Jagdish Basran got a job as a dishwasher at a Ricky’s restaurant on Scott Road in 1977 after immigrating here from India
Forty years later, she’s the franchisee at the Ricky’s All Day Grill at Evergreen Mall in Fleetwood.
Basran came to Canada at age 23, got married, and lived in Surrey for a while before buying a house with her husband in North Delta.
Getting started was hard, she said, recalling having to walk many blocks to and from work each day. ’“Really hard, we had no car.”
When she’d get to work, she hit the ground running, so to speak.
“I learned everything,“ she said. “Nobody teach me anything, in kitchen, cooking. Nobody.”
One night, she said, the cook fell sick so her boss asked her to fill in.
“I said OK, I’m doing the cook — you give me first on the schedule next week, you give me a cooking shift.”
Her boss said OK, and gave her a five-day cooking tryout.
“Then after that day I started cook, then after that whole life cooking, cooking, cooking, cooking, that’s that.”
Basran, who lives in Surrey now, was recently honoured at a chain-wide Ricky’s franchisee meeting in Vancouver with a plaque recognizing her 40-year career with the restaurant chain. She became franchisee of the Fleetwood restaurant eight years ago for $600,000. “I take a house loan,” she said of her investment.
She oversees a staff of 35.
So what’s harder, being a dishwasher or operating a restaurant?
“Jobs, everything is hard. Dishwashing hard, managing hard, serving hard, cooking hard,” she said. She advises people who are looking for work to be responsible. “If they’re not responsible, blah blah blah, then go home, that’s not hard.”
She’s very much hands-on.
“Six days I’m cooking, only one day off, Friday. Six days I’m working in the kitchen.”
Her favourite thing to cook? “Mostly breakfast.”
And her favorite part of operating a restaurant? “I like everything.”
Tracey Austin, manager of the Ricky’s restaurant, says “Jag has very high standards for herself. “When she talks about when she’s cooking breakfast, when she does those eggs sunny side up, they’re going to be perfect, and if she can’t make them perfect, she’s not going to sell them. And she expects that from her staff. And that’s her work ethic — do your best.”