Calgary’s inaugural food hall concept — which first opened its doors to the city on Dec.15, 2018 — is celebrating success in a tough market.
The Avenida Food Hall & Fresh Market will officially celebrate one year in business this Sunday and its general manager says it’s been a great year.
“We’ve had over a half a million people in this year,” Yuval Greenfeld said. “Which is quite an accomplishment in our first year.”
But it isn’t only Calgary foodies eating up the new concept. According to Greenfeld, local entrepreneurs are buying into the concept as well.
“We started out not quite full, but we’ve had quite a bit of interest from vendors coming in here,” he said. “We managed to reach 100 per cent occupancy about five months ago. So it’s a really good situation, bucking the trend that we see in Calgary for retail.”
The food hall and market has 25 counter-service restaurants, about 20 others vendors and a number of other businesses that just rent shelf space from current tenants.
It’s home to eight entirely gluten-free restaurants and it also recently became Calgary’s first and only licensed food hall, serving alcohol.
Emmanuel Guardado — who owns QueChivo Salvadoran Street Food — is one of the tenants.
He got back into the restaurant business four years ago, after he was laid off from the energy industry.
He started by operating a food truck but business was so good he quickly snapped up a space at Avenida.
“I came back to my passion,” Guardado said. “I came back to what I loved.”
Like many other entrepreneurs in Calgary these days, he’s hesitant about expanding too quickly and failing.
That’s why he didn’t choose — at this time — to set up a standalone restaurant.
“It is more expense and it requires a lot more work, more employees, more time and more dedication.”
Greenfeld agreed it’s a huge risk venturing out on your own and said this concept is ideal for many local businesses.
“I’m not saying you can’t succeed but it’s very difficult because you are waiting for people to come in,” Greenfeld added.
“Here we are a group effort, resources are combined, efforts are combined. One person’s success brings more success for everyone around.”
Guardado has experienced some of that success firsthand.
He has now partnered up with another restaurant owner at Avenida to open a third restaurant at the hall. But he hasn’t given up on his dream to go it alone.
“Gradually, step by step,” Guardado said. “From a food truck to a market stall and then to the next step, which will be a standalone restaurant — hopefully!”
Avenida Food Hall & Fresh Market will hold anniversary celebrations on Sunday with a special tasting event, which will allow Calgarians to sample food from various vendors.