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Okotoks pizza joint crafting artisan support

Red Rock Pizza using closed dine-in space for local crafters to sell
NEWS-Red Rock Pizza BWC 0714 web
Faustina Ciprusova, co-owner of Red Rock Pizza in Okotoks, poses amongst market tables in her establishment on Dec. 17. When the latest provincial COVID-19 restrictions closed her dining area on Dec. 13, Ciprusova decided to put it to use giving local artist an outlet to sell their goods. (Brent Calver/Western Wheel)
Dine-in closures hasn’t deterred an Okotoks restaurant owner from creative use of space.

Red Rock Pizza Okotoks is making the most of its ample square footage with dine-in eating off the table at restaurants due to provincial COVID-19 guidelines by helping out local artisans to sell their holiday season wares.

“My idea of course came from the lockdown because they closed our dining room and I told my fiancé to reorganize the tables so it looks very clear for our customers that we can’t have any dine-in,” said Red Rock Pizza Okotoks co-owner Faustina Ciprusova. “He put it in this sort of L-shape and it looked so sad and so empty.”

After talking with her mom in Europe about the lack of places offering up Christmas crafts amid the pandemic, and the sad state for the artisans it sprouted an idea.

“She told me a couple days before they closed the dining room and when I saw all the empty tables it reminded my of Christmas markets,” Ciprusova said. “It looked like we were literally waiting for somebody to come and use that space.

“I see no reason why we shouldn’t give this space to local people who make all these interesting crafts. I love Christmas markets myself, so I was like ‘I can’t shop either, do something for local community.’”

Red Rock Pizza was swiftly able to get the word out to artisans from the area and in just a few short days have managed to fill their space with crafts for sale.

“I just went ahead and posted on a few groups on social media that we were looking for crafty people who have some stock in their house,” she said. “Within a couple hours I had a table pretty much full.

“I’ve had many, many messages from local people, supportive messages from community people which I really appreciate, and from many vendors who are looking for space.”

The new restaurant — which has an original location in Canmore and opened its doors in Okotoks on Nov. 9 — has ample space for physical distancing for those popping in for take-out, Ciprusova said.

“I’m doing my best to follow the guidelines and I think (the government) is giving us pretty clear rules we have to follow so I don’t really have any issues with it,” she said. “It is what it is and we have to do it to stop the virus. We can’t  ‘say no I will keep my dining room open because I just opened my new place.’

“We’ve received amazing support from the local community and we also have a really nice set-up in our restaurant where we can use one door for entrance, one door for exit and also we have quite a bit of space and can ensure social distancing, and the maximum of 15 per cent capacity is also not a big issue for us.”

Ciprusova worked at the Canmore location headed up by owner Justin Way for four years before taking on the Okotoks project.

“I’ve always wanted to leave Canmore and explore another town in Alberta,” she said. “My business partner Justin, he was my boss, and he always wanted to expand into different towns. He didn’t find the right person and I thought, yeah let’s try this.

“He gave me this amazing opportunity to open up a shop with him and share our great pizza with the people in Okotoks and I’m very thankful for that as well.”

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