You love going out for breakfast. You’re the first to admit you’re a breakfast snob. You can’t help it. You know what you like and that’s what you want: eggs, soft but not too soft; toast, buttered all the way to the edge; freshly brewed coffee, served hot. Not too much to ask for.
The folks at Cabin 12, in downtown Victoria, BC, know how to do all that, and then some. The brainchild and brawn of Corey Judd, Cabin 12 has a reputation for creating great food, from scratch, and serving it up in a comfortably funky atmosphere.
Under the steam of Corey’s resourcefulness, “The Cabin” opened a little over two years ago. Since then, circumstance spread its wings and Dan and Heather del Villano followed suit, joining Corey as a complimentary, not-so-silent, partners. The result: a thoughtful trio who balance skills, abilities and resources to get things done. In the process, they create a pretty awesome place to work.
Here’s what summer camp, vinyl records and graffiti have to do with it.
Summer camp: a nurturing and safe place to grow.
When Corey worked at summer camp, Cabin 12 was the big cabin, with the welcoming front porch, where everyone hung out. That’s the atmosphere he aims to create: an inclusive, diverse, welcoming space where people feel safe, comfortable and nurtured. Not just the guests, but the employees too.
Corey thinks of the workspace at Cabin 12 as a healing space and a growing space. Uncomfortable with the hierarchical structure of most restaurant environments, Corey runs the restaurant on a mentorship system. The guy who washes the dishes gets treated with the same thoughtfulness and respect as the guy who cooks the food.
Yes, Cabin 12 is a restaurant. This means Corey is in the business of training people to work in a restaurant, but he’s also (perhaps more importantly) in the business of training people to be, well, people: boys into men, adolescents into adults. It’s about how you treat people. Everyone wants to be a part of something. Corey creates an opportunity for belonging: employees get as much out of it as they put into it.
Ideally, Corey imagines, over time, each staff member will have the opportunity to learn every aspect of the restaurant. That way, when they leave (eventually they will), they’re well positioned to start their own business. It’s like a video game, you start at one level and then you move to the next. The final level: your own dream.
Vinyl records: the music sets the mood, but so does the service.
You probably agree: music plays a big part in creating a mood. At Cabin 12, they have an impressive record collection. A steady supply of vinyl to compliment the comfortably funky atmosphere: brightly coloured walls, eclectic mismatched mugs, and honest, friendly service.
When it comes to atmosphere, the tone of the service is just as important as the tone of the music. At Cabin 12, the staff are encouraged, expected and empowered to contribute. You can tell. People treated well, treat other people well. It’s contagious.
People acting like themselves is comforting. Confident service is honest and engaging. It makes for relaxed customers. The tone of the service sets the tone of the customers. Like a well-produced record, Cabin 12 mixes individual styles to create a captivating medley much more interesting than the sum of its parts.
Graffiti: the writing on the wall and other ways to contribute.
The walls at Cabin 12 are covered with paintings, photographs, drawings, posters: art of all shapes, sizes and styles. Those are just the front walls. The walls at the back of the restaurant are offered up to local graffiti artists – a space to make their art. What else would you do with a big blank wall?
Yes, Cabin 12 is a restaurant. But it’s also a physical space. Corey aims to make Cabin 12 a space that contributes. Interested in creating the possibility for something to happen – even the slightest twinkle of inspiration – the folks at Cabin 12 are generous with their space.
The art on the walls: a commission-less opportunity for local artists to show, and sell, their work.
Fundraising events: a free space for community groups to organize, host and gather.
Yes, Cabin 12 is about creating good food, from scratch, and serving it up in a comfortably funky and friendly environment. But just as importantly, Cabin 12 is about creating possibilities, good people and community.
If you haven’t already, check them out at 607 Pandora Ave. Open for lunch and breakfast, 7 days a week – 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.
Or, check out their website for menus and more info about who they are and what makes them so cool.
As always, let me know what you think.