Beaches Restaurant: Business is booming at the beach

Downtown Vancouver business Niche Wine & Art

“They brought four kids with them and did a tasting of 10-12 items,” he said. “It was a lot of fun.”

According to Matthias, it is the ability to listen to and involve the restaurant’s guests and staff has contributed most to its success.

“It may sound simplistic,” Matthias noted, “but I hire good, caring people. I feel very lucky that we continue to get those folks. They are part of the community and truly understand service.”

In an industry often plagued by high turnover, Matthias’ approach to keeping staff is two-fold. First, he said, he respects their opinion and knowledge in dealing with guests every day. Second, he tries to do some “fun stuff” for them.

“I try shocking them once and a while,” he explained.

For example, he gives away trips – such as to Mexico, Hawaii and Las Vegas – to reward top performance. So far this year, he said, he has given away 14 trips to staff members and their significant others.

Another hallmark of the Beaches’ restaurants, beyond the dining experience and the teamwork, is community involvement. Perhaps the most well-known charity event sponsored by Beaches is the cruise-in at the Portland International Raceway every week from June to September.

“We’ve been doing the cruise-in for 17 years and it’s the biggest weekly show in the nation,” said Matthias, this year’s recipient of the 2012 Kyle Corwin Lifetime Achievement Award, “We have great sponsors, our team really pitches in and the car community really supports it.”

This year, Matthias noted, the cruise-in raised more than $225,000 for a wide variety of local charitable organizations, including the Boys and Girls Club, Share, School District Foundation, Children’s Justice Center, Police Activities League and Clark County Food Bank.

Other fundraising events sponsored by Beaches include a yearly celebrity breakfast and the Green Eggs and Ham program. The latter started in 1996, according to Matthias, with the goal of getting parents into the school to read with the kids. That first year, Beaches offered a free breakfast for the kids and parents at a single school. Fast forward to today, he said, and that has grown to 48 schools in one week.

“Feeding 7,000 parents and kids, and the involvement by the community, is just amazing,” said Matthias.

To pull off the Green Eggs and Ham program, Beaches utilizes multiple kitchen facilities (the restaurant and the Firstenburg Center) and has eight teams on the road at all times.

“It’s quite an operation and is just a blast. It’s one of the most fun programs we do,” Matthias said.

With the economy recovering by fits and starts, it’s easy for businesses to hunker down and wait out the storm. But Matthias said that even now – especially now – community involvement is important.

“It’s about recognizing the needs of your community and as a business analyzing what I do on a daily basis that could benefit someone else, or augment something other people are doing,” said Matthias.

For example, he said, the car show began as a marketing gimmick, but has become a sustainable way to raise money and allow the business to partner with other people to achieve an end result.

“It feels good to be giving back, and makes your team better, to see that there is a need greater than their own,” said Matthias. “Community involvement keeps life in perspective for me. You can’t just have a business and take.

You have to give back.”