Culinary entrepreneurs plan to expand to Old Strathcona
By Steven Sandor | April 18, 2023
“It’s so cool, so hip, it’s all right, It’s so groovy, it’s outta sight, You can touch it, smell it, taste it so sweet, But it makes no difference ’cause it knocks you off your feet.” — Faith No More, “Epic”
I found myself humming this late-’80s metal classic after walking out of the space formerly known as the 5th Street Food Hall.
The space has a new name, Epic — but co-founders Jennifer Keith and Luke Butterworth stay true to their vision of providing brick-and-mortar spaces for chefs to bring their concepts to Edmonton diners. The space, on 105th Street just a stone’s throw from Rogers Place, gives diners the choice to order from one of four concepts: Seitan’s vegan fare, OilBurgers, barbecue fare from Meat Shack, or pasta from Gnudi. The space provides kitchens and a common bar, and diners can mix and match orders from the different kitchens.
“The idea is to give people a variety of options,” says Keith. “We recognize people have different palates, different tastes. For the chef, we provide the kitchens, the restaurant infrastructure, so they can open their concepts for a lower cost.”
But, why the name change? The parent company was called Just Cook Kitchens — and that messaging was aimed at chefs looking to bring their ideas to fruition. The message was simple; Butterworth and Keith worried about the overhead; all the chef had to do was come in and cook.
What they found was that giving the company and the food hall separate names was confusing. So, they decided to rebrand.
“We spent weeks coming up with names,” says Keith.
They had about 50 to 60 names on a long-list. Keith says they even consulted ChatGPT for ideas. But they were sold on a name that would highlight… epicure. It’s a great word to use in a food review, but not great for a company name. And that’s when the brainstorm hit — why not shorten it to Epic?
“Just Cook Kitchens as a brand was more geared towards chefs and the infrastructure and value we wanted to provide them, and we were often asked if we were a ghost kitchen company which is the exact opposite of what we were building,” says Keith. “We are building experiential markets that bring customers the best of the city’s local fare under one roof, so we needed a brand that would resonate with the customers coming to our locations.”
Which is your go-to Christmas movie?
13%Miracle on 34th Street
20%A Nightmare Before Christmas
4%Jingle All the Way
Epic is planning to open a second location in late summer or early autumn of this year. It will be the anchor tenant in Beljan Development’s new Station Park project, at the corner of Whyte Avenue and Gateway Boulevard. Epic will occupy the second and third floors of the development, which will utilize shipping containers in its construction.
Epic will have five kitchens, and Keith says talks are underway with chefs about the concepts that will launch in the space. (Wait, I should have written six kitchens.) On top of the five that will be used for the concept menus, a sixth will be available for demonstrations, competitions and public events.
While the contracts have yet to be signed — so Keith couldn’t reveal the identities of the chefs involved — she says the concepts that are being kicked around are as follows:
There will also be a second-floor patio bar. Since I started off this story with a metal reference, I should finish it with a nod to alcohol.
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