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Restaurant Chain ‘Kisses From Italy’ Opens 1st Canadian Location with Plans for Massive Expansion: CEO Interview

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The unique Kisses From Italy restaurant brand has opened its first location in Canada and is planning a massive expansion in the country.

The U.S.-based restaurant chain operator, franchisor, and product distributor with locations in North America and Europe has opened in Montreal.

Image: Kisses from Italy Montreal

Claudio Ferri, Co-Founder, CEO and CIO of the company, said it offers a quick-service menu and a unique take on traditional Italian delicacies with an All-American flair. Kisses from Italy offerings include sandwiches, salads, Italian roasted coffee, coffee-related beverages, and an array of other products. In November 2020, Kisses from Italy launched its retail branded products for distribution in stores across Canada. Currently, products are being offered in grocery stores and retail food stores.

“Right now the sky’s the limit,” said Ferri, who started the venture with partner Michele Di Turi, President, Co-CEO and Co-founder.

“We’re born and bred Canadian Montrealers and we founded the company in the U.S. So our base of operation is really South Florida. We have an office in the Miami area and our first location was founded in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in May 2015,” said Ferri.

The company has three corporate owned stores – two in Florida and one in Bari, Italy.

It opened its first US franchise in June in Chino, California and its first Canadian location in Montreal in November.

“When we started it from day one the goal was to franchise the model eventually and the reason why it was important to really state that at the beginning was we were conscious that we had to do it so everything needed to be simple and replicable from the beginning,” said Ferri.

“And the goal was to take the company public. Kisses From Italy is a publicly traded company in the US.”

Last year, Kisses From Italy announced the signing of a multi-unit deal for Canada for up to 100 franchise locations, in 2020 with Demasar Management and Denis Senecal, who has over 25 years of experience in the business and finance sector, and became the first operating Canadian franchisee in the company’s history.

“The plan right now is franchise across North America, continue model distribution for products because we do have Kisses From Italy retail branded products in about 40 stores across Ontario and Quebec right now.”

Di Turi said “ this feels like a defining moment in the Kisses From Italy growth story. The team continues to work hard and push forward with the goal of growing Kisses From Italy across North America, but being given the opportunity to witness a Kisses From Italy opened in the city where we were raised is amazing and a true honour.”

“It is exciting to be part of the team bringing Kisses From Italy to Canada. The product offerings, which we are excited to serve and were heavily inspired by the food scene in Montreal, will serve the local community and overall customer base well. The past year has presented many challenges and obstacles, but we made it. The team is looking forward to serving our community, family and friends, and I am confident that this will be the first store of many to follow,” said Senecal.

Ferri described Kisses From Italy as a fast casual quick service restaurant.

“Our call sign right now is traditional Italian sandwiches with a modern twist. We’ve been to Italy a few times. Our families are still there so we took like the street food in Italy and modernized them,” said Ferri.

“It’s a quick service deli concept. So you kind of get the speed of a fast food quick service restaurant but you get the quality of that deli restaurant feel.”

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He is the Senior National Business Journalist with Retail Insider in addition to working on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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