For the employees of Stone Creek Wood Fired Pizza, it is a workplace like no other. Not only because they maintain the completely wood-powered pizza ovens, but because the culture of Stone Creek lives up to small business ideals, where the staff have become a family. Through the trials and transitions the restaurant has faced, it has become a place where the employees learn new skills and have fun while making delicious pizza from scratch.
Stone Creek owners Suzanne and Randy Murray are proud of the kinship cultivated by the employees. For the Murrays, the responsibility the staff has taken on has been invaluable for the growth of the business. “The staff are vital to the business,” says Suzanne. “When Randy fell ill, it was Jennie and Morgan that worked the long hours at the pizza truck and kept customers happy. So, when we finally opened the restaurant, we still had all those fantastic, amazing customers.”
As the restaurant shifted into its permanent location, the staff has grown to keep up with the pizza demand. With their diverse interests and skillsets, the employees are able to come together to make Stone Creek what it is each day. “We are lucky that all the employees we have get along so well,” explains Suzanne. “There is an atmosphere of friendship. They have all found commonalities and formed new friendships. There is a lot of fun and joking. They can be sarcastic and tease each other without hurt feelings. Some spent time together for the holidays. A few even have a weekly game night and invite the others.”
Jennie Murray, the daughter of Suzanne and Randy, has been with the business since the beginning and is instrumental to the restaurant’s daily operations. “We heavily rely on Jennie, our daughter, to help keep things running smoothly,” says Suzanne. “Especially since Randy in unable to be there like he used to be. She also keeps the staff trained, motivated and scheduled. She picks up supplies, keeps the shop clean and anything else that needs to be done. She has been incredible!”
For Jennie, she appreciates the friendship from the other staff members and credits the light-hearted atmosphere as a way to combat stressful times. “As far as our working culture, I’d say we all get along great,” explains Jennie. “We chat about our daily lives, share lots of stories, tease a little here and there. And when it’s crazy, it’s nice to know that no feelings are hurt when we get stressed. We laugh a lot! We all feel a great loyalty to our restaurant. I know that it is in good hands when I can’t be there.”
Another longtime employee, Morgan, has been with Stone Creek since it was still a pizza truck. She has risen to meet a variety of new challenges and tasks and is a jack of all trades, from rolling out dough to handling small repairs. “I do a lot of things, cook pizzas, make salads, serve beer, make cinnamon rolls,” says Morgan. “My favorite part is making new things.”
It is a goal for Suzanne and Randy to make their employees as well-rounded and as informed about restaurant operations as possible. “We strive to train every employee to learn every job at the restaurant,” says Suzanne. “If everyone can do each task, then things work more smoothly and anyone can step up and help wherever anything is needed.”
Each employee can also focus on the jobs at the restaurant that best fit their interests with day to day tasks. Maggie opens and specializes in baking. “I start the fires and I roll out the dough every morning,” explains Maggie. “I make the cinnamon rolls, Suzanne’s Cinnamon Rolls, and I really enjoy baking, so that’s great.”
Working at Stone Creek is also a different environment socially, compared to larger businesses with thousands of staff. Because the business is family owned, there is more of a community-oriented staff culture where employees can get to know each other. “It’s really fun working here,” says Arden, who has been working at Stone Creek for six months. “I’m pretty new to the pizza family. Everybody’s very supportive. I came from working at a big corporation, and I didn’t really know my coworkers very well. It was very different than a family business. I like coming in every day and automatically feeling welcomed and supported and then making things. I like making pizzas and talking to people.”
Caleb started out as a customer at the Stone Creek Wood Fired Pizza truck before working at the permanent location. Although he is still in high school, his sense of humor has made him friends with the other staff. Joey has been a friend of Jennie Murray for years and his positive attitude is a huge boost for staff morale during the busy times.
Justin is a quick learner and self-starter with the restaurant’s various daily tasks. “Justin is quite the little bee,” explains Jennie. “He always finds something to do and never has to be asked twice. Justin is a smarty pants, going to school for Environmental Science and Computer Science.”
The comradery between the Stone Creek staff not only creates a positive environment for the employees, but it also creates a better dining experience. From incorporating artistic features in the restaurant’s design, to encouraging friendship among the staff, it all contributes to the Stone Creek community. “All the employees get along,” says Suzanne. “Randy and I have always tried to be sure that everyone feels better when they leave than when they came. For both customers and employees. We have always enjoyed the interaction between us and the customers. Randy always called it ‘dinner and a show.’ Not only can you watch your food being made, you can talk to the people making it at the same time.”
To learn more, visit the Stone Creek Wood Fired Pizza website.
Stone Creek Wood Fired Pizza
4138 Harrison Ave NW, Olympia
Tuesday – Saturday: 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Sunday: 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.