The Business Excellence Awards were almost left without a caterer Saturday evening as flood waters threatened to enter the Humble Roots Cafe and Deli in Maple Ridge.
But a little luck and a lot of community help, owner Tyler Towe was able to serve up food for about 150 guests at the 16th annual event Saturday evening.
Friday night Towe was watching as the water levels rose on the property at the corner of 224 Street and 132 Avenue.
When his final customers left for the evening at around 7 p.m. the water outside the building was already half way up their shins, he said.
Towe and his staff went back inside the building and got all their equipment off the floors. Then they went out and ripped down one of the back fences on the property to make sure the water had a clear path to pass through and they sandbagged the doors.
Then, said Towe, they “prayed for the best”.
Once it hit 8 p.m., Towe realized that the flooding could be bad. He called Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Chamber of Commerce executive director Flori Chaykowski, and told her he might need another kitchen.
“Two or three inches higher, he said, and they might have had to close the restaurant down for a couple of weeks.
Instead, the waters peaked at around midnight. Towe stayed until around 2:30 a.m. until the water levels started receding. He went home, got some sleep, and then returned at around 7 a.m. to figure out the damage.
“We were very lucky to have sustained minor damage,” said Towe.
Towe said the only damage they sustained was to some flooring in the back office and to some drywall. All work, he said, they can do themselves.
The outside of the building just needed to be pressure washed.
After a team came in and dried out what little water got into the building, they were up and running again for noon.
“It was impossible for us to open for our brunch but we still managed to pull off our gala dinner which is lucky,” he said, adding that he decided to shut down the restaurant for the day just as a precaution.
Towe said a few of his regulars stopped by to help and others, driving by, offered their support.
The most amazing thing, Towe said, was to see how fast people were to lend a hand.
“It was just really special. A really special community,” he said.
The theme of this years Business Excellence Awards was Toast to the Trailblazers of Yesterday, a heritage theme fitting for the venue – Heritage Hall in Pitt Meadows, said Chaykowski.
There were around 50 nominations across the seven categories.
Finalists were determined through a scoring process and then they were interviewed by a judge who added their score to the previous one to select the winners.
Guests enjoyed the night’s delicious dinner, along with live entertainment and a silent auction.
Chaykowski said attendance was down this year but believes it was due to a change in dates for the event.
They used to hold the award ceremony at the end of February or early March, said Chaykowski, but moved it up a month because it conflicted with other community events.
However, she said, you could feel a sense of community in the room.
The Ridge Meadows Hospice Society won for the Non-Profit Organization of the year.
“For a non-profit like us, a nomination alone served so much for us to be able to raise our profile, raise the conversation about our services, just get the word out there more of what we do,” said executive director Lindsey Willis.
She said they couldn’t have received such an award without the staff and volunteers who do the work.
“Especially our volunteers. People who have been doing this work for years for free because they love what they do.”
Business Excellence Award winners:
• Community Spirit of the Year: Nicky Tu of Kidsport Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows
• Non-Profit Organization of the Year: Ridge Meadows Hospice Society
• Under 40 Professional of the Year: Inder Bring of Golden Ears Physiotherapy
• Business Leader of the Year: Brenda Jenkins of Macdonald Realty
• Small Business of the Year: Silver Valley Brewing Co.
• Medium Business of the Year: Pacific Star Electric
• Large Business of the Year: Pitt Meadows Plumbing & Mechanical Systems Ltd.