Raw Eatery & Market Interview
Why did you decide to open a Vegan restaurant?
A couple years ago were living in Toronto and saw that the plant-based movement was thriving, and gaining popularity! We both are from out West and thought the market here was unsaturated with this type of concept.
We care a lot about our health, the animals, and the environment and thought we can impact change on a larger scale, outside of our individual choice, by providing a plant-based option for people.
How did you pick your location?
We both went to University in Edmonton and Ali is from Cochrane, so we both travelled to Calgary plenty and first and foremost really liked the city, in general.
Because we have friends and family here, it already felt like home. Calgary has some work to do in terms of accepting and building the plant-based sector, and we like a challenge, so the fit seemed perfect.
We ended up in the Kensington neighbourhood a bit out of luck! Our current building was the first one we viewed, and it turns out to be in the most perfect neighbourhood for us.
Why is your restaurant unique?
Our restaurant offers not only a vegan but a healthy option. We wanted to serve food that we ourselves eat; where you know what is in the dish, why it’s good for you, where the ingredients are from etc. Our whole concept is to be transparent, hence the name Raw; we thought that description could extend to our openness as people, and our business dealings as well.
How do you decide on what items to put on the menu and the ingredients of
Generally, one of us will have an idea and will practice the dish on the other for approval and any modifications that could be made, and then we just go for it!
We focus on using seasonal and local produce as much as we can and we try to include as much whole nutrition as possible. For example blending hemp hearts in certain sauces to make sure there is some healthy protein and fat in the dish.
How do you split the duties?
We have such a great flow now, everything somewhat overlaps! We have naturally taken on some responsibilities that the other leaves alone for the most part, such as Ali with our social media- I leave that one to the expert!
What are the biggest challenges?
Challenges occur in the restaurant on the daily, whether it be running out of an ingredient or an unexpected maintenance issue. We have learned to roll with the punches and to not stress so far in advance, we can only deal with what is currently happening!
What advice would you give other people that want to open a restaurant?
I would suggest you have a strong concept in mind, and understand why you want to open a restaurant in the first place- what are your goals? Be clear about those.
It’s important to have a good (moral) support network as well, but to also recognize that you’re completely capable of anything you put your mind to.
It seems like a scary plunge, which it is, but with confidence and moral support, it’s totally achievable.
How long have you been vegan and why did you choose that route?
We have been vegan for coming up on 3 years now! We both chose it for slightly different reasons, myself on the nutritional side and Ali on the ethical. But when we educated ourselves more, all three platform points (nutritional, environmental, ethical) made a lot of sense and resonated with us.
There’s no looking back for us, there are so many animal product substitutions out there that there’s no way to miss meat and cheese etc, especially when we can get something that tastes and satisfies in the exact same way.
What brought you joy this week?
Socializing! Being in groups of people who we love and having many laughs; that fills up the heart.