JustCook Kitchens will open Edmonton's first food hall on Oct. 5 downtown. Announced back in January, the 5th St. Food Hall at 10344 105 Street experienced some delays but the extra time has allowed the business to embrace change wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"As JustCook Kitchens was still in the brainstorming stage when the pandemic hit, we were able to ensure we would take into account the many difficulties and restrictions COVID brought to light," Maëlle Piquée, JustCook's chief marketing officer, told Taproot. "We built our application and processes around both in-person and digital interactions, where takeout or delivery isn't an afterthought by necessity, but core to our business model."
JustCook diners will order through an independent app, whether they intend to enjoy their meal in-person in the dining room or for takeout or delivery. At this stage, Piquée anticipates an even split between in-person business and takeout/delivery.
When asked how the app will compete with prominent third-party delivery apps like Skip the Dishes and Uber Eats, Piquée believes JustCook offers something distinct.
"We're a vertically integrated market and food hall combined," said Piquée. "We provide a holistic offering in our local community that is unique to JustCook and isn't designed to take on delivery companies such as Skip or Uber Eats, but instead offer a new, different experience."
The 5th St. Food Hall is home to four concepts. Backstairs Burger is co-led by Chef Levi Biddlecombe; Biddlecombe is most known for his former food truck Attila the HUNgry and restaurant Why Not? (the restaurant was destroyed in a fire in December 2020). HOM, which started as a series of pop-ups, offers South East Asian-inspired dishes. Seitan dishes up plant-based southern food including "chickun" and pizzas. Lastly, Three Foodies serves comfort food including poutine and donut bites.
Piquée said the vendors came together organically. "We weren't really looking for any specific type of food or cuisine – outside of them being delicious and somewhat unique or innovative," said Piquée. "The one thing we paid close attention to was not to have similar concepts within the same space, as we're looking for the restaurants to build on each other, not compete against."
In addition to the four restaurants, the 5th St. Food Hall also stocks products from local companies, including El Gringo, Bent Stick Brewery, and Annex. The products can be ordered through the JustCook app.
The 5th St. Food Hall will be open Tuesday to Sunday, 11am-9pm. Piquée is excited for Edmontonians to finally be able to experience JustCook Kitchens.
"We want people to try something new, a food or product they haven't had before," said Piquée. "We know that once they've done it once, they will want to do it again."