As more and more independent restaurants close for lunch, we need to support the ones that keep the "open" sign on
By Steven Sandor | December 6, 2022
Sometimes, things don’t work out as you planned, but still turn out pretty good.
I headed to 137th Avenue to review another restaurant, and found that the decision had been made to close for lunch. Then, tried another independent spot, and another “closed for lunch” notification. Then a third. Closed for lunch. While I don’t have any hard numbers to back it up, it feels that more and more independent restaurateurs are deciding that lunch service isn’t worth the cost of food and staffing. They are leaving the midday meal to the chains.
I drove along 137th Avenue, stopping in at local strip malls to see if there was a spot that intrigued me — and was open. And I came across Hakone Japanese Cuisine, which, thankfully, had the “open” sign on.
I walked in, and one couple was clearing up their bill. Otherwise, the restaurant was empty. The menu certainly had a lot of choices, but, being on my own, going for a big sashimi tray or a table filled with appetizers would have been too much for one man. There was an interesting array of bento boxes, which ranged from vegetarian to sashimi to barbecued-meat options. I went for the Deluxe, which featured salmon sashimi and grilled salmon, along with salad, rice and beef with onions. It’s worth noting that miso soup, a long-time staple, had been crossed off the menu as an included lunch bento item; it was on the a la carte menu. Again, these are signs of the hard times restaurants are facing, and we should be sympathetic to the problems the high cost of ingredients are causing them.
The highlight of the box was the salmon; covered in sesame and sauce that was salty with a touch of sweet, it was extremely well-cooked. It was delicate inside. I finished that part of the bento first. The beef left behind a delightful little broth that coated the onions. It was a great little lunch, but, I get the feeling that if we don’t do more to support these small restaurateurs, we’re going to see more and more reduced hours and shrinking menus. I know, during the Christmas season, and with inflation being what it is, it’s hard to implore you to eat out more. I just ask you to think about where to spend your dollars, because this is a time that independent restaurants could use the business.
Hakone Japanese Cuisine Kensington Crossing | 13907 127 St NW, Edmonton | 780.761.3006
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