Ontario-Based Osmow’s Expanding with Plans to be the Largest Mediterranean Fast-Casual Chain in North America: Interview


Share post:

Back in 2001, Sam Osmow had an idea to bring Mediterranean cuisine to the people of Streetsville, Ontario – a “village in the city” of Mississauga.

Today, Osmow’s has grown into a national brand with 127 locations by the end of March and plans to grow into the largest Mediterranean fast casual chain in North America.

Ben Osmow, CEO and Head of Franchise Operations, said the company, which was started by his father, didn’t start franchising until 2015 when it had about 13 locations “mainly run by friends, family or even very diehard customers that became our first franchisees.”

Osmow said the concept really took off and became the biggest Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, franchise in Canada because it found a way to Westernize and modernize Middle Eastern cuisine.

“So essentially taking products that would be traditional dishes back home and finding a way to Westernize them,” he said. 

Osmow’s at Mapleview Mall (Image: Osmow’s)

When it comes to expansion plans, Osmow said “the sky’s the limit.”

“We want to be the largest brand within North America, ultimately, on the Mediterranean side. There’s many franchises that have done it on burgers. There’s many franchises that have done it on subs and on pizza. But there hasn’t been a brand that’s hit home across Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, food,” he said.

“So far we’ve developed ourselves as that go-to brand in Canada with having the largest number of locations by far and over the next few years we’re hoping we can be that go-to brand across all of North America.”

On the company website, Sam Osmow describes how the family-owned and operated business began.

Image: Osmow’s in Brampton

“When I arrived in Canada from Egypt, I was determined to do whatever it took to be successful. I worked different jobs trying to make my way in this new world. I pumped gas, worked retail, but always with the desire to get back to my real passion – food,” he writes.

“Finally, I scraped enough money together to buy a sub shop in 1999, but two years later, I wasn’t seeing the success I’d hoped for. One day a customer asked me what I was having for lunch . . . Shawarma! He was captivated by the aroma and flavour of my lunch.

“My customer inspired me to close the sub shop, along with the help of my family we painted, rebranded, and opened the first Osmow’s a week later. I did whatever I could to get our local community to give Mediterranean food a try, including giving out free samples at local festivals; soon people were lining up for it.

“It hasn’t always been easy, but I’ve loved every minute of this journey, and I am so happy working alongside my family everyday to bring Osmow’s to loyal customers, like you. I still love hearing your feedback and trying new ideas that our customers come up with. Thank you for being a part of our extended Osmow’s family . . . because to us, family is everything!”

Image: Osmow’s

Ben Osmow said his father worked night and day, all day, every day in that restaurant.

“I could say the rest is history but it didn’t get off to a great start to be very honest. It was something a lot of people were not familiar with shawarma and hummus. That was 20 years ago. Now shawarma has become a staple not just in Ontario but I would say in most major markets across Canada,” said Osmow. “It’s growing in popularity and it’s kind of a go-to cuisine right now in terms of trends.

“When I grew up here and went to elementary school here, I grew up on sub day and pizza day. And now we have over 30 elementary schools that order from Osmow’s for shawarma day. It’s absolutely incredible for me and that number is growing and we on-board more and more schools every few months. I’m really excited about that because that just means there’s going to be a new generation out there growing up having shawarma from a very young age and not discovering at a late age that most Canadian consumers do.”

Osmow said the brand has a multi-unit model where a franchisee is able to take multiple locations to expand the brand.

“We always look to work with great franchise partners and most of our franchises are multi-operated. We’re opening up about 30 to 40 new restaurants per year but that being said if we come across some great franchise partners, let’s say in deeper parts of Quebec, or Montreal or so on, it’s obviously something that would be a benefit for all of us,” he said.

Mario Toneguzzi
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 News Editor with Retail Insider in addition to working as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Mario was named as a RETHINK Retail Top Retail Expert in 2024.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

More From The Author



Subscribe to the Newsletter


* indicates required

Related articles

Bloor Street Luxury Run in Toronto Adds Saint Laurent Flagship as Area Transforms 

Saint Laurent’s substantial Toronto flagship features a brutalist concrete facade, and is the latest luxury brand to open a large storefront on the former ‘Mink Mile’. 

Montreal’s Le Groupe Brande Thrives with Lightspeed Capital: A Case Study in Expansion and Efficiency

Le Groupe Brande is leveraging Lightspeed Capital and its merchant cash advance system to fuel expansion plans, while also allowing the retailer to streamline operations, cut costs and experience significant efficiency gains.

Disposable Income Spent on Food by Canadians Varies by Provincial Tax Rates [Op-Ed]

Sylvain Charlebois says that there's a noteworthy correlation to food spending in Canada and the tax rates levied upon their earnings.

Royalmount in Montreal Announces Major Retail Tenants and Food Hall Ahead of August 2024 Grand Opening [Interview]

The highly anticipated development will include a mix of luxury brands and other retailers, foodservice businesses, and entertainment unlike anything that Montreal has seen.

Home Société Group Expands Ontario Footprint with Opening of 1st Standalone MUST Stores in Toronto and Mississauga [Interview/Photos]

The Quebec-based home furnishings retailer says it plans to open stores across the country after launching its MUST nameplate in Ontario this month.

Lower Income Households in Canada Struggling to Afford Groceries Despite Increased Trudeau Government Spending [Op-ed]

Sylvain Charlebois discusses a concerning trend showing lower-income Canadians are going hungry as food prices rise.

Apple and Alo Yoga to Open Flagship Stores at Ste-Catherine and De la Montagne Intersection in Montreal 

The brands will anchor a key corner in the downtown core that is also anchored by Holt Renfrew Ogilvy, spelling confidence in downtown ahead of the opening of Royalmount in August. 

Anatomy of a Leader: Shashi Behl, Founder of Joydrop

She discusses her career as an entrepreneur over the years, and how she founded the unique jewellery brand Joydrop which has seen commercial success.

Canadian Consumer Report by Adyen Reveals Key Insights on Shopping Trends, Payment Preferences, and Technological Advancements [Interview/Feature]

With trends like buy now, pay later options, demand for faster checkouts, and the influence of social media on purchasing, retailers must adapt to meet evolving consumer expectations says the study.

SUKOSHI MART Opens Its Largest Store Yet, Elevating the Asian Beauty and Lifestyle Shopping Experience

The Asian beauty and lifestyle retailer has been expanding across Ontario, and has entered the Ottawa market with its first store.

Toronto-Based Brasa Peruvian Kitchen Targets New York City as it Plans Canadian and US Expansion

The concept began in 2021 as a ghost kitchen, followed by physical locations. The now popular chain is planning to open about 100 locations on the continent.

Yorkdale Shopping Centre in Toronto Blows Other Canadian Malls Out of the Water in ICSC Productivity Rankings 

The centre is nearly $1,000 higher than the next shopping centre ranked in terms of sales per square foot, with a VP attributing it to the mall’s location, tenant mix and overall operations.