Armstrong’s Nicole Huckabay (left) and Marta Skulimowska have launched Science of Service, a business designed to help the restaurant industry. The pair have more than 40 years of experience working in all facets of the industry. (Roger Knox/Morning Star)

Armstrong women develop science to service

Longtime friends launch new business, Science of Service, aimed at helping the restaurant industry

There’s a science to service in the restaurant industry.

Two North Okanagan women, lifelong friends, are putting their 40+ years of combined experience together to help restaurants.

Nicole Huckabay and Marta Skulimowska, both of Armstrong, have launched Science of Service.

“We support and create restaurant professionals through seminars, workshops and operational assessments,” said Huckabay, who began working in restaurants at age 14.

It was in Calgary, at the Hyatt Regency, that she met Skulimowska when both were working in the hotel restaurant.

The pair moved to a brand new restaurant in Calgary, Cravings Market Restaurant before life separated the friends as Huckabay moved back to the Okanagan to help look after the family.

Coming out regularly for 12 years to visit her friend six times a year, Skulimowska fell in love with the area and decided the time was right to make the move. During their visits, the friends talked about opening up a business to help the restaurant industry.

“Our business is about helping the industry get more qualified staff and to retain more qualified staff,” said Skulimowska. “We want to help people break into the industry by teaching them everything we know about serving.”

Added Huckabay: “We have a passion for the industry and understand the effects of low profit margins. With over 40 years of combined experience, we have seen what works and what doesn’t, and we continue to keep learning every day. Business is never static. If you’re not moving forward, then you’re moving backwards.”

The pair hosts workshops, training people on how to serve, and the first steps of service from restaurant education all the way through from start to finish when a guest comes into the restaurant.

Science of Service also offers business owners seminars to assist them with increasing profitability.

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“We address a wide range of topics such as how to get your team effectively suggestive selling, staff retention, labour cost solutions, inventory controls and more,” said Huckabay. “We explain how to coordinate and implement procedures within your business to improve your bottom line. We do it from a business owners perspective and provide low-to-no cost, easy to implement solutions.”

The duo is hosting a seminar Wednesday in Kelowna at the Innovation Centre (460 Doyle Avenue). Information can be found on the business website, or by calling 778-442-5221.

Science of Service also engages a team of ‘mystery shoppers,’ which allows businesses to see their operations from a third-party point of view.

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Enrolled in Community Futures of North Okanagan’s Self-Employment Program, Huckabay and Skulimowska say their business has been well received.

“The community as a whole, the individuals who dine out, say there’s such a need for it,” said Huckabay. “From what we’ve pitched to business owners, our idea, they’re quite excited. There are not a lot of options on how to get their team on board, and sometimes it’s easier to bring a third party in to train as opposed to training them on their own. Because margins are so low in the industry, they don’t always have that opportunity.”

“The community has said this is very needed, everybody that we have talked to,” said Skulimowska. “It’s more about the business owners understanding they can be helped.”

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