Hungry Heart Cafe

Workplace training brings hospitality staff closer together

The Hungry Heart Café, located in St. John’s, NL, is a popular café that has been serving the community for 13 years. In addition to providing food and drink for customers, they also have a bustling catering service that serves the city and the surrounding areas.

Despite already having a fantastic close-knit staff, the organization decided to implement workplace training workshops through the UP Skills for Work program, offered through Activate Learning. Activate Learning is a literacy and essential skills program focused on supporting and empowering the unique population of Newfoundland and Labrador.

UP Skills for Work offers workshops on skills such as confidence, stress management and adaptability. Employers can choose to run a series of workshops on a number of topics, or focus on a select few based on the needs and interest of their organization and employees.

The Hungry Heart Café has been running weekly workshops every Tuesday for the past 6 weeks, with each workshop covering a different topic. The workshops are offered on Zoom due to the pandemic.

“The staff have really loved the workshops and they look forward to it each week,” says Maurice Boudreau, General Manager at Hungry Heart Café. “A lot of organizations don’t offer training, especially in the hospitality industry, but we understand the importance of it which is why we see value in offering it to our employees.”

Boudreau says the training has helped to provide employees with the ability to better relate to and empathize with one another. He says that when you hear from other people about their stories or history, it gives you a better understanding of where they’re coming from and why they might think a certain way.

ABC Life Literacy Canada Community Specialist Erica Ruth Kelly, who facilitated the workshops, echoes Boudreau’s sentiments.

“We’ve seen very positive results from the learners in the workshops we’ve run at Hungry Heart Café,” she says. “When you see people become more comfortable not only with me but also as a group over time it’s really heartening. You can see the changes in their confidence levels.”

Kelly says the confidence workshop was particularly interesting, as it allowed people to open up and share about their own personal experiences.

“When you hear the boss open up about how they have felt vulnerable and self-conscious before, particularly when you might think that person is very confident and experienced, it really brings everyone together and gives people a sense of similarity.”

The Hungry Heart Café has one final workshop to run and has been thoroughly pleased with the results so far. Their most recent workshop, which covered the topic of adaptability, was particularly relevant given the circumstances of the pandemic.

“After doing the adaptability workshop we learned a lot, and it allowed us to look back and see how we could have done things a little bit differently,” says Boudreau. “During the first lockdown last year, nobody knew what to do, but in February 2021 we went into another lock down and we were way more prepared and adapted really well. You can definitely see a lot of that workshop in what we’re doing on a day-to-day basis.”

Employers looking to run workplace training in their organization can visit to learn more. All employers that sign up to run a workshop will be provided with printed teaching materials and online facilitator training. Additionally, employers may be eligible to receive a salary offset of up to $15/hr for each employee participating in a two-hour workshop.

Visit to book your workshop today.