Edmonton: Old Country Inn
After immigrating to Canada from Germany, original owners Barb and Ernie Feuchter opened the doors to the Old Country Inn in 1975. Formerly a chef in the army, Ernie wanted to continue cooking for others. Since its opening, the restaurant has been a place for Edmonton locals to enjoy German homestyle cooking. The restaurant has a welcoming community atmosphere, and current owners Charlene and Thomas Feuchter are always there during open hours. Located in between industrial and residential areas, they see the majority of their traffic during rush hour and find that many of their diners are regulars.
The pandemic forced the Old Country Inn to close its doors until May 19th. The initial closure was unexpected, leaving the restaurant with a lot of excess food that couldn’t be served. To prevent the food from going to waste, they gave a lot of their ingredients away to a local charity. With around 90% of their menu items being homemade, the process of donating their food was easier as they weren’t donating meals, just grocery items. As for sourcing their ingredients once they re-opened in May, they made a conscious effort to support their smaller-sized local suppliers as they were hit hard by the closure of restaurants.
With 50% capacity, their restaurant went from seating 90 people to seating 45. This reduced capacity has created unprecedented wait times to get a seat in the restaurant, so to make the wait a little less painful, Thomas Feutcher decided to hand out sausages to those waiting in line. The restaurant guests really appreciated the gesture, and have continued to show support through this entire pandemic.
“The uncertainty is the most troubling part of the pandemic,” explains Charlene. “The inability to plan is super hard for restaurants, and driving past other small businesses that have closed is heartbreaking to see.”
The Old Country Inn has put many measures into place to make both employees and guests more comfortable despite the current state of the world. They’ve provided PPE for all employees, and have trained staff to incorporate rigid cleaning schedules and protocols into their regular shift work. There are signs everywhere, reminding both customers and employees to do their part. They’re even offering complimentary masks to customers who arrive without their own, to ensure a safe and comfortable dining experience for all.
Despite the new challenges that the restaurant must face each day, they remain positive and appreciative of the supportive Edmonton community.
“People should know that we are all in this together,” stresses Charlene. “ We’ve seen lots of positive stuff from people around the world, and we’ll get through this together.”
For more information on the Old Country Inn, please visit http://oldcountryinnedmonton.com/.