International Brazilian steakhouse Fogo de Chão has announced that it has entered a franchise development agreement to expand into the Canadian market with plans to open about 10 locations over the next decade, if not sooner.
The buzzy upscale 45-year-old restaurant concept partnered with Debut Development Group which is a leading developer, owner and operator of high-end restaurants, hotels, resorts, and entertainment venues worldwide. Plans are in place to bring 10 franchised Fogo locations to Canada over the next decade as part of a broader international expansion.
For the Canadian expansion, Fogo de Chão and Debut partnered with brokerage The Behar Group, which will be involved with site selection and negotiations for restaurant locations. Avi Behar and Greg Rabin are contacts at The Behar Group for landlords.
The plan is to open a first Fogo de Chão location in downtown Toronto in the summer of 2023, followed later next year with a location in downtown Vancouver. Actual locations in those cities have yet to be finalized. Longer-term, an expansion into the Calgary, Edmonton, Ottawa and Montreal markets is expected with Winnipeg also being a possibility according to Behar. One Fogo de Chão location is expected for most of these cities though the Greater Toronto area could see several, similar to Chicago.
Restaurant locations will ideally span in the 6,000 square foot to 10,000 square foot range with 7-8,000 square feet being a ‘sweet spot’ in terms of targeted size. Downtowns are a target as well as suburban areas — the recent opening of a Fogo de Chão at Oakbrook Mall near Chicago is indicative that malls such as Yorkdale and Square One could become a target. In terms of visitors, Millennials are an important target market for Fogo de Chão which also sees ample foot traffic from tourists, families and those hosting business meetings.
“We are focused on scaling Fogo and executing on our strategic growth goals. The Canadian market represents a strong opportunity to continue our growth in North America and to bring our distinctive Fogo experience to local guests, many of whom have visited us on their travels around the globe,” said Barry McGowan, Chief Executive Officer of Fogo de Chão in a statement.
Fogo de Chão was founded in southern Brazil in 1979. The name Fogo de Chão means “ground fire” and summarizes the traditional gaúcho method of roasting meats over an open fire. The dining experience includes showcasing the culinary art of churrasco where guests can watch as gaucho chefs butcher, hand-carve and grill high-quality cuts of meat over an open flame. Gauchos themselves will carve meat at diners’ tables — possibly a benefit given the challenges of otherwise finding serving staff for restaurants as we come out of the pandemic.
Also included in restaurants are fresh and seasonal Market Tables and an award-winning Bar Fogo menu which features hand-crafted cocktails and South American wines.
The restaurant chain has 66 locations worldwide and continues to expand — plans are in place to open 10-12 locations this year (including corporate and franchised) with the newest openings including Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, El Segundo, Calif., Coral Gables, Fla. and Monterrey, Mexico; and planned openings in Queens, N.Y., Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Paramus, N.J. and others expected later this year.
Toronto-based Debut Development Group is a hospitality and hotel owner, developer, and operator with an extensive global footprint including brands such as Grand Hyatt, Margaritaville, Nikki Beach, Wolfgang Puck Café, Juliana’s, Cipriani, the Vogue Club, and others.