Healthy eating is a top priority for many time-starved Canadians, who are seeking out nutritious ingredients and meals at local stores and restaurants now more than ever before.
With a range of plant-based power food, fresh fruit, balanced breakfasts, and plant-based butcher shop items on the menu, the following four food franchises are providing Canadians with the great-tasting, healthy options they crave, and are looking for franchisees who are passionate about doing the same.
A fast casual concept serving a chef-inspired 100 per cent plant-based power food menu, in an urban-inspired setting – that’s what makes Copper Branch unique, says Founder and CEO Rio Infantino. “It’s whole foods, which promote longevity of life. It’s good for the planet, with incredible flavours.”
After working in the industry for more than 25 years, Infantino recognized the need for a QSR brand that offered clean, responsible, and chef-inspired foods. He self-financed eight corporate stores in Quebec in just under two years, then began franchising in 2016, opening additional locations in Quebec and Ontario. Half-way through 2017, with multiple franchise signings in Quebec, Ontario, and Alberta, Copper Branch is set for expansion across Canada.
Copper Branch is best suited for both high-density downtown cores and residential neighbourhoods. Standard hours of operation are from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Copper Branch has created a simplified yet comprehensive system that requires no previous restaurant experience – though previous management experience is an asset. The franchise offers an extensive training program for running the day-to-day operations. This program includes corporate operational support and presence for the planned openings. And Copper Branch offers its franchisees the tools to execute proven local marketing initiatives, while executing a strong branding strategy that reaches out across Canada.
“Our system attracts people who are passionate about a healthy lifestyle, and our mission is in helping others to eat well,” says Mark Segall, Director of Franchising & Real Estate Development. The ideal franchisee will have excellent communication and customer service skills, and be comfortable with outreach into the community. “They have a true belief and pride in what they do, and will go the extra mile to attract business.”
“Copper Branch has strong operating systems in place that make delivering a consistent product to the consumer easily achievable. Tied to a mission in serving power food, Copper Branch is truly leading the food revolution,” says Segall.
“All of us are very passionate about fresh fruits, especially mangos!!” says Don Shah, Marketing & Logistics for Mangoland, which started as a food truck business in Calgary, Alberta in 2014.
Mangoland set up its first corporate store in the CrossIron Mills shopping centre in 2015, and has been gradually and steadily growing its franchise locations in Calgary and Edmonton since 2016, now with four locations in total. Now the brand has plans to expand beyond Alberta, into major cities across Canada. “We have had inquiries from Toronto and Vancouver,” says Harry Desai, New Franchisee/Area Development & Product Development. In preparation for that growth, Mangoland has established a reliable supply source that is set up for national distribution.
The biggest challenge in running a healthy food franchise is that the cost of the food – particularly fresh fruit – can be very high, says Shah. “It is challenging to be cost competitive, but bulk purchasing power helps. We think our customers appreciate that we use fresh, not frozen, ingredients in everything, even our smoothies. They can see it being prepared right in front of them. We recently added ‘green garden’ – a magical combination of fresh vegetables and fruits – in our product line, and we keep improving.”
With bulk purchasing, low overhead (a Mangoland can operate in as little as 150 square feet), and an accessible investment requirement ($135,000 to $180,000, including franchise fee plus access to $15,000 to $35,000 in working capital), this is a viable franchise for an owner-operator to run on their own, initially with only one part-time employee. “This is an easy-to-operate business that requires no cooking on location,” says Shah. “Most of our locations will be in food courts or strip malls.”
Before opening, franchisees receive two weeks of training that focuses on managing operations, finances, and human resources. After opening, they receive side-by-side training and support in their store. “We are looking for franchise partners who want to grow along with the company, with potential to own multiple locations. Food industry and management experience would be helpful, but is not required,” says Desai.
For a lot of families in Quebec, breakfast is a popular meal to eat in a restaurant. “It’s ingrained in our culture,” says Ritou Maloni, VP of Market Development & Business Development for Pür & Simple. The breakfast, lunch, and juice bar franchise was founded in 2016 by three hospitality professionals with a vision: to be the number one choice for breakfast and lunch, not only in their home province, but across the country.
The menu features fresh, locally- and ethically-sourced food. “People are more conscious of what they are putting in their bodies, and looking for brands that care about their health and lifestyle choices. We use only cage-free eggs and other high-quality ingredients, free from chemicals and preservatives,” says Maloni. A typical Pür & Simple restaurant will be 3,000 to 3,300 square feet, with about 125 seats, plus a coffee bar, a juice bar, and ‘grab and go’ takeout options.
Franchisees can expect to make an investment of $450,000 to $550,000, with 35 to 40 per cent of that being liquid capital. “We are looking for franchise partners who have a passion for good quality food, and a dedication to our core values and to offering an exceptional customer experience. Typically, they will be open from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., so they will have a life outside of work – that’s hard to find in the restaurant business.”
The franchise provides six weeks of theoretical and practical training at a corporate store, then two weeks of on-site training and assistance when the new location opens. Each franchisee receives individualized coaching and support on an ongoing basis. “We have a back-end technology system that provides financial data in real time. This allows us to track the pulse of each business, and increase success because of our quick response time,” says Maloni.
As the first plant-based butcher in North America, YamChops has drawn a lot of attention – so much so that during its first year in business, husband-and-wife team Michael and Toni Abramson were invited to appear on Dragons’ Den. “When we opened in 2014, we knew that we wanted to franchise,” says Toni. “We were offered a deal by Jim Treliving, and although we didn’t execute the deal we made with Jim, the experience helped us understand the tools we would need.”
YamChops is a plant-based marketplace that caters to vegans, vegetarians, and flexitarians (people who still consume some meat and dairy, but want to cut back). The brand offers prepared deli items to eat-in or take home, a selection of vegan groceries, prepared foods and organic juices, and catering. But what sets this brand apart is its ‘butcher shop’ offerings – sausages, burgers, schnitzel, and other items that look like meat, but are made from plant protein. “We use soy and peas to create clean protein with a meat-like texture, and add sauces and flavours that appeal to people who want the familiarity of ‘meat’ on their plate,” says Toni.
Franchisees do not need to be vegan or vegetarian, but they do need to have a can-do attitude and an eagerness to problem solve. “Running a business means encountering any number of issues and challenges on a daily basis. Inaction is a business killer, which is why we look for these traits first,” say the Abramsons. Having an ability to engage customers and staff is also important.
Training and support starts with four weeks in a corporate store to learn day-to-day operations, and courses about the market and customer base. Online courses cover all aspects of running a franchise, from staffing to managing inventory levels.
The first YamChops franchise opened in 2016, and the company is now looking to new markets both in Canada and the United States.
By Kym Wolfe