Industry Trends

How One Toronto Restaurant Found Their Sweet Spot with a Staff-First Mentality

By Jackie Prange

Kevin connell owner of maison fou smiling at the camera.

No matter the size of your restaurant staff, your need for great people to create a top notch customer experience can’t be overlooked. Some restaurants focus all of their time and energy on pleasing their guests, when at the heart of any memorable dining experience lies an even better team.

After opening their doors just under a year ago, Maison Fou had set their sights on breaking the status quo for brasseries: instead of pursuing classic French cuisine, Maison Fou fused French cuisine with traditional dishes and flavors from former French colonies. And with a five star rating from blogTO, it seems their vision was a success.

So how did they they get it right? We asked Kevin Connell, owner of Maison Fou. “I built a restaurant I wanted to eat at,” Kevin says. “We wanted to establish ourselves as a neighborhood restaurant where you can drink good wine and eat great food. While our venue and our menu are great, what I really pride myself on is our staff.”

We sat down with Kevin to find out how Maison Fou achieves an impeccable guest experience with a “staff first” mentality.

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What’s So Special About the Staff at Maison Fou?

Kevin let us know they’ve had the same staff since the day they opened. Clearly there’s something special going on here.

“Maison Fou loosely translates to ‘crazy house.’ I’ve hired some crazy (the good kind) people that have really bought into my brand of ‘personality insanity.’ We’re all having fun here, and because of that there’s no friction.”

This lack of friction amongst staff is a direct result of Maison Fou’s open forum concept. “We discuss any and all menu changes. From wines lists to menu items, we let our staff put their own spin on it. By taking and implementing their suggestions, they get to be a part of the whole package here.” Rather than viewing his staff as people who meet a job description, Kevin sees his staff at Maison Fou as ambassadors and partners.

How Does It Translate to Guests?

Kevin believes this fun and frictionless environment is to thank for being able to deliver more organic service, which can be captured in one Japanese word: omotenashi, which means to “entertain guests wholeheartedly.” Kevin lives and breathes this term, as it directly translates to pure and organic hospitality – what the team at Maison Fou strives to achieve.

Kevin leaves us with this: 

“Sure, we’re in hospitality – you need to make money and be profitable. But we also feel privileged just to have the opportunity serve people. Whether it’s a birthday or an anniversary, we get to create a memory for people and connect that experience to our business. How many people can say that about their job?”

Short profile of kevin connell
Photo of Jackie Prange
by Jackie Prange

Jackie was a Content Marketing Specialist and Social Media strategist at TouchBistro before moving into business development role. She covered the latest food, dining, and technology trends for the restaurant industry. A lover of all things coffee, Jackie’s hobbies include breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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