News
Mark Rendell

KFC Is Coming Back, Baby: Restaurant Roundup

Fingerlickin' good news for fans of fried chicken, and for Chinese hotpot enthusiasts. Plus, Fatburger approaches, Birchwood Coffee moves forward and L'Attitudes goes for a reboot

Dash the curtains and take off the mourning garments — you might want to keep the hankies and the wet wipes though (fingers will be licked). The season of great lamentation is over. KFC is coming back to town.

The man behind the plan doesn’t want his name out there yet, but he tells EDGE he’s in discussion with the franchise and actively scouting locations. There are three potential spots, including the old Coyote’s location on Range Lake Rd, which was damaged in a fire several months ago.

“If everything works out, we’ll be open before the end of the year,” says the YK businessman, who isn’t a restaurateur himself but whose family has experience in the industry.

“It’s one of those iconic restaurants that was a part of the community for so long, I think it’s missed.”

He didn’t go into much detail, but he said he hopes to have a drive-through at the restaurant and even do delivery.

News of KFC’s immanent return comes a year after the downtown joint served its last bucket of battery chicken, causing an outpouring of grief usually reserved for the death of a princess (and  pretty much breaking the internet in a Yellowknife sort of way).

The CBC story that broke the news was shared some 2143 times. A follow up story full of heartfelt nostalgia included this iconic assessment from Buffalo Airway’s Mikey McBryan: "It's part of the heritage now… Chicken is older than diamonds. Chicken is from the '60s, diamonds they just found in the ‘90s." Even Buzzfeed got in on the fun, bringing scenes of Yellowknifers losing their cool over lost chicken to a national audience.  

If the anguish felt last summer translates into joy at the resurrection, we can only assume our KFC entrepreneur is going to do some seriously good business.

Chinese hotpot


Here Comes Hot Pot

Picture fondue, but swap out cheese or chocolate with spicy broth and strawberries with shrimp or beef. This sociable, DIY style of Chinese cuisine — the Hot Pot — is coming to town next month with a new restaurant opening above Kilt and Castle on 49 St.

There are already several Western-style Chinese restaurants in town, but YK Hot Pot (the joint’s tentative name) is aiming for something different and more authentic.

“It’s very typical in China. You see Hot Pot on just about every corner,” says local businessman Liang Chen, who’s helping his friend Jackie Shi, the owner of the restaurant, move to Yellowknife from northern China, through the NWT’s business investment immigration nomination program. (“I’ve known him for a few years and I convinced him to come over and invest in Yellowknife,” says Chen.)

How it works: you pick your soup base — beef, tomato, or mushroom broth — and the spiciness level; this gets delivered to your table, steaming hot; with chopsticks (or a fork) you dip your food — seafood, veggies, meat — in the boiling pot, hold it there or stir a bit until it’s cooked to your liking (usually within a few seconds to a minute); lastly comes the extra flavouring, where you dip your food into any type of sauce you like – from spicy peanut butter satay to soy sauce, among other flavours. At the end of it all, you can dump your vermicelli noodles in the soup to soak up the flavour.

People will get their own individual pots, but the experience is communal and playful, with an emphasis on sharing. “It’s definitely family friendly,” says Chen — although the price point will be on the steep side, with a meal likely coming in at $35.

Renovations are largely finished, says Chen, and most of the hiring is complete. Shi will arrive early in August and the hope is for a soft opening by the middle of August. Chen expects things to get fully underway by early September.

Birchwood Coffee

Continuing the city’s stylish coffee trend, a second hip downtown coffee shop is set to open in the coming weeks.  

“We have our fingers crossed for the end of this month,” says Jawah Bercier, co-owner of Birchwood Coffee, which she’ll be running with her father Patrick Scott in the old Stantec building on 49 St., beside the Kilt and Castle.

They’ve hired several staff, but are still on the hunt for a few more people, says Bercier. On the renovation front, things are close to done: “It has a great feel, lots of wood and wood work. It feels really warm.”

The cafe will have an espresso machine, and serve coffee shipped up from Vancouver’s JJ Bean. For food they’re focusing on breakfast and lunches, “working with a lot of bread, flat breads and things,” and serving some unique northern treats like “Bannock & Eggers.” On Saturdays they’ll be serving a mix of savoury and sweet crepe specials.

The coffee shop will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and likely from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. 

Fatburger

Across town, in the strip mall with Dominoes and Hot Shots, Fatburger is also preparing for a soft launch before the end of the month. The burger franchise’s ringed yellow sign is up on the building and renovations are nearing completion.

“Everything's coming together,” says Brad Anstey, who also owns the Subway next door. “We’re finishing work and getting into training our staff this weekend.”

The restaurant will seat around 70 people, and serve up a mix of dine-in and takeaway burger fare, tilting more towards quality than fast food.  

How Anstey explained it the last time we spoke: “It’s cook to order, so everything is fresh, nothing frozen, good quality. You place your order, take a seat, and we’ll deliver it…I just thought the community needs a more of a family-oriented place where they can come and enjoy a quality meal at a good price.”

He’s hoping to nail down a liquor license, but is still working on it. If all goes to plan, we can expect a soft opening before the end of the month, says Anstey, adding that people can now check out the Fatburger Yellowknife Facebook page for updates.

L’Attitudes

L’Attitudes restaurant in the YK Centre Mall will be launching its first dinner menu in early August. By the look of things, the restaurant is aiming towards the finer side of dining, with entrees like beer-braised Bison Short Ribs with apple butter, orange basil Arctic Char fillet, and a scallop, smoked char, shrimp creamy Seafood Pasta (all in the $20 to $30 range). For appetizers they’ll be serving Mushroom Bacon Flatbreads and Whitefish Cakes.

“We’ve added some more northern flair,” says Catherine Travis, the general manager of the restaurant, mall, and Quality Inn hotel.

Previously closing at 5:00 p.m., the restaurant will now be open until 8:00 p.m. After 5:00, when the front doors to the mall close, non-hotel guests will still be able to get into the restaurant through the hotel’s entranceway on 49th.  

The new menu isn’t directly part of rebranding the old Yellowknife Inn as the Quality Inn, says Travis, although she adds “L’Attitudes, the hotel and the mall are all one, so it’s part of bettering the overall experience.”