Edmonton’s Gourmet Food, a popular restaurant chain, is offering its customers the opportunity to create their own meals from scratch.
The restaurant chain is in the midst of expanding its reach and offering new food items to the public through an app.
“It’s just like a grocery store with a few additions,” co-owner and CEO Mike McVicar told CBC News.
“It’s like a real grocery store.
We just want people to be able to pick out their own stuff.”
McVicars family owned and operated the chain since 1984, and it opened its first restaurant in the Edmonton suburb of North Edmonton in 2012.
Since then, it has grown from a single restaurant into a chain that operates in over 180 restaurants across Canada and the United States.
The company has expanded from just one store to more than 1,600 locations.
McVacar says the idea behind Gourmet is to get people to want to be involved in their local food community.
“What we want to do is provide opportunities for people to take pride in what they are making,” he said.
McGill University student and co-founder of the app, David Zawinski, says he has received numerous requests to create his own meal from other users.
“I was just like, ‘What do I want to create?'”
Zawinksi told CBC.
Zawinski said the idea for the app came from the “tourism, shopping, shopping trip” he took in the United Kingdom in 2014.
“My wife and I were just going to have dinner with friends in London, so we were in a shopping spree,” he recalled.
“We came across this tiny restaurant that was so good that we decided to just go eat there, and we ended up eating there.
We really enjoyed it.”
McGillian students, including Zawinskis, are studying food marketing and food business in the summer and fall semesters.
“The first time we saw it, we were like, Oh my god, we have to do something with this,'” Zawinksi said.
The concept has a lot of similarities to a restaurant concept called The Great Food Experience, which was popularized by chef Mark Cuban in 2013.
“They’ve just gotten so popular, and the more people can participate in it, the more that they’ll get to experience food as real as they can,” Zawinsky said.
“There’s really a ton of great food out there that people can enjoy that’s not really available anywhere else.”
The app allows people to add items to their meal, then select which item to make.
The menu has a few items on it that people have already made.
“That’s kind of like a recipe menu,” Zawainski said.
There are recipes for everything from steak, seafood, pasta, cheeses, salads, and desserts.
Zawikins family also offers a full-service menu, where customers can order items like rice, rice noodle bowls, soups, desserts, and more.
“If you’re not a chef, we’re not here to teach you how to cook, we want you to make the meal you want to make,” Zawski said.
While he said the app is more like a traditional grocery store, Zawickis family is also excited about the potential of it.
“With Gourmet, it’s really, really a family-friendly food experience, where you can come and eat and have a meal and then just sit and chat,” he added.
McLaughlin says the concept of creating meals has appeal for people who like to have fun.
“People want to try something different, and they’re not always going to be prepared for that,” she said.
She believes the idea is an effective way to reach new people.
“You can get a lot out of it if you’re interested in trying something different and really want to have a good time,” McLaughlin said.