The potential for 118 Avenue to become one of Edmonton’s culinary hubs is receiving a considerable boost thanks to a new app available for iOS and Android. According to the Alberta Avenue Business Association (AABA) website, the Alberta Avenue Dining Pass aims to be a “passport to indulge in food from around the world, all in one place.” 

Made up of 10 participating businesses to date, the app doesn’t limit itself exclusively to restaurants. It also includes locations such as YEG Smoked Meats and Paraiso Tropical, both of which sell foods for take-out and a variety of products to use when cooking at home. 

Though recently launched, the app has already begun to make its presence felt. 

“Just yesterday we had someone come in using the coupon from the app,” says Judith Montoya, manager at Paraiso Tropical. “During the Deep Freeze festival, we had three to five people come in using it as well.” The store currently offers a 10 per cent discount on all take-out food items, and Montoya adds that future plans could see this expand to include other products.

Christina Varvis, whose family owns and operates Coliseum Steak & Pizza, includes her restaurant as one of the participating businesses, offering a deal to anyone who downloads the Dining Pass. A board member with AABA, who is responsible for launching the app, Varvis is confident the app will play a significant role in “putting Alberta Avenue on the map with Edmonton’s culinary scene.”

“The Alberta Avenue Business Association does great work in attracting people to the Avenue,” adds Varvis. “We have great businesses [in the area] that have products worth sharing.”

A self-described foodie, Varvis is excited to mention that the Dining Pass already functions as a “little directory” that has the “addresses, phone numbers, social media, reviews, and menus,” for all of the participating locations already linked and readily accessible directly from the app. 

Newer by comparison, Battista’s Calzone has been a neighbourhood presence since its opening in 2010. Despite having a solid existing customer base, owner Battista Vecchio asserts it’s “always good to be involved with [this] type of marketing, because it brings people in.”

“People will come in and say, ‘I never knew you were here’ or ‘I heard about you, but I never had a chance to come in,’ [and it was] the Dining Pass that brought them,” he adds. “It’s good for the neighbouring businesses, other restaurants, of course my restaurant. It brings people into the area, which is another [good] thing.”

Despite expanding to sell his food to other parts of the city via catering and wholesale, Vecchio confirms he is in no rush to move his business away from the Avenue. “I’ve been [here] for 

12-and-a-half years, but I’ve owned the building for a lot longer, so I’m meant to be [here],” he notes. 

It’s encouraging to think the app will follow in a similar tradition and continue to grow alongside not just its members but also 118 Avenue as a whole. 

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