This fall the hospitality group, led by chef and restaurateur Nate Box, embarked on its most ambitious project to date — leasing out the entire main floor and basement (8,000 square-feet) of a turn-of-the-century building in the city’s Highlands area.
“For a while we’ve been looking for the right reason to grow outside of the downtown core,” says Box. “Most of our businesses are studded along central Edmonton and we see that there’s a huge need to build into communities… This was the right opportunity. It was a beautiful space, in a great, well-established neighbourhood.”
The Gibbard Block building, at 6427 112 Ave, was purchased by Sparrow Capital earlier this year. The commercial real estate firm is investing $2.5 million to restore the 106-year-old building, which was designated a historic resource by the city in 2017.
As with their other ventures, Box and his partner, Mike Forgie, started with the neighbourhood rather than a concept — assessing Highlands’ fabric and needs to come up with a solution that suited the area.
“Then the conversation went from what would be complimentary to that neighbourhood, to what is underrepresented in this city or what are people willing to travel for,” says Box. “We can’t be 100 per cent reliant on the Highlands community to fill every single seat every single morning, noon and night.”
They settled on three different concepts: a burger joint (who doesn't love a good burger?), a Jewish delicatessen (there are currently none in the city!) and a boutique liquor store (the closest liquor store is located five blocks away). The trio of businesses is expected to open in spring 2019.
To help fund the project, Black Box turned to crowdfunding. It is asking the community to help raise $100,000 of the estimated $900,000 build out. The Kickstarter campaign ends Oct. 21.
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