Ontario-Based Vegan Fast-Food Chain ‘Odd Burger’ Continues Rapid Expansion with Locations in New Markets: Interview

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Odd Burger, one of the world’s first vegan fast-food chains and first to go public, has signed an agreement with Sai-Ganesh Enterprises (SGE), a family-owned hospitality group specializing in franchising and commercial construction, to open 36 new locations in Alberta and British Columbia over the next seven years.

James McInnes, Odd Burger co-founder and CEO, said the brand will grow from its current six locations in southern Ontario to about 20 by the end of this year.

James McInnes

The company opened its first location at the end of 2016 in London, Ontario.

“At the time we were Canada’s first vegan fast-food chain,” said McInnes.

He said about 10 sites are currently in various stages of development including Ontario, Calgary and Victoria.

“We think we can open hundreds of locations in Canada and over a thousand in the US,” said McInnes of the brand’s long-term plans.

SGE will oversee franchise sales to individual owners, store construction, and support for franchises in its territory. In addition to supporting franchise growth, SGE plans on launching a corporate restaurant location in Western Canada that will be used for training new franchisees.

“SGE is always looking for truly new and unique opportunities in fast food, and Odd Burger is among the most exciting and modern concepts we have ever encountered,” said Utsang Desai, president of SGE. “As lifelong vegetarians we have a passion for healthy eating and environmental stewardship, and Odd Burger also adds innovative technology that enhances efficiency, profitability, and customer experience.”

McInnes said one challenge in franchising is providing an ideal level of support and service to locations that are distant to its corporate headquarters, but partnering with SGE has eliminated that concern entirely.

“Area development agreements are a logical way for us to grow and make an impact in new regions, so we’re eager to forge similar relationships with like-minded developers in Canada, the U.S. and internationally,” he added.

McInness said there’s lots of reasons for the company’s ambitious growth plans.

“Let’s start with our food. Our food is plant-based. It’s considered the most sustainable food source in terms of carbon footprint and emissions. And our menu is 100 per cent plant-based,” he said. “Consumers are getting more and more aware of the consequences of the environmental effect of their diet. We see a big shift. 

“We see a big opportunity there of people shifting from traditional fast food to plant-based fast food. Being the dominant plant-based fast food brand, we see such a huge opportunity for growth. We’ve been building this for years in anticipation that there’s going to be this big switch in how people think about food both in terms of their health, animals and environment.”

He said the company is hoping to expand into the US by the end of this year.

McInnes said the brand is comparable in price to traditional fast food.

“We think that’s a very powerful aspect of what we do. We really remove the guilt from fast food. Traditionally, the fast food industry is based largely on guilt. When you eat fast food, you know you didn’t do your body any good. How do we rid the guilt so people can celebrate eating fast food again? That’s really what I think Odd Burger excels at both from a branding and marketing point of view,” said McInnes.

SGE is a family-owned and operated hospitality group with expertise in franchising and commercial construction. SGE has built its reputation by seeking out and introducing newer concepts in the fast-food industry. SGE owns master franchisor rights for BarBurrito in Saskatchewan and area developer rights for Meltwich in the provinces of British Columbia, Manitoba, and the Atlantic Provinces (New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island). SGE also holds an advisory role in the expansion of Fast Fired Pizza into Western Canada. 

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.

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