Embers Grill and Smokehouse
Since its opening over six years ago as Embers Grill and Smokehouse, Embers has made a big impact on the food scene in Sault Ste. Marie. In a very competitive market, they have been able to carve out a niche with customers looking for fine dining and a local terroir experience. Embers are known for their high-quality, fresh, and creative cuisine.
Behind the Embers' name are Shayne and Brandi Bell, a husband and wife team with over 20 years of experience in the food and hospitality industry. With Shayne’s creative chef and food skills, they took their passion for fresh, local, and delicious food, and opened their restaurant in downtown Sault Ste. Marie.
They first opened on Queen Street and were there for four years. Then, an opportunity became available at 531 Albert Street East, where they were able to not only expand but also buy the building. Now, Embers has moved to Crimson Ridge Golf Course in the north part of Sault Ste. Marie is known as Embers On The Ridge.
They are proud to be the first smokehouse in the city, and one of the first locations to serve locally sourced ingredients for their menu. Throughout the past six years, and for the foreseeable future, Embers has been sourcing many of its menu items from local Algoma farms. All of their beef comes from Penokean Hills Farms and when in season, their vegetables come from Sunnynook Farms, Marshall Farms, and Pearce Farm. They also use Pearce Farm's honey.
In addition to sourcing from local farms, Chef Shayne has the skills and equipment to break down the animal and uses all parts for whatever he’s making—for example, using the bones to make stock and the tallow to cover the beef cuts during the aging process. These skills are very unique in the restaurant industry. Shayne sees it as an opportunity to get the exact cut of meat he wants, as well as a very cost-effective way to buy meat for the restaurant. Recently, they have been sourcing whole pigs from Sunnynook Farms, so these skills have certainly come in handy!
Menu inspiration comes from what is around them—quality local food. Over the years, Embers has built relationships with local farmers, who they will grow certain foods specifically for the restaurant. It’s a successful formula that has seen an increase in capacity for local farmers who now supply the restaurant.
Response from their customers has been very positive; they love knowing that the food is local and that they are helping to support a family business and family farms, that “there’s a local face behind the food.”
It’s very obvious that attention to detail, by making everything from scratch in-house—including their own sauces, dressings, loaves of bread, and desserts—showcases the care and pride that goes into what diners see and taste. It also demonstrates that these business owners love what they do.
As for beverages, Embers has a unique list of wines from around the world, as well as a beer list that includes OutSpoken Brewing and Northern Superior Brewing Co. craft breweries from Sault Ste. Marie, as well as St. Ambroise from Québec.
Brandi and Shayne mentioned that one of the reasons they opened their own business was because of their desire to be together as a family. With three young kids, combined with the foodservice industry hours of work, Shayne realized that if he worked for someone else, they would never see him. With the advantage of owning their own business and the building, they have been able to create a small room upstairs where their children can come in and hang out and be near their parents. They wanted a way to give themselves employment and have time together as a family. In addition to Shayne and Brandi, Embers employs six people.
I asked what their plans were for the future and Brandi and Shayne said just to keep running as a family business, putting out quality, delicious food for their customers. “True to who we are and the food that we like. We’re also putting together a new menu that features more locally sourced menu items.” As well, last year they built a patio in front of their restaurant and are looking forward to the warmer weather so that their customers can enjoy dining outdoors. Tourists make up a big part of their business, with travellers seeking an authentic food experience.
This is a family business, with signs that the next generation will be involved too—their oldest daughter showing a great interest in food and creating in the kitchen. Embers On The Ridge is an excellent asset to the dynamic, independently owned food scene in Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma and it's great to see them grow and thrive!