When you first walk into The Common, you instantly feel at ease with the warm lighting, friendly staff, funky atmosphere and its contemporary, vintage design. So, what is it exactly that makes The Common a hip locale? Is it their mix of fine-dining and pub-food? Or, is it because each of their entrées is under $20?
The Common is a gastro-pub that focuses on celebrating Edmontonian talent and features local food, artists, fashion-designers and musicians. When Justin Der, Kyla Kazeil, Stacy Boruk, and Rob Clarke opened The Common, they wanted to create a place where artists could meet and network, and that was also a vibrant community for diners. The Common originally opened on 124th street in 2009, and within a couple of months they outgrew their location. They didn’t even have a kitchen, so they decided to take a risk and opened a new location on 109th street. “We could have stayed there forever or we [decided] we could make a big move while we were still young and take a big risk. We just wanted to go for it. We’re really local and community based so to have a high-profile space like this and not to be a franchise is big,” says Kazeil.
Chef Jesse Gauthier creates delectable contemporary spins on classic favorites, featuring dishes like chicken and waffles, truffle popcorn and calamari Po’boys. Gauthier sources his ingredients from Edmonton’s farmer’s markets, and uses many local, gluten free products. “It’s really sort of comfort food, warm, good, healthy, and then with compelling flavors within that,” says Clarke. They offer lunch, dinner, late-night/pop up events and host corporate functions.
They support a variety of international and Edmontonian artists, ranging from jazz, hip-hop and classic, to electronic, indie, funk and soul. Regular monthly events, such as Mod Night, get a great turn out, as well as their many weekly events. “I know a lot of our connections in the industry, fashion and music, play a big part in what we do. We do a lot of fashion shows and art installations and we also do lots of music related shows. We are also a record label so we are writing music, pressing music on our own record label, and when fashion week happens, we try to join other businesses,” says Clarke.
Clarke and Der own Foosh and Kazeil and Boruk own Bamboo Ballroom, both treasured local clothing stores, so trying to divide their time equally between their projects can be tricky. Clarke and Kazeil had to leave some of their projects at Foosh and Bamboo Ballroom behind to work full-time at The Common. They credit their success to their partnerships, their employees and their communities. “It definitely is hard. We’ve had to divide and conquer as opposed as having that extra time to create,” they say.
The Common wants to become a mainstay for Edmonton and continue to host innovative, creative events, such as their Rich vs. Poor event and a beer-tasting event where they pair expensive imports with local beers, such as Alley Cat. “Now we are starting to get into a position where we can start contributing back to the community. I think that Edmonton just needs more people to take pride and ownership in their community,” says Kazeil.
So, what is it that draws patrons to The Common? The answer: they have great food, customer service and atmosphere. And, if anything, it’s a place where you can dance to live music and hold a conversation on a Friday night without the blast of house music in the background.