A new kind of restaurant is coming to Edmonton's downtown.
JustCook Kitchens' food hall is designed to take some of the load off chefs wanting to open a restaurant, but not wanting the burden that comes with the business side of such an endeavour.
"We're lowering the barrier to entry for chefs by giving them a full commercial kitchen bay to operate out of," JustCook Kitchens co-founder Luke Butterworth told CTV News Edmonton. "We provide the technology, the delivery, even some of the supply chain, and together what that allows them to do is come in and start a restaurant in under a week."
Butterworth says chefs wanting to enter the restaurant industry face many obstacles, from logistical to financial.
"Their options are either to come in as a pop-up in a market maybe, or to start a food truck," said Butterworth. "To go all the way to brick and mortar you have a crazy amount of money difference."
It's a reality he hopes his new venture will help them overcome.
"The target just for us is to keep solving problems that they run into."
The food hall, located near Edmonton's ICE District, will house four commercial kitchens under the same roof with walk-up food court-style counters.
Four kitchens means four chefs and four concepts in one place.
"What we really want to do is focus on finding out ways that we can collectively help these individual restaurant concepts," JustCook Kitchens' co-founder Jennifer Keith told CTV News Edmonton. "Bring them the franchise benefits that they would normally get through going with some type of chain, but without having to be part of a chain."
The space would feature the four regular chefs six days a week. The seventh day will showcase pop-up kitchens, allowing different chefs to temporarily use the space.
While COVID-19 has caused many restauranteurs to re-think their business models, the two entrepreneurs believe their food hall idea will fit right in with the current climate.
"We really came up with this concept and this business model during the pandemic," Keith said. "We really baked that technology aspect into the DNA of the food hall in that we're going to have the capacity to continue to provide takeout and delivery services for all of our foodpreneurs in the space."
With renovations on the space still to do, Keith and Butterworth hope to launch their food hall in May.
Butterworth says they've had a lot of interest from potential chefs, but have yet to sign with any so far.