Long Table Grocery is one of the top five finalists in the Best Community Impact category at the 2019 Small Business BC Awards. The awards will be announced Feb. 21. Laurie Jones photo

Long Table Grocery is one of the top five finalists in the Best Community Impact category at the 2019 Small Business BC Awards. The awards will be announced Feb. 21. Laurie Jones photo

Quesnel’s Long Table Grocery shortlisted for Small Business BC Award

Long Table is one of the top five finalists in the Best Community Impact category

Laurie Jones

Observer Contributor

A Quesnel business has been shortlisted for a provincial small business award recognizing socially responsible organizations that are making a positive difference in their communities.

Long Table Grocery is one of the top five finalists in the Best Community Impact category of the 2019 Small Business BC Awards, now in its 16th year.

Established in April 2017 as a community food hub, Long Table Grocery specializes in offering fresh, locally-grown and organic products, including a range of seasonal fruits and vegetables, meats, eggs, cheeses, locally-roasted coffee, preserves and baked goods from more than 40 farmers and food producers around the region.

“One of our main goals is to support local growers and small-scale food processors by providing them with access to the consumer market on a year-round basis,” says Amy Quarry, Long Table owner and co-founder. “Our mission is to grow communities through food. We want to provide better food, local food, more community-based food.”

Long Table Grocery offers a subscription-based food box program with bi-weekly deliveries to homes and businesses in the Quesnel area.

Customers can also arrange to pick up their orders from Long Table’s Marsh Drive location, where it also operates a retail market and café three days a week, and hosts cooking classes and food events throughout the year.

And the business is growing.

Last July, thanks to support from Community Futures North Cariboo, Long Table Grocery acquired the Marsh Drive facility, a larger, stand-alone building that doubled their size and included much-needed warehouse space. The move to a larger facility also allowed them to turn part of the building into a commercial kitchen and café.

Long Table employs two Red Seal-certified chefs who prepare meals for the café and also turn any leftover produce into preserves or frozen “ready-meals” that are sold under the Long Table Grocery brand.

The café grew out of the Farmer’s Market days and has become a social hub, popular for its light meals such as soups, salads and sandwiches, and casual atmosphere.

“We approached Community Futures because I’d worked with them before and found them easy to work with,” says Quarry. “They were willing to take a chance on me, plus they were able to see the potential of what we are trying to do. Working in the local food sector, we don’t have the same efficiencies as the larger grocery chains. Even though our revenues are stable, we’re still considered a high-risk venture, and traditional banks don’t want to take that risk. Community Futures did.”

Greg Lawrence, general manager of Community Futures North Cariboo, says Community Futures was particularly excited to support Long Table because of the potential impact on the agriculture sector.

“Agriculture is an important sector in our local economy,” he says. “So when a successful entrepreneur like Amy comes along with an idea for a business that helps local farmers and producers while providing consumers with greater access to local food, it was an easy decision.”

Long Table Grocery has 10 employees and offers a range of products from around the region.

“We contribute about $450,000 to the local economy each year,” says Quarry. “Our market attracts anywhere from 50 to more than a hundred people a day. And we’re just scratching the surface. People want more local food, and they want to support our local producers.”

The Small Business BC Award nomination is not the first time Quarry has been recognized for her achievements.

This past October, Long Table Grocery received the Quesnel and District Chamber of Commerce 2018 Business of the Year Award for businesses under 10 employees.

Winners of the 2019 Small Business BC Awards will be announced Feb. 21 at a gala event in Vancouver.