The Quesada Burritos & Tacos brand has seen spectacular growth in Canada in recent years with many more new restaurant openings planned for 2021 as the company continues on its aggressive expansion plans in the market.
It recently surpassed 150 locations in Canada and is on target to be at about 170 by the end of the year.
And the brand is expected to continue to grow through a national partnership with a ghost kitchen.
Steve Gill, Founder & CEO, Quesada Burritos & Tacos, said there has been a pent up demand for opening new locations as early this year it went three months without opening a new location.
“In January to March, I think that was the first time in several years that we didn’t open a restaurant in three months. There’s some pent up demand and some backlog just in the building and the construction. So now we have a lot going on. It’s pretty wild,” he said.
The original Quesada opened in 2004 across the street from the Skydome in Toronto. It went up to five restaurants by 2010, just opening its own locations. But the explosive growth began in 2011 when it started franchising the concept.
“I’d say we’ll be around 165 or 170 by Christmas time. That’s not unrealistic,” said Gill.
“What really helps us is the economics for our franchisees. A lot of our growth is with franchisees opening their second or third and in one case fourth or fifth locations. So a lot of the ones we have coming up are not new franchisees. It’s easier because they know what they’re doing already. They’ve already been trained and the process goes a bit smoother. It’s probably the main thing that’s driving it right now.”
The brand is in every province currently with the exception of Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.
Gill said 300 locations within a few years is definitely within reach.
“There’s still a lot of space,” he said.
Quesada, named one of Canada’s Top 400 Companies by The Globe & Mail in 2020, has partnered with REEF Kitchens to be available through ghost kitchens in downtown Toronto starting in August with plans to expand across the country later this year. The partnership will help to build brand awareness while providing insights into optimum markets for new restaurant openings.
“This broadens our reach and allows even more people to experience Quesada. We’re excited about that because we know that once people try us, they’re hooked,“ said Gill.
“I think the whole space in ghost kitchens, virtual kitchens, is just so interesting. We’ve explored a few concepts over the last couple of years. Even pre-pandemic we tested out some ghost concepts in our restaurants and I think we will continue and we’re going to land on one that works right for us. It’s a way for our franchisees to take more advantage of the real estate they already have. That’s one element of the whole ghost kitchen idea.
“But then REEF represents for me, for us, for Quesada as a brand, a different element which is just putting Quesada in places, making our offer available to Canadians almost everywhere in a very short amount of time. That’s the potential I see with REEF . . . Theoretically they could roll that out to 30 or 50 locations in a matter of months. It’s a very interesting concept and so we’re glad to be a part of it.
“Maybe too they’re our ticket to break into the US market. We’ll see. We’ve talked to them a little bit about that because they’ll have thousands of locations in the US. It’s an interesting opportunity. We’ll see where it goes. But for us the main thing is it just allows more people to get experience with our brand.”