Episode the 25th: Food talk with Nate Box
Until very recently — perhaps as recently as five or seven years ago — Edmonton suffered a dearth of great cafés and restaurants. Oh sure, there were diamonds in the rough, but the rough was expansive and the diamonds as rare as something even more rare than diamonds.
Then, the landscape started changing, as Edmonton’s downtown began its still-ongoing revitalization. Now, the city is blessed with great eating and drinking establishments. That means the time is ripe for Nate Box to open the Elm Café.
Well over one year in the making, Nate had originally wanted to open the café as a restaurant concept in the Belgravia neighbourhood on Edmonton’s southside. But the lease fell through and so it was back to the drawing board. Last March, though, things started coming together for Nate, when he locked down a location in Oliver — the west part of Edmonton’s downtown (outside of the core).
With the Elm Café slated to open on Monday, June 7 (bright and early at 7am), Scott and I decided to sit down with Nate and find out exactly what it takes to open a café in the this town. We also talk hamburger waterslides, and some of the worst food trends sweeping the city.
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Michael from Cafe Haven here. Nate was an absolute joy to work with on the re-design of our kitchen. Before ever meeting Mr Box, I spent so many hours sketching and re-sketching the kitchen area. When Nate offered a couple of free hours consulting, he pretty much threw away most of my ideas for work flow and suggested a far smarter approach. After that I just knew I needed someone like him on the project. The result? The kitchen has yet to fail to any demand thrown at it so far and we’ve had some pretty busy brunch mornings!
That’s awesome, Michael! I’m going to have to come down there one of these days to see what all the fuss is about. 😉
When I observe the restaurant industry in Edmonton, one thing seems clear: there is a lot of turnover. Much more so than the regular business failure rate; it seems that making money (a reasonable profit) in the food industry is extremely difficult (if not possible).
This comes from talking to people I know in the industry. Are they the exceptions, or is serving food and making money impossible?
I really appreciate the shoutout from Chris at “eating is the hard part,” but I have to say I’m a little stung that “The Unknown Studio” is apparently only Adam’s show.
Do I really fade into the background that much?
You should go onto his blog and ask him that very question.
I haven’t listened to the show yet, so I don’t know if Scott sat silently.
I do know I want to see an editorial war between your podcast and Chris’ blog.
Or a pie eating contest. I always get them confused.