One of my first introductions to Hamilton was Acclamation Bar & Grill. I was dipping my toe into the city, and someone brought me there. (I honestly can’t remember who anymore, it was over 10 years ago!). Since then, it has been my first choice for meetings, a quick bite, dinners, family events, and everything in between. Over the years, I have had the privilege of getting to know Patricia Roque. Here is a woman who has given her life to the family business, and to this city. She is passionate, proud and exciting. Whenever I get to sit and chat with her, I leave feeling encouraged, motivated and inspired to do more and be more. Now, as the Roque family prepares to break ground on the Acclamation condos, a long-awaited family dream, I thought this was the best time to sit and chat. Over a couple of glasses of Pinot Grigio, in the newly renovated sales office for Acclamation Condos (the front of Acclamation Bar & Grill), we talked about Hamilton, family, food, and lessons we’ve learned. Grab a cocktail, or a glass of wine and enjoy!
If you could travel back to day one of your restaurant and have 15 minutes with your former self to commu- nicate any lessons you’ve acquired with the intention of saving yourself mistakes and heartache, what would you tell yourself?
I was 19! I wouldn’t want to butterfly effect anything. I like the way it turned out. All the heartache and mistakes have got me to where I am today.
How do you go from Roofing to Restaurant to Development?
My parents started the roofing business over 30 years ago from our backyard in the North end. With lots of hard work they were able to grow into the commercial industry and build a name for Roque Roofing. We are a roofing family, every uncle, cousin, and husband has worked on the roof. Moving into the restaurant industry was really a romantic dream for my father. When he came to Canada at 14, he rented an apartment on James St North. This is his street, the first he knew in Canada. Having such a large family meant that every night was an event but we really learned our catering skills from the Portuguese dinner dances. My parents were heavily involved in the Hamilton Portuguese Marching band. We would have these feasts for hundreds of people. My mom would cook and all my sisters and I would serve. I have been serving since I was 6 years old, you start off as the bread girl and work your way up to serving the soup. These days were normally 14-18 hour days. Yes, it was child labour, but it was for the church so I guess it made it ok. Joking aside, catering was something we all did well, and thought a restaurant would be a perfect fit. When we bought Acclamation and the buildings next to it the plan was always to expand to a banquet hall. As the design developed it only made sense to focus on the condos and we sadly removed it. Becoming a developer has allowed us an avenue to really give back to the street and city that welcomed my family over 50 years ago.
How do you conquer those moments of doubt that so often stifle or stop entrepreneurs?
It is in those moments I am grateful because I know I have the best people around me. I just talk it out, with my sisters, our staff depending on the situation and then I go home and spill it all to my husband Rick and he usually plays devil’s advocate for me.
Who or what has been your greatest influence in business and why?
I remember when I was little my mom would be sitting in the upstairs kitchen with the big green ledgers trying to figure out payroll and taxes for the business. She had 6 kids and a household to take care of yet she still would find time to help my dad out back in the shop bending metal or moving materials. To this day she manages the family and business with such authority and grace, I can only hope to become half the woman she is.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
My mom always said “If you can’t tell me about it, don’t do it!” It’s my value system and I still try to live by it.
What don’t you like about what you do?
The food industry has become a scary place. I hate what it has become and wish that I had a farm and produced all my own food. (One day I will.) Dealing with food restrictions and allergies daily, it is important that I know about every product I bring into the kitchen. Where it comes from? What is in it? How was it prepared? How was it grown? Who grew it? Is it GMO? It gets really frustrating and I don’t want to be radical about it, but food is a big part of my life, I am responsible for what I serve my guests and feed my children, I want to make sure I am making the best choices.
Who is on your guest list for your ideal dinner party?
I would love to meet so many inspiring people but I really would just love the opportunity to meet my grandpa Roque who I never met. I wonder about the man who immigrated to Canada from a small little town in the Azores. I would ask him to tell me the story of how he came to Hamilton, the fears he felt, and why he took the risk with so many little children. Now that I have my own children, I am so interested in where I came from so I can teach them their roots and traditions.
What was the best trip you’ve been on?
Backpacking alone through Spain after university was definitely the most unforgettable trip. The best part was when Barcelona won the cup and the city just went nuts for 3 days.
What are you most looking forward to in 2016?
I have been waiting for 2016 for so long! This has to be one of the most exciting years! Our sales office for Acclamation Condos is about to open, with a third of the units already reserved. I hope that sales will happen quickly so we can start construction this spring.
You have two full days off from work, kids, and all obligations. Money is no object, and travel time is not included. What are you going to do?
I would sleep! Don’t judge, I have two toddlers.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE WAY TO GIVE BACK TO HAMILTON? Cook for Be The Recipe For Change YWCA.
WHAT’S YOUR MOST ESSENTIAL PRODUCT? Oribe Hair Perfume.
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED THIS YEAR? Question everything.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU? My family.
CHILDHOOD MOVIE? Dirty Dancing.
WINDOW OR AISLE? Window.
DRIVER OR PASSENGER? Driver.
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT WHEN YOU’RE ALONE IN YOUR CAR? I don’t think, I sing at the top of my lungs.
ONE THING YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT? Purpose.
MOTIVATIONAL SONG? Passenger Scare Away the Dark
GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT? Natural childbirth.
FIRST THING YOU DO WHEN YOU GET HOME? Kiss my kids.
BAGEL OR CROISSANT? Bagel.
INTROVERT OR EXTROVERT? Extreme extrovert.