An interview with Raul DeBorja of The Riverbrake Cafe.
Personal pronouns – He/Him
Briefly describe your business.
The Riverbrake Café is a family restaurant and serves breakfast, lunch, desserts and appetizers. Known for our homemade soups along with different varieties of daily specials and a great selection of salads, sandwiches, wraps and desserts.
What brought you to the region?
My wife and I lived in Toronto for most of our life. When our family members got posted to CFB Trenton in 2005/06, we would visit them every weekend and we just immediately fell in love with the Bay of Quinte area. We decided to leave the big city and moved to Trenton in 2009. I commuted to work back and forth for about a year and a half to Toronto, while my wife works from home.
What makes the Bay of Quinte a good fit for your business?
The Bay of Quinte is such a perfect fit for our business because of the family atmosphere, the people, the community and just everyone supporting each other. We wanted to be part of that and introduce something different. We wanted to bring a different vibe that had that big city feeling, great food, great service and great atmosphere at an affordable price that everyone can enjoy.
What was the hardest thing about starting a business?
One of the hardest things about starting a business, especially if you are not familiar with the area, is putting together a business plan. We had to do a feasibility study of the area, meeting with the Economic Development Team and finding out the direction of growth the Bay of Quinte is planning. This took us about two years prior to investing and opening our business in 2011.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs in the area?
If you want to start a business make sure you do your due diligence and put a business plan together. Do not expect to work 7 or 8 hours a day; owning a business is a big commitment and requires a lot of your time and dedication for you to succeed. Most importantly, be patient—it will take a few years before you can see the return on your investment.
How have you changed your operations during the pandemic?
The pandemic really put a strain in the hospitality industry. We had to make so many adjustments and think outside the box.
We did a lot of improvements in order to keep and maintain the standards and protocols; renovating our kitchen and dining area in order to maintain social distancing. We started doing more takeout and deliveries and utilizing local delivery service rather than the big companies.
We had to reduce our menu items to avoid waste and added dinner packages on the weekend. This past summer, we extended our hours of operations during weekend and introduce our evening menu with a different flare of appetizers.
What is something good that has come out from this difficult situation (the pandemic)?
Not being able to work for almost a year and a half put so much perspective on how I look at everything. Everything everyone work so hard for can easily be taken away from you within a blink of an eye.
It allowed us to really appreciate everything that we have: our family, our friends, all the people that we have met along the way and not taking [our] job for granted. We are thankful and grateful for the love and support that our community continued to show and that is why we will always give back whenever we can.
If you were to have one word tattooed on you, what would it be?