Working With Gratitude

At Cultivation Center we’re committed to connecting community by collecting ideas and knowledge to share with business and non-profit leaders.  So in this season of harvest and feasting it only seemed appropriate to talk with the Emich Sisters, the founders and proprietors of Shine Restaurant and Gathering Place in Boulder, CO, about their perspective on gratitude.  They shared their insights on their unique approach to running a restaurant and community gathering space.

To be forthright, I have known the triplets for nearly 10 years—first as friends and later as an employee at their first venture, Trilogy Restaurant and Wine Bar. It is a treat to call them friends and it was a pleasure to work for them. As a Trilogy bartender (with a long history of working in the restaurant industry) I immediately tuned into their warm and egalitarian approach to “managing” staff. In other words, they genuinely trusted us to run the show. There was no such thing as micromanaging from the sisters. I also noticed how their community of patrons was vast, diverse, and fiercely dedicated to them. “Regulars” gravitated to Trilogy as if reconnecting with long lost family. It was impressive and moving. The Emich Sisters successfully opened Trilogy when they were 25. Almost 15 years later their new venture, Shine, is approaching its 2nd anniversary. The business’s positive impact on the local community is exceeding that of its predecessor.  I am thankful to the triplets for taking time to share how their practice of gratitude supports their work and success. As a friend it was fun to hear how each of the sisters adds her unique perspective to their work.

C.C.: What does “gratitude” mean to you?

Jennifer: Having the acknowledgement of how blessed I am to truly be doing something I love and believe in and living the life I want to live.

Jessica: Having the awareness and space to recognize all the things around you that bring joy and love as well as teachings and expansion to your being.  I believe gratitude is in the eye of the beholder.  That’s why I find it an important practice in my life to find gratitude no matter what the situation—in a what we get is what we need to grow kind of thing.

Jill: Gratitude is love radiating.  It is. It is being in a place where you feel connected, you feel love and you give love and in that you see magic happening all around you. Gratitude is also feeling supported and giving support. Gratitude is feeling full by an embrace, a kind gesture, a great meal… When I am in a place of gratitude, that is when I feel I can manifest my hopes and dreams. And yes, it is a daily practice!

C.C.: A driving force of your business is to serve and support the local community. My sense is that gratitude is inherent to that mission. What about the Boulder community are you most grateful for?

Jennifer: That they trust and believe in us.  That they continue to support us and our businesses as we change and grow…priceless!

Jessica: As a chef, I am so grateful for the farmers that work their a** off to provide the community nourishing beautiful local food.  I am grateful for the creativity in the start up business world. There are so many conscious start-up companies coming out of this town.  It inspires me to watch people make their dreams become a reality.  I see often in this community that people are not afraid to reinvent themselves, try new things, make a career change…  This takes courage and I am grateful to have that kind of inspiration around me.  I am grateful to live surrounded by beautiful nature every day!

Jill: I feel SO blessed and so grateful to be able to do work that inspires me, that I am passionate about, that allows me to be creative and expansive and it is this amazing community that embraces what we are offering that allows me to do this. 

C.C.: You have a strong mutual relationship with the community- in other words, your patrons are clearly grateful for the food you offer and the space you have created at Shine. In terms of ROI, how does your investment in the community serve you and your business?

Jennifer: It is a win, win situation.  Shine employs many people in our community.  From a personal standpoint, I want to offer my passion within the community that I live in.  For me, Shine completely allows that.

Jessica: For me it comes down to Giving is the new Getting.  Preparing nutritious and delicious food gives me such joy!  It gives me a sense of pride and purpose.  To have people receive that and get pleasure from it gives me a huge sense of gratitude.  If I didn’t have the people of this community to share that part of myself, well, I would be seriously bummed!

Jill: The biggest, is because of the intention and gratitude that I send out, I think guests really feel that and they come back again and again AND bring their friends!  Plus when people understand the vision, they want to be a part of it and share their gifts and do their workshops and events in here. 

C.C.: Can you give some examples of how you integrate gratitude into your day-to-day work? 

Jennifer: It can be anything as simple as sitting down with our guests at their table and saying “Thank you for choosing to come to Shine today”.  Then it can also be nonverbal cues such as intentionally putting love into the food and beverages we serve. I am grateful to every person that walks through that door.  My sister reminds me to say “thank you” with every bill I pay and check I write.  It has completely changed the way I “work” in my space.

Jessica: First and foremost I have gratitude for the staff.  I am grateful for the way they put their heart into what they are doing.   It feels like a beautiful family and that I am grateful for.  I have gratitude for the artists, musicians, dancers, and teachers that bring their gifts to share in our event space.  It is a huge part of our concept to provide the space for that and we are lucky to have a wealth of it coming through SHINE.  I have so much gratitude for my sisters.  I honestly feel like I hit the jackpot having two amazing women to share my life and my work, with all of the joys and the challenges.  I believe we are each others greatest teachers and for that I am forever grateful.

Jill: I have a practice where everyone that walks in the door I mentally say thank you.  It is fun! I feel like people feel it and often they say it back after they experience the offerings. I do a staff meeting everyday at 5pm and always tell the staff how grateful I am for them (and of course go over logistics as well).  I am a hugger, I hug the musicians, the people I do events with…  I like to make sure people feel supported when they enter the space. 

And we are grateful for Jennifer, Jessica, and Jill for sharing their approach to weaving gratitude into their business.  The only thing that would make this blog any sweeter is a cherished recipe from Shine.  Chef Jessica was kind enough to give us all a gift.   Discover the recipe here and share your gratitudewith Shine after you taste this simple but delicious dish.