Tag: Kave Haz

Kave Haz – the real story

Ok that is a bad title. Sounds very Heat Magazine, doesn’t it?  “Betrayal! Scandal! My heartbreaking story!”

Well, I do feel very betrayed, extremely angry and completely gutted, but I’m gonna try and avoid tabloid style sensationalism!

Ok, so the story in brief, which I haven’t really gone in to yet on this blog, started way back in July. Carl and I have been wanting to emigrate out here for years, but of course it is very difficult to do unless you have a job in Canada to go to. Doctor Coffee’s Cafe was painfully quiet over the summer, and one day I had an incredibly bad day at work, came home in a foul mood and googled “coffee jobs, Canada”. Several popped up, including the “Front End Manager” (ahem!!) at Kave Haz in Regina. I sent off my CV to them and a load of other places and didn’t really expect anyone to take me remotely seriously. But Ken did, or at least seemed to. He rang me up the next day via Skype, and said I thought I’d do great at the job, he said he needed a manager because he didn’t really know what he was doing, and he wanted the place to be European style, he liked my accent and so on. He was even talking about letting the manager take over the business entirely in a few years and pay him rent for the building.

I coughed up a lot of money for a flight out to Regina at the end of July, stayed for a week and got all excited with Ken and his family. I even trained up some baristas there. I left having got a written job offer letter and he sent off the forms for a Labour Market Opinion (LMO)which, if successful, would enable me to get my work permit. The last thing he said to me at the airport was “I can’t do this without a manager”

The LMO took TWELVE WEEKS AND FIVE DAYS TO ARRIVE. This was agonizing because I did not know what to do. It could have been rejected at any point, and so I couldn’t make any concrete plans about selling my cafe, or our house, or whether Carl should quit his job. During that time, I tried to stay in touch with Ken, but he never rang me, and we only talked when I caught him on Skype. I also got a few very very brief emails (with no punctuation), but nothing in any depth. To be fair, he did sound despondant and said the cafe wasn’t going well, and also that he had “lost” two chefs – which is another matter I’ll come to in a minute. He did say that he wasn’t sure how he would pay me at one point, but most significantly, he never once said “there is no job here, don’t bother coming.” Not once. There was absolutely nothing to suggest that he was retracting the job offer.

Finally, the LMO was approved at the end of October. Ken bothered to call me to tell me. He did warn me that all was not well, but I naively assumed he was being overdramatic and said I would come out and sort things out. Meaning, trying to give him a confidence boost with the place, and get a formal start date for the job. I also needed the time to look for somewhere to live, and for Carl and Miranda to see the place too. I would have thought it was fairly obvious at that point that I was serious about the job offer, and that I genuinely believed there was a job to go to. When I say “I’ll fly out and we can talk about starting work” – you’d think that would be a good opportunity to say “Sorry, there’s no job” wouldn’t you?? But Nooooooooooo.

So, on the basis of a successful LMO application, a job offer in writing, and the fact that Ken knew full well what I was doing, I transferred my cafe business over to Jo. This was pretty emotional for all, and I do still think I was more generous to her than I could really afford to be, but I wanted her to have it and keep it ‘ours’ rather than selling it to a total stranger. But anyway, I ‘sold’ it… that’s it. No more cafe for me.

Then I flew out to Regina with Carl and Miranda.

We spent a couple of days hanging around in Kave Haz, Ken was very busy, and he said he was stressing, still saying he doesn’t know if he could afford to pay me, and that I shouldn’t talk of full time work. Worrying, but I was imagine maybe starting off part time, and helping him build the place up a bit. the fact that he was still suggesting houses and apartments we could rent near the cafe gave me enough hope.

Then he went in to hospital for this knee surgery, said he’d see us on Monday. Monday turned in to Thursday (by which time Carl had left – which was a pain cos I was getting highly suspicious and I want him there for moral support!). Thursday eventually turned in to Saturday morning, by which time I’d pretty much given up anyway, and done my radio interview and heard from some far more positive people. I should point out that Ken NEVER rang me that week, it was always me calling him and trekking down to Kave Haz on the bus.

I kinda demanded a straight answer. He said he thought he’d been pretty straight with me already??? er,… riiiiight. Even then, he STILL didn’t say “there is no job, sorry” he just said he couldn’t pay me. He also seemed convinced that he’d warned me about the state of the place, and I was stupid for selling up and coming out. I replied that I did it on the basis of a successful LMO, a job offer and nothing to tell me the job had vanished, and that he knew full well what I was doing and didn’t stop me. Again, he never told me not to. At this point it got nasty – he kinda realised he’d majorly screwed up and had been caught out and instead of apologising, he basically just sulked, saying it was my fault for trusting him, that I was inventing things and reading too much into what had been said. I did point out there are few other interpretations to “Dear Annabel, We are pleased to offer you the job of Manager at Kave Haz….” But nooooo, apparently, he only wrote that letter to satisfy the conditions of the LMO. Oh and that “Erika – ” (his wife) “told me not to send off the LMO because you’d think it was a serious job offer.” WTF? What planet is this guy on?? Apparently, there was a job but he needed the manager in July. But it’s not like he didn’t know that I wouldn’t be able to start then – he was the one who filled out the LMO!  So, incredulous, I asked why he’d offered me it, and why on earth he hadn’t cancelled the LMO when he realised there wasn’t going to be a job. Apparently “because he was doing me a favour.” Nice favour, it’s really useful without a job to go to isn’t it!? Then he start accusing me of all sorts, saying I wanted to change the place (well, the coffee is cheap and nasty and the machine is crap – but then, the point of employing me as manager would be to develop the place, right?). Basically, he got pissed off and desperate, and turned into a sulky teenager. This didn’t help my mood at all – at the very least he could be mature and reasonable about it, and apologise. The final straw was when he said I was talking too loudly and that he couldn’t understand why I was angry!!!

So, I just stormed out of there, threatening to sue him. I probably could, if I could be bothered. Essentially he cost me my business. I also had a few discussions with three people, independent of each other and all of which shall remain nameless, who have warned me off him, talking of total lack of communication and not receiving payments and so on… I may have to queue up in the solicitors!!

So, fortunately, I seem to have got myself sorted elsewhere, not thanks to Mr Ken Ramage. I do really worry for the people still working for him, and I really suggest, if you are reading this and you are in Regina, then AVOID THE PLACE LIKE THE PLAGUE.

A series of fortunate events….

Holy guacamole…. where to begin?!

Lets start with the positives. I AM HERE TO STAY!!! MWUHAHAHAHHAA!!!

So, yes. Yesterday, I went and did my thing on the radio. As I said before, this came about by a total accident – our waitress for the evening at the Fainting Goat restaurant also happens to work for CBC (like the BBC only… er… Canadian). They wanted to get me on the show, but originally I was going to do an interview with Ken from Kave Haz to help promote the place. But that didn’t work out and given today’s events I am very glad it didn’t. Instead, they framed it round the idea that I was over from “London, England” (doh!!) on a mission to bring European style coffee to the Prairies. Apparently this is newsworthy!

Anyway, CBC is huuuuuuuuuuuuge, and I was pretty nervous since it was a live interview. But the lovely woman doing Useful Techie jobs pointed out that if you compare the population of the UK with the population of Saskatchewan, then I probably had more listeners than when I was interviewed on BBC Tees for Doctor Coffee’s Cafe back home!! Craig, the presenter was very charming, friendly, put me at ease and was very professional so the interview was fairly easy. He also put a link to this blog out on facebook!!!!!! AAAAARGH! So, if you are reading this Craig, thanks again!

The response to this five-minute interview has been utterly phenomenal:

The facebook responses

I looked up La Ronge, incidently. I had to zoom out 5 times to realise it was still in Saskatchewan!!!
http://maps.google.com/maps?q=la+ronge&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-a&hnear=La+Ronge,+Division+No.+18,+Saskatchewan,+Canada&t=m&vpsrc=6&ie=UTF8&hq=&ll=53.278353,-103.754883&spn=9.204439,18.676758&z=5&iwloc=A&output=embed

Hmmm….! I will visit one day methinks, but probably not today!

And then came the twitter responses; first one from Moose Jaw from the place I was writing Nanowrimo in yesterday:

and then one from 13th Avenue Coffee Shop, who I’d visited last week, resume in hand.

Now this last one turned in to an email, asking me to come visit them the next day. So this morning, after an utterly disastrous time at Kave Haz which will be explained in another blog post, I went down there in the vague hope that they could cheer me up and rescue me from the predicament Kave HAz have landed me in.

They did far, far better than that!!!!

Turns out, they really want to develop the coffee side of the business, as it already houses a restaurant as well. They have only taken over the business recently and seemed to want to make their stamp on the place. And, as luck would have it, two of their staff are leaving in the new year so they are actually looking for somebody to take over!! So they offered me the job. Aaaaaaaaaaand it would be starting in January like I’d hoped, aaaaaaaaand it’ll be full time eventually on a decent wage. Aaaaaaaaand they sounded interested in the Ugly Cake Company, so I may be able to keep that going, Aaaaaaand, they want to use Roca Jack’s coffee, AAaaaaaand they have a proper espresso machine, Aaaaaaaand they also own some property around Regina that they let out, as do their friends, so they can even try and find us somewhere to stay, aaaaaaaaaaaaand, they may even have some contacts to help Carl find some work too!

 

So absolutely bloody amazing.  Aaaaaaaaaaand I got a free burger out of it, which was delicious. Can’t wait to get started now!!!!! Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!

Head Mess

Ok, so we are here!!

I am still exhausted. The flight was long, but could have been a lot worse. The plane was fairly empty so there was a lot of space for Miranda to bounce around in an Be Miri, and she was loud but otherwise very well behaved. We ended up doing laps of the plane with her patting random sleeping people on the head on her way past! Unfortunately, Regina is 6 hours behind the UK, so travelling west made for a very long day. We arrived at 8.30pm ish Saskatchewan time, but it felt like 2.30am. Miri was still awake, poor baby! And since we arrived, she’s been waking up at 5am thinking it’s mid morning and she ought to be fed!

It is also COLD. When we dare mention the fact that it is cold to the locals, they all insist that we haven’t seen anything yet, and that this is nothing. So far it hasn’t yet got below -15C, although lows of -27C are forecasted for Saturday. We are bearing up with very sexy thermals on and Miri looks like a little jelly baby in at least four woolly layers! It’s not too bad, but it is very tiring just existing in it. prof

So, maybe it is just tiredness talking. I am feeling a bit overwhelmed but also frustrated. We have been hanging around at Kave Haz, and at first it was really reassuring that is fairly busy in there. There is a new baker and the pastries we tried were excellent. Asyah is holding up well as the barista and only full time member of staff and seems to be enjoying it, which is great.

However, Ken barely has time to talk to us, which again is just a sign that the place is doing fairly well. It is also a very good reason for him to get me in as a manager, just so he doesn’t have to do everything himself. However, he is being frustratingly non-committal! He is concerned that he won’t be able to pay me – certainly not the salary he originally stated when I applied for the job. The cafe is just not making enough money. This is VERY worrying, not least because I need the salary – much as I want to move over to Canada and I do think I’d enjoy working at Kave Haz, I cannot live off thin air. But moreover, it is very naive of New Boss to expect the place to be making money in under 4 months. Did he not plan for this? Most new businesses do not break even in the first 6 months, and it is rare for anywhere to make an actual profot within the first year.  In a more positive light, he has not said “there is no job for you”, and I do think if that were the case he would have told us before we spent so much on the flights. I don’t think he’s deliberately trying to screw me over, but at the moment it is us taking all the risks, and I am not feeling at all comfortable about this.

We looked around four houses this morning, three rentals and one for sale. Any of them would have suited us well – the houses are so *cute* here. The first, and cheapest we saw looked like a little yellow chapel! But the experience really brought home how little we can plan. Only the little yellow house was remotely affordable on the Kave Haz salary, and only then if I do end up working full time there. Our favourite of the four would be perfect if we had two incomes, so definitely possible if Carl had a job too, but that is a big Unknown at the moment. And we would only be able to buy a house if we sell ours back home, OR if Carl’s voluntary redundancy payout comes through. There are so, so many ifs and buts and maybes that I feel completely at sea tonight. I just wish I had a straight answer about Kave Haz for one thing! At least then we could plan accordingly.

But I do want this sooooo much. I feel like we’ve come so far already: finding the job in the first place, being offered it, then getting the LMO approved, that godawful wait, all the stress, emotional trauma and financial blackhole of selling my cafe back home… it CANNOT all fall through now! It just can’t!