Look who’s up for award in busi­ness ex­cel­lence

The Daily Courier - - OKANAGAN - By STEVE MacNAULL

Jared Lee and De­von Mur­ray didn’t want to open just another res­tau­rant.

So, when they founded Cen­tral Kitchen + Bar at 1155 Ellis St. three years ago, the friends adopted an al­tru­is­tic, 360-de­gree view.

“Of course, we had to have a place with cre­ative food with great ser­vice and good value,” said co-owner Lee.

“But we also wanted to build an en­tire cul­ture around the res­tau­rant — a true neigh­bour­hood lo­cal, a place where work­ers want to stay be­cause this isn’t a re­volv­ing-door hos­pi­tal­ity busi­ness, and where cus­tomers want to re­turn, some­times twice, three times or four times a week, be­cause they feel at home.”

In fact, Cen­tral’s third-space phi­los­o­phy is built on the res­tau­rant be­com­ing the place where you spend the third-most amount of time, af­ter home and work.

Hun­gry and thirsty lo­cals and tourists have al­ready made Cen­tral a go-to for this at­mos­phere, and for its burg­ers, piz­zas, pas­tas, sal­ads, sand­wiches and drinks.

Now the Kelowna Busi­ness Ex­cel­lence Awards is rec­og­niz­ing Cen­tral founders Lee and Mur­ray with a fi­nal­ist spot in the cat­e­gory for young en­tre­pre­neur of the year.

Lee and Mur­ray met and be­came friends from a decade of work­ing at Earls in Kelowna.

Also ac­knowl­edged with a fi­nal­ist nod is Cur­rent Taxi in the ris­ing star cat­e­gory for new busi­nesses.

“We’re hum­bled to be rec­og­nized af­ter just seven months in busi­ness,” said Cur­rent Taxi owner Dale Con­way.

“We’re B.C.’s first and only all-elec­tric taxi fleet. We’ve been em­braced be­cause we’re en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly and be­cause it’s just so cool to be picked up in a Model S or Model X $100,000 Tesla.”

Cur­rent has three Tes­las right now and has a fourth on or­der.

The Kelowna Cham­ber of Com­merce re­leased the list of fi­nal­ists in nine cat­e­gories on Wed­nes­day.

All fi­nal­ists will be hon­oured and win­ners an­nounced at the $125-a-plate 30th an­nual awards ban­quet Oct. 12 at the Delta Grand ho­tel. Go to Kelow­naCham­ber.org for tick­ets. The awards have been re­vamped for their pearl an­niver­sary.

Six core cat­e­gories were kept in­tact, but five were switched up.

So­cial en­ter­prise, mi­cro busi­ness, tech­nol­ogy and in­no­va­tion, mar­keter, and hos­pi­tal­ity and tourism were dumped in favour of so­cial im­pact, ex­cel­lence in agri­cul­ture, arts and en­ter­tain­ment achieve­ment, and mar­ket­ing cam­paign of the year.

“With such di­verse in­dus­try here, we felt it was time to shine a light on some of the other well-de­serv­ing sec­tors that are help­ing put Kelowna on the map,” said cham­ber ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Dan Rogers.

“We were pleased to see busi­nesses ap­ply­ing that have not par­tic­i­pated in the past, per­haps be­cause they be­lieved they didn’t fit into pre­vi­ous cat­e­gories.”

Fol­low­ing is a list of fi­nal­ists in the Kelowna Busi­ness Ex­cel­lence Awards: Busi­ness leader of the year A list of fi­nal­ists isn’t re­leased in this cat­e­gory. In­stead, the name of the win­ner will be re­leased a cou­ple of weeks prior to the ban­quet to gen­er­ate hype for the awards. The re­cip­i­ent will also be be hon­oured at the Oct. 12 gala. Large busi­ness of the year (51 or more em­ploy­ees) — Chances — North­side In­dus­tries — Rona Mid-sized busi­ness of the year (16 to 50 em­ploy­ees) — Lake­side Medicine Group — Mis­sion Group — NewCap Ra­dio (K96.3 and New Coun­try 100.7) Small busi­ness of the year (one to 15 em­ploy­ees) — Hy­brid El­e­va­tor — Okana­gan Wine Coun­try Tours — Prime Phys­io­ther­apy So­cial im­pact — The Bridge Youth and Fam­ily Cen­tre — CRIS Adap­tive Ad­ven­tures — Volin­spire Ris­ing star — Cur­rent Taxi — Flask So­cial House (FSH) — Purppl (Pur­pose­ful Peo­ple) Young en­tre­pre­neur of the year — An­drew Gaucher, G Group Land De­vel­op­ment — Mea­gan Hughes, Cot­tage Quilt­ing — Jared Lee and De­von Mur­ray, Cen­tral Kitchen + Bar Ex­cel­lence in agri­cul­ture — B.C. Tree Fruits — Okana­gan Laven­der Farm — Old Mead­ows Or­ganic Farm Mar­ket­ing cam­paign of the year — Crew — McKin­ley Beach — Okana­gan Basin Wa­ter Board Arts and en­ter­tain­ment achieve­ment — Bal­let Kelowna — Ro­tary Cen­tre for the Arts — Went­worth Mu­sic

GARY NY­LAN­DER/ The Daily Courier

De­von Mur­ray, left, and Jared Lee from Cen­tral Kitchen + Bar are fi­nal­ists in the young en­tre­pre­neur of the year cat­e­gory for the Kelowna Busi­ness Ex­cel­lence Awards.

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