Restaurant specialists say main chain closings in Edmonton aren’t shocking as customers push native – Edmonton

This week’s announcement that burger chain Red Robin will be pulling out of Alberta has shaken fans of the franchise, but local restaurant experts say this shouldn’t come as a surprise.

“It’s definitely slower in the current economy,” said Mary Bailey, editor of The Tomato Food & Drink magazine.

“I don’t think Alberta is the same place it was a decade ago.”


Burger chain Red Robin closes all locations in Alberta by the end of the year

As an explanation for the closure of its five locations in Alberta, Red Robin cited the revaluation of its real estate portfolio.

This is not the first major chain to pull out of the province. Chili’s closed nine restaurants in Alberta in 2017, leaving only the airport locations in Edmonton and Calgary and a single stand-alone storefront in Banff.

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Chili’s Grill and Bar is closing most of its Alberta locations

Starbucks also recently closed a handful of stores in Edmonton, but experts said the decision was likely more of a tactical maneuver to increase profits – not a problem for the city as a whole.

Several Tony Roma in the city also closed earlier this month. Requests for comments from this company from Global News went unanswered.

Experts say it’s a combination of the economy, changing preferences, and the increase in grocery delivery services.

“Edmontonians are getting a little more savvy when it comes to food,” said Bailey.

“I think we finally understood that having an independent restaurant that supports the locals is fun.”

Susan Lauder, NAIT’s hospitality management instructor, said she felt these chains were unable to capture consumer trends in Alberta.

“Edmonton has become a food town,” said Lauder. “Every company has a life cycle and I think these chains have gone through their life cycle and not reinvented themselves.”

Lauder said that while she believes consumers are leaning towards local restaurants, upscale casual eateries like Earls, and fast casual eateries like Famoso or Five Guys, there has been a shift from mediocre restaurants like Chili’s and Red Robin.

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“Western Canada does upscale casual very well, and these restaurants aren’t quite that level,” said Lauder.

Keep it local

Global News spoke to the owner of Coliseum Steak and Pizza, a 43-year-old Edmonton restaurant, who said she views long-term employees and a unified menu as the secret of success.

“I have many long-term, committed employees who have helped us achieve the success we are,” said Dimitra Scordas.

Dimitra Scordas, owner of Coliseum Steak and Pizza, says her 43-year-old restaurant was successful because it kept things simple and local.

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Scordas said she has an employee who has worked in the restaurant for nearly 40 years and many others have hit the 30 year mark. Being such a part of the community was a benefit to the facility.

“We have generations and generations of customers,” said Scordas.

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The increased interest in keeping things local benefited the Colosseum, but the restaurant has also built relationships around the city over its four decades of business.

“You are authentic,” said Lauder. “I think a place like the Colosseum has built a super loyal clientele.”

“We have had a lot of people asking us to open other locations,” said Scordas.

“But … we are stuck in our habits and just want to stay here and take care of this place.”

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