Nova Scotia

Why 2 N.S. restaurants under 1 roof say they're better together

An Elmsdale business has welcomed another restaurant into its kitchen for the evening hours. Cup of Soul turns into Soaring Crane Sushi most evenings, creating a win-win situation for both owners.

Cup of Soul, Soaring Crane Sushi share rent, bring in new customers

Pam McNeill says while it's 'hectic,' her staff have figured out a way to work alongside the Soaring Crane Sushi team for the hour that they cross over in their small kitchen. (Haley Ryan/CBC)

Two Nova Scotia restaurants are proving there's a silver lining to having too many cooks in the kitchen.

Cup of Soul café serves breakfast and lunch out of a large wooden house nestled behind trees just off a main road in Elmsdale — and goes through a transformation almost every evening.

From Tuesday to Saturday, Soaring Crane Sushi takes over the kitchen and welcomes its own customers.

"I never thought of it being so unique until you talk to other people, and they're like, 'Oh my God, that's awesome,'" owner Pam McNeill said in a recent interview.

A few months ago, McNeill heard through the grapevine that Liam Crane, a young man who grew up in the area, was looking to set up his own sushi business.

She was already thinking about finding a way to serve food at night, McNeill said, so it seemed like a win-win situation. 

McNeill is shown on the steps of Cup of Soul in Elmsdale. (Haley Ryan/CBC)

McNeill said having that extra business in the community, as well as new revenue for her and large savings for Crane, has been a great fit.

Bringing more food diversity into the rural community keeps people from driving into Halifax or Truro, McNeill said, and she hopes it could lead to more restaurants and shops popping up.

"This area is fantastic," McNeilll said. "And I'm sure every small little community is too, there's [nothing] cut-throat. Everybody wants everybody to be successful."

Crane, who runs the sushi business with his fiancée Ashley Scott, went to culinary school and worked in various Halifax restaurants before turning his attention to the Hants area.

They first considered renting out a legion kitchen for takeout, Crane said, but they were soon overwhelmed with messages from people looking to set up weekly orders.

Once the connection was made with McNeill, who has been "super supportive," Crane said they officially started serving this March and were able to hit the ground running. 

Soaring Crane Sushi owners Ashley Scott, left, and fiancé Liam Crane are shown on the deck of their shared restaurant space with Cup of Soul. (Ashley Scott)

Cooking in an established kitchen meant no startup costs for fridges, dishware or cookware, and no lengthy wait times for permits, Crane said. The rent is far less than if they'd set up on their own.

"It's incredible," Crane said. "It's amazing to have … someone who's operated in the area so, you know, give us kind of guidance."

Although McNeill said the hour that both restaurants cross over in the kitchen can be a "little hectic" in a small space, they've now got things down to a science.

Owner hopes others follow suit

Crane hopes that their situation acts as a blueprint for more restaurants, or other types of businesses in the province. 

Coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, Crane said now is the ideal time for people to take a chance on something different, and subsidize their costs by having multiple businesses under one roof.

"Everybody kind of … had a much greater interest in working together and supporting local businesses as well as … [being) more concerned about environmental impact," Crane said.

"We're just super thankful at the end of the day that we get to do something that we really love in a community that is so supportive."

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