Partner Feature: Yoshi (Ashburton)

Welcome to our latest St. Pierre’s partner feature!

Today we’re in Ashburton, south of Christchurch, visiting Yoshi. He’s the partner of the new shop there, but he has a cool back story of his own! Originally from Japan’s ancient imperial capital of Kyōto, an iconic food culture destination, Yoshi has been in NZ for 18 years.

“I love the South Island and really feel at home in Canterbury. People here are so relaxed and friendly, and really appreciate new and interesting food experiences. I’ve had a great journey through food in NZ, and I’m happy to have met so many great people and brought happiness to them through food.”

Yoshi has extensive hospitality experience, such as in cafés, running his own Japanese restaurant, and as a hotel chef in Christchurch.

During that time, he worked for Bento Bowl for two years, but had to leave because of visa issues. He later moved to Invercargill and reconnected with us.

“I worked one day per week at St. Pierre’s Invercargill for about a year. Nan really sold me on the partnership programme, and I set a new goal of becoming a store partner. I was assistant manager for six months and then moved back to Christchurch to become Blenheim Road manager and prove I was ready to be a partner. I believe that in business you need to be like a grasshopper – ready to move quickly when you get the chance!”

Family was also a big driver of Yoshi’s partnership ambition.

“I’m married with an eight-year-old daughter and three-year-old son. The kids aren’t babies any more so it’s a good time to make a move! But at the same time, I just turned 50 so have been looking for new opportunities. I love the food industry, but wanted more of a management role, which a St. Pierre’s partnership provided.”

Thinking back, there was one episode in particular that planted the seed of his partnership ambitions.

“I was really sad when I had to leave Bento Bowl, but the directors made sure I wasn’t forgotten. Nick visited the shop on my last day and gave me a favourite book of his about leadership, and asked if I’d be interested in a partnership in the future. Perry called me that same day to wish me the best, even though I was one of 600 staff. And Costa came to visit at my Japanese restaurant soon after to see how I was doing. It left such a strong, positive impression that the company cared about me and wanted me back.”

Yoshi applies the same approach of inclusivity and giving back in his shop.

“Years later, my partnership ambition has come true in Ashburton, and I make sure to share that same care with my staff. The shop is so busy, but I try to create little moments to celebrate together. For our one-month anniversary after opening, I brought in a big tray of sweet and savoury bites from Coupland’s Bakery next door. It’s an iconic South Island company and our staff all love their treats! That and shouting coffee or cakes for break time on really busy days. We have such a great team, and I want them to feel the same positive energy I got from my St. Pierre’s managers.”

Outside work, Yoshi loves taking on home renovation challenges!

“A big tree in our back yard was damaged in a storm and we had to take it down. At the same time, the kids wanted a playground to invite their friends over to, so we came up with a way of upcycling the stump and branches into an adventure play area. They got their fun space, and then I got to work on mine!”

What space would that be? Well, every great artist needs a studio, and Yoshi now has one at home too!

Yoshi is proud of his achievements and the lifestyle he has built for his family. At St. Pierre’s, we’re proud to have amazing people like him on our team! We have a strong culture of being “people first”, supporting each other as we set challenging goals. Yoshi’s passion for food, family and community have taken him far, and we’re sure he will continue to reach new heights! Here’s to everyone across the St. Pierre’s Group aiming high!

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