As Canadians continue to focus on their health, diet takes centre stage, and franchises are offering nutritious meal options for those with busy lifestyles, from plant-based menus and meat replacement proteins, to healthy beverages and nutrient-packed grains and greens, and more.
Read on to learn about four food franchises that are helping to prove that Canadian customers can satiate their appetites with healthy options that taste great!
Wishewan, a former mechanical engineer, had a real interest in healthy beverages when he developed Booster Juice, and his customers agreed. “Customers come in because we’re a nutritious choice,” he says.
The major benefit of operating this franchise is that “We’re in the right sector. Health and wellness is continuing to trend – we’re at the top of people’s minds.”
One of the best things about the franchise from a franchisee’s point of view is the ease of operation, says Wishewan. “You don’t have to arrive at 4:30 in the morning to prep food, and when you shut your store, you’re not there for hours after.”
The biggest challenge has been the increase in minimum wage in Alberta and Ontario, as these provinces are where the largest concentration of Booster Juice locations can be found.
Wishewan says the ideal franchisee is someone who was a customer to begin with, who is passionate about the product offering, and who has a successful track record in sports, academics, or their career, but not necessarily with a restaurant or business background.
All new franchisees go through a 14-day training period at head office in Edmonton, with manager training conducted multiple times during the year. Wishewan says franchisees should remember that they’re buying into a business with a proven track record, but still need to ensure the business is well run.
Booster Juice has new franchise locations opening up across Canada, including entering new markets in Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and the Northwest Territories.
With tasty menu offerings like the Mushroom Galaxy Burger and Bombay Soup, it’s no wonder the plant-based restaurant, Copper Branch, is changing minds about healthy all-natural cuisine.
“We want to make plant-based food more accessible and more delicious. As we continue to expand and open more locations, we want to make a difference in the food industry and show that plant-based foods don’t have to be bland. People who want to be healthy can come and eat a clean meal,” says Andrew Infantino, Marketing Director of Copper Branch.
Copper Branch was founded by Rio Infantino, Andrew’s father, who, after selling off his fast food restaurants, researched the market and came up with a 100 per cent plant-based menu, and a concept to develop the franchise. Copper Branch opened its first location three-and-a-half years ago in downtown Montreal, and now has three locations in Ontario and 13 in Quebec, with plans to expand to 25-30 locations by the end of the year in both those provinces.
Infantino says the franchise is still working on improving some of the systems when it comes to operations and training, and franchisees work a lot of hours, but there are strong benefits to operating a Copper Branch franchise.
“Our team really feels good about serving the food we serve. It’s an alternative to traditional fast food, and it’s food we can all feel good about,” he says.
Infantino says business experience is a plus, but not a necessity for franchisees, but they need to be business savvy in the restaurant industry. “They should be passionate about either Copper Branch, the food we’re serving, or the industry we’re in.”
The franchise offers two to three weeks of training at a certified training location, and ongoing operational support in every province, along with menu development.
What do a couple of university students do with their spare time if they have a lot of energy? Party? Take up rowing? Not if you’re Wyatt Booth, 25, and his brother, Aiden, 23. The founders of Hopscotch, a new healthy eating franchise, started their first business in 2015 under the name Freshbooth, as part of a university business assignment.
After working with different chefs, recipes, farms, and methods to run the business, they rebranded as Hopscotch (they chose the name because it’s catchy and evokes childlike innocence) in December 2016, opening their first location in downtown Toronto. “Aesthetically, we wanted the space to be very inviting, and warm and fun,” says Wyatt Booth.
In early 2017, they decided to franchise. Hopscotch now has four corporate locations in Toronto, Vaughan, and London, with franchise locations in Toronto’s Fort York and another three-store deal in Toronto, as well as a four-store deal in Edmonton.
Booth says they’re working with celebrity chefs like Vancouver’s renowned chef Vikram Vij to create a seasonal menu that’s constantly changing. “We try to use a celebrity chef or a local chef from the neighbourhood we’re opening in – bring in different talent and backgrounds to really excite the customers, so whenever they walk in there’s something new.”
Booth says that while opening a restaurant can be challenging, the benefit to franchisees is that they’re coming into a system that’s tried and tested. “They get to hit the ground running right from the start,” he says.
In terms of training, the Vice President of Franchise Development walks franchisees through everything from signing to opening day. Franchisees also receive direct training for them and their staff with Hopscotch’s Executive Chef prior to and through opening, with frequent visits from both the Chef and Quality Assurance Manager.
The number one quality they’re looking for in prospective franchisees is that they’re passionate, says Booth. “We like people to like the kind of lifestyle we’re trying to create; not just food, but creating a healthier lifestyle and longevity.”
It used to be that dinner consisted of three things – meat, potatoes, and vegetables. These days, though, people want to reduce their meat intake, but aren’t sure what to put in its place. “It’s become an overwhelming task to figure out how to replace your meat with something that provides protein, flavour, and texture,” explains YamChops Co-owner Toni Abramson. And that’s where YamChops, a plant-based butcher, has swooped in to offer a tasty solution.
Yummy offerings include Chick’N Schnitzel (made with chick peas), beet burgers, and black bean burgers to name a few, with 40 different options in total. “It’s about flavour and texture,” says Abramson.
YamChops opened in 2014 in Toronto’s Little Italy neighbourhood, and started franchising in 2016. Toni and her husband, Michael, the founder and creator of all the food, say YamChops was the first plant-based butcher shop to open in North America.
Toni says YamChops is a good system for franchisees. “Our hours are more manageable. We don’t have the investment in equipment many restaurants have.”
Franchisees don’t need a cooking background to succeed in the business, because a lot of it involves simple assembly and minor preparation. Challenges include creating consistency in service acumen, having great staff and training.
Franchisees need some level of business smarts, and the ability to solve problems. “You have to love being able to offer people food that you’ve put your heart and soul into,” says Abramson.
YamChops has locations opening in Toronto, Edmonton, and Vancouver, and is also looking at U.S. locations. Training involves a six-week program, including everything from food preparation to service. Teams in Toronto and Vancouver also work with franchisees on an as-needed basis to support their growth and success.
To ensure that success, Abramson says, “You have to be invested in the process and understand every part of the business.”
By Georgie Binks