Cactus Club Hits Milestone With Second Edmonton Restaurant

Richard Jaffray, Cactus Club | BCBusiness

Cactus Restaurants Ltd. opened its 25th location in 25 years in Edmonton on Tuesday

When Richard Jaffray opened his first Cactus Club Cafe in North Vancouver 25 years ago, the concept of casual fine dining didn’t exist.
“If I think back to the 1988 I can’t really think of anybody who was doing what we are doing today,” says the president and founder of Cactus Restaurants Ltd. “Originally the market was very segmented between white linen table cloth restaurants and then burger places, coffee shops and more casual places.”
Jaffray opened up his first restaurant, Café Cucamongas, in 1986 at age 21 and sold it at 23 when he opened his first Cactus Club Cafe. The first Cactus Club was an 89-seat restaurant with peanut shells on the floor and flying cows on the ceiling, so to say the newest Cactus Club location is different would be a drastic understatement. The new 268-seat restaurant has sleek art on the walls with wood paneling and a red colour scheme.
“It has a luxurious, modern feel to it but it is also very warm,” says Jaffray. 

The new location on Jasper Avenue in downtown Edmonton features a private dining room and a 100-seat seasonal patio. It is the second Cactus Club Cafe to open in Edmonton; the first location opened in the West Edmonton Mall in 2009. Similar to the Toronto location (set to open in 2014), the Edmonton restaurant will cater to business lunches and the after-5 p.m. crowd.
“I just had lunch today for the first lunch we are open for. I was sitting in the dinning room and we were absolutely jam packed,” says Jaffray of the 8,700-square-foot dining room and lounge. “There’s lots of offices and business people in this area, so it really feels like a downtown urban restaurant.”
Keeping with the pop-art-decorated walls Cactus is known for, the new location will have two ‘Wayne Gretzky #99’ original trial proofs, along with original artwork by artists Graham Gillmore, Brent Comber and Edmonton artist Tony Baker.
The Jasper Avenue location’s menu is designed by executive chef Rob Feenie and features five new dishes including two curry entrees, roasted lamb pops and albacore tuna sushi rolls, that are only available at a few of the new locations (including Coal Harbour). Jaffray himself is “pretty addicted” to the menu’s Kobe meatballs, which come as an appetizer trio or as an entrée with spaghettini. 

Up next in the ongoing Cactus Club expansion is the opening of the Ontario’s first location in Toronto’s financial district and Saskatchewan’s first location in Saskatoon.
“Thinking back to where Cactus Club started to where it is now, we have certainly come a long way,” he says.