BC-Based Noodlebox Kicks Off National Expansion with Plans for Dozens of Locations [Interview]

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Noodlebox started as a food cart in Victoria, BC’s Chinatown in 2001.  

Its unique style of Southeast Asian street food was so popular that people waited hours to get their fill.  

More than 20 years and a million boxes later, the brand continues its journey of bringing bold flavours of Southeast Asian street food to all of Canada.

It has just opened its first location in Ontario at Winona in Stoney Creek / Hamilton with four units in construction to open next year including Corporate Campus Centre in Waterloo, Cornwall Road Oakville, Park Place in Barrie and in the new development at Woodbine Casino.

Image: Noodebox Langley City

Noodlebox has 31 locations open today with a further 52 secured locations in development.

Dustin May

“We plan to open 26 new locations in 2023 and in the long term see potential for over 200 locations across Canada,” said Dustin May, CEO/President and an owner with the Fox and Crane Restaurant Group, based in Abbotsford, BC, which operates Noodlebox as well as other brands Meat and Bread and Good Taco. 

Meat and Bread has six locations – four in Vancouver, one in Calgary and one in Austin, Texas. Good Taco has six locations all in the BC lower mainland.

“Noodlebox is a real growth driver for us,” said May.

Image: Noodlebox Airdrie

The Behar Group Realty is representing the brand with its real estate expansion into Ontario. Stefan Safrata of Sitings Realty represents Noodlebox/Fox and Crane Restaurant Group in Western Canada.

“We’re a wok-based noodle business, kind of Southeast Asian street food which is really popular. We really live around the mantra and really embrace the concept of real food made fresh with fire,” said May. 

“Every dish is actually made to order. So it’s not like it’s stuff sitting in warmers and you’re picking stuff. Everything is actually made to order in a wok which allows us to be highly customizable and allows for a lot of new creations from our guests that they can actually spin a dish their own way. It allows us to deliver on a lot of food preferences.”

The name of the restaurant group itself also has an interesting history.

“An Aesop fable tells the story of Fox and Crane. Fox invited Crane to supper and prepared soup, which was poured into a very shallow flat dish.  The soup fell out of the long bill of the Crane at every mouthful, and his frustration at not being able to eat afforded the Fox much amusement. The Crane, in his turn, asked the Fox to dine with him, and set before her a very appetizing meal, served in a tall jar with a very narrow neck. The Crane could easily insert his neck and enjoy its contents. The Fox, unable even to taste it, met with a fitting retribution, in the fashion of her own hospitality,” says the company on its website.

“This fable is sadly how too many organizations approach franchising. Looking out for themselves and not supporting their franchise partners.  At Fox & Crane we believe that together we will always achieve the greatest results. We remember this story to ensure we don’t act this way.”

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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