From left: Donna Mills Bowman, Cathrine Kitchen and Mandolyn Jonasson are now co-owners of Island SodaWorks in Qualicum Beach. The restaurant became a co-op April 1. — Lauren Collins photo

Three women now co-owners of Qualicum Beach restaurant

Island SodaWorks became a co-op April 1

After being told to take a step back from her business due to health concerns, Mandolyn Jonasson said she decided to approach some of her coworkers to become part owners.

Island SodaWorks in Qualicum Beach became a co-operative April 1, after founder Jonasson said she worked herself to a point where her doctor told her she needed to take a step back.

RELATED: SodaWorks for Town of Qualicum Beach

“I thought I had to close the restaurant and I was so sad… I was so terrified that this beautiful thing that was such an amazing thing for all of us, I would have to say goodbye to.”

So, Jonasson approached Cathrine Kitchen and Donna Mills Bowman, who both began at the restaurant in January, to discuss turning Island SodaWorks into a co-op.

“We decided that we didn’t want to let this go. This was a great opportunity for everyone,” Jonasson said.

The women recently signed on to renew Island SodaWorks lease with the Town of Qualicum Beach to continue to use the west bay of the former fire hall.

Kitchen, who attended culinary school, said as soon as she started working with Jonasson, she believed in her vision for the restaurant.

“I said to her right away that I wanted to be a partner with her. I put it right on the table in the first week.”

For Mills Bowman, she said she was on the verge of retiring, but has a passion for cooking. She added that because of health issues, she’s not able to work long days.

“The co-op has given me an opportunity to buy into a business where I can be my own boss,” said Mills Bowman, who has been in the food industry for 45 years.

Kitchen agreed, saying that being a co-owner allows her to still have time with family or bring her son into work if she needs to.

Jonasson said anyone who comes to work at Island SodaWorks has an opportunity to buy into the co-op.

“You would work here for a trial period and then after a short trial period, we could offer you the position of becoming a partner. For a small investment, you buy in. You own all of this; the couches that we’re sitting on, the freezers full of meat,” she said. “The better the business does, the better we all do. We’re all putting in our best because it’s ours.”

Each co-owner, Jonasson said, has one voting share. But she said people can’t be a member of the co-op if they don’t work at the restaurant.

“You cannot residually profit from it,” she said. “You get paid a wage and then profit share on top of that once you’re a member.”

Island SodaWorks is located in the west bay of the Town of Qualicum Beach’s previous fire hall, and recently the town put a call out for proposals for the space. Island SodaWorks was eligible to apply, but so were any other interested parties.

RELATED: Town of Qualicum Beach seeking biz, community group for old fire hall

Jonasson said they signed a lease with the town last week. She said she felt the reason their proposal was chosen was because the business tied in with the town’s Official Community Plan.

“A lot of the things that came out from that Quality of Life survey was the needing to support families, the need for diversification in our population,” said Jonasson, who was on the OCP review steering committee. “I can’t take care of housing (problems), but what I can take care of are the people who work here who will be able to make enough money that they can afford the housing here.”

Send story tips:

Just Posted

Qualicum Beach council big on support for multi-use cinema proposal

Society asks for 10,000 square feet, gets recommendation to consider with strategic plan

Lincoln stolen from Parksville dealership found near Duncan

Vehicle was located three days later with minor damage

Ballenas student experiment going into space

Science experiment designed by five SD69 students will travel to International Space Station

Fire engulfs trailer, vehicle and home in Bowser

The fire began around 6:45 p.m. at a property on Laurel Crescent

B.C. storm totals $37M in insured damages

The December storm wreaked havoc on B.C.’s south coast

Trudeau says politicians shouldn’t prey on Canadians’ fears

The Prime Minister was speaking at a townhall in Ontario

Thieves steal thousands from 140 Coast Capital Savings members

Online fraud tactics included phising and ‘brute force’ in November and December

Condo rental bans may be on way out with B.C. empty home tax

Many exemptions to tax, but annual declarations required

B.C. boy, aunt missing for three days

The pair are missing from Kamloops

Daredevil changes game plan to jump broken White Rock pier

Brooke Colby tells council daredevil event would help boost waterfront business

Liberal bows out of byelection after singling out Jagmeet Singh’s race

Karen Wang says she made comments online that referenced Singh’s cultural background

Truck hauling compressed gas for ‘virtual pipeline’ crashes on B.C. highway

Driver charged and highway closed for nine hours - containers did not rupture

Teen with diabetes told ‘no food’ on public B.C. bus

B. C. Transit apologizes, saying it will look into food and drink policy

Most Read