Look who’s up for award in business excellence
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
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.