BANFF – Easy Eats is coming to the Banff streets.
Sky Bistro Chef Scott Hergott took time out of his busy day to talk to the Outlook about cooking-up the latest Pursuit initiative, Easy Eats. The new program offers takeout meals at cost for Bow Valley residents and officially launches Friday (April 24).
“We had to layoff the entire workforce, [so] Pursuit and myself wanted to find a way to support staff,” Hergott said.
After the global COVID-19 pandemic hit Alberta, the government placed restrictions on businesses, including ordering non-essential services to close and reducing public gatherings to a maximum of 15 in an effort to reduce the spread of the virus.
The restrictions have hit the hospitality and tourism industry hard, with local officials like MLA Miranda Rosin estimating unemployment numbers in Banff at more than 80 per cent.
“Our tourism economy has been disproportionately hard hit and unemployment in Banff is hovering around 85 per cent … [but] our valley is full of compassionate and resilient business owners and we will weather this storm together,” Rosin said in a statement.
It was after the layoffs within Pursuit that Hergott and the company began to think of ways to help former staffers. Preparing healthy meals at-cost was a great place to start.
“We created a program here and in Jasper to feed our colleagues, three meals a day, if they were in self-isolation,” Hergott said.
Sky Bistro, located at the top of the Banff Gondola, officially closed its doors on March 17, moving its inventory of food to the Elk + Avenue restaurant in the Banff townsite. The remaining staff used the leftover food to help create meals for former staffers who were in isolation and could not go grocery shopping.
“The program we created for our colleagues has been a huge success … and because of the success and the feedback, we thought we should put this out to the public – for people who need cheap food, but nutritious food,” Hergott said.
The program is run with the head chef and volunteers, mostly former staffers.
“It’s a cool opportunity to be part of the community,” said former Sky Bistro employee Callum Logvyn in a statement.
Logvyn moved to Banff and worked a couple shifts as a dishwasher before the a state of public health emergency was declared in Alberta.
“I’m just helping out. We’re all just doing what we can,” he said.
Easy Eats is only available on Fridays and organizers said to check the website every Thursday for that Friday's menu.
The menu includes small plates ranging in price from $1 to $4.50. Options include: pasta with tomato or Alfredo sauce, vegan chilli, beef chilli, Tex Mex chicken wrap, or creamy tomato and pesto soup, with dairy-free, nut-free, gluten-free and vegan options.
The large meals range in price from $3 to $6 and can feed one to four people, with each option including roasted vegetables and a choice of side. Main courses options include: 24-hour braised beef brisket, teriyaki salmon, chicken gremolada and vegetarian wild rice and grain risotto. There are also two desserts: chocolate chip cookie dough for $1.25, or orange and cream shortcake for $3.
Any extra money donated or received during payments will be used to create more meals to be donated to Banff Food Rescue.
Hergott said he is also open to sharing recipes with other restaurants who might be interested in the initiative.
“We are just making sure the people who can’t afford a healthy meal should be checking us out,” said the chef.
Limited meals will be available on April 24 between 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Elk + Avenue restaurant on a first-come, first-serve basis. Pursuit is accepting debit and credit payments only.
Follow RMOToday.com's COVID-19 special section for the latest local and national news on the coronavirus pandemic, as well as resources, FAQs and more.