K & K Foodliners Ltd
Friends, family and customers who knew Albert Krause well say the German immigrant and K&K Foodliners Ltd. (K&K) co-founder had the gift of gab. Every Saturday, even after he supposedly retired in 2006, Albert would arrive at his family-owned, Edmonton-based deli and grocery store to greet customers and spend time chatting away. According to Rudy Krause, co-owner of K&K, Albert would wander the aisles, handing out samples to children and conversing with old-time German or Polish friends. “He really had the gift of gab and knew how to make people feel welcome,” Rudy recalls.
“Although my father passed away last spring, and my brother and I run the store, not much has changed,” adds Bernie Krause, co-owner of K&K. “We still treat customers like extended family.”
Both Rudy and Bernie cannot say enough about their father. Rudy goes on to note that Albert, who was originally born and raised in Germany, apprenticed as a butcher for one year before being drafted by the German army at age 15. After surviving the war, Albert worked on a farm and finished learning the butcher’s trade in a small village with his wife, Annie. Once the couple married, Albert and Annie opened a grocery store, selling wine, vegetables and meat.
Shortly thereafter, Albert’s brother, Rudolf, approached the young couple about moving to Canada to further expand the business. Albert and Annie relocated to Edmonton, Alberta, in July 1957. Albert and Rudolf opened Lauderdale Foods Market in Alberta’s Calder neighbourhood on the city’s north side.
Service with a Smile
Together, the brothers took over Arndt’s Food Market and a strip mall where K&K was originally located. At the peak of the duo’s success, Albert and Rudolf owned three grocery outlets.
“Today, we have a single location in Edmonton,” notes Bernie. “We’ve scaled back, because it’s just my brother and I running the operation so we figured we’d have one location, do it right and be more efficient.”
Bernie and Rudy have been preparing for their leadership role since they can remember, spending a majority of their childhood at K&K. “I’ve been working in the business since I was 12 or 13 years old,” shares Bernie. “I’d come in on weekends and help out. It was great growing up in the store, because you got to meet people all the time and some of the same clients are still shopping here.”
K&K’s doors have remained open for over 57 years thanks to customer relationships and friendly service. “About 20 years ago on this block there used to be maybe six delis,” Rudy says. “Now, it’s just us left.”
“We’ve been doing this for many years now and we know we have a reputation to uphold,” adds Bernie. “We have about 1,000 families that shop here every week and we do our best to let them know we appreciate it.”
Together the brothers operate a 4,000-square-foot retail area and a 3,000-square-foot specialty sausage kitchen. Although the grocer supplies some area restaurants, most of K&K’s business is retail sales.
“We start making sausage on Tuesday and we don’t stop until Friday,” shares Bernie. “We make 40 or 50 different kinds of sausage in-house and we have a variety of German and northern European foods; Danish, Dutch, Polish, Italian- you name it, we’ve got it.”
K&K accepts nothing less than the finest, local ingredients. “Although we import certain specialty items, we source the highest quality local ingredients,” reveals Bernie. “Our pork, chicken and beef come from Alberta farms and you won’t find MSG, gluten or fillers in our products.”
K&K also is well-known for expert wild game cutting and processing and smoked meats. “Our smoked turkeys and hams always have rave reviews,” insists Bernie. “The week before Christmas we sell at least 300 turkeys and everyone says it’s the best smoked turkey they’ve ever had. When our customers go down to the states for holidays they often take our smoked products with them and we take pride in that.”
Bernie adds that the next big transition for K&K is increasing the grocer’s online capabilities. “The next best thing we’re trying to do is set up easy, online ordering for our customers,” he says. “We’re on a much smaller-scale than other grocers in this area, so we’ve got plenty to keep us busy. It’s always a daily challenge to keep up with ordering.”
In fact, K&K remains so busy that Bernie says the store hasn’t noticed much of a decline in business amid the recession. “We’ve remained steady as she goes,” he adds. “We’ve actually seen a little bit of an increase, because instead of going out to eat, people are trying to save money by making nicer dinners at home.”
K&K continues to support local families, making customers feel at home for 57 years. Bernie and Rudy have continued the family legacy and their father’s service with a smile philosophy and continue to treat K&K Foodliners Ltd.’s customers as extended family.