To market, to market: Restaurants pivot to select groceries as COVID shapes consumer habits


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The idea for the market came to Isaac after she was forced, like everyone else, to close her restaurant in March. She noticed long lineups in grocery stores, and wondered if offering more grab-and-go items in her space could provide comfort and convenience to consumers, and a new niche for her business.

“When the market idea came, it gave me the energy to come back and renovate the restaurant,” says Isaac, who has owned Tiramisu for nine years. “We put in a garage window to create a little bit of interaction with the street, and to create a little more openness. This gives people a little experience — and hope.”

Chef Lino Oliveira poses for a photo in Bodega Pantry, 10220 103 St., in Edmonton Friday Aug. 14, 2020. Photo by David Bloom
Chef Lino Oliveira is co-owner of Bodega Pantry, located at 10220 103 St. David Bloom/Postmedia David Bloom/Postmedia

At Bodega’s downtown location on 103 St., co-owner and chef Lino Oliveira also wanted to repurpose a space that was no longer working for private parties, given current physical distancing restrictions. Open to the street, Bodega Pantry is proving a stylish extension of the restaurant’s brand, featuring the makings for some of Oliveira’s house specialties — including his fresh mussels with saffron cream sauce.

“We get a lot of demand for raw ingredients, plus deconstructed dishes and sauces,” says Oliveira. “So we’ve turned the room into a deli for now, based on the circumstances of COVID.”

Bodega Pantry, which is open 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. every day but Sunday, features a good selection of Spanish and Portuguese cheeses, such as Manchego and Limiano, and meats, including chorizo and Iberico pork. You can grab a bottle of wine, too, or some of Oliveira’s favourite spices in small, convenient portions. Shelves are stocked with local products, such as Brassica mustard from Calgary.

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