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Whistler BizBeat: Tiarna Oakes of Harajuku Izakaya and Ohyama Ramen

Pique’s new series profiling local businesses and their employees who go above and beyond
Tiarna Oakes of Whistler's Harajuku Izakaya and Ohyama Ramen.

Welcome to BizBeat, Pique’s newest web series profiling Whistler businesses and their employees who go above and beyond.

Each week, we will profile another resort employer and one of their staff, who have each agreed to answer the same questionnaire that has been sent to businesses and employees across the community.

After yesterday's BizBeat entry profiling Daisen Restaurants' local Japanese spots, Harajuku Izakaya, Ohyama Ramen and Fuji Market, we chat with one of Harajuku and Ohyama's star employees, Tiarna Oakes. 

The following interview has been lightly edited for grammar and clarity.

Pique: Tell us about yourself and how you landed in Whistler.

I am 29 years old from New South Wales on the east coast of Australia. I moved to Whistler in October 2019, as I had always wanted to experience living overseas. I had only planned on staying for the winter, but fell in love and decided to stay longer and apply for a second International Experience Canada visa. I have had the best experiences and met the best people while living here and feel so lucky to have done this.

Describe your current job and what you do at the company.

I work as a restaurant server in both Harajuku and Ohyama Ramen. 

What do you like best about the job?

I absolutely love our team. I take my hat off to the kitchen staff, especially for the hard work and love they put in to make sure all of the dishes are presented beautifully, and for being such a delight to work with.

What is your housing situation? How did you find it?

I have lived in six houses since moving to Whistler, I currently reside in Creekside with my boyfriend and we live with five other housemates.

How do you try to strike a healthy work-life balance in Whistler?

It can be hard to find balance when working in this industry, but I’m starting to prioritize being more active and healthy eating, and trying to steer clear of nights out. So, this means making time with friends that includes walks and things that don’t involve drinking, as well as getting back into my creative hobbies. 

If you were mayor for a day, what single policy would you implement in Whistler to best support local workers?

I'd probably allow for a free parking pass for locals.

What’s a memorable moment or customer from your time on the job?

When working in Ohyama Ramen, there were two of us on and we were busy, and I had a lady that was waiting pull me aside and commend the work we were doing and the hustle we had, which was really nice. 

Any advice for young people trying to make it in Whistler?

Whistler has a lot of opportunities and a lot of offer. It can be easy to get sucked into the party scene, which is fun for a time, but you also need to learn to set healthy boundaries for yourself, as living in a ski town can come with its challenges. Having a good support group of friends is really important—people who you trust and who support you. Also, making time to focus on my own hobbies, keeping my brain active by learning and reading, and being active has definitely helped me overcome the tough times.

Got a business or employee you'd like us to profile? Email reporter Brandon Barrett at [email protected]