Jeff Fuller announced the promotion of Al Jessa to President of the JOEY Restaurant Group. Under Jessa's leadership, JOEY now operates 36 locations throughout Western Canada, Ontario, Washington State and California with a focus on creating career opportunities for young talent.
"Al can be credited with bringing people development to the forefront of our business. Without his dedication to creating a team of leaders we wouldn't have grown from a small restaurant in Calgary to a flourishing organization that employs over 3,600 talented individuals across Canada and the United States," said Fuller. "We have been able to break into new markets while staying true to our roots; handcrafting unique offerings and developing young professionals."
Jessa knows the importance of developing junior talent better than anyone. He began working for the Fuller family in 1991. By 1996, he became the Executive Chef of JOEY with a CCC designation (Certified Chef de Cuisine) overseeing the culinary program. He grew JOEY from six to nine stores in just three months and was instrumental in transitioning the brand from pizza and pasta to global cuisine. He was promoted to Vice President of Operations in 2003 when JOEY grew to 12 locations, and again in 2011 to Chief Operating Officer with an additional 16 restaurants. Jessa, an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) through the International Coaching Federation, recently won the Legacy Coaching Award by the International Coaching Federation for his efforts.
"I have never seen anyone develop and reward their people like Al does," said Fuller. "He was an integral part in creating the JOEY Employee Investment Trust (JEIT), designed to offer the organization's GMs and head chefs the opportunity to own a piece of the company and share in the attractive returns."
"Someone believed in me when I started with this organization and it's important to me to not only ensure that culture continues on, but that it thrives," said Jessa. "I want to provide our people with every opportunity to grow and be successful. Our apprenticeship programs, university partnerships and the JEIT are part of this and foster an entrepreneurial spirit in our people, while rewarding them for their efforts."
JOEY continues to attract students and junior cooks who want to grow and develop careers within the industry. Through partnerships with culinary schools like The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) in Edmonton, The Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) in Calgary and George Brown College in Toronto, JOEY creates an apprenticeship program that can lead to a successful career.
Thanks to Jessa's focus on development JOEY has seen over 73 chefs in the organization receive their Red Seal, 6 chefs receive their CCC designation and 10 leaders receive their ACC.
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