by Christine Gilliland, The Chamber Saint John Region
Joanna Aylward is the owner of Grass Roots Grill, a classy, casual, bar and restaurant located at the Westfield Golf & Country Club on 8 Golf Club Road in Grand Bay-Westfield.
“I took a job as a server in May 2015 while on maternity leave. I wanted to get out of the house and have some adult conversation for a bit,” Joanna said with a chuckle. “I never expected to become a restaurant owner, but I quickly realized that this business is my calling.”
“Owning a restaurant is definitely exciting,” she said. “I still get butterflies once in a while and wonder if I’m doing everything right. But I think that’s natural. It’s good to always be on your toes and have that little thing that scares you once in a while and gives you that push to keep improving.”
Grass Roots Grill is open to the public every day throughout the golfing season and Wednesday to Sunday in the off-season. During golf season, there’s plenty of outdoor seating on a large patio that overlooks the golf course, and in the cooler months a stone fireplace glows in the large yet cozy dining space. Winter and summer, inside and out, the well-manicured, hospitable surroundings are a perfect setting for parties, special events and weddings (they hosted 10 weddings last year alone!).
“We’re all about quality,” Joanna said. “Our menu offers high quality options made with fresh, local ingredients. Chef Jason puts a lot of thought into every dish. We take extreme pride in what we put on our plates.”
“And it goes to show,” chimes in Steve LeBlanc, with a grin and a pat to his stomach.
Steve’s career began at a high-end J.W. Marriott Resort in Muskoka, Ontario. He returned home to New Brunswick in 2007 to work at the Westfield Golf and Country Club where, as Head Professional, he manages everything golf services-related such as the pro shop, lessons, club and corporate events and the back shop.
The golf course, like the restaurant, is open to the public. Everyone is welcome, either as a member or by purchasing a daily green fee. Last season the over 500 club members and guests played 23,000 rounds of golf on the well-maintained grounds.
“During golf season the club is bustling with lessons, events and tournaments, like the Saint John Region Chamber’s annual golf tournament held at the course this past summer,” Steve said.
“Our biggest event each year is the Molson Cup. We were one of the first courses in New Brunswick to have that kind of 2-man scramble tournament, and it attracts golfers from across New Brunswick and beyond.”
This year, the Molson Cup will be held on August 12th and 13th – and will celebrate its 20th anniversary. Speaking of anniversaries, the Westfield Golf Course itself has been in continuous use since 1919 and will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2019.
“I’m grateful to be able to do what I love, in such a fine facility, right here in the province where I grew up,” said Steve.
For Joanna and Steve, Chamber membership provides valuable opportunities to promote their organizations to other members and business leaders, and they’re encouraged to be part of a community of business-minded people. Indeed, the grass is greener when you’re a Chamber member!