You would never know it to look at Carmen Becir, assistant operations manager at the Tsawwassen White Spot, but the 36-year-old already has 20 years of experience working at the restaurant in the heart of Sunny Tsawwassen.
But Carmen says her story is not much different from many of the other 96 employees who work there. Growing up in Tsawwassen, she came to view the familiar white and green building as much of a landmark as the high school or the Town Centre Mall. She recalls countless times as a child coming in with her parents and ordering a Pirate Pak.
Today, when she interviews young people for the same job she applied for two decades ago, the stories are similar.
"They say, well I've been coming here my whole life and it always seems like a friendly environment, atmosphere and great place to work," says Carmen.
There's been a restaurant on the southwest corner of 56 th Street and 12th Avenue for as long as most people can remember; over twenty-eight years as a White Spot and before that a Smitty's Restaurant.
It's generally agreed that White Spot has the prime real estate in Sunny Tsawwassen because it's close to everything and makes a perfect landmark for directions.
"This is the corner where everybody hangs a left to go down to Centennial Beach," says Carmen. "Or straight ahead to go into Point Roberts."
Although White Spot is a chain restaurant with franchises all over British Columbia and Alberta, the Tsawwassen White Spot has something of a home field advantage. The Toigo family that owns the restaurant chain lives locally, and Carmen says the children and grandchidlren of the family grew up and some even worked their first jobs at the restaurant.
Carmen says they uphold the same
standards of excellence in service and food as they would regardless
of whether the Toigo family live nearby. But she admits there's a
"little extra pressure" to do a great job, especially
knowing how important good word of mouth is in a small town like
"If people have a bad experience or something was to go wrong we'd probably hear about it. So our due diligence is probably up and above what other restaurants would have in this community, we are very lucky to have such loyal customers in Tsawwassen"
Carmen says White Spot tries to be as much a part of the community as possible, engaging in local sports as a sponsor (including the massive UCI Tour de Delta road race every year), charitable events, fundraising and other annual activities like the Tsawwassen Sun Festival.
But perhaps her proudest initiative was one she took on seven years ago to make their hiring more inclusive for people with disabilities. At first, Carmen meant the program to be a short-term hiring partnership with students from South Delta Secondary and Delta Secondary, but she says many of those workers thrived so well at White Spot they never left.
"What happened at the end of the program is we ended up keeping them because they were some of the best people we have."
That hiring policy has won them multiple inclusive hiring awards from the Delta Youth Support Link Society. Carmen says it's all a part of the "family environment" they've created in the restaurant.
It's what drew Carmen back to Tsawwassen two years ago after briefly moving to Vancouver. Well, that, and the sunny rays of Tsawwassen.
"It's great to live and work in this community. To see everybody who comes in here, it's like a family in here. There's so much to do. We live so close to the water. There's walking, hiking, it's beautiful."