From vegan cakes to decadent Belgian chocolate, three dessert franchises to satisfy a sweet tooth.
By Georgie Binks
For many people, nothing is tastier than chocolate, and if that’s you, Chocolato’s pure chocolate-based treats will certainly pique your interest. Sam Wadera, vice president of the Chocolato brand at Foodtastic, which bought the company in 2019, says, “The product is unique because of the pure chocolate we use. It’s in the dipping chocolates we use and forms the base for our gelatos.”
Chocolato also leaves a pretty good taste in the mouth of franchisees, says Wadera, noting that there’s not much competition in Canada right now. “The challenge is finding the right locations, demographic-wise and customer-wise, and one of the biggest challenges are the supplies and product. Because our product is unique, we have to plan ahead of time and make sure suppliers are onside to supply at the right time.”
Right now, the franchise is working on developing 22 new locations. “We have increased the footprint in the last six months, added four more stores and have 22 new ones on the go,” says Wadera. “It’s a unique concept, obviously hasn’t been seen before, so we’re hoping that coast to coast we’ll fly with this. I’ve done market research and some of the places haven’t seen gelato out there. That’s probably one of the reasons the landlords have shown interest to sign these locations.”
“Locations who have signed with us are very happy that progress is running smoothly so far,” Wadera says.
“Our two main products are soft serves and dips. I don’t think I have much competition on dips. Our chocolate is very premium and thick. I don’t see many other shops doing that.”
Wadera says customer service is key for those interested in joining the franchise. “We need a hands-on franchisee who believes in the product, who runs their locations day in and out. I’m always a big fan of customer service. I’m also a fan of making sure the customer feels at home when they come in. I always look for that kind of franchisee with my system, that they understand and enjoy the product of whatever they are serving. They need to be attracted to and like the product.”
As for operations, Wadera says franchisees don’t need much previous experience because they receive training from the franchisor, including two weeks of online training and four weeks in-store.
“I am looking for basic skills where you can interact with clients and customers. If you can do that, the rest is easy for us,” he says.
With its Asian-, Indian- and Italian-influenced gelato flavours, you know you’re in for a treat when you try Nani’s Gelato. Parry Sohi, owner and operator of Nani’s Gelato, says even though some items—like pints of saffron cardamom kulfi—are always available, the franchise changes its menu every couple of weeks.
Nani’s started as a food truck. “The idea was to test the concept to see what kind of demand there was for gelato because there are quite a few gelato shops in Toronto but in terms of shops using fresh ingredients, fresh fruits, they’re pretty limited,” Sohi explains. “We find that you can get a better flavour using natural fruit.”
The franchise opened its first brick-and-mortar location near Toronto’s Yonge and Bloor intersection in 2020, and along with a second location in Mississauga, it stayed open all through the pandemic. Its first franchised unit located in Liberty Village opened in January 2023 and then a unit in Markham unit in July 2023.
Between December 2023 and June 2024, Nani’s storefronts will open in Ontario locations in West Toronto, Hamilton, Burlington, Milton, Kitchener-Waterloo, and Guelph. Sohi says there should be 10-15 sites by this time next year. “When we looked at the dessert market outside Toronto, there are no gelato franchises expanding coast to coast. We saw a massive opportunity, so we started aggressively franchising. We’re only looking to open 40-50 locations across Canada, as opposed to oversaturating the market.”
Sohi says a big benefit to franchising with Nani’s is that ice cream isn’t a seasonal dessert anymore and Nani’s is becoming a popular meeting place. “All our locations outside the downtown core have seating, so it’s becoming a bit more of a dessert café as opposed to other ice cream shops that are grab and go.”
Sohi says franchisees should have some experience in the food or restaurant business. “I don’t think people understand how labour-intensive restaurants and food can be. You can hire staff, but you’re always going to need to plug holes. Once you open your front door, you can’t close it.”
The ideal franchisee must be passionate about the dessert space, and love gelato, ice cream, and other frozen desserts. “Our franchisees are good communicators and inform us when they need support, and [communicate] with their staff on how to improve,” says Sohi.
Although serving hundreds of customers on a hot summer day can be overwhelming, Sohi says franchisees should be prepared to “work and push themselves further than they thought possible” to achieve success. It simply takes a little extra elbow grease, or in his case, elbow gelato.
Eggless Cake Shop
The franchise’s name pretty much sums up what’s unique about this brand. Eggless Cake Shop was founded in 2011 by Bill Aulak, a British-Asian entrepreneur. Aulak felt that a large part of the population wasn’t being served by traditional cake producers because most of their products contained eggs. “This meant whether for dietary, cultural, or ethical reasons, many consumers were left with little choice but to forego cakes altogether,” says Aulak.
So began Eggless Cake Shop and its network of bright, modern, and welcoming cake stores. The franchise sells cake slices, bespoke celebration cakes, and other treats that are totally egg-free, with gluten-free and vegan options also available. Everything from vegan unicorn cakes to doll cakes to gluten-free chocolate cakes are on offer, just to name a few.
Aulak opened his first store in Wolverhampton, U.K. and now has 27 units operating across the country. The franchise currently has two locations open in Ontario, Canada, in Brampton and Mississauga, with plans to expand throughout the Greater Toronto Area.
Aulak says the ideal franchisee has a genuine commitment to providing the highest-quality egg-free cakes to a diverse range of customers and communities. “They are strong on customer service, leaders in managing employees, well organized, disciplined people who can follow systems, set procedures, and are team players. Franchising is all about the wider network. You will become part of a supportive family of franchise owners.”
All new Eggless Cake Shop franchisees are provided with a comprehensive training program covering every aspect of the business, so they don’t need to have a background in baking. The program incorporates hands-on classroom and one-to-one training sessions for a total of up to three weeks at the beginning.
Aulak is very optimistic about the brand’s future. “The increasing demand for free-from foods due to the growing consumer awareness about the harmful effects of synthetic additives, preservatives, allergens, gluten, and lactose represents one of the primary factors influencing the market positively,” he says.
As well, health concerns are a huge concern for a population who want to maintain a healthy lifestyle. “With the availability of gluten-free and vegan options, this is the market that can drive forward the growth of Eggless Cake Shop franchise,” Auluk says.
So, yes, you actually can have your cake and eat it too.
The Hole Package
From playful sprinkles to rich chocolate to custom creations, donuts are an ever-popular choice for a sweet indulgence. Here are four great donut franchise opportunities for you to consider.
Maverick’s Donuts began operations in Ottawa in 2016 and quickly became famous for its unique recipes and exciting brand. With more than 40 locations open or awarded throughout Canada, Maverick’s is poised for continued growth. Franchisees work with the experienced head office team to find, design, and construct their location and receive full training and support. There are lots of prime locations still available.
Debrodniks Donuts is known for its delectable and diverse range of donuts. With a focus on quality ingredients, unique flavors, and eye-catching designs, it has garnered a loyal customer base. Franchisees can benefit from the established brand, proven business model, ongoing support, and the opportunity to tap into the thriving sweet treat market.
With a legacy of more than 40 years, this Vancouver-based
franchise specializes in traditional, handmade donuts. As a franchisee, one can leverage Lee’s Donuts’ reputation, time-tested recipes, and operational expertise, while tapping into the ever-growing demand for delicious, nostalgia-inducing treats. Lee’s offers an organized and systemized franchise model for optimal sales growth.
Duck Donuts offers unique made-to-order donuts, allowing customers to customize their treats with a wide array of toppings. Its warm, made-from-scratch donuts and customizable toppings have captivated donut lovers worldwide. Being a franchisee means joining a successful brand, benefiting from comprehensive training and support, and capitalizing on the growing demand for customized donut experiences.