Canada’s diversity means a culinary trip to Mexico, France, Greece, and anywhere else you can imagine is just down the road. These food service franchises serving up tastes from around the world are bringing global flavours to their franchisees and guests.
It was on the streets of Paris many years ago where chef Oded Yefet got his inspiration for Crepe Delicious. After watching street vendors serve crepes to happy customers, he was just a hop, flip, and a jump away from bringing the popular franchise to Canada in 2004.
“I immediately began to visualize the combination of North Americans’ love for street food with the delights of a fresh crepe,” says Yefet, the franchise’s Founder and CEO
The following year the brand was franchised, and today, there are locations in North America, Asia, and the Middle East with the first U.S. location set to open this year in Orlando, Florida. This fall, Crepe Delicious will open two locations in Thailand, and a second location in Hong Kong is set to open this winter.
“Crepe Delicious is the largest quick-service franchise offering crepes & gelato,” Yefet explains. “Our chefs prepare fresh, made-to-order crepes topped with all your favourite ingredients ranging from breakfast to savoury to sweet.”
“The benefits of running a Crepe Delicious is the relationship provided to our franchisees – our ‘Crepe Family’. Our team members are highly skilled with 10-plus years of experience,” he adds.
Yefet says the franchise entry cost is low and crepes are simple to make so training is easy. The challenge, he explains, lies within staffing.
“We train our staff and provide them with plenty of support to ensure long-term happy employees and low staff turnover,” he says.
When asked what makes the perfect Crepe Delicious franchisee, Yefet says it’s all about finding people with a good attitude and a passion for what they do.
Initial training involves 10-14 days at head office, five days at the new location and ongoing support with regular visits from head office staff.
While the franchise’s roots may be Parisian, these days the streets of places like Red Deer, Alberta are where it’s just as popular. Franchisee Eric Xue just picked up the Golden Fork Award for the ‘Best Dessert Store’ in 2017 for his Red Deer location. C’est bon!
Edo Japan may be best known for its Japanese food, but it’s also proud of the fact that many of its franchisees are recent immigrants.
“The original founder’s desire to create opportunity for recent immigrants to own their own business still is very much alive and well today,” says Edo Japan President and CEO Dave Minnett. “Some started as a regular employee and found their way to owning their own franchised restaurant. Others came to Canada and invested in buying a franchise, then became so successful they’ve become multi-unit operators. We’re very proud of that.”
Edo Japan offers a quick-serve Japanese-inspired menu, with dishes cooked fresh and made-to-order. The franchise’s meals are prepared using traditional Teppan-style cooking in full view of guests.
Edo Japan was started in 1979, in Calgary, Alberta by Reverend Susumu Ikuta, a Japanese Buddhist minister. The chain now has 124 locations, with plans to expand over the next several years.
One of the benefits of owning an Edo franchise is the chance to collaborate with the people who work there. As far as Minnett is concerned, the support system his franchise provides is unmatched when it comes to the quality of its people.
“I think we have the most passionate, committed and hands-on franchisee network in our industry and a home office team that truly cares about pleasing our guests,” he boasts.
Minnett adds that franchisees enjoy a strong record of financial success. Stores are open 10:30 a.m. to no later than 10 p.m., offering franchise partners a balanced lifestyle. The best franchisees understand great hospitality.
“They always put their guests first,” Minnett says. “They genuinely believe in our food and have a passion for the brand’s promise.”
Onboarding includes five-weeks of hands-on training and continued operational support following the opening of a restaurant. Minnett says success comes from living and breathing the brand standards.
“If you do that everyday success will come if the brand model is strong. And remember you can’t do it all by yourself. You need to build a team.”
When OPA! of Greece CEO Dorrie Karras spotted long lineups at Calgary’s Market Mall food court in 2001, he knew founders Niko Tiginagas and Don Gebauer’s were onto something. Ammar Georges, Director of Franchise Development says, “Niko was passionate and a showman. He could sell anything behind the counter. He put on that Zorba show, dancing as he made food. I thought there was something to this.”
Karras took over as a franchisee in 2001, the same year OPA! started franchising, then as the CEO of OPA! in 2016. OPA! offers home style Greek food with a Canadian influence. The menu features colourful salads prepared in-house daily, high-quality proteins and a choice between healthier and indulgent options.
Franchisees are supported by a great home office team. Georges says the entire franchise model is built around the needs of its franchisees.
“We create our menu, systems and strategy around supporting their needs and building their success,” he explains. “At a franchise level, we’ll continue to put our operators first because we know supporting their business is the best way to support and serve our customers.”
As for challenges, Georges adds that separating the franchise from the competition with solid customer retention practices is critical.
“In a restaurant, you’re on your feet all day, managing inventory, cash flow and employees. The market’s very competitive and maintaining your customer base is about connecting with customers and building relationships,” Georges says. “There’s always more to be done but the rewards of building a thriving business and a consistent customer base is a very rewarding and fulfilling process.”
An ideal franchisee should possess a passion for business and making personal connections. Training involves one week of operations at their location, online training and ongoing evaluation programs.
“Building a successful business takes commitment and leadership,” Georges says. “Inside a franchise brand, you have support and systems to guide you. A successful franchisee is focused on using all the resources to help them grow.”
And maybe a little bit of Zorba doesn’t hurt either!
By Georgie Binks