Food Notes for May 17, 2021

The Backyard and #Eat124StBingo Highlight Small Businesses

The drive to support local continues, and two new initiatives seek to highlight small businesses.

The Backyard, established in a vacant lot at 10004 103A Avenue, seeks to create a new gathering space Downtown. Using art, lighting, and seating to create a sense of place, the centrepiece of The Backyard are its repurposed sea cans that can operate as a bar, pop-up kiosk, and washrooms. During the pandemic, the patio will be able to accommodate up to 150 people.

“The Backyard believes that supporting local is more than a statement,” said Peter Stetsko, owner & operations manager of The Backyard. “It’s a lifestyle.”

They’ve partnered with a number of local food and drink providers to ensure patrons shop small. “There will be up to two food trucks on site when The Backyard is open,” said Stetsko. “To name a few, local favorites such as Coast Lunchbox, Sosyal Scoops, Drift, Casa 12 Doce, Smokehouse BBQ, and Laker Coffee will be onsite this summer.”

The Backyard’s food and snack menu, sold out of one of the retrofitted sea cans, also features local purveyors. “[We’ve] partnered with Toast Culture and Coast Lunchbox to provide a small roster of salads, sandwiches and wraps, which are only available at The Backyard,” said Stetsko. “In addition, we’ve curated our favourite snack items such as Caramunchies, Zwick’s pretzels, and chips and salsa from La Patrona restaurant in Sherwood Park to sell at The Backyard.”

Alcoholic beverages will be sourced from Sea Change and Strathcona Spirits, and Stetsko promises a seasonal cocktail program.

While no official opening date has been announced yet, Stestko is hopeful for a late May or early June launch.

Over on 124 Street, Meuwly’s and the 124 Grand Market are spearheading a campaign to support neighbouring businesses. Inspired by a similar initiative led by Empire Provisions in Calgary, #Eat124StBingo seeks to encourage social media shares for a chance to win a grand prize valued at over $1,000.

Until June 15, 2021, people are encouraged to complete as many bingo squares as possible, with each post or tagged story earning one entry into the prize draw. Those who complete a bingo line will be provided with a small prize pack until supplies last, which could include gift cards, packaged food products, and branded apparel.

To put together the list of businesses, Peter Keith, the general manager of Meuwly’s, reached out to 30 businesses in total, and included the first fifteen respondents (the sixteenth being Meuwly’s). “The goal was to include a nice mix of different types of food businesses from all over the neighborhood, and I definitely tried to reach out to some of the smaller family run businesses that have less of a digital presence,” said Keith. He hasn’t ruled out organizing a second round of bingo later in the year, but is also hopeful the 124 Street Business Association could take that on.

While #Eat124StBingo just launched over the weekend, Keith shared that about five people have already completed a bingo line. “I am hoping we can get a few hundred entries and twenty or thirty ‘bingo’ scores over the next month,” said Keith.

Like all businesses, Meuwly’s has been impacted by the pandemic, related to decreased foot traffic and less restaurant wholesale orders. However, they’ve also made some successful shifts. “We’ve made some great progress on our e-commerce presence and other special packages like the meat club, our D.I.Y. charcuterie kits, and our partnership with Art of Charcuterie,” said Keith.

He is optimistic that this initiative will spotlight the 124 Street food community in this challenging time. “It’s also just a fun morale booster for all of us as small business owners to see the excitement from our audience online,” said Keith.

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What I Ate

  • I had another breakfast date with Mack last week and enjoyed one of the best deals in #yegdt – the egg, bacon, and cheese sandwich from A Bite of Brazil (on their delicious cheese bread, no less), is a steal at under $5! It was super filling, and the service is always so friendly. The sandwich is available until 11am on weekdays and all day on weekends.
  • A Bite of Brazil

Breakfast sandwich from A Bite of Brazil

  • Winner, winner, chicken dinner: on Friday, we had the fried chicken feast from Rosewood Foods and it was even better than I expected. We loved the crispy, juicy lemon and thyme buttermilk chicken, salsa verde kale salad, and scallion buttermilk biscuits (we saved Mack’s favourite carrot cakes for later). We added a side of potatoes for Emily, who polished off more than her share. We’ll definitely be ordering this again!
  • Rosewood Foods

Fried chicken dinner from Rosewood Foods

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