Rosthern Rocks with Updated Pub Grub
Meet Josie MacDonald
Co-owner, Sixth & Railway Grill and The Cork & Kettle, Rosthern, Sask.
Josie MacDonald and her partner Laura Olson started their grill and pub three years ago. They are located in a historic building constructed in 1903 for the Imperial Bank of Canada on Railway Avenue in Rosthern, Sask., 60 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon.
Tell us about your business
We are planning a small renovation of the historical bank building which houses the Sixth & Railway Grill over the next year that will return a few more elements of the past and match the cozy feel of The Cork & Kettle next door.
Over the years, the building had been renovated out of its era, but some interesting historical features remain, like the original safe in the middle of the main floor. We’ve turned it into our walk-in cooler and deep freeze.
When we first opened, we were full every day for lunch, so when the building next door came up for sale, it was an opportunity to expand. We’re now at 120 seats, and we’ve added a bigger bar area and larger cooler. That was really important to our functionality.
What’s it like operating in a small town?
Rosthern is a small town, but the population is getting younger. When we opened The Cork & Kettle, everything closed at 8 o’clock, so we made sure to keep our food service operating through the evening. Wings and nachos go right until closing time and that’s a really big part of our business. Offering dining choices into the night has proven very successful for us.
How has your menu changed since you first opened?
Our menu at the Sixth & Railway Grill started out as typical small town comfort food. Café/diner style. All-day breakfast, perogies and farmer sausage, burgers & fries, and hot beef sandwich kind of place.
How often do you change up your menu, and what new dishes are you considering?
When we opened The Cork & Kettle next door we added more pub grub, new wing flavours, spring rolls, deep fried pickles, pizzas and quesadillas. Over the last year we have tested out a few new items with the use of menu inserts and table tents. We looked at sales and cost, and edited, adjusted and simplified the menu from there.
We worked with Kevin Chipman at Pratts Food Service along with the Pratts Advantage software to create our current menu. I will honestly say the last menu went far too long without an update but with the simplified service from Pratts I plan on an update semi-annually now.
How do you use the Brand Points PLUS program?
Our Pratts rep signed us up two years ago. We order quite a lot of Brand Points PLUS-supported products, so our points add up pretty well. One day our rep reminded me that we had accumulated a lot of points, so we began looking at redeeming. We installed a deck, which opened in time for the summer season, we got some chairs for that, and we got some kitchen gadgets that we likely wouldn’t have spent the money on. It’s a great way to add to our business without any effort on our part.
I used my BPP points to buy a rice cooker ... something I would never have spent money on, but it's kind of handy sometimes. And we bought tabletop yummy s’mores makers.
How easy is it to redeem your points?
We thought there might be some shipping cost, but it doesn’t cost us anything, and the turnaround is really nice. We had our deck chairs within two weeks.
Do you use bpp.ca?
Yes, we appreciate the website. It’s very convenient logging in and seeing where we are at with our points and deciding what we might want to get next. I don't really follow or check the site often. If it has been a while I will check to see where the points are at and look at the products available.
What’s on your radar for your points?
Maybe a customer appreciation door prize. There are a ton of products available outside of the kitchen, like electronics, sporting goods and apparel, trips, lots!