Chick-fil-A to Triple Canadian Footprint by 2025 with Planned Ongoing Expansion [Interview]

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Chick-fil-A is set to triple its Canadian footprint, expanding to 20 new locations by 2025.

The US-based restaurant chain, which currently has six stores in Canada, plans to open seven to 10 locations per year after 2025 as well.

Anita Costello

Construction is already underway on new locations in Vaughan and Barrie, with additional future locations expected at CF Toronto Eaton Centre, Square One, and CF Shops at Don Mills. Chick-fil-A also expects to continue its expansion into new Canadian markets in the coming years, including Ottawa and Alberta. 

“We’re excited for the opportunity to serve more guests and to invest in more communities across the country,” said Anita Costello, Chief International Officer. “Canadians can look forward to an authentic Chick-fil-A experience at each of our locations: delicious food prepared with high-quality ingredients, served with our signature hospitality.” 

Chick-fil-A Kitchener (Image: Chick-fil-A)

David Ariaratnam, Senior Real Estate Representative for the company in New Restaurant Development for Canada group, said the restaurant chain will initially be focused on the Ontario and Alberta markets.

He said the company grows with care and confidence and its initial entry in the Canadian market in 2019 has been a cautious step forward.

David Ariaratnam

“Now that we have learned some understandings and learned from certain things that we need to do different and also understanding what our Canadian consumer looks for, we are now starting to grow a little bit faster,” said Ariaratnam. “I think we have what we need to expand carefully in Ontario and we’ve now done some market research in other provinces and we’ve selected Alberta to be our next province.

“We want to go into partnership with local operators that will live in their communities and expand Chick-fil-A.”

The company said the Canadian entrepreneurs who will be local Chick-fil-A owner/operators are expected to hire approximately 80-120 additional employees at each new location, joining the more than 400 already working at the six existing locations in Toronto, Scarborough, Windsor, and Kitchener.  

Chick Fil-A Queen St. Toronto

Ariaratnam said the company has three different real estate asset types – freestanding units, inline units and mall units. The footprint is different for all of them. Freestanding is 4,500 to 5,000 square feet, which is on the larger size for a quick service restaurant. An urban inline would be about 4,500 square feet. Malls could be 1,500 square feet in the food court area or it could be expanded to about 3,500 square feet to include a lineup area and seating area.

He said the company has learned a lot from its drive-thru’s in the past and right now it has a double drive-thru that goes right from where a customer places the order to the area where the customer picks it up. The order area is covered by a canopy. Staff outside are taking orders on iPads. At peak times it can have up to six staff taking orders. There’s a drive-thru door where staff members come out and deliver the food. 

Ariaratnam said the company is looking for high traffic areas with a strong retail draw with anchors such as Walmart and Costco and a strong residential population nearby – as well as areas with strong daytime traffic.

“We need to understand how Canadians trade and we need to understand trading patterns, we need to understand volumes and we need to focus on operators and the operate opportunity,” he replied, when asked how many Chick-fil-A stores will eventually open in Canada.

Chick-fil-A Queen Street West (Image: Dustin Fuhs)

“Chick-fil-A transacts directly from a corporate perspective with landlords. So we would transact and then we would construct and we would put all the money in. That is very different from most other QSR’s where operators are required to invest. This is very different because Chick-fil-A does the investment. And the reason for that is we want to select great operating partners that share in our values and want to grow with us and quite often what we’ve seen in the past is some of the best operators unfortunately don’t have the capital investment and vice versa. Our focus right now is to make sure that we find the right operators.”

Every time a Chick-fil-A restaurant opens, $25,000 is donated to a local non-profit organization in the area to help reduce hunger and food waste. So far, Chick-fil-A has donated over $100,000 USD to local Canadian organizations in celebration of restaurant openings. Chick-fil-A and Chick-fil-A restaurants also support the communities they serve through a number of programs, which include: 

  • An ongoing partnership between Chick-fil-A with Second Harvest, a non-profit that gathers surplus food and facilitates getting it to communities in need, through local charities and community groups. Through this partnership, the financial support from Chick-fil-A has helped Second Harvest directly provide almost 2.5 million meals worth of surplus food for people in need and supported the national expansion of Second Harvest’s food rescue app to 900 communities across Canada. 
  • Participating Chick-fil-A restaurants’ donation of surplus food from restaurants to local shelters, soup kitchens and charities through the Chick-fil-A Shared Table program. In Canada, over 34,000  meals have already been donated from Chick-fil-A restaurants since 2019, with the number growing each day.
  • Chick-fil-A’s awarding of 15 Canadian Team Members with nearly $35,000 in scholarships since 2020 to support their goals of pursuing post-secondary education.  
Chick-fil-A Yonge/Bloor (Image: Chick-fil-A)

Chick-fil-A is currently accepting expressions of interest for individuals who are interested in becoming Chick-fil-A franchise owner/operators in Ontario and Alberta. To learn more, visit chickfila.ca.franchise.info

The Atlanta-based company has more than 2,700 restaurants in 48 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and Canada. The family-owned and privately held restaurant company was founded in 1967 by S. Truett Cathy.

In 1946, S. Truett Cathy opened his original diner, the Dwarf Grill, in the Atlanta suburb of Hapeville (later renamed Dwarf House). In 1964, Truett created the original Chick-fil-A® Chicken Sandwich with two pickles on a toasted butter bun.

The first Chick-fil-A restaurant opened in 1967 in Atlanta at Greenbriar Mall. In 1986, Chick-fil-A opened its first stand-alone restaurant on North Druid Hills Road in Atlanta.

In 2019, the company opened its first international restaurant in Toronto at Yonge & Bloor followed by one in the Yorkdale Shopping Centre in 2020.

In 2021, it opened its first standalone and drive-thru restaurant in Canada in Kitchener.

Article Author

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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