It's been more than eight years since Edmontonians were able to enjoy a meal in the Kelly Ramsey building on Rice Howard Way.
That's about to change soon.
A massive fire destroyed the historic building in March 2009, and in 2013 it was demolished to make way for a new office tower that opened in 2016, complete with the original Kelly Ramsey building facade.
The new 25-storey tower, officially known as Enbridge Centre, has a 92-per-cent occupancy rate but the storefront level on Rice Howard Way hasn't yet opened for business.
Brown paper still covers the windows on the main floor but inside, things are happening.
Coffee and breakfast
Local coffee purveyor credo is opening a third Edmonton location on the building's main floor.
The 1,400-square-foot café is expected to open in the next few weeks in a space that in the old Kelly Ramsey building was occupied by Rigoletto's restaurant.
Calgary-based OEB Breakfast Co. is also opening its first Edmonton restaurant in the building.
"We have a lot of regular customers that come from Edmonton [to Calgary]," said Mauro Martina, the company's chief executive officer.
The downtown location, new build and history were major attractions, Martina said.
"This is a no-brainer," he said. "It's something that I can totally envision in this space."
Martina said the company will spend more than $1 million building the 2,400-square-foot restaurant, which will be open 7 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. — for breakfast and lunch — seven days a week.
Room for one more
That still leaves the building owners looking for a tenant for the largest space on the main floor. In the old Kelly Ramsey building, the space was occupied by Co Co Di restaurant, and before that the hugely popular Mongolian Food Experience.
'We're not reinventing the wheel here.' - John Day, co-owner and developer
"This is restaurant space in downtown Edmonton with a prime location for outdoor seating," said John Day, one of the owners of the building and the developer who spearheaded the project..
Day said the downtown location means there are thousands of potential customers looking for a place to eat.
"We're not reinventing the wheel here," he said. "There were some really good, long-term restaurants that were in this location for a very long time.
"We're confident we'll get a good quality restaurant here."
Owners not in a rush
Day said the owners had originally planned one large restaurant for the main floor but decided to break it into three pieces instead.
Even though tenants started arriving in other parts of the building last fall, he said, there was no rush getting someone on the main floor.
"We want to take our time and do it right," he said. "We're trying to get it right rather than get it fast."
There is a limit to how long they're willing to wait for the right tenant though, he added.
"If we do a deal in the next few months, we're good with that."
Day said he's hoping for a mid-range restaurant, preferably with local owners.
"We've talked with chains and we've talked to locals, so we're not stuck with one or the other but if we had a bias, it'd probably be a little bit toward local."
He said he's happy with how the tower project turned out, including the preservation of the historic facades.
"I think we've done a lot to live up to the history of the building," he said. "I think people like the old with the new."