Even if you don’t know Vancouver restaurateur Paul Mon-Kau, surely you’re well versed in his work as the co-owner of hot spots like The District Brasserie, El Matador Spanish Tapas, and The Little District Roadhouse. Find out more about his inspiration for transforming the dining scene of North Van in today’s profile…
Elevator Pitch: Describe your business in a nutshell.
I am one of the owners of The District Restaurant Group. We currently own and operate The District Brasserie (Belgian/Dutch), El Matador Spanish Tapas (Spanish tapas bar), and The Little District Roadhouse (Southern American comfort food).
Our restaurants are focused on great food, great drinks and lively conversation. We don’t believe in shortcuts, and have no microwaves in any of the restaurants. We want you to forget that you are in the suburbs and feel like you are somewhere far from home.
Why did you start your business, what was the inspiration?
Although North Van is the birthplace of all the casual fine dining chains, there wasn’t anywhere “different” to go to. I was tired of driving all over town to go somewhere cool.
My inspiration was twofold: 1. having worked in the restaurant industry for a long time, I felt I knew what worked and what didn’t; and 2. to tap into my Dutch heritage to bring a certain European feel to the Lower Mainland.
What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
Being able to make the decisions. Having to make the decisions.
Where do you see your business going in five years?
Our plan is to develop one of our concepts into a chain.
What does success look like to you?
Success is being able to take my daughter to the playground in the middle of the day and not have to worry about a call asking where I am. I’m not too concerned about my postal code or how many cars I can get in my garage, but rather about being able to enjoy each day as I see fit.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
Hmm, tough question. I think the day we opened the first restaurant is pretty hard to top.
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Don’t worry too much about getting experience and/or qualifications. You’ll learn far more just doing it than reading about it or hearing about it from an amateur.
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
We often donate to school fundraisers and generally anything relating to children. It’s important to me because I feel like they really need the support of the community.
What is notable to you?
I’ve learned that one of my best abilities is being able to articulate what I see in my imagination and to turn it into reality. Whether that is a recipe or a room design, turning my thoughts and dreams into real life is awesome.
Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
Android – currently on my 54th cell. Don’t ask.
How do you keep active, energetic, and vibrant?
Travel as much as I can, train at Distrikt Movement, and by being married to a younger woman!