Chefs Jason Harper and Hiro Takeda have always dreamed of owning their own restaurants.
As fate would have it, they met each other seven months ago and immediately connected through their passion for food and fine dining.
When the opportunity to purchase Joe’s Restaurant came up a couple months ago, they didn’t hesitate. Harper and Takeda took over operation of the Hope eatery at the beginning of May from Kathy and Steve Wyngaarden.
“It’s an eye-opener for sure. It’s exciting, but absolutely terrifying,” said Harper. “We’re looking at it as an entire dining experience – we’re not just focusing on the food. We want people to remember it.”
Harper has been the chef at Joe’s Restaurant for the past year and worked in the industry for seven years. Takeda started his career at Newlands Golf and Country Club in Langley 10 years ago, and has since worked at restaurants in Langley and Vancouver. He spent the last three years in the kitchen at Camp Squeah.
Neither chef has a lot of experience in front-of-house operations, but existing staff members have assisted with the transition. Harper and Takeda are passionate about providing mentorship to staff and making a positive difference in people’s lives. They also want to foster relationships with residents by increasing their presence in the dining room and hosting a variety of food tasting events in the off-season.
“We want to get people out of their comfort zone when it comes to their regular dining experience,” said Takeda. “But it’s extremely important to have that link and build that relationship of trust first.”
Harper and Takeda relaunched their menu last week, which includes several items off the old menu along with some new selections. Vegetarian and gluten-free options are available. In addition to the regular menu, Joe’s Restaurant has added weekly fresh sheets that feature creative dishes. All entrees are prepared fresh in-house daily, including the smoked salmon and duck bacon.