I'm excited to highlight a business that I thoroughly enjoy in my little community of Grimshaw today! Owned and operated by Annie Drummond, Krooked House is a small tap house that serves Canadian craft beer, fun cocktails, and delicious food. They offer board games, live music, trivia nights and other fun things that you don't typically find in rural Alberta.
Born and raised in Peace River, Alberta, Annie ended up in Grimshaw after finishing her Bachelors Degree in Sociology at the University of New Brunswick
First up, I had to ask the main question I was wondering:
Is there a story behind your business name?
Naming Krooked House took some time, more than I would’ve thought. However, my family and I were spitting out names, we’d hum and haw, until my mom mentioned, what about “Krooked House”. Instantly that was it. The idea came from an Uncle back east who makes little Krooked Houses, for any reason the buyer may want them for. So it’s a nice little tie to family.
How did Krooked House come to be?
It’s a little crude, but Krooked House came to be by having a conversation around the table (in 2019) and coming to the conclusion “fuck it, why not”.
However, the ball may have started rolling much earlier, 2011, I had no recollection of having written it, but I found my high school year book, maybe a year after opening Krooked House. I thumbed to my grad page, that has the “Where do you see yourself in ten years?” and according to myself, I saw myself owning a pub…and here I was, opening Krooked House in 2020!
Do you have any memorable moments or struggles from when you first began that helped you become the business owner you are today?
It was a struggle opening when I did, however I never really saw it as a wall, more of a speed bump. It allowed myself and staff to figure out what was working and what wasn’t. We don’t have all the wrinkles out yet, but having prolonged “soft opening” allowed Krooked to get to where it is today. Our guests were a big part of that, they supported the best they could and they’re still coming back. Krooked House has grown a lot since opening and the fun thing about it is, it has room to grow still!
My first day open was December 12, 2020. It started off slow, but by supper time it was crazy. We were operating as take out only at first, due to Covid. We were so busy, ridiculously so. I remember having a split second thinking to myself, “I’m walking out the doors, this is nuts, this is too overwhelming” but I took a breath and stayed with it. As far as a “happier” moment, it’s simple, I like when we have a full house, it feels good that people took the time to choose Krooked House and I believe part of that is our staff, they do a good job of making people feel welcomed. Knowing that, makes any struggle or moments of being overwhelmed, worth it.
What made you choose an entrepreneurial path in the food industry?
I grew up in a fairly entrepreneurial house hold, my parents have their own businesses, so I was able to see the benefits of being your own boss. Now being in it, I see the benefit it has for the community too.
Why the food industry, I don’t really have an answer. I grew up around it with my parents being in the food industry and I recognized that Grimshaw needed another place where people can enjoy themselves.
What is your favourite part of your business?
It’s hard to pick a favourite part of the business, as there are so many aspects of it that are fun, but I think our guests are the true favourite. We have many regulars so it’s always nice to see them and catch up on how things are going. Even first time guests are fun, as they’re usually from out of town and passing through Grimshaw, so it’s neat to hear where they’re from and what adventures have brought them either to Grimshaw or where their destination is.
What has your biggest lesson in business been?
One of the biggest lessons has been to not take things personally.
There will always be someone who has something to say that won’t be nice or will get under your skin, but you have to deal with it and keep moving forward. For a lack of business term, ‘people pleasing’ has also been a lesson, there are so many people involved in running a business, it’s hard not to want to do everything for everyone, but if you do that the business suffers. So it’s been lesson on how to both do what’s best for the business while simultaneously trying to do what’s best for everyone.
What does a typical day in the life look like for you?
My typical day is wake up, get ready for work; I usually get to Krooked around 10:30am, get the ovens rolling, food prep and get the bar ready. Staff comes in and I give them a rundown if anything is new, whether it be drinks, specials and or food. We usually get a good lunch rush so we are all busy taking care of our guests, then we usually have a couple hours after where we restock, clean and get breaks done all in time for a our supper rush. By 9 we are closing up, cleaning again and prepping for the next day. We are all usually home by 9:30-10pm.
How do you balance work and life?
I’m not sure I’ve figured out the work life balance yet. I try to head to Edmonton on the days I’m closed to see friends and to just get out of town for a little bit. I’m also pretty lucky with the staff that I have, there are times where I can let them run the ship and I can take off early!
Why do you do what you do?I do what I do because it’s fun. I also still have that mentality of, I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. Having Krooked House allows me to have many different hats for when I need that variety or something different, I can be a bartender, server, cook, marketing, advertising etc.
Having a business has made me aware that life and owning your own business isn’t simple. I mean I’ve always known that, but somehow it’s a lot more obvious. It’s a lot of work, I get people saying to me “oh it must be nice to be your own boss” or “you must have all the free time/money” or whatever. It’s not that simple. Yes, I’m my own boss, but I do still have people to answer to, staff, guests. Even when I do have some of that free time, I’m still working, whether it be payroll, answering emails, I’m constantly trying to come up with ways to add to Krooked House to continue its success.
Are there any ways that running a business has affected or changed your worldview?
What is one tip you would like to share with other women in business or who are thinking about starting their own business?
To any woman that wants to start their own business, do it!
Find yourself a support system that will be there to help you and guide you. I know I wouldn’t be here without mine. Talk to other business owners, business owners have the pre existing knowledge to help. Now not all of them will be willing to share, and they don’t have to, but finding the right mentor is important in your endeavours.
Start small, you don’t have to go big in order for your business to be a success. By starting small you don’t over work yourself, you can take small steps to get yourself to where you want to be, get yourself established. Every year since opening, Krooked House closes in January to allow for changes. I take my year, I look back on what needs to be improved and or changed and I use January to do that. Now I get not every business will be able to do that, but if you can do something similar to allow to make those changes it will be a great help. Not only does it allow for improvements, but it allows you to have some genuine time off, after all, entrepreneurs have worked hard to get to where we are.
I'd like to say a huge thank you to Annie Drummond for participating in the Women in Business feature. It was lovely to get the perspective of a brick and mortar business owner.
Find Krooked House in person at:
5418 50 Street