Peter - Set Yourself Apart

Peter, BCom & MBA Grad

Peter Keith, '19 BCom, '20 MBA, already had plenty of hands-on experience with working with food, but knew he needed more skills to run a successful restaurant. While working full-time as the owner of a local artisanal food market, Peter went back to school to complete both his Bachelor of Commerce and MBA degrees. Equipped with the formal business training to match his love and knowledge of cooking, Peter is now prepared to handle any challenges that come his way.

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Kitchen Confidential: Peter Keith on championing local

In the summer of 2018, Peter Keith and his business partners William Kotowicz and Glendon Tan opened up Meuwly’s, an artisan food market in the hip neighbourhood along 124th street in central Edmonton. Meuwly’s was founded—and remains guided—by the belief that a strong, vibrant community is built around the food it shares together.

Keith’s commitment to local was formed during his days in the kitchen alongside chef and mentor Willie White, who owned Riverhouse Grill in St. Albert during the 2000s. “I had the opportunity to work there as a high school student.” Keith recalled. “The job really opened my eyes to the philosophy behind a great restaurant: supporting local growers, using quality ingredients, keeping things simple and, most importantly, focusing on building relationships with your customers.”

This philosophy is one that Keith and his partners continue to value. Meuwly’s focus on community is centered around their promise of supporting other local entrepreneurs, farmers and producers.

As Edmonton’s food scene began embracing local products and business owners in the mid-2010s, the time was right for a forward-thinking, community-focused enterprise like Meuwly’s. “As a young person growing up in the suburbs in the 90s, it seemed like we were in a sea of chain restaurants,” said Keith. He hopes this momentum will continue to inspire future entrepreneurs to invest in their communities.

“Now we’re seeing so many more young entrepreneurs opening creative, inspired food businesses. There's now a feedback loop that helps create more confidence in the next generation of restaurateurs. It’s a growing confidence that Edmonton is a community that will support their vision.”

Along with his experience in the kitchen, Keith cites his time at the Alberta School of Business to have been critical to his success as a business owner.

“I had many positive experiences,” said Keith, “but the most transformative one was the Leadership Certificate Program during my undergrad.”

Keith was in a small cohort of only twelve students, all from varying walks of life and with different interests and aspirations. “We pushed each other to view the world through new lenses, and we all contributed greatly to the shared learning experience. The program helped me realize that being a leader is not about the position you hold, but rather the energy you bring to a team.”

In regards to real world applications, Keith relies on his “toolkit”—a common phrase used by BCom instructors to encourage students to gather as many different tools that can be applied to their future.

“There is still an incredible amount of learning to do once you graduate and begin working but with the toolkit you’re building a foundation of skills such as problem solving, collaboration and communication, strategic planning and evidence-based decision making,” Keith noted.

“I’ve been able to take these types of tools and adapt them to the challenges I face as a small business owner. I didn’t graduate knowing exactly how to run a business (nobody really knows, we’re all just pretending!) but I learned how to take stock of a situation, identify what’s required to succeed and have confidence to take action towards the goal.”

No greater challenge has existed for small business owners than the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, and it’s consequent crippling of the global economy.

“We’ve experienced non-stop change at Meuwly’s this year, and we’ve been able to stay afloat because we have a great team that is able to adapt,” Keith said. “As an owner, I think demonstrating agility requires getting everyone on board with the vision and encouraging a culture of creativity, experimentation and evidence.”

“You need a team that can understand and trust the data and then push forward to find better opportunities, rather than insisting on the comfortable ways they've always done things.”


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