Monument lived fast and died young, opening August 12, 2017 and closing May 25, 2018. While I don’t know the exact reason(s) why Monument closed, I certainly have some speculations.
Undoubtedly, the overhead in that location is unbelievably high. A restaurant with greater profit margins would be far better suited to handle this, something I’ll loop back to. A more steady flow of customers would also be necessary. Even after Monument had opened, to my dismay, the traffic was sparse. Where was the grand announcement? The build-up? Did I just not have my ear to the ground? If you don’t garner traffic like Remedy in such a central location, you’re just not going to last.
Adding to this: Monument really wasn’t a novel concept – it was rebranded, but done before. Monument tried to be the bougie sister of Block 1912, except with a limited drink menu and a considerably “higher end” food menu, sourced locally. While the drink menu was proven tested, this strategy is not guaranteed to work. Dropping to a standard selection on the drinks is hardly the way to attract new customers, as people want variety. Franchising allows people to know what to expect and is a great way to expand once the menu is tested. Introducing a new name with old products kills the novelty.
In theory, having a tried and true menu in the same city would suggest that it will transfer well to the new location, but there are so many other aspects that need to be considered such as location, foot traffic, visibility and marketing, etc. Even something as basic as small changes to the menu. Drink’s aside, despite the food being good, it didn’t stack up to Block 1912’s diverse array, and some main menu items were just a little bit out there. While I wouldn’t say this drove people away, I would say that it doesn’t necessarily encourage them to visit again.
The crowd they were hoping to attract ended up being very different from the crowd they ended up attracting. Feeling at home is something that Edmontonian’s eat up, because they love their comfort and kitsch. Block 1912 is loved for it’s cozy feel, while Monument may have seemed like a hospital by comparison: a total swing and a miss.
Now that Monument is closed, it will be replaced by Kanu Cafe, a plant based noshery with a global menu that includes entrees along with juices, smoothies, dessert, and wine, and is supposedly on the verge of opening. Plant based eateries are a growing trend in Edmonton, and a niche market that has yet to be saturated. While I’m not any kind of plant based eater, I’m interested in what these up and coming places have to offer. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’ll try anything once.
Unfortunately, “trying too hard” is how best to describe Monument – it had many holes to fill (in this case, that’s not a good thing). My hope is that Kanu, brought to us by Matthew Kenney, can be the novel plant-based eatery Edmonton wants, needs, and keeps around for years to come.