Working on the Coast, an Interview with Kiwanda Hospitality

Northwest Culinary Institute caught up with Megan Deam, the Talent Acquisition Manager at Kiwanda Hospitality, who often works with us to find talented employees who are graduating from our program. They run companies along the beautiful coast of Oregon. We hope you learn a little more about the hiring process and feel inspired by the potential work environment that awaits you.

Tell us about your companies

We are called the Nestucca Ridge Family of Companies, which is a coastal collection of hospitality businesses on the Oregon Coast.  Our businesses include Headlands Coast Lodge & Spa, Pelican Brewing Company, Inn at Cape Kiwanda, Stimulus Coffee + Bakery, Open Nest Vacation Rentals and Hart’s Camp.

What are you looking for in a new hire?

We are looking to attract top quality talent that are passionate about hospitality and strive to create extraordinary coastal experiences at every touchpoint.

What do your jobs entail?

We have a variety of jobs for all of our different family of companies. These are jobs that you would expect in any hospitality type industry from Bartenders, to Cooks, to Front Desk and Housekeeping roles. We have something for everyone!  Hourly, Full-Time, and Manager-Level positions in our restaurants, hotels, coffee shops, and short-term rental properties.  We even have a corporate office with a variety of support roles in HR, Finance and Maintenance. We also can’t forget about our Brewery Operation in Tillamook where our Pelican Beers are brewed!

What are some unique things about working with your company?

We have a balance of work and play. Our people work hard, really hard. Because when the work is done, everyone knows it’ll be time to come out and play surrounded by magnificent beauty with friends who value it every bit as much as we do. We fish, we surf, we hike, we bike. We just kick back and tell stories to one another. And we get up each morning, we face the new day refreshed with enthusiasm for the work we love. 

Are there housing options or unique perks like medical or other incentives?

We do have the ability to offer some transitional/temporary employee housing in a variety of our locations. We also enjoy providing fun group employee events such as employee bonfires on the beach, as well as road clean ups just to name a few. We care deeply about the wellbeing of our team members and all of our full-time team members are eligible to receive our robust benefits package, including, but not limited to, medical, dental, vision, 401 (k) with a match up to 4%, paid time off, and employee discounts.

What are the biggest challenges your employees have?

Like many hospitality businesses currently, we struggle to find talent that is local and so one of the biggest challenges our employees have is finding housing in the local area. We realize that, with all the Oregon Coast has to offer, it attracts many individuals to want to live & work on the Oregon Coast and we struggle to have enough housing inventory in the area to keep up with the demand, but our teams are dedicated to helping our employees by providing resources and assistance to make it happen!

What are the most fun things about your work environment?

The people really make the difference. We strive to find individuals who have similar values and enjoy and respect each other in the workplace. Who also wouldn’t want to have a view of the beach everyday while working?

What does your interview process look like?

Typically, you interview over webcam with one of our company Recruiters and if you are successful with that stage of the interview process you speak with one of our hiring managers for a final interview. The process itself can be very quick and easy.

What advice would you give to culinary students?

Be willing to put in the hard work to move up. At our company we are looking for individuals who want to further develop their skills to continue with the company for an extended period of time. We focus on the training and development of our people so don’t be afraid to jump right in and learn the gig!

Our program at Northwest Culinary covers a wide array of topics, what areas should students pay extra attention to in order to succeed in your organization?

Be willing and opening to learning all aspects of culinary, don’t just stick to one specialty/area right off the bat. These well-rounded skills will get you far with any company.