Mission restaurant owners rebrand, launch pop-up shop to weather soft economy in Calgary

Calgary restaurants find unique way to stay open
WATCH: Some restaurant owners in Calgary are looking for new ways to survive in the economic slump. Christa Dao reports.

Not surprisingly, it has been a tough go for many restaurants in Calgary, and namely in the trendy neighbourhood of Mission.

Pedestrian-friendly 4 Street in the southwest has seen several restaurants and bars recently close their doors, including local spots like Jugo Juice, Towa Sushi and Belle Southern Restaurant and Bar.

According to the Fourth Street Business Improvement Area chair, the industry will always be in a state of flux, but operating a business in Calgary has been challenging and they are seeing businesses innovate and evolve.

“It’s pretty common for restaurants to open, operate, to close, rebrand and reopen,” Lisa Shelley said. “That’s not to say business in Calgary isn’t hard right now.

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“We’ve got the non-residential to residential tax increase, we’ve got minimum wage increases, we’ve got increases at every level of taxes, so it continues to be a difficult market to operate in. But I think the optimism is that Calgarains are innovative and find new ways to do business.”

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READ MORE: Calgary loses another business as Buttermilk Fine Waffles shuts down

One of those ways is rebranding. According to Shelley, the owners of Suzette Brittany Bistro on 4 Street S.W. recently shut down and rebranded.

The new French restaurant still sits on the same property but has undergone a transformation, being renamed Le Petit Boeuf.

READ MORE: Row 17 says construction on 17 Avenue forced them to close

The former Buttermilk Fine Waffles on 17 Avenue S.W. has also undergone a major change.

Buttermilk had operated on 17 Avenue S.W. for about three-and-a-half years but had closed at the end of 2018, citing increased taxes and recent road construction in the area. The restaurant is now operating at the vacant spot formerly home to Belle Southern Restaurant and Bar, but in a limited capacity.

Buttermilk owner Sam Friley said they’re utilizing the space as a weekend pop-up shop that is open only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday – a way to weather the economic storm.

“It’s a product of the difficult market,” he said.

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“From a property tax point of view to a cost structure point of view, and also the fact that the city is struggling, so filling seats on weekdays is really challenging, right? But you still have to staff for it. This is a nice opportunity to focus on those times when people are really going out.”

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