Savvy entrepreneur expands culinary empire 

By Vawn Himmelsbach

Tiramisu is more than an espresso-soaked dessert; in Italian, it means “pick me up.” Tiramisu Bistro’s owner, Seble Isaac, has been lifting up Edmontonians in more ways than one—from bringing people together over food and introducing locals to the spaghetti cone to running a not-for-profit that pays it forward.

Isaac grew up in Ethiopia, then moved to Italy after she finished school and worked in several restaurants where she learned to make classic pasta dishes. It wasn’t until years later, having moved to Edmonton with her three school-age children, that she started to think about opening her own restaurant.

Her bistro, located in Edmonton’s 124 Street district, offers a menu focused on fresh local ingredients. It has become a neighbourhood favourite, its ambiance reflecting the Italian tradition of food as a catalyst to gather people together.

When the pandemic hit and lockdowns ensued, Isaac decided to pivot, transforming a section of her restaurant’s dining area into a local marketplace where people could buy fresh bread, pastries, cheeses, local produce and deli meats.

The result? Lift Me Up Marketplace, which has its own bakery serving fresh artisanal bread. Isaac has since expanded even further, starting a food truck that sells spaghetti cones— cone-shaped cartons filled with spaghetti-meatballs-and-sauce combos, with a sauce option of asiago cream and mushrooms.

“Let me tell you, the market’s popular!” says Emily Walker, a business specialist at AMA Kingsway who has been helping Isaac with her annual tax returns since 2021. “I’m so passionate about this company.”

Walker’s not alone in celebrating Isaac’s achievements. Isaac was recently awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal for Alberta, a recognition of both her successful business and her commitment to community. In addition to running her business, Isaac regularly volunteers time and resources to local charities, including a not-for-profit called Inspire: Center for Adaptive Leadership, which helps people of colour get their businesses off the ground.

Walker is proud of the contribution AMA makes to the success of small businesses like Isaac’s. “We can help with the whole registration process.” She notes too that, with the guidance of a dedicated business specialist, the business owner “can skip the queue” by making informed decisions.

It’s all about helping small-business owners build their dreams, Walker says, as well as contributing to their communities—everyone wins. Now that’s uplifting. 

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