The Edmonton food scene in 2022 was a year full of tension. While this blog is primarily about restaurants, it is impossible to ignore the ballooning disparity between those who can eat out and those who can eat at all. It was reported that Albertans have the highest rate of food insecurity in Canada, while food bank usage in the province more than doubled the national rate of increase.
On the restaurant front, several long-standing restaurants closed, some due to declining revenue, while other independent restaurants were able to embrace opportunities to expand. Blue Plate Diner, an 18 year veteran, shuttered over the summer, while The Nook, Pho Boy, and Ono Poke all closed after five or more years in business.
Despite the losses, it was a pleasant surprise that so many small restaurant groups were able to grow their footprint in our community, and offer more unique choices for diners all across the city. These included: El Corazon and Leopard in Glenora; Takam Market at MacEwan University; Hayloft and Woodshed Burgers in Cameron Heights; Seoul Fried Chicken, Northern Chicken, and Birdog on 104 Street Downtown; Pal’s in Old Strathcona; and additional locations for The Colombian and Remedy Cafe in Parkallen and the University of Alberta campus, respectively.
Leopard was among the new additions to Edmonton’s food scene this year (photo credit: Mack Male)
It’s also worth noting that Windermere in particular had a banner year in attracting hospitality brands. The chain-loving spirit in Edmonton was in full force with the openings of California Pizza Kitchen and PF Chang’s. But those splashy outposts were joined by independents Black Pearl, Hello Mochi, Flame & Barrel, and Japonais Bistro (to open in 2023).
As inflation continues to increase, the reality of operating food businesses will be even more challenging. But after talking to many restaurant owners over the year, my takeaway was their gratitude towards their loyal supporters in these times. I am hopeful that this theme will continue into 2023.
A few other notable items from 2022:
- The provincial vaccine passports (aka Restrictions Exemption Program) ended up being short lived, ending February 8, 2022, after being instituted in September 2021.
- Most pandemic-related pivots restaurants had made in the previous two years ended, such as in-house delivery from Filistix and Duchess.
- Some restaurants, such as Northern Chicken and Chartier, were transparent about why they had to increase their food prices.
- In April, it was announced that Giselle Courteau and Jake Pelltier were stepping away from Duchess Bake Shop.
- The Lingnan reached the incredible milestone of 75 years in business.
- In October, Tres Carnales had to manage a high profile health-inspection related closure of the restaurant. This month, they announced their permanent closure.
- No less than six Calgary-based brands set up shop in Edmonton, including Flirty Bird, Deville Coffee, Jerusalem Shawarma, Home & Away, Blanco Cantina, and PACT Coffee.
- Many new national and international chains also opened in Edmonton this year, such as Fuwa Fuwa, Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, Vish, Mogouyan, Community Taps and Pizza, and El Furniture Warehouse.
- Planned development in Strathearn led to the closure of community favourites Ralph’s Handi-Mart and Juniper.
You can check out previous year in reviews here (though I missed last year!).