Today, we’re chatting with Sylvia and Robin, the power couple behind Fired Up Grill restaurant. I have a special place in my heart for this business, it was my first job as a student, and I learned a lot about the industry. Fired Up Grill holds a sense of home for many people; it’s a staple restaurant in the community and has excellent food.
Why or should I say how, did you get into the culinary industry?
Robin – My family was in the meat business, and being around it is second nature to me. They own Big Bob’s meats in Regina. My Dad, Big Bob, started in Prince Albert, and it has progressed to my brother running the business. All of us kids are in the food industry, one way or another. Growing up in it shapes who you are as an adult.
Sylvia – I started working in the restaurant industry when I was in high school. After high school, I moved to Regina where I worked for Houston Pizza. I loved that restaurant and the people that made me a part of their family. After University, I worked as a food broker for a wholesaler. That’s when I met Robin. (smiling)
Get out! Aww, that is such a nice how we met story. So from wholesale sales, how did you come to be in Estevan?
Robin – Well, I worked for Sysco and heard through our network that it was for sale. I was talking with Sylvia about it, and she had such a good experience with the business; we liked the food, and we did a lot of research on Estevan and found it was a great place to raise a family.
Yes, I have to agree – though I may be biased, I love Estevan and think it’s a great place to raise a family. So you have kids, are they around the City?
Sylvia – We have four children, One is in Regina, one in Alberta, one in British Columbia, and another in Germany. Two of our kids completed their high schooling at ECS. We also have two grandsons, being a grandparent is the best role ever. Oh we also have a boxer that is like one of our kids too. He has an eye patch, and we call him Captain Morgan.
I bet the captain runs the house! How do you split your roles in running things at the restaurant?
Sylvia – Well, Robin does the cooking and looks after the restaurant’s back end, and I look after the front end.
Robin – I love being behind the scene. Like I said earlier, my background is a butcher, and I still butcher our cuts of meat here in-house. It’s the quality and freshness of the meat that makes our dishes stand out.
When I was younger, I worked in the restaurant industry and know the demands the industry has. What do you do, or where do you go to decompress?
Sylvia – well, we love to eat, haha, so we love to pair that with travelling and eating at new places and trying new food. We make our bases from scratch, soups, salad dressings, gravy, meat sauce are all made fresh in-house and get inspiration from those we have tried throughout our travels.
Robin – We were in Mazatlán many years ago, and a young man from Ontario owned a pizza shop there. He was on the cusp of closing, but once he found out we were Canadian, he stayed open to make us a pizza. His name was Dave, if I can recall correctly. He inspired me to use the freshest ingredients; that pizza was incredible.
I want to revisit the name change; why the change from Houston Pizza to Fired Up Grill?
Sylvia – We wanted the creative freedom to adjust the menu to reflect where the industry was heading, meeting our guests’ needs.
Robin – yes, and we wanted to support locals better and give back to our community. Offer sponsorships and collaboration with other business owners and community organizations.
Now let’s get a little less serious if I invited you for supper. What am I going to make?
Sylvia – I am good with absolutely anything you choose, and I will enjoy it.
Robin – I love hamburgers and sausage – I would request that if I could choose.
Ok, and another one that I’ve been asking in these interviews, You have to pick a last meal, what would it be? Food? Drink? And Chef?
Robin – I’d for sure choose steak, steak and lobster with Ginger Ale. Guy Fierro would cook it for me.
Sylvia – oh, we are so similar, Robin. I would choose the same, Steak and Lobster, but I’d have a glass of white wine, and I would have you cook mine. You cook a fantastic steak.
Adorable, he knows exactly what you like. How do you see the culinary industry moving forward?
Sylvia – We have seen a massive trend in plant-based products and dietary restrictions. People love choice, and we are fortunate that we can cater to those choices. We have added a gluten-free pizza crust and cauliflower crust, and we have different options of side dishes to cater to those needs.
Ok, we have healthy food, what about guilty pleasure food? What’s your favourite?
Sylvia – For sure, cheesecake. I take pictures of them for our social media accounts, and I just have to try them every time because they look so good. Robin just made this peach one, and it was delicious, but I think the Nutella one is my favourite.
Robin – It’s fresh bread for me. I love bread and homemade fresh buns. Co-op Bakery is fantastic.
What are you most proud of in the business?
Sylvia – I love our patio. I’m happy we focused on that. It is a little oasis out there, has excellent shelter from the elements, off the street, has plants and is such a friendly atmosphere. Especially when Robin is grilling out there, he is in his element. Nothing beats summer on the patio.
Robin – haha, I do love cooking out there. Our customers seem so relaxed, and it’s just a fun environment to be in. We also have a nice banquet area that groups were using pre covid. It was a good place to have sports teams or private meetings and whatnot. We even have hosted weddings.
Oh yes, that patio is fantastic. Even on chilly nights with the fire tables lit, it is warm and makes such a great atmosphere. What do you love about the industry?
Sylvia – The people, both customers and staff. Sixteen years of being here, we call Estevan home. The people we have met over the years in the industry are some of our best friends. We are truly blessed to lead a great life.
Robin – We spend more time with the staff here than we do with our own family, and the community has welcomed us. We have the best team, that is so dedicated. It’s like their business too. And I get to spend my time both at home and at work with Sylvia. Working with family, there is nothing better.
You are both so sweet. I hear working with family can complicate things, but I feel that it is also incredibly rewarding from talking with you.
Try a meal cooked by Robin and enjoy this beautiful weather on the patio at Fired Up Grill.