Brittany Livingstone and Cael Harlow did their homework before they decided to go into the restaurant business together.
“We met at culinary school in 2011 in PEI,” said Harlow. “We randomly grouped together in school and it started from there. We realised we worked well together and liked working with each other.”
They recently opened their own sandwich shop Fred’s Food Co. downtown on Wyndham Street.
“We do sandwiches, soups, salads and sweets,” said Livingstone. “We have a chalkboard menu that changes everyday. We make everything in-house. We make our own bread. We make our own sweets. We make everything.”
They even cure meat including the peameal bacon for their breakfast sandwiches.
“We do all the curing,” said Harlow. “We make the mayonnaise and all the sauces. We don’t take any shortcuts.”
The menu changes constantly, so the best place to keep track is on their Facebook page.
Livingstone earned a degree in environmental studies at Carleton University in Ottawa before moving to PEI to study at Holland College’s Culinary Institute of Canada.
“That’s when I met Cael,” said Livingstone. “We were in a lot of classes together and we did a lot of projects together and just got to know each other better. After school we moved to Nova Scotia together and worked at a lot of different food establishments — sometimes together, sometimes apart.”
They worked for a number of fine food restaurants, hotels and bakeries and did some catering on the side.
“We had our own catering company in Nova Scotia,” said Livingstone. “We did private cooking. So we have a lot of experience.”
They wanted to open a restaurant when they moved to Guelph and a sandwich shop seemed the obvious choice.
“We have similar interests,” said Harlow. “Brittany worked at a bakery before we moved here from Nova Scotia. She loves making bread and I love sandwiches.”
Picking a name was both difficult and easy.
“Fred is our Australian cattle dog,” said Livingstone. “Cael had Fred since he was a teenager. She followed him around and just adored Cael. She was a big part of our family.”
Fred was diagnosed with liver cancer and died two months before they opened the restaurant.
“We were bouncing around name ideas and we settled on Fred’s Food Co because no one liked to eat more than Fred,” said Harlow. “It just seemed fitting. We lost Fred at the end of June and opened at the end of August.”
Response to the restaurant has been good and they are slowly building connections with local suppliers.
“Cael does most of the product and general food ordering and tries to keep things within season,” said Livingstone. “Fresh is a big buzzword."
Freshness isn’t the only reason they are focused on local suppliers and making everything in-house.
“Brittany worked on a farm for a while and her degree is in environmentalism and food sustainability so, we are both very interested in starting from the ground up with food,” said Harlow. “We are moving into buying more local products as we become more aware of what is available here in Guelph.”
They have also established ties with local businesses.
“We did two pop ups before the Christmas holidays at Royal City Brewing and we are doing a pop up Saturday, Jan 25, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Brothers Brewing,” said Livingstone. “We also do wholesale with Cavan Coffee, providing them with scones, muffins and cookies and are considering doing more wholesale like that.”
Harlow was born in Nova Scotia and has added features to the shop to create some down-home feel.
“We did all of the renovations in the shop and we wanted to add a little east coast vibe,” he said. “Some of the paintings are by my mother and grandmother. There is work by a couple Nova Scotia artists as well."
Fred's Food Co. is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday thru Friday and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.