Name: Ian Dalziel
Title: Partner and General Manager of Rodney’s Oyster House Gastown
Organization/Business: Rodney’s Gastown
What do you do and how did you get here?
I’m from Ontario and I moved to Vancouver in 1995. My first job was at Bridges Restaurant, then the Boathouse on English Bay, a few bartending gigs in-between and then onto The Creekside Bar over at the Granville Island Hotel. I’m the first mate at Rodney’s Gastown (we’re quite fond of using nautical terms for our management team). I’ve been with Rodney’s in Vancouver since 1998, starting as a crew member then working my way up to becoming a crew chief (manager). I became a partner in 2007 and am happy to say I’ve been with the company now for 20 years.
What inspired the name and concept?
Rodney Clark is the original founder of Rodney’s hailing from Summerside PEI. He’s an old school East Coaster with his own oyster farm. Back in the day, Rodney dealt only in wholesale, supplying oysters to the restaurants and hotels with fresh stock direct from local farmers. While customers at the wholesale were waiting for their order to be fulfilled they would have a beer and a few oysters to pass the time. A light bulb went off for Rodney. The next thing you know Rodney’s Toronto has been around for 25 years with a restaurant in Calgary and two in Vancouver.
What makes Rodney’s Gastown different from other Rodney’s locations?
Diversity is a big factor that drives the Gastown crew. Our crew is made up of locals – they live in or close to the neighbourhood, hang out here and are the spirit that makes Rodney’s Gastown great. Gastown has a different personality; a more genuine flavour to it in terms of guest experience and how we execute our standards. We’re like neighbours with our regulars where one cares about the other and vice versa.
If you had 15 minutes only, in Gastown, how would you spend it?
What happens in Gastown is that you want to try everything all at once. I would want to start with a cocktail at Guilt & Co., then pop into Rodney’s for a few oysters and a beer, then have dinner at The Old Spaghetti Factory, then onto a club like M.I.A. to hang out and have fun. I couldn’t get all that done in 15 minutes of course! Realistically, I would hit Milano for a fresh pour over and then grab a few tacos at Tacofino.
What do you love about the neighbourhood?
I love the many different alleys, streets and spinoffs that can be found away from the main drag. Many people don’t always realize that they are there. What’s also great about Gastown is that it is as much a shopping district as it is a fantastic place to dine out in.
Can you recall a happy moment or experience in Gastown?
Many nights spent at The Purple Onion comes to mind. In more recent times, a big moment for me was opening up the restaurant here in Gastown 5 years ago.
What’s your philosophy for a good life?
Balance – which I don’t have a lot of! In theory though, it works and I see a lot of Facebook and Instagram posts with kumbaya and group hugs and all that sort of stuff. I have two sons, a dog, two businesses and still try to get to the gym along with having some kind of personal life. The restaurant industry is not as romantic as some may think. It’s a tough grind with long hours all over the map and I often feel like I’m on call 24/7. The one thing I try to do when I hire new guys is to make sure they have a good life/work balance. You need some kind of hobby or interest outside of work. It makes all the difference.