By Carolina Alban-Stoughton
Hospitality, Dining and Entertainment win big in Carlsbad
In this article we’d like to recognize the Stay and Play winners of the 2018 Annual Business Awards, not only for the outstanding work they do, but also for the tremendous positive influence they have in the Carlsbad community.
On the night of March 16, Museum of Making Music Executive Director, Carolyn Grant, sent a group text to her staff. “I don’t usually intrude on their private time (Friday night!) but in this instance I thought it was worth it!” The Museum Of Making Music had just won the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce’s Community Impact Award, which was presented to Grant at the 2018 Business Awards and Board Installation Dinner. Soon after the text about the win went out, many more came back – her elated staff sharing on the pride and joy of such an important recognition. “It gives us a boost of confidence. We carry out our laser focused work day after day, month after month, year after year, and it is a wonderful feeling to be recognized for that work, and to know it has been noticed and appreciated by the community.” (The Museum of Making Music, tied in this category with NRG Energy, Inc.)
The Land & Water Company chef and owner, Robert Ruiz, had just barely settled at his table. His hectic schedule at the restaurant almost prevented him from attending the dinner. But he arrived just in time to hear his name and restaurant announced as the winner of the Innovation Award. “I walked in, sat down, and all of the sudden I was on stage and was being handed the award, so it was kind of overwhelming. But what goes through my mind is I’m super proud of it and super thankful for the recognition.”
To Ruiz the award was even more important because he was nominated alongside businesses from a range of industries, (such as Compound Solutions, Inc., which shared the recognition in that category.) “It was a huge victory for the restaurant, for the staff, for everybody that’s here, for the brand in general, for people to see that we are in a category of our own and that there’s plenty of talented people, but it’s our work ethic that sets us apart,” said Ruiz adding that his staff got the good news from people who visited the restaurant after being at the awards ceremony.
This year’s awards dinner took place at the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Golf Club & Spa. The resort’s Director of Human Resources, Doug Sullivan, attended the event not only as a host, but also as a nominee to the Best Place to Work in Carlsbad Award. At the end of the night, when the announcer read Park Hyatt Aviara as the winner, the news traveled fast throughout the venue, the excitement palpable in every corner. “After we won, I took the award around to different departments. Our colleagues were taking their pictures with the award, taking selfies, and posting them on their own personal pages,” said Sullivan. “There are so many incredible companies here in Carlsbad. To be recognized as THE best place to work was a very special moment.”
While these winners offer Carlsbad a great dining experience, a wonderful place to stay and to work, and a fun environment to connect with music, it is their work behind the scenes that makes them even more remarkable. “We proudly support the local schools, the military, and work to protect the environment,” said Sullivan. “Park Hyatt Aviara was recently awarded a $15,000 grant for the Batiquitos Lagoon Foundation by Hyatt Hotels Corporation. This grant will be used to help support the foundation provide resources to maintain and develop this precious wetland.” They’ve also provided job search training to Carlsbad High School students who are entering the workforce for the first time; and as a company that hires former military and veterans, they’ve donated to organizations that work with these brave men and women.
For Grant, it is an honor to help people of all ages connect to music. This commitment goes beyond the traditional tasks of running a museum. “We provide interactive tours for students—preschool through university; internships for high school and college students; music making workshops for families; and for adults, a volunteer program and band and orchestra programs. We also have a concert series for all ages and bring musicians from around the world (and close to home) to our intimate venue.” And nowadays when budgets for arts at schools are being cut, the museum is stepping in to fill that void. “The Museum of Making Music makes a difference in so many ways. A common theme amongst visitors is how important the museum is in bringing music to school children, so many of whom no longer benefit from music programs in their schools.”
Carlsbad hasn’t been foreign to the eating healthy, organic and sustainable wave. Ruiz, feels it is his duty to continue to expand this impact through his restaurant and considers himself the flag bearer of sustainable dining in Carlsbad – which not only is good for people’s health but also for the local economy. “We are paying cash money direct to our local Carlsbad community, to local farmers that live here, to local fisherman that fish here,” said Ruiz. “We make everything here ourselves from scratch. So because we don’t purchase anything and resell it we are able to have pure control over what goes from our resources to a person’s plate and what they’re going to eat.”
To Ruiz it’s important to make sure the sustainability of his restaurant is “full cycle”, partnering with neighboring cities and organizations to create and collect commercial organic or restaurant grade organic waste that can be turned into compost. “Right now the compost site is in Oceanside and then processed back into soil, which is a high composting soil that gets sold back to the community. So If you’re going to put in five thousand homes in Bressi Ranch every single front yard in that community is going to need compost. You are basically turning trash into treasure in that you are literally taking organic waste, composting it and turning it into a super high valuable natural nutrient rich organic soil and selling it as a commodity.”
Sharing the mission
Companies are made out of people and the passion of people that work at these organizations is contagious. It is hard to walk into the Museum of Making Music and not want to see, experiment, and attend all their exhibits and programs. It is tempting to enter The Land & Wanter Co. and not have a natural desire to order everything from their menu. And it is very difficult to visit the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort without wanting to book at least one night stay. All of them know that, and would like to invite others to share in what makes them so unique.
“Often there is a perception in hospitality that you have to sacrifice good customer service for high colleague engagement. That isn’t the case here at Aviara. Being a 5-Star, 5-Diamond rated property, and receiving this award, proves that you can have both and with the environment we provide there is a strong correlation between high colleague engagement and high customer service scores,” said Sullivan, who enjoys taking people around his beautiful workplace as though it were his own home.
Ruiz is as meticulous and passionate about his food as he is about his research, working with the federal government and institutions that focus on the ocean and its resources. “We went from opening up ten years ago and saying we want to serve the right fish, and then realized that no one knew what the right fish or proteins or food was. So then we decided to make our own path and find out what is was. Now we work directly with projects, with all those entities, with new grants, building new kitchens inside these facilities to connect to thousands of scientists.” For Ruiz The Land & Water Co. is not just about serving good food it is about sharing information and solutions. “We have done a lot of events with food and medicine. You can you can come in here and learn and educate yourself, educate your family.”
“Our hope is that visitors will leave with a sense of how important the music products industry is to music, and to the well-being of communities over the world. In very simple terms, if people did not make, sell and use instruments, the world would lose an integral part of its vibrancy and happiness,” said Grand, who can’t hide her excitement about an exhibit coming out this summer called “Listening through the Lens”. “We will present a collection of music photography from famed photographer Henry Diltz. A musician himself, Diltz’s images shape the way we see—and hear—musical icons like Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, the Doors, and Crosby, Stills & Nash.” The exhibition opens on June 9, 2018.
To learn more about the Chamber, its programs and recognition events, call Kathleen McNary at 760-931-8400.