Food Notes for December 6, 2021

RGE RD First in Edmonton to Require Deposits for Reservations

In October, RGE RD became the first restaurant in Edmonton to require deposits for some reservations. No-shows and last-minute cancellations have been increasingly problematic for local restaurants. But restaurants around the world were grappling with the issue long before the pandemic began, leading fine dining establishments in particular to begin taking deposits or upfront payments for reservations.

Caitlin Fulton, co-owner of RGE RD, said they had been mulling the decision to implement a deposit system for months. “We found that once dine in service resumed, we had full bookings on Fridays and Saturdays, with wait lists of thirty people,” said Fulton. “Then we would have people not showing up or cancelling last minute. It was making me cry, because we confirm every reservation the day before. On some nights, we had up to 10 no-shows or cancellations. We only have 16 tables so it was a big impact.”

Fulton shared that it was a trip to the west coast that was the tipping point. “[Co-owner and partner] Blair and I went to Vancouver at the end of summer and it cemented our decision,” said Fulton. “In Vancouver we found that at restaurants of a certain category you couldn’t make a reservation without a deposit.”

On October 8, 2021, RGE RD began requiring a deposit of $10 per person for reservations on Fridays or Saturdays (weekdays are exempt because of a smaller demand for tables). The deposit is refunded as soon as guests dine in, or if cancellations are made 24 hours in advance. “I expected pushback and that’s why we hesitated,” said Fulton. “And then we implemented it and nothing happened. The odd person has asked questions about it, but honestly there has been such little feedback that I was astonished.”

Their no-show rate has decreased substantially to just three in total since they started the policy. “It’s been enough of a deterrent,” said Fulton.

Fulton said that the last twenty months has required constant adaptation (RGE RD offered elevated heat-at-home meals for a time). Once The Butchery, a complementary business that offers fresh meat, charcuterie, and prepared foods, opened in November 2020 the business found its footing. “In the first shut down in March of 2020 we were stuck with a lot of food that we ended up donating,” said Fulton. “In subsequent shut downs we had the ability to redirect the food to The Butchery and we ended up having more traffic because restaurants were shut down and people were looking for special experiences at home. The Butchery is what kept us insulated from the highs and lows.”

When asked about the potential for the Omicron variant to derail this holiday season, Fulton is cautiously optimistic. “We’re just hopeful that if everyone adheres to the restrictions and gets vaccinated, that we can continue on in a safe way.”

Openings

  • Oodle Noodle continues its expansion, this time into St. Albert (330, 935 St. Albert Trail) and Airdrie (10, 105 Main Street).

Closures

  • Prairie Fish ‘N Chips announced that they will be permanently closing their storefront on January 1, 2022: “The pandemic combined with our name change (wouldn’t change it FOR THE WORLD, we knew this was a risk we’d run and we stand behind it) and general overfishing and supply issues have all contributed to it not being sustainable for us anymore.” They will still be available through Skip the Dishes in mid-January.
  • The Dapper Beaver announced that it is permanently closing in January. Back in September, the business closed its cafe space, but the roastery remained.
  • Love Pizza closed its St. Albert location at the end of October. They are hopeful that it is temporary until they are able to secure a smaller space.

Upcoming Events

  • Christmas in Little Italy returns December 12 and 19, from 12-4pm. Roast marshmallows, enjoy free hot chocolate, and sample some roasted chestnuts!
  • Learn how to bake babka virtually with Larry Harris of Bonne Vie Bakery on December 19, 2021. For non-Jewish Federation of Edmonton members, the ticket cost is $36.

Local News

What I Ate

  • It was our first time trying YEG Pizza on Wheels, which just opened up in the Don Wheaton YMCA Downtown. We were swayed by the idea of a hot dog-stuffed crust, and it didn’t disappoint! With a ton of cheese and meat (we ordered the Canadian classic), it felt a bit indulgent, but Emily especially enjoyed the hot dog bites.
  • YEG Pizza on Wheels

Canadian classic with hot dog stuffed crust from YEG Pizza on Wheels

  • It’s certainly been a while since I’ve hit up my go-to work lunch T & D Noodle House, but their consistency is a large part of their charm. I love their grilled chicken and spring roll vermicelli bowl.
  • T and D Noodle House

Two colour vermicelli bowl from T & D Noodle House

  • I was lucky enough to be hosted on the weekend by the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald for their Festive Brunch. It felt as comfortable as possible, given the circumstances, with tables spread out, and sanitizer and disposable gloves for use at the buffet stations. The food selection and quality was stellar. But it was really that legendary Fairmont service standard that shone, with staff at every turn ensuring guests had a warm and memorable experience. Although their brunches are sold out for the holidays, they are booking for Sundays in January for seatings from 10:30am-12:30pm. Thanks for the wonderful hospitality!
  • Hotel Macdonald

Customized dessert crepe at the Hotel Mac

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