Who would've thought that when Elm Café opened back in 2010, in less than 200-square-feet, serving sammiches and espresso, that we'd grow to 75 amazing staff, five locations, and a solid presence in Edmonton's community. And now, the next chapter...
This year we're building our most ambitious project to date. We've signed on to the majority of the Gibbard Block, a beautiful heritage building restoration in the heart of the Highlands community. With a commitment to the entire main and basement floors (ya, 8000 feet!), we're opening three exciting business, with the aim to compliment not only that immediate neighbourhood, but all of Edmonton.
Fox Burger is a 40-seat neighbourhood craft burger and beer shack. It's the place you can rally the fam for a quick meal, take a date for something casual, or tip back a few with the pals. The kitchen, led by partner and chef Sean O'Connor, is built from passion, talent, and the belief that quality, balance, and from-scratch freshness are essential to any successful menu. Besides being one of the best burgers around, Fox Burger boasts a beautifully curated list of Alberta microbrews (and did we mention shakes?). Open evenings and weekends, we're also throwing down brunch Saturday and Sunday, so you can stay in your sweats that much longer.
June's Delicatessen was what came of conversations to Montreal over what we felt was missing from our city's culinary landscape. June's is our light, fresh Jewish-inspired delicatessen that offers up house-made bagels, cured salmon, pastrami on rye, beet borscht, and manner of pickled things. Whether you're catching up with the in-laws, celebrating Gram's b-day, or quickly meeting a client only to then rush off to work, June's has you covered for simple, delicious familiar fare. And, if you're thinking that you'd rather not tackle catering for the bridal shower you're hosting, we got you. June's Delicatessen will also be offering all sorts of catering.
And the final piece of the puzzle is Highlands Liquor, our quaint, off-the-beaten-path liquor store, with fun, affordability, and sustainability at it's core. While this foray into retail may seem a bit tangential, we believe it's the right fit for the space, neighbourhood, and our skillset (don't forget we've got lots o' retail experience from Little Brick). Highlands Liquor is the place you go to find those choice brews to share with your fellow beer geeks. The knowledgeable staff will be able to recommend a bottle of vino to take to your neighbours' for dinner (that won't break the bank). And they might, just might, open a bottle of bourbon for you to sample before you fully commit to the bottle. In addition, Highlands Liquor will be supplying the rest of the Black Box Hospitality Group establishments, as well as wholesaling to other fine restaurants and bars throughout Edmonton. Laid-back tastings, and educational classes will be offered by some of the industry's finest.
In essence, the Gibbard Block is the culmination of many of our dreams. We love the neighourhood (and this city!) and thought long and hard about how we could participate in enhancing it's cultural fabric. We've seen a number of friends build outside of downtown, and watched how the city fully embraced them. Now it's our turn, and we hope and trust you'll join in the fun!
Risks and challenges
The biggest risk for us is financing, which is why we're here. The food and beverage industry is laden with stories or success and failure, sadly more of the latter. The success rate means that banks and lenders are a bit more hesitant to step up to the plate, even if we see opportunity and are ready for growth. When discussing how to finance this project we wanted to think outside the box, and be as least reliant on conventional financial institutions as possible. We'd love for the community around us to come together and alleviate all, or any portion, of the load. For this project we're looking to you, your neighbours, your friends, your workmates, as the investors in this Kickstarter funding portion. Trust us when we say that we'd much rather give you the reward or return, than fork it over to another bank.
The balance of financing will come from ourselves, the landlord, a couple operating partners, a few private investors, and then the bare minimum from our bank.
Construction is also one of the risks we're very aware of, and for the Gibbard Block we worked diligently with our super supportive landlord/developer (Sparrow Capital) to give ourselves a generous runway of six months.
We've built out a number of spaces over the years, whether it be late night concrete countertop building with friends for Elm, kicking out the old shag carpet at our head office, or building cabinets for District. We're hands-on to say the least, which allows us to keep costs and timelines in check. For months already we've been working closing with our architects, plumbers, electricians, equipment suppliers, and designers, doing as much legwork before hand as possible, so that when those keys drop into our hands, we're ready to run.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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