Through this 12-part series, Dueck GM salutes B.C.’s entrepreneurs who are driving growth and innovation in the local business community. This month’s driving force is Peter Girges, owner of West Oak restaurant, Pierre’s Lounge and TwelveWest night club
Born and raised in Toronto, Peter Girges was destined to have a career in the restaurant and hospitality industry. At the age of 14, Girges started working at his father’s café in Etobicoke, Ontario, where he would wash dishes and peel potatoes. The strong work ethic he developed through that first job has been one of the cornerstones of his success. In 2004, he made the move to Vancouver to learn from and work alongside his uncle, Emad Yacoub, at Glowbal Group. Six year’s later, Girges made the decision to carve his own path. His first venture was the highly successful 100 Days at the Opus Hotel, and since then he has—along with his business partner Mike Morissette—opened Yaletown favourites West Oak and Pierre’s Lounge, as well as TwelveWest. Always looking to push the boundaries and keep growing, Girges has dreams of expanding his business to Toronto and California.
What’s your favourite car?
The Cadillac CT6! I’m very impressed by how it handles–better than any European AWD car I’ve driven. The CT6 combines amazing driving capabilities with advanced technology. I also love the Escalade. We use one for business and it’s amazing.
Why do you choose Dueck as your preferred dealership?
Their service is unbelievable! They always accommodate my schedule and put my needs first.
What would you say was your big break?
When my uncle, Emad Yacoub, dragged me to Vancouver from Toronto over 13 years ago. Working alongside him [at Glowbal Group] allowed me to develop and take my skills to the next level.
Girges with West Oak chef Adam Coppell
What was the turning point in your career?
When I realized I couldn’t do everything on my own. I went to an old friend who has tremendous experience and asked for help. Being self-employed, you need to realize how to delegate and to surround yourself with good people.
Who have been some mentors that have contributed to your success?
Richard Jaffray (Cactus Club) helped me get through tough times by giving me great advice. My uncle, Emad Yacoub (Glowbal Group), inspired me to work hard. Most importantly, my business partner, Mike Morissette. He has stuck by me and has been the most loyal person in my life. We make a great duo.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I’m very hands-on and lead through my actions and my work ethic. In this industry, it’s easier to lead by example versus telling people what to do.
What’s your favourite watch?
I like Rolex watches. They are simple, classic and timeless.
What are your three must-have items for any road trip?
I need clean underwear, sunglasses and a credit card.
If time wasn’t a concern what would your ideal road trip be?
I’d explore every inch of Italy. I have been there a few times, but never had enough time. There’s really no better place in the world to experience great food and wine!