Shiddy's and Flat Boy unite on Happy Beer Street

· The Pulse

The recently opened Shiddy's Rumpus Room at 9908 78 Avenue NW is now home to offerings from both Shiddy's Distilling and Flat Boy Burgers, a partnership its stakeholders hope will make their brands stronger together.

"A lot of Flat Boy fans have never heard of Shiddy's," Pete Nguyen, chief creative officer and partner at Sea Change Brewing, Shiddy's, and the Rumpus Room, told Taproot. "We've been around for a little while, but Shiddy's is still new, you know? Getting that crossover has been huge."

The Rumpus Room opened along Happy Beer Street on June 7. Since then, Flat Boy customers have come flocking, its staff said.

Shiddy's and Sea Change (which share owners) moved production to the Beer Street location two years ago, before renovating part of the warehouse for the Rumpus Room. The room has a menu full of Shiddy's and Sea Change products, including cocktails made with slush called "Shlurpees." For food, the Rumpus Room offers the established Flat Boy menu alongside a breakfast all day (or "BAD," as the menu describes it) section.

"We always wanted to build something for Shiddy's that wasn't just a taproom or a tasting room — we wanted to make it feel like its own bar," Nguyen said. "Having Flat Boy be a part of it kind of creates that whole vibe."

Flat Boy Burgers was founded by Dan Cote-Rosen, but the owners of Shiddy's and Sea Change now own a stake in Flat Boy and work on its growth.

"We created this partnership where we can help (Flat Boy) develop their brand and keep it going with our resources and then grow together," Nguyen said. "We always had plans to make Flay Boy just huge, as big as we can make it."

Flat Boy started in 2020 in Cote-Rosen's home kitchen. Its quickly growing Instagram audience then saw Cote-Rosen transfer to a commercial kitchen to meet demand. Its smash burger-style menu is inspired by Cote-Rosen's research of eating at California burger spots, such as In-N-Out Burger and more indie operations. A classic smash burger comes with an ultra-thin patty (but more often two) that's been pressed against a flat top grill. The smashing process causes the beef to become caramelized and crispy.

"The response from so many total strangers on Instagram was just overwhelming and so uplifting, especially during such a dark time when a lot of people (myself included) felt very isolated," Cote-Rosen, who is also the vice-president of marketing for Oilers Entertainment Group, told Taproot in an email. "Flat Boy gave me the opportunity to get back into the community, and from week one in our commercial space we were selling out."

During those early days, Cote-Rosen brought burgers to the Sea Change taproom and formed a relationship with the Sea Change and Shiddy's team. When Cote-Rosen's day job got busier, the Sea Change and Shiddy's team bought in and helped open Flat Boy at the Granite Curling Club, where it operated from 2022 until this year.

The interior of a bar includes employees working, a window into a kitchen, and busy decor in almost every inch of the frame.

The team behind the Shiddy's Rumpus Room took painstaking care to build a vintage look and feel for the space that is anything but self-serious. (Colin Gallant)

Cote-Rosen said he trusts the Shiddy's and Sea Change team to further Flat Boy's success while he's busy with the Edmonton Oilers

"I didn't have the time or operational experience to grow it," he said. "I am so proud to call those guys partners and friends."

Growth is never far from Nguyen's mind. He said part of the Rumpus Room's purpose is to build further brand awareness for Shiddy's and Sea Change to expand their customer bases.

The Rumpus Room's unique look and feel is a concept built from imagining an entire family history for the brand.

"We built this idea of what the Shiddy's family brand from three generations would be like, and that's sort of the hidden undertone of the aesthetic choices we made," Nguyen said. "If you take a look at some of the artwork, there's a lot of stuff that feels like it's from the 1920s, the '50s leading up to the '70s, and then today."

Specifically, that includes red tile, wood panelling, Tiffany lamps, thrifted decor, and custom, faux-vintage signage commissioned by the Shiddy's team. The look certainly charmed award-winning country band The Prairie States: the group shot a forthcoming music video with Cooper & O'Hara shortly before the Rumpus Room opened.

Two people wearing hats pose in front of a glass doorway with signage for Shiddy's Rumpus Room, Shiddy's Distilling, and Flat Boy Burgers.

Pete Nguyen, chief creative officer for Shiddy's Distilling, poses with his new workmate Martin Cooper, general manager of Flat Boy Burgers, in front of the Shiddy's Rumpus Room. (Colin Gallant)

The renovations aren't merely cosmetic, though. A purpose-built kitchen for Flat Boy with two side-by-side grills and a custom-modified fry cutter was also added. "It feels like a real brick-and-mortar instead of operating out of a pre-existing kitchen with a pre-existing brand," Nguyen said.

Next up for Shiddy's is the retail launch of its gin and vodka, which are so far only available in the canned cocktails it retails and the made-to-order cocktails it offers at the Rumpus Room. More details on that should come soon.

As for Flat Boy, the menu is largely unchanged but includes one audacious new item: The Flap Jack Flatty. "It's essentially a double Flatty in between pancakes with eggs and bacon on it. That's the special new thing from Flat Boy that no one's ever had before," Nguyen said.