THE WOODEN MONKEY IS BORN BUT THE JOURNEY HAS JUST BEGAN
Welcome to my story - the story of the Wooden Monkey Restaurant located in downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Wooden Monkey is not just another restaurant serving unique foods but rather the evolution of a vision that humanity needs to take care of themselves and the their world.
I am Lil MacPherson, the founder and co-owner of the Wooden Monkey Restaurant. I am a true Maritimer, born in Nova Scotia and the mother of two boys. I love great food, a good bottle of wine and my favorite times are those spent yakking and laughing with friends or family over a long meal with the phone and the TV turned off.
. The Wooden Monkey is the result of the growing deep concern I had about how our foods are being produced, and what our governments were allowing in the process. I have great respect for what is needed to keep our earth's ecosystem in balance to support human kind.
I began to read about human effects of foods that are grown with, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, antibiotics, chemical additives, coloring, irradiated, GMO's, growth hormones, etc. Wow! This knowledge has frightened me and made me seriously question how we have allowed corporations to produce these "foods" and accepted the fact that our governments are endorsing these practices.
This knowledge, passion and desire needed a venue – a place that I could reach out to the masses in hopes to make a difference. I needed to show the people of Halifax that you can run a successful restaurant that would not only serve great fresh foods but also supporting local farmers and small businesses. I believe that our small organic farmers are among the best stewards to take care of our earth and essential in delivering the food that we need produced.
So the Wooden Monkey was born or at least the labor pains of birth had begun. I was certain that our wonderful local and organic menu would bring in the customers once the doors were open.
Needing investors badly to finish this dream took unshakable faith and soon the gifts started to come through the door.
I was blessed to have two unique partners join me in this adventure. To build the Wooden Monkey, I hired Robie Sagar, a carpenter who just happened to be an organic hobby farmer as well! He instantly fell in love with the concept. It was simple, we decided his investment would be sweat equity and he would build the Monkey. And he did, becoming my first partner.
Robie and I look back with awe at the magic we created in three months. Together with Brooks, a wonderful friend, and artist (who's paintings we display and sell in our restaurant) and my brother Jeff (who put so many hours with his heart and soul into this business), would sit around talking about the vision and making tomorrow plans. These were times I treasure. I am so thankful for Robie and the faith he had in me and because of his never-ending passion and love for this earth, he is one of two perfect partners that I am so fortunate to have.
But then about one month into building, my second blessing came threw the door; a co-worker from the past; Christine Bower. I had worked with Christine, (also a mother of two), in three restaurants as waitresses and as a management team.
I knew that Christine gives 150% to the job and in addition to her accounting and management talents; she took it upon herself to learn everything possible about those things that were important to my vision. As Christine started to learn about locally produced foods, free range chickens, organics, fair-trade coffee, GMOs', solar, wind power etc. this small fire inside Christine started to grow in leaps and bounds to my delight!
Before she came on as a partner, Christine decided to come and just "help me" as she knew the challenges I faced to get this restaurant up and running. When Christine reads this, she will then know just how relieved I was to see her come threw that door! I secretly wanted her to come on as my second partner but I wanted her to make that decision on her own. Well she called me one morning and just blurted out: "I want in. I am not sure where I will get the money but I also have Visas!" we just sat on the phone laughing! It was amazing to see Christine put an unbelievable amount of energy and passion in this restaurant. But then again, that is who she is. I could not have picked a better partner to help me run this ship!
However, she had yet to tell her husband about her desire to be a partner so when I hung up the phone I prayed that he would give his blessings to the plan.
Christine's husband Chad gave her the green light and he has been wonderfully supportive ever since, helping in any way, thanks Chad for all your hard labor
Many great friends and past staff ( yep that's you Stu) coming on with us, giving the support and push we so needed to get this restaurant opened.
And then on June 2nd, 2004, Christine and I were ready to put up the "Open" sign on the Wooden Monkey. We will never forget our first customer; Michel Bawtree, a wonderful man who lived in the building. He had watched us laughing and struggling to put the Monkey together almost daily for the last three months.
The first year was painful at times for Christine and I but people were starting to talk about what we were doing and just how good our food was. The word was getting around. We were growing and were getting noticed by the press and the business community. In Our first year we the Halifax Chamber of Commerce awarded us "The Best New Restaurant of the Year" in the Coast Magazine and "The Best New Business of the Year" were honored that the business community had recognized the concept and principals of the Wooden Monkey as being very important. Wow that award and all of the media attention brought in lots of new clients from all walks of life including politicians, movies stars and even Rolling Stones Ronnie Wood and his wife Jo.
Over the past three years, the Wooden Monkey has steadily grown into a very successful business, one still 100% based on the original principals and visions I had when I signed that lease in 2004. Back then I decided that I was going to focus on buying from smaller producers, choosing to stay way from the traditional large soft drinks company's, large multi food suppliers etc. this has been very well received! People love to support small local business and why not? Instead we choose to serve locally make root beer, other local sodas, real Nova Scotia cranberry, blueberry, and apples juices as well as homemade lemonade. We use only Nova Scotia farm produced free-range meats, beef, chicken, port along with organic grains, flours, raisons and locally grown organic veggies. We don't use any microwaves or deep fryers and we believe in using environment-cleaning products, biodegradable cups and take out containers.
That was the concept and over these past three years, these ideals of the Wooden Monkey have been featured on television, radio, local and national newspapers and several magazines. There have been at least fifteen articles written about us and just recently we were mentioned in the book written by Jo Wood, the wife of Ronnie Wood of the Rolling Stones. Her book is called "Naturally" and it's a great book about organics - we are on page 42.
Ok that's it for my story of the creation of the Wooden Monkey, but there are many more chapters to come as this is just the beginning of our journey and we are just getting started. We are working not just to educate everyone on healthier eating but on the bigger picture of how we must all contribute to making this a sustainable world. I hope you will join us on this journey.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story all the way through. Along with all our wonderful staff and my fellow Monkeys partners, Christine and Robie, we look forward to your next visit with us.
Love ~ Lil ....to be continued......