of my (long) list would be not to fear failure. I want to help my boys understand that when they make mistakes – and they will make many I’m sure - the important thing is to learn from them, not dwell on them.

Confident people don’t let fear of failure get in their way—not because they’re sure they won’t ever fail, but because they know how to take their setbacks in stride.

Learning and growing from all of life’s hard lessons will be a value I work hard at in instilling in my children.

In our current reality, what do we most need in this world?

This is a particularly difficult question given the current state of our reality – we need so much as a society right now: trust, forgiveness, hope, courage, optimism – to name a few. When forced to offer only one, I surrender to patience.

This is the first, and hopefully the last, pandemic we have seen in our lifetime. We don’t know how to do this. Nobody does. Yet we so easily throw stones at anyone and everyone who says or does the “wrong thing” during these agreed upon unprecedented times. This attitude is incredibly polarizing and menacing. If everyone, and I mean every single dang person, exercised more patience and grace while we collectively navigate our way through this, I think we’d get to the other side more quickly, and less scathed.

Note: patience is not a virtue I come by naturally. I fear I would be considered a critical case if there existed a patience disorder scale. Reflecting on my extreme need for patience for everything and everyone from conspiracy theories and delivery delays to needy toddlers and political leaders helps me put things into perspective.

The old adage “this too shall pass” sometimes helps me to bridge the gap from today until tomorrow. So too does my unbridled hope for some precedented times.

As a restaurateur and co-owner of Ten Foot Henry, how did the pandemic impact your business and how did you cope with the restrictions?

With recent publications announcing the permanent closure of over 10,000 Canadian restaurants in 2020, not a moment goes by that I don’t count my lucky stars that our business remains open.

Our industry has been particularly hard hit and its future is exceedingly uncertain. We were completely closed for the first three months of the pandemic, reopening with less than 50% seating capacity. Like most restaurants around the world, we introduced our entire menu for take away as well. With reduced seating and take out, we were able to rehire our entire team after the initial lockdown which was such an incredible blessing.