Kerbey Lane CFO Christina Ayer reveals house Kerbey Lane Cafe keeps its roots in the community.
By Haley Noble, Photos courtesy of Kerbey Lane Cafe.
Kerbey Lane Cafe began operation in 1980 in Austin. The family-owned and -run business focuses on providing quality made-from-scratch cuisine to the surrounding community. As time went on and the cafe gained popularity, more locations were opened; currently there are 10 in and around Austin. Today, Kerbey Lane is still family operated, and the focus remains the same: Hire great people, serve great food and give back to your community.
“Our founders, David and Patricia, were very committed to the Austin community,” explains Christina Ayer, CFO of Kerbey Lane. “They are both still living in Texas, and Patricia is still involved in the business.”
From the passion to help local areas, Kerbey Kindness was created. The platform is designed to use money earned from selling certain menu items to give back to local nonprofits. Each quarter of the year, the funds support a different nonprofit. The choosing of beneficiary nonprofits revolves around Kerbey Kindness’ four core pillars: nutrition, health and wellness; education; family; and animal welfare.
Ayer began her journey with Kerbey Lane in high school, working as a hostess. While working toward her bachelor’s degree in business administration at Texas A&M University’s Mays Business School, she worked in restaurants, always preferring local businesses.
“I’ve always been drawn away from big corporations,” Ayer admits. “I wanted somewhere that I was a face, and not just a number in the organization.”
After returning to Austin for work, she met her future husband, Mason Ayer, son of Kerbey Lane founders David and Patricia. The founder couple happened to be needing someone in accounting. So, nine years ago, Christina began working in the accounting department at Kerbey Lane, shortly before her marriage to Mason.
“I like to say that was either a great idea or a horrible idea,” Christina laughs. “But it’s working out great so far.”
The desire and determination to keep kindness alive at Kerbey Lane has greatly inspired Christina, as well as other staff. Though the business has grown tremendously since the 1980s, the principles of kindness remain at the forefront.
“That culture has been sort of ingrained into the rights of Kerbey Lane, going back to the very beginning,” Christina emphasizes. “For me, I like that it’s top of mind every day. We have our core values, called the three C’s: care for our food, care for our guests and care for each other.
Within her department at Kerbey Lane, Christina keeps these company values in her attitude as well and uses them to further her leadership skills.
“The area that I’m able to directly impact in my role is caring for each other,” Christina says. “I have a small accounting team, and it’s just really about empowering them to be leaders.”
Besides Kerbey Kindness, leadership at Kerbey Lane Cafe are currently working on the revival of volunteering chances among team members.
“We are now engaging with team members in our stores and offering them quarterly volunteer opportunities,” Christina explains. “This is not just volunteering with organizations receiving Kerbey Kindness. With this, we can have outreach to other organizations with those volunteer efforts.”
Currently, Kerbey Kindness is giving back to Thinkery, an innovative children’s museum located in Austin. You can help give back by dining at Kerbey Lane and purchasing the special pancake of the month.
The community has remained of the utmost importance to everyone at Kerbey Lane, including Christina. She hopes for all to see the value within their communities and take opportunities to nurture it.
“I love that outreach to the community is such a big part of who we are. I grew up here, so I feel that caring for each other and the community is important. I mean, it’s where we’re going to raise our kids. I really just want to leave the best legacy that I can for the company and for Austin.”