Crystal Carwin Lee (@crystalcarwin) loves food, so she is working her way through The Tomato’s 2013 to 2015 lists of best places to eat or drink in Edmonton. Restaurant profiles will be posted on TLG, and you can find her review of Belgravia Hub on her own blog.
Taking a different approach than most businesses, Leslie McGlennon (owner/chef) and Sarah Masters-Phillips (executive chef) knew they wanted to grow slowly, allowing them the opportunity to get everything — the food, atmosphere and service — right the first time.
Up until earlier this year, Belgravia Hub had only been advertised in local community newsletters. Banking on word-of-mouth recommendations, they amassed a base of regular patrons. That’s how I found out about the restaurant; friends who had found their way there couldn’t stop talking about how great the eatery is. When I finally had a chance to try it myself, I wholeheartedly agreed.
Edmonton’s foodies thought so, too. Opening mid-May 2013, the duo offered a menu of upscale comfort food that was simple and fresh. Edmonton has such a short growing season, so when ingredients are available, Belgravia Hub takes advantage by creating featured items and experimenting with the menu. With dishes that change seasonally — braised in the winter, lighter in the spring and summer — there is always a reason to go back.
Two months shy of their one-year anniversary, Belgravia Hub made it onto The Tomato‘s 2014 list of top 100 eats in Edmonton. Sarah tells me that it was fantastic to be included on the list and exciting to receive that kind of response so quickly. Leslie, a born-and-raised local and a working mother who always cooks from scratch, had just been waiting for an opportune time to become a restaurateur. The stars aligned for both in 2013.
Of course, no business venture comes without hiccups. For Belgravia Hub, the difficulties laid with the municipalities. Acquiring the permits needed to run the restaurant was a road bump that took longer than expected, so working with a large time frame is their advice to anyone who may be thinking about pursuing a similar endeavor.
Now, two years later, Belgravia Hub is in a great place. Leslie and Sarah are able to do what they love, and they’re finding ways to get their business involved in the community. Since the restaurant opened, they have fundraised for the U of A Food Bank, participated in a Heart and Stroke awareness gala, been showcased at Indulgence twice and taken part in YEG Burger Week where proceeds went to local charity.
The pair are also strong supporters of other Edmonton businesses and suppliers such as Vienna Bakery, Italian Centre Shop, NXT Roasters, Wild Game Consultants, Artisan Wines and Fresh Forward. They’re witnessing the movement towards smaller neighbourhood places instead of the big box stores; most of the encouragement received by Belgravia Hub comes from local and surrounding communities.
Regardless of what your exact aspirations entail, Leslie and Sarah encourage everyone to live by their philosophy: Don’t sweat the small stuff and keep things simple. It’s a mantra that’s working for them.