March 7, 2024 0 Comments

 “We are happy people making people happy” is the mantra of Donna Dooher, the owner of Mildred’s Temple Kitchen. Her journey in the foodservice industry began as a server, advancing through culinary education, and ascending through the ranks in Ottawa, eventually becoming the head chef of a popular restaurant in the early 80s. Looking to expand her horizons, Donna and her husband Kevin moved to Toronto to explore its culinary scene. However, Donna encountered difficulties securing a position as it was common back then not to hire women for professional kitchen roles. In the face of industry challenges, they embraced the entrepreneurial spirit, establishing a catering business. Shortly after, they decided to open a restaurant — the original Mildred Pierce. The foundation of their success traces back to the beginnings of Sunday brunch, where a modest 15 customers on the first day transformed into over 100 customers waiting for a table. The journey continued for nearly two decades until they relocated to Liberty Village and rebranded the restaurant as Mildred’s Temple Kitchen. At this new location, Donna and Kevin faced a new demographic and evolving customer preferences. To adapt, they made the strategic decision to extend their brunch offerings to seven days a week.

“Back when we started our first brunch 35 years ago, I would never have imagined that there would be such a demand for brunch.”

Donna’s favorite dish, the open-faced eggs Benedict with smoked salmon on a fresh croissant, embodies the timeless appeal of Mildred’s offerings. The dish, while remaining a classic, has adapted to changing tastes, allowing customers to customize it with sliced avocado or crispy bacon. Mildred’s essence extends beyond its menu offerings and atmosphere. The key differentiator is a philosophy rooted in happiness. If the team is happy, the customers are happy, and that, according to Donna, is the recipe for success. The restaurant’s commitment to fostering a joyful culture becomes evident in every pancake flipped and every brunch served, creating an atmosphere where customers feel satisfied and genuinely happy.

“It’s the experience of walking through the door and feeling at home and welcome that sets the tone. So, all the other things naturally fall into place. That is the key in any hospitality experience.”

Donna’s introduction to Groupex came through her active involvement on the board of directors of Restaurants Canada. As an independent restaurant operator, Donna recognized the challenges in accessing cost-saving opportunities typically offered to larger chains. Thus, joining Groupex became a strategic move, offering a pathway to cost reduction and access to knowledge-based resources beneficial to her business. By leveraging Groupex’s programs, including procurement through distributors like GFS, participation in the linen program, and access to customized technology solutions, Mildred’s Temple Kitchen optimizes operational efficiency while reducing costs. In closing, Donna shares powerful advice for aspiring female entrepreneurs. Her words echo with inspiration: “Never underestimate your value, your skills, and your importance. Keep your confidence strong and unwavering.” She also recognizes the importance of equipping oneself with business acumen. The journey is not just about passion; it is about the resilience to learn, grow, and put yourself out there. Visit Mildred’s Temple Kitchen at 85 Hanna Av Liberty Village, Toronto.