Food Notes for March 8, 2021

Cartago Announces Permanent Closure

Last week, Forest Heights restaurant Cartago announced that after three years, it is permanently closed.

“After an incredibly challenging year, we are proud to know that we did everything we could to put our employees and our community’s safety first.”

Back in November when COVID-19 community transmission numbers were escalating, Cartago was among the first of a small group of restaurants to voluntarily close their doors to indoor dining. Since then, co-owner of Cartago Katy Ingraham has been active on social media advocating against indoor dining until conditions are made safer for hospitality staff and patrons. Fleisch, Cartago’s sister deli business, will remain open (for take-out only), but it was a series of challenges that led to this closure.

“When we shutdown March 15, 2020 we were about a month away from completion on our other business Fleisch,” said Ingraham. “Any government support that existed to attempt to help businesses through this crisis does not exist for new businesses [that] opened in 2020. When we reopened to the public in June 2020 and opened Fleisch for the first time, we were paying to complete the project and the expenses of two businesses while only receiving support for one of them.”

Ingraham also explained that the government support is largely credit-based, meaning that taking on the additional debt to help both businesses survive soon became “untenable.”

Ingraham said Cartago was too far gone to even consider re-opening for in-person dining when restrictions lifted in February, but more than that, she believes the COVID-19 variants and high risk of exposure to staff and the community made it an easy decision to remain closed to indoor service.

She is a part of a local group called Go4zero, which consists of doctors, scientists, biologists, business owners and community stakeholders. They have put together recommendations to improve the safety of maskless people indoors, such as having doors and windows open, HEPA filters, C02 monitors, and the use of K95 respirators. “A sore spot for me,” said Ingraham, “is that the provincial government has not updated their sector guidelines since September 2020 and there are no recommendations regarding ventilation for hospitality businesses open to dine in.”

Ingraham is confident that Fleisch will be able to adapt to community needs, but she is not optimistic about the local food scene as a whole. As a co-founder of The Edmonton Independent Hospitality Community, she sees the stress in the industry. “I think that most operators are faced with incurring more debt if they’re able or closing and the window to stop the bleed is closing rapidly,” she said.

COVID-19-related News

Openings

Upcoming Events

  • Geoscapes is running at Victoria Golf Course from March 4-April 8, 2021, with domes set up for private dining. Eight guest chefs are participating, including Lindsay Porter, Paul Shufelt, and Shane Chartrand. Tickets start at $250 for two people.
  • Leftovers YEG is hosting a webinar exploring food waste in Edmonton on March 10, 2021.
  • An Edible School Yards webinar on March 10, 2021 will answer the question: how can schools contribute to climate change mitigation, educational opportunities, and helping stop school hunger? Join permaculture and educators to learn more about how schools can help meet the goals of the Edmonton City Plan.

Local News

Beyond Edmonton

  • Top Chef Canada returns for a ninth season on April 19, 2021, but again without any Edmonton representation. There are two chefs from Calgary amongst the competitors.

What I Ate

  • Mack and I planned a breakfast date last week, which doubled as an excuse to try the breakfast sandwich from Rosewood Foods. As with everything else on their menu, it was delicious!

Rosewood Foods

Sausage, egg, and cheese sandwich from Rosewood

  • We’ve been meaning to try a family meal from Little Village for ages, and finally did so on the weekend. It didn’t disappoint – we loved the tender lamb shank and all the fixings.

Little Village

Braised lamb shank feast from Little Village

  • After picking up our Little Village order, we also popped into ch. cafeteria on the same street for a pick-me-up.

CH Cafeteria

Coffee dates

  • It’s so great that Food Network Canada’s Big Food Bucket List exposed more people to the gem that is Zwick’s Pretzels, but I’m also glad they accept pre-orders so when I’m hankering for some pretzels it’s a quick trip in and out!

Zwick’s Pretzels

Zwick’s Pretzels

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