I’m not sure there’s a foolproof formula for a successful restaurant, especially after all the shutdowns and draconian regulations of the past two-plus years. But if there is, I’m betting it has something to do with pies.
It’s hard to resist the temptation, and aroma, of fresh-baked fruit pies, witness the allure of places like Shuswap Pie Company in Salmon Arm, B.C. or Pie Junkie, and their butter-rich crusts, in Calgary.
But to prove that a pie-laden concept can work even in the boondocks, I present as evidence The Miners’ Café, in the forested foothills of west-central Alberta.
Where? An hour’s drive west of Rocky Mountain House. Where’s that? More than two hours north of Calgary.
Let’s put it this way. Nordegg is a former coal-mining town that’s been elevated from ghost town to hamlet, population less than 100.
And yet, there were half a dozen people in line ahead of me, when I pulled into The Miners’ Cafe on a recent summer’s weekday.
Some, like me, were ordering mid-afternoon soup, sandwiches and coffee. But it seemed pretty much everyone was also getting a wedge of peach-apple or strawberry rhubarb to stay or to go. Others were loading up on whole pies, fresh or frozen, of blackberry-apple or ginger-pear.
I mean who’s going to compete with $22 for a whole, frozen pie? Or a deep-dish pie that packs in nine cups of fruit?
It’s enough to make you jump in your car and drive a long, long way north and west.
The Miners’ Cafe
619 Miners Crescent, Nordegg, Alberta
Daily, mid-morning till 4:30 or 6:30 pm