College cafeteria back open and going like gangbusters

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

It’s been a few years since the once-popular Northern Lakes College cafeteria in Slave Lake has been operational. It may (or may not) have been a victim of the COVID pandemic.

But since Jan. 3 of this year it’s back in business, with a new owner and new name. The owner is Sheila Brown and she calls it ‘Soul Full.’ It operates weekdays from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and on weekends according to catering bookings.

“It’s going really good!” says Brown. “It’s getting busier every week.”

Brown, who grew up in Smith, says it’s been “in the back of my head” for a long time to have her own soup and sandwich business. She knew about the cafeteria and how it could work, having worked for a short time for Doug Bolan when he ran it. Her other food service experience was at the Subway in Athabasca, where she was an assistant manager for two or three years.

How Soul Full came about was this: “My sister works here at the college,” Brown says, “and she mentioned they wanted someone.”

Around September of last year, she inquired about it. The college was running a course in the dining area at the time, which meant she couldn’t start up until after Christmas.

“It gave me some time,” she says.

The Soul Full menu is posted on social media daily. That, plus word of mouth seems to be working so far. Brown says about 70 per cent of her business at the moment is from college people – the rest from the community. She’s also started doing some catering work on the side.

“The college rents the space on weekends,” Brown says, “and I’ll cater if they want my services.” She provided lunch to one of the local hockey teams recently, for example.

Brown says her specialty is soups. She has two, “made from scratch” every day, plus various sandwiches, salads and more.

At the moment, it’s her and two employees running the show.

“I love it,” she says. “I’ve always wanted to do something like this.”

Sheila Brown in her Soul Full kitchen at Northern Lakes College in Slave Lake.

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