Food Notes for January 25, 2021

JustCook Kitchens to Open Downtown Food Hall This Spring

Edmonton might finally get its first food hall. JustCook Kitchens is planning to open the 5th St. Food Hall this spring at 105 Street and 103 Avenue.

This flagship location will feature four restaurant concepts and a bar. The name of the company is derived from a desire to help food entrepreneurs pursue their passion. “We put the infrastructure, technology, and processes in place for the chefs to just cook,” said COO Luke Butterworth. “[By] taking away the additional burden and complexities of being a business owner, we aim to give chefs and foodpreneurs the keys to succeed and thrive.”

JustCook envisions that they won’t be just a landlord to the businesses, but a partner to help them achieve success. “We designed our Food Hall concept around [the chefs], said JustCook CEO Jennifer Keith. “We realized that many restaurants are still lagging behind in terms of technology, so we decided to ensure our food halls would be fully integrated with technology in mind for every step of both the chef and the customer experiences.”

No tenants have been confirmed yet, but they have received interest from several chefs and food entrepreneurs. Their plan is to open additional locations around the city. CMO Maëlle Piquée shared that they want to help build new restaurant brands, and intend to be a “destination food hall for dedicated restaurants in our space and distribute food through eat-in, take-out, and delivery networks.”

The JustCook concept is not too dissimilar from The Public, WildHeart Collective’s initiative to assist small food vendors with scaling up their business. They believe their eat-in space differentiates them, as does JustCook’s approach to technology. “We believe that being able to make data-driven decisions is what will lead to smooth and lean operations,” said Piquée. “Easy identification of best dishes, food trends, or not-so-successful dishes and ways to improve, which will ensure continued success and growth.”

COVID-19-related News

Openings

  • California-style smashburgers are available at Flatboy Burgers, at 8717 53 Avenue.
  • Hanjan and Let’s Go Round Two are behind a new concept called Honey Jam, offering a handful of burgers and sides.
  • Rub’d Smokehouse BBQ is a ghost kitchen located in Crash Hotel Downtown.
    • Tacos El Nido is now open, in the same space as Jiro Ramen and a Presto Tea location, at 11113 87 Avenue.
    • Let Eat Snow has rebranded to Urban Plant Cafe, and re-opens on January 26, 2021. Sharon has a photolog of the renovations.
    • The third Edmonton location of Jollibee is slated to open on January 28, 2021 at 17136 90 Avenue.
    • Noodle Xtreme is opening up a second location in Sherwood Park on January 31, 2021 at #182, 270 Baseline Road.
    • Corner Hub is now open at the University of Alberta campus, at 8623 112 Street, offering coffee and light fare.
    • I was remiss in not mentioning that the sister French bistro to Eleanor and Laurent, La Petite Iza, opened at the end of last year. It is located at 10926 88 Avenue.
    • Bicycle Bakery is another home-based business that opened during the pandemic. The unique aspect is that all orders are delivered by bicycle in several central west communities.
    • The new restaurant in the Transit Hotel is not yet open, but owners are confident their permits will come through soon.
    • A new branch of The Canadian Brewhouse is under construction in Manning Town Centre, to open this summer, and another is in the works for the Edmonton International Airport.

    Local News

    • The Anti-Social Running Club is putting on Dine and Dash, an initiative that encourages people to run a 10K, half marathon, or full marathon from February 7-14, 2021. As a reward, runners will be able to pick up dinner from one of six restaurants on February 14, 2021. The cost starts at $45 for an individual.
    • It’s never too early to plan for Valentine’s Day – Linda has a fantastic post about sweet treats available from small businesses in the Edmonton area (including one of my favourite Valentine’s treats on the list – Cookiegrams from Bloom, which also benefits the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton).
    • Phil Wilson’s latest Best Dishes column highlights the chicken shawarma from El Fino Kabab and Shawarma.
    • It’s always great to see more restaurants move into the online/digital sphere, such as the 45 year old Coliseum Steak & Pizza.
    • Farrow has been able to expand their pastry production in their new location, and are optimistic their shop fits in with the Downtown crowd.
    • This listicle contains 25 Edmonton restaurants offering Oilers game day specials.
    • City Council voted to move forward with public engagement about the possibility of permitting alcohol in public parks.
    • The Taste of Edmonton has announced that the 2021 festival will be relocating to Churchill Square this summer, if the event is permitted to happen.
    • The first episode of NAIT’s new Career Essentials podcast features Chef Steven Brochu of MilkCrate and his mental health initiative MilkCrate Listens.
    • Plant-based products continue to grow in availability – plant-based sausages and burgers from Victoria-based Very Good Butcher are now available at Meuwly’s.
    • Hungry Zine is accepting submissions for their first issue, centred around the theme of home cooking.
    • Additional FreshCo conversions were announced, including the Safeway by the Coliseum, in Millbourne Mall, and Palisades Square.
    • Sikhs for Humanity is giving away free groceries to those in need, then transitioning to a kitchen that can provide meals in downtown Edmonton.
    • Edmonton-based Nabati Foods Inc. is looking to raise four million dollars to help with their expansion.
    • How do urban bees survive? This is a great thread from local bee expert Dustin Bajer about re-locating a wild honeybee colony in a tree.

    Beyond Edmonton

    • An owner of a Montreal Chinese restaurant’s very honest menu descriptions went viral last week after they were shared on social media. They include such gems as, “it has curry flavour, don’t expect it to be SO tasty but it’s a safe choice and make you happy.”

    What I Ate

    • Mid-week, Mack and I had time to visit Farrow’s newest location close to home for a couple of grick middles. It might just be my favourite sandwich in the city.

    Farrow

    Grick middle from Farrow

    • Thank you for all of your support of our fourth annual Chinatown Dining Week. The event just concluded on Sunday, but it’s safe to say that the participating businesses felt the love from the community. We ordered our Friday night take-out from Syphay – their pad Thai is so good!

    Syphay

    Our order from Syphay

    • We also popped over to Tea Bar Cafe over the weekend for some bubble tea and egg waffles. Emily has been a part of Chinatown Dining Week from the beginning (she was born on the final weekend of the first event in 2018), so it’s great that she’s more actively sampling the food now. She thoroughly enjoyed these treats!

    Tea Bar Cafe

    Emily and an egg waffle

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