A Saskatoon-based Broadway Avenue staple will come to Prince Albert as early as the May long weekend, if everything goes to plan.
Dependent on city council’s approval, the Bulk Cheese Warehouse appears to have the go-ahead, judging from the warm reception the proposal received during Monday’s executive committee meeting.
“It’s not a national firm -- It’s a local Saskatchewan entrepreneur, and I think it’s a great addition,” Coun Rick Orr said, giving kudos to city administration for providing the business with a speedy approval process.
Born and raised in Prince Albert, Scott Bartlett opened his first Bulk Cheese Warehouse on Saskatoon’s well-travelled Broadway Avenue in 1987.
Originally a cheese store, it expanded about 10 years ago to include an expansive specialty meat deli.
Bartlett opened another location, minus the meat deli, in Regina a few years ago, but the grocery store he has planned for Prince Albert will be the full package.
More than 200 types of cheese, various specialty meats and ready-to-go meals, including numerous salads and lasagnas, will fill a shop near Prince Albert’s busiest intersection -- Second Avenue West and 15th Street.
Bartlett has been leasing an old mechanics’ shop south of the Tim Hortons on the corner for more than a year.
With personal issues that delayed progress on the store out of the way, he’s itching to see council approve the business and get the building renovations underway.
The business will add something new to Prince Albert, he said, beginning a long list of specialty products he plans on stocking at the small grocery store.
In addition to the more than 200 types of cheese, the store will provide various kabobs, jerkies, sausages, bratwursts, and cuts and styles of meat.
“We are really a deli grocery store, butcher shop and cheese store that sources out the finest food that I can find anywhere,” he said, adding that by “finest,” he means the finest that people can reasonably afford.
Steak, he added, is their specialty, with New York, rib eye, flat irons and AAA their most popular.
“We sell -- I don’t even want to put a number on this -- hundreds and hundreds of steaks every week.”
The shop will also provide a unique means of meat preparation, with their cold smoke process.
“I bought a smokehouse for smoking cheese, so you can smoke without any heat, and because of that I can smoke fresh meat without cooking it, or without turning it into a ham,” he explained. “Any way you cook it, it tastes like it was cooked on a wood fire.”
Bartlett cut his teeth in food preparation at his parents’ A&W Restaurant in downtown Prince Albert -- an experience he carries with him through his willingness to hire high school students.
“We’ve had very good relationships with students as part of our staff, ever since we opened,” he said.
Between professional butchers, students and others employees, he plans on hiring about 20 people for the Prince Albert shop -- enough to fill the shifts that he plans on keeping the store open every day of the week.
Bartlett plans on making an announcement soon when it comes to where people can submit their job applications.
Before then, the city’s elected officials have two motions to make regarding the business.
The first has to do with whether they want to reopen the property’s parking lot entrance to Second Avenue West, having closed it off with a curb during last year’s road infrastructure work.
“I think it’s silly to expect someone to put a viable business on that corner and (to have) something curtail how you can get in or out,” city manager Robert Cotterill said during Monday’s meeting -- a sentiment Mayor Greg Dionne agreed with.
The second has to do with whether the city’s elected officials think the business is right for the property. Its C2 zoning stipulates that a retail food store is discretionary, meaning it’s up to council.
The city’s elected officials are set to make their decision during the Feb. 25 city council meeting.