Calgary staple opens 2 new locations amid economic downturn and pandemic

While many Alberta small businesses have been struggling to survive during the economic downturn and pandemic, Lina’s Italian Market has managed to thrive.

For almost three decades, Lina’s has been a go-to spot in Calgary and now, the business has opened the doors to a second and third location.

Federica Fiorotto, Lina’s marketing manager, said the process hasn’t been easy and their plans have had to change directions a couple of times, but the outcome was worth it.

“It was a gamble, like, it was a risk for everybody,” Fiorotto said.

“But on the other side, we’re so happy because we created job opportunities,” Fiorotto said. “And we just got the chance to be closer with our customers and our vendors because we wouldn’t have been able to do this without our suppliers and the constant support from our customers.”

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Their original location in downtown Calgary started out as a small Italian deli, and now their second location — which opened its doors in September 2020 — is a supermarket on the south side of the city.

“We just decided to go for it and to open a huge store, which is double the size of the Centre Street one,” Fiorotto said.

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Their third location in Britannia opened in January, and although they were hoping for more of a restaurant-style scene, the owners decided to pivot and make it more of a bistro-market mix.

Fiorotto described it as “your Italian grocery store… with a little bit of a flair.”

There’s a kitchen right in the heart of the Britannia location, where you can watch executive chef Christopher Hyde and his team make delicious Italian meals.

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“I want to really reintroduce fresh, handmade pasta to Lina’s and follow traditional recipes,” Hyde said.

“Bring it back to that rustic ‘what nonna makes at home’ style cooking.”

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Murray Sigler, the interim CEO for Calgary Chamber, said he is delighted to see such success for a small, local business… and not only because he’s a regular customer of Lina’s.

“It just makes me feel over-the-top happy and proud to be a part of a community and proud to be part of a chamber of commerce – which is a voice for the business community — that does demonstrate such resilience and such creativity,” Sigler said.

“That really goes to the fabric of Calgary — that’s what Calgary and business in Calgary and our community is all about.”

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Fiorotto says their vendors and suppliers have been a big help, but the biggest reason behind their success has been their loyal customers.

“Calgarians have been here every single day… they’ve been supporting us, they’ve been understanding the dining maximum capacity, or the line up outside when it was crowded.”

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