Even though I wasn’t born in Edmonton, I have fond memories of visiting Earls with my family. It was easy to remember after all, what with the colourful restaurants, “fresh” menu, and over-sized parrots. I still think of Earls when I drive down Calgary Trail past the old 51 Ave location. Now with over 50 restaurants, the Fuller Family and Earls has certainly grown leaps and bounds since its humble roots in 1982. You can now find the restaurant chain all over Canada and dotted throughout the US.
As a city that seems to foster chain restaurants, it was no surprise that Earls Tin Palace would eventually get a much needed makeover. Our downtown has continued to see change over the last few years. With more and more condo towers being built and new restaurants popping up to compete for our dollars, it was only a matter of time. What I didn’t know was that Earls was going to go big. In fact, they shut down the location for months to complete millions of dollars in renovations; opening celebrations for a new store are one thing, but redoing one of the originals from scratch. That calls for a party.
And party we did. Heading down on Saturday night, we were welcomed outside by one last parrot (auctioned off for $5,000 for the Zebra Child Protection Centre) and a great video presentation of an Earls-meets-Edmonton timeline. Too bad the weather was a little too cool to linger long enough to watch the presentation through its entirety. Stepping into the warm space, we were welcomed by a truly wonderful room.
Think modern, rustic country. From stunning light fixtures that look like beaters in a Hobart to the gorgeous wood bar to the beautifully wrapped banquettes. It’s elegant without being pretentious. If Restoration Hardware did restaurant renovations, this could easily be a flagship store. And let us not forget about the big, open kitchen. From the pizza oven to the prep line to the bar where you can get a front row seat, it’s truly inspiring. This is the kind of kitchen and view for people like me who love the sights and sounds of it all.
As more and more people came in, the room filled with an exciting energy that I really hope foreshadows what to expect in the coming visits. In between bites of food and sips of beverages, we were entertained by stories of the past, visits through the kitchen, and introductions to various members of the Earls family. From Denver to Toronto, people had come from all over to help ensure this restaurant is humming along as it should. As the night wrapped, I couldn’t help but think they did a phenomenal job. From the room to the attitude to the food, I believe Earl’s Kitchen and Bar (formally Tin Palace) has created a restaurant locals will certainly enjoy for years to come.