Now celebrating its 40th year in business, BeaverTails has been a continuing Canadian success story. Pino Di Ioia, CEO, says expansion took root when it shifted its focus from malls to tourist and leisure sites a few years ago. “We have grown from 60 to 141 outlets and are opening a new location every two weeks.”
The company reported $25 million in gross sales for 2017. It also expanded its menu last year to include ice-cream products and poutine, and is working on food-truck lineups. Two years ago, BeaverTails made its first foray into the U.S., and has since inked deals in Mexico and France.
“We are focusing on the U.S. market right now because it’s just too close and too important to ignore,” Di Ioia says.
A popular fixture on the U.S. scene, Firehouse Subs opened its first Canadian operations in Oshawa in 2015. At the end of 2017, there were 13 outlets in Canada with gross sales of $8.3 million.
Greg Delks, vice-president of Global and Non-Traditional Development, says attention to detail has made the restaurant chain a big hit with customers, from the quality of its meat to its world-famous dill pickles.
A key mandate for the company is giving back to first responders in local communities by matching a portion of every sale and providing grants at no cost to franchisees.
As the system has grown, Delks says the company has focused on “becoming Canadian” in its approach — from management to marketing. “That’s important to our customers there.”
Debuting at number 85 on this year’s Top 100 with $31.8 million in gross sales in 2017, Quesada opened its first Canadian restaurant in 2004 and began franchising in 2010. Today it boasts 92 franchise restaurants from coast to coast, says Tom O’Neill, president. “We’re not trying to be the fastest-growing chain in the world. We simply focus on steady growth.”
One key to its success has been early infrastructure planning from a legal, development and franchisee-training standpoint. More importantly, he says, “People love the product because we cook our own rice and beans, roast our own peppers and tomatoes and make our own sauces.”
The focus is now on increasing revenues by 25 per cent over the next two years. “We’re already hitting double-digit sales growth. We’re all getting behind this.”
Written by Denise Deveau