For this month's Spotlight of the Month, we talked to Dan Landes of WaterCourse Foods. As one of our very first station underwriters, Dan is an ongoing supporter of the Open Media Foundation, as well as many other nonprofits in town.
Please describe the mission behind your organization/restaurants.
I would like to answer this in a four prong approach: motto, mission, vision and approach.
Our motto is a line from a Langston Hughes poem. What we want is: To dig and be dug in return.
Our mission as a business, at its most fundamental, is to bring in more money than we spend. This is not meant to sound glib. Making a dollar in the restaurant business is not easy, spending them is. We have to make excellent decisions every day in order to accomplish our mission.
Our vision is to create environments that provide people an escape from the stresses of life. Be it a meal among friends at WaterCourse, a beer at City, O' City or reading in a hammock at Osa Mariposa, we want people to feel safe and enjoy.
Our approach is to be aware of our inevitable impact on our environment and mitigate it by making choices that represent the most efficient use of limited resources.
Over the past couple of years we have seen a lot of growth/changes for your company/restaurants. Could you please tell us about them?
Since WaterCourse Foods opened in 1998 there has been continual growth for our businesses. We decide to grow when our current facility cannot supply the demand or we recognize a demand that needs more supply (i.e. Business 101). Growing a business is delicate and should only be done when needed. Growth is change and as a species we have a hard time accepting change, despite it's inevitability. Adapting to change is built into the WaterCourse management philosophy. Our philosophy is adopted from Taoism. Taoist philosophy uses water as a central metaphor for understanding life. As a business we try to emulate a river: ever adaptable, always moving, following the path of least resistance around obstacles. This WaterCourse philosophy of adaptability has allowed us as a business to recognize needs and take advantage of opportunities.
Your company is well-known for its generosity in the community. Could you please share some of the ways that your company has given back to your community?
Through our Nonprofit Mondays at Watercourse we are proud to give regularly to local and national nonprofits. On most Mondays we host a nonprofit that receives proceeds from the day's sales. In 2010, we donated over $17,000 to nonprofits through Nonprofit Mondays and we intend to give a lot more in 2011. A nonprofit can earn a sizable donation simply by having people show up and eat yummy food. From a marketing angle, WaterCourse is being introduced to potentially thousands of new customers. Also, we are associated with something they care about. It's a huge win/win. It would be great if more businesses adopted this model. It works.
Please share how you first got involved with OMF?
I got involved in Open Media Foundation after I watched a video that was produced by my friend Ravi Zupa, which explained how OMF worked, what its vision is and the positive influence it could have on our society. I was really attracted to the idea of putting the power of the media in the hands of the people and recognized that OMF had created a strong foundation from which to accomplish their vision.
Why did you feel underwriting on DOM was a good fit?
We choose to underwrite DOM because we want our name associated with next level ideas. Ideas that are sustainable, economically and socially. OMF is built on a foundation that will be relevant in the next 50 years. By underwriting DOM, WaterCourse Foods and City, O' City supports something we believe in. We also receive the benefit of giving our shared clients reason to believe in us. Another win/win.
Please describe your ideal future for the community here in Denver.
My ideal Denver is a city that is recognized and respected internationally for producing some of the greatest thinkers and artists of our time. My ideal Denver supports its artists to produce and sell art. I would love it if art galleries in cities like Milan, Berlin, or Mexico City are all clamoring to get Denver artists to show in their galleries. My ideal Denver has more multi-cultural events. There are so many great communities in this city that need to get to know each other better and work together.