Smoke’s Poutinerie’s Ryan Smolkin Solidifies Brand


In its pursuit of “global domination,” Ajax, Ont.-based Smoke’s Poutinerie has made a name for itself here in Canada, opening more than 100 locations across the country since 2008. As impressive as this achievement may be, it pales in comparison to the goals the company has set for 2020. “We’re looking to open 1,300 locations in the next five years,” says founder Ryan Smolkin. With a focus on international markets and the recent launch of two new concepts under the Smoke’s brand, the company’s expansion plan is nothing short of aggressive.

The brand launched its hotdog-centred, dine-in Smoke’s Weinerie last December in Dartmouth, N.S. followed by the first Smoke’s Burritorie in Toronto in September. The new concepts share the Smoke’s banner, mascot and are often in the same neighbourhoods with the Poutineries, but they occupy their own separate spaces. “What I always emphasize is that these aren’t product extensions, these are brand extensions and that’s never been done before,” explains Smolkin. Despite overlapping target demographics, the Smoke’s trio has already proven they can complement each other without cannibalization. In fact, Smolkin reports notable sales increases [12 per cent] at Poutineries sharing the scene with one of its sister concepts. “Believe it or not, sales are up at Adelaide (in Toronto),” he says. “We’ve only been open two weeks now with the Burritorie and at the Poutinerie above it, sales are going through the roof.”

Benefiting from Smoke’s already existing brand recognition, the new eateries have surpassed first-year goals with 15 Burritories and 10 Weineries already open or set to open by year-end. This fast turn-around is due in part to the brand’s expansion through non-traditional channels — a strategy that allowed the brand to open 35 units in less than two months. “We’re doing facelifts and taking over existing spaces in stadiums, universities, colleges and amusement parks. Major airports are going to be seeing some stir-up soon,” Smolkin boasts.

The company’s international expansion plans are currently focused on the Poutinerie arm of the Smoke’s brand, targeting the U.S. as well as the U.K., Australia, the Middle East and Asia. Smoke’s Poutinerie has started building a presence in the U.S. with five units already open across the country and another 40 to 50 presold. “Everyone thinks we’ve exploded, but we haven’t even lit the wick of the dynamite yet,” warns Smolkin. “The explosion is now about to happen.”

Canadian Invasion
Smoke’s Poutinerie opened its first state-side location in the university town of Berkeley, Calif. in December 2014. As many as 10 different states are set to be introduced to this Canadian brand, with entertainment hubs and non-traditional locations acting as the brand’s main entry points. Smoke’s has already found itself a home in stadiums such as the Gila River Arena in Glendale, Ariz. and Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla. Las Vegas has also received an injection of Canadiana, with a unit in Rick Harrison’s (Pawn Stars) Pawn Plaza.

Volume 48, Number 8

Written By: Danielle Schalk

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