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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Interview with Open Media Foundation (excerpt)

Please describe the mission behind your organization/restaurants.

I would like to answer this in a four parts.

Motto, Mission, Vision, Approach

Our motto is a line from a Langston Hughes poem.

What we want is; To dig and be dug in return.

Our mission as a business at it’s most fundamental is to bring in more money than we spend. If we don’t accomplish that it doesn’t matter what other platitudes we write into our mission statement. This is not meant to be glib. Making a dollar in the restaurant business is not easy, spending them is. We have to make excellent decisions every day in order to accomplish our mission.

Our vision is to create environments that provide people an escape from the stresses of life. Be it a meal among friends at WaterCourse, or a beer at City, O’ City or reading in a hammock at Osa Mariposa; we want people to feel safe and enjoy.

Our approach is to be aware of our inevitable impact on our environment and mitigate it by making choices that represent the most efficient use of limited resources. The prime example of this efficiency is to not serve meat. We accept and honor the fact that we are in the service industry. Our job is to serve. We employ autonomous, intelligent people and give them the tools they need to succeed. We try our best not to waste customers, employees or vendors time. (it’s the most valuable thing). We respect that people work hard for their money and therefore try to provide an equitable exchange in goods and services. We respect work and workers.

Over the past couple of years we have seen a lot of growth/changes for your company/restaurants. Could you please tell us about them?

Since WaterCourse Foods opened in 1998 there has been continual growth for our businesses. We decide to grow when our current facility cannot supply the demand or we recognize a demand that needs more supply (business 101). Growing a business is delicate and should only be done when needed. Growth is change and as a species we have a hard time accepting change, despite it’s inevitability. Adapting to change is built into the WaterCourse management philosophy. Our philosophy is adopted from Taoism. Taoist philosophy uses water as a central metaphor for understanding life. As a business we try to emulate a river, ever adaptable, always moving, following the path of least resistance around obstacles. This WaterCourse philosophy of adaptability has allowed us as a business to recognize needs and take advantage of opportunities.

- Your company is well-known for its generosity in the community. Could you please share some of the ways that your company has given back to your community?

Giving back to the community is also built into the WaterCourse philosophy. To continue with the river analogy, the river nourishes the environment around it simply by flowing through it. Because WaterCourse Foods, City, O’ City, WaterCourse Bakery, and Osa Mariposa opening their doors every morning thousands of people and business are supported. Farmers, carpenters, trash collectors, artists, dish washers, beer brewers, sales people, graphic designers, etc. all are able to apply their trade and receive compensation -nourishment- because we run thriving businesses. When these exchanges of goods and services are equitable the businesses that participate continue to thrive. When they are not equitable those businesses tend to dry up.

Through our WaterCourse Non-Profit Monday’s we are proud to give regularly to local and national non-profits.. On most Monday’s we host a non-profit that receives proceeds from the day’s sales. There is a minimum dollar amount that needs to be sold before the donation kicks in and the percentage goes up the more business we do. The non-profit is responsible for getting the word out to their mailing list and do outside promotion. WaterCourse uses it’s in-house marketing to promote as well. The more the non-profit promotes the better the sales. So from a marketing angle WaterCourse is being introduced to potentially thousands of new customers. Also we are associated with something they care about. The non-profit can earn a sizable donation simply by having people show up and eat yummy food. It’s a huge win/win. In 2010 we donated over $17,000 to non-profits through our non-profit Monday’s and we intend to give a lot more in 2011. It would be great if more businesses adopted this model. It works.

Please share how you first got involved with OMF

Any exciting plans for your organization(s) on the horizon

Knowing that our organizations will continually be moving forward, the future is very exciting. One thing I am very proud of is that we own the properties that our businesses reside in. This is allows us to control our own destiny. We are currently expanding City, O’ City. The expansion will include a patio, larger barista area featuring a slow bar, and an open kitchen. We are planning to upsource most of the materials for the construction.

Please describe your ideal future for the community here in Denver.

My ideal Denver is recognized and respected internationally for producing some of the greatest thinkers and artists of our time. My ideal Denver supports it’s artists to produce and sell art. I would love it if art galleries in Milan, Berlin, Mexico City are all clamoring to get Denver artists to show in their galleries.

My ideal Denver has more multi-cultural events. There are so many great communities in this city that need to get to know each other better and work together.

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