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A new old waffle experience

Buttermilk is going through some changes…

Buttermilk Fine Waffles will be closing it’s 17th Avenue location on January 1st, 2019. This decision is something that we have been grappling with for a number of months now. After three years of economic challenges, property tax increases, road construction and sharp increases to Calgary’s downtown vacancy rate, we simply can’t continue in our current location.

In our third year of business, we experienced months of partial and full road closures, which decimated our sales. Property taxes doubled in the same year, from $11,000 to $25,000. These increases would have been difficult to absorb in the best of times. Pairing sharp property tax increases with major road closures spelled disaster for many businesses along 17th Avenue. Through numerous town-hall meetings, business owners along 17th Avenue tried to engage with council, to little effect. Frustrating, to say the least.

We feel that one of the major challenges to downtown retail businesses in Calgary is a lack of density. Minimal walk-by traffic particularly in the evening creates a sense of desertedness, as much of the downtown core empties into the suburbs. High rents driven by sharp increases in property taxes continue to force small businesses out of the downtown core, further exasperating the problem. Streetscapes end up being dominated by Jugo Juices’ and Subways’, or worse, ‘For Lease’ signs.

To solve the density issue, market-style venues provide an immediate solution, and they seem to be catching on quickly. Half the battle is getting in front of customers, and without organic high-density traffic, farmer’s markets and food halls are a viable solution.

So, what’s next for Buttermilk? We are looking at opportunities to open in market-style venues around Calgary, as well as the possibility of licensing Buttermilk in other cities across Canada. Something is going to come through in the coming months that will pave the way for Buttermilk 2.0.

To our customers: we built Buttermilk to create a sense of warmth and community, and you helped us make this dream a reality. We are so grateful for your continued support. These have been difficult years for all Calgarians, and we are so appreciative that you chose to spend your hard-earned dollars with us. You kept us going!

Buttermilk couldn’t have happened without the support of the Friley family. From Aunt Shannon’s waffle recipe, to Big Bill’s endless brain-storming, and Mom’s frequent waffle breakfasts. And of course, to Mr. Village Ice Cream, for leading the way and showing so many of us how it’s done!

And lastly, to our incredible staff, both past and present, who have been so instrumental in shaping the menu, the brand, the language and the soul of Buttermilk. The outpouring of love from our customers in recent days is a testament to what you helped create.


Sam Friley

December 28, 2018