In Global News’ two-part series, find out how Calgary’s restaurant scene is changing. Read Part 1 here.
Calgary’s restaurant and dining scene is seeing an evolution after the economic downturn led to many restaurants and pubs closing their doors.
The 8th Street Food Co-op in Calgary’s Beltline area brings together three different restaurants under one roof.
“The concept itself is something that Calgary was needing,” Clare Johnson said.
Johnson is the business development manager for Noodlebox and said it makes sense to take large spaces and divide them into more feasible smaller spaces.
She is quick to point out it’s not a food court, it’s a food co-op, a pretty unique concept in Calgary.
Sharing the space with Noodle Box right now is Paros Real Greek restaurant.
“I was a little hesitant at first,” owner Louie Tzigalanis said.
Tzigalanis already had a successful location in the suburbs of Calgary and was used to going it alone.
But he soon realized the cost benefits of shared spaces. While each restaurant has its own kitchen and decor, they share the bathroom, seating, cleaning bills, utility bills and more importantly, they have one business licence and one liquor licence.
“We have to do anything nowadays to make sure we keep our businesses open and have return clientele,” Tzigalanis said.
“So if it means opening up a food co-op then that’s what I’ll do.”
Right now, only the two restaurants share the space. The third restaurant — Little Lot Diner — closed unexpectedly. However, another restaurant is expected to open up soon.
Tzigalanis admits there can be challenges, especially if all of the restaurant owners don’t get along.
“If one neighbour is not fulfilling their duties or their part, then the other one has to pick up the slack.”
Tzigalanis also doesn’t believe the shared concept would work as well in the suburbs because there is a lot of parking, and families tend to gather for a more relaxed, drawn-out meal.
But both Tzigalanis and Johnson said with the increased competition from food delivery services like SkipTheDishes and UberEats, a concept like this is one option to stay open and stay profitable.
“They’ve forced restaurants to think outside the box” Tzigalanis said.