A walk along the 118 Avenue business district often stops at 97 Street. I wanted to take a look at the Avenue beyond the bat. 

One of my excursions takes me into Guuto Mothers Cafeteria. I’ve eaten here a few times and enjoyed the goat and samosas. Zuhair Ali and Tirik Hasan started the business as a social enterprise several years ago. They received a loan from the Social Enterprise Fund with the goal of providing a space for training and supporting newcomer women whose qualifications aren’t recognized in Canada. The loan went to renovating the space on 118 Avenue and then “…Covid interrupted all our classes and now it’s like starting at the beginning again,” says Zuhair. 

With the help of Raqiya Abdi, who acts as interpreter, Zuhair shares her vision of empowering women and youth to be more independent. Trained as a midwife in Somalia, she sees a loss of culture and identity as people try to understand their new life in Canada. She is passionate that people need a place to gather and learn together. Right now the food service is paying the bills and future plans include offering sewing lessons.

At the end of the avenue the bright green window coverings of Mind-Full The Cannabis Store draw me in. Owner Maureen Fehr is inside chatting with a customer. The store is well lit and well kept with bright flowers in the planter at the door. Maureen talks about the ongoing stigma of cannabis and tight controls about how marketing can be done. Maureen points out that cannabis stores face higher delivery fees than liquor stores.   

My third stop is to meet up with Jane Kim who owns and operates Chicken for You along with her husband James, who had a similar business in South Korea. As I try out the chicken quesadilla Jane shares a bit of her story. She came to Canada about 10 years ago, followed by James a year later. They started their business 4 years ago and will be celebrating the second anniversary of the Alberta Avenue location in September. A lot of their business is take out or delivery. As some delivery apps take up to 30% of the cost of an order, Jane hopes customers will order directly from the restaurant website and pick up or dine in to help their small business survive. Watch the website for anniversary specials.  

The women entrepreneurs agree on several points.  Getting past the Covid business challenges will take time and each is ready to help make the avenue more welcoming.  As Jane says…Come and eat!.  

Chicken for You
Korean fried chicken
10406 118 Ave
Orders: 780.705.3336
11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Closed Sundays

Guuto Mothers Cafeteria
Social Enterprise
10412 118 Ave
10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
7 days a week

Mind-Full Cannabis
10430 118 Ave