Multi-Vendor ’RAAS Eats’ Launches Innovative Mall Culinary Incubator

 Photo: Daniel Hassan

Photo: Daniel Hassan

Edmonton’s micro-mall RAAS Market, in the West Edmonton Mall, has expanded to include RAAS Eats, an incubator of up-and-coming Alberta culinary brands.

“Part of the big vision for RAAS is of creating a community of local and emerging brands. Part of community isn’t just retail but it’s also food,” said Mark Ghermezian, RAAS founder and CEO, and part of the family that developed the West Edmonton Mall and other big international shopping centres.

“We had a lot of interest from local and emerging food vendors and brands so we took time to really double down and invest in the space that we could make it turnkey the same way we did for the upcoming brands that offer retail and services. We wanted to make food as turnkey as possible as well.”

 Photo: Daniel Hassan

Photo: Daniel Hassan

 Photo: Daniel Hassan

Photo: Daniel Hassan

 Photo: Daniel Hassan

Photo: Daniel Hassan

The Retail as a Service (RAAS) concept was launched at WEM last fall. It has just over 5,000 square feet and the site can have a minimum of 20 local retailers to as high as 30.

The new dining hub spins the foodcourt model on its head, with emerging food brands spotlighted in a lounge-worthy atmosphere for people to connect and discover, said RAAS in a news release.

Food vendors include Edmonton’s newest vegan hot spot Moth Cafe and Calgary’s Blackbird Cold Brew Coffee. Other brands include Family Squeezed Lemonade; local favourite Moonshine Doughnuts; and world-renowned Duchess Bakeshop. RAAS Eats has also been designed as a multi-use space, and will be a gathering place for DIY workshops hosted by Makers & Mentors and other events.

 Photo via Publicity Room

Photo via Publicity Room

 Photo: Daniel Hassan

Photo: Daniel Hassan

“For us it’s kind of moving forward with the original vision that we’ve always had of creating this platform that makes spaces turnkey” and provides an opportunity for local brands to set up shop in a major shopping centre like WEM, said Ghermezian.

“Now we’re able to support food, retail and services. What we’re also doing is creating a space for workshops which I think also expands on the concept of community. So you’re not just coming into a retail space and just buying and purchasing items but you’re now able to eat and you’re now able to participate in a workshop and learn how to do something. It also allows you to connect with a brand. We’re also making the workshop space available to all the brands that open with us so they can book workshops themselves and we help promote it.”

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“This unique market gives us an opportunity to not only be a part of a community with other local entrepreneurs, but also to sell our macarons to customers who might not otherwise be able to come to the bakeshop,” said Duchess Bakeshop’s Giselle Courteau.

RAAS Eats Brands Include:

● Family Squeezed Brands

● Blackbird Cold Brew Coffee

● The Moth Cafe

● Moonshine Doughnuts

● Duchess Bakeshop

Other RAAS Brands Include:

● Adesso

● Pura Botanicals

● Mini Street Kidswear

● Parkshop

● Saraswati

● The Geo Collection

● Lamose

● Kelly Wolff

● Mala & Me

● Apollo Original

● Prive Revaux

● Bar 13 Soap Works

● Flip54 Mattresses

● Wildhood Clothing

● Nest In the City

● Sophia Lauren Candles

● Makers and Mentors

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Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary has 37 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, city and breaking news, and business. For 12 years as a business writer, his main beats were commercial and residential real estate, retail, small business and general economic news. He nows works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Email: mdtoneguzzi@gmail.com

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Mario Toneguzzi

Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary has 37 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, city and breaking news, and business. For 12 years as a business writer, his main beats were commercial and residential real estate, retail, small business and general economic news. He nows works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Email: mdtoneguzzi@gmail.com.