Brazilian Restaurant Concept Fogo de Chão Secures 1st Canadian Location as it Announces Expansion [Interview]

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Fogo de Chão, the internationally-renowned restaurant from Brazil, is making its Canadian debut in 2024 with the opening of a new location in downtown Vancouver at The Post, a two-tower office development.

It is scheduled to open in February 2024.

And a Toronto location will follow right after that.

Michael Wilkings

“Bringing Fogo de Chão’s first Canada location to life in downtown Vancouver is very exciting for us, given the brand’s established success in the USA and across the world,” said Michael Wilkings, CEO and Founder of Debut Development Group, and President of Fogo de Chão Canada. “We’re looking forward to providing the city of Vancouver and visitors to The Post with the Brazilian hospitality and next-level dining experience that Fogo is renowned for.”

The new location — representing 7,778 square feet of the project’s 185,000 square foot retail component — will showcase Fogo’s recent brand transformation with enhanced design and innovation platforms in a warm, timeless and approachable setting that complements British Columbia while honouring Fogo’s Southern Brazilian heritage.

Pasadena Fogo de Chão
Churrasco Grill at Fogo de Chão (Image: Fogo de Chão)

Wilkings said the brand started in Southern Brazil more than 40 years ago.

“The whole organization is geared to celebrating and encapsulating the whole essence of Southern Brazilian hospitality,” said Wilkings. “They have 57 restaurants open in the United States all of which are corporately owned and operated and across the entire chain they’ve managed to maintain this kind of vibrant Southern Brazilian energy in the whole hospitality operation.

“They’re a very, very successful company. They’re not the biggest restaurant company in the United States obviously but probably the most profitable. They have a unique operating formula. What it does is it delivers a very, very profitable business. They have an average revenue per unit across the whole 57 restaurants in the States over $10 million US. It’s an extraordinarily high profitability factor.”

Fogo de Chão Canada also plans to open a restaurant in Toronto in early 2024 with location details to come in the near future.

Avi Behar and Greg Rabin at The Behar Group Realty Inc. represent Fogo de Chão Canada in its real estate expansion across Canada.

The Post, Vancouver. (Rendering: QuadReal)

The Post is QuadReal Property Group’s revitalization of the historic Canada Post building, at 658 Homer Street in downtown Vancouver.

Chrystal Burns

“We are beyond thrilled that Fogo de Chão has chosen The Post for their first Canada location,” said Chrystal Burns, Executive Vice President, Retail, QuadReal Property Group. “Fogo de Chão’s next-level dining experience is a welcome addition to the project, pairing perfectly and deliciously with the best-in-class, experience-based retail tenants we have already solidified for the project including The Joseph Richard Group, Loblaws City Market, Deville Coffee and Evolve Strength.”

“We are thrilled to open our first Canada restaurant in downtown Vancouver at iconic building, The Post, in partnership with Michael and his accomplished team at Debut Development Group,” said Barry McGowan, Chief Executive Officer of Fogo de Chão. “We look forward to expanding our presence in the Vancouver area and bringing the culinary art of churrasco to more guests throughout Canada in the near future.”

Barry McGowan
Fogo de Chão in Friendswood, Texas

Jim Bowen, Vice-President of Development for Fogo de Chão Canada, said the literal translation of the restaurant name is ‘ground fire’ – a bonfire. 

Jim Bowen

It speaks to the culinary art of churrasco as chefs butcher, prepare and grill cuts of protein over an open flame.

Bowen said the company has been looking at the three major Canadian markets – Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal – with the hope of Toronto being the first location.

“But Toronto is a very competitive market and it took us a little while to find the right site,” he said. “The problem we have here is we’re in a phenomenal site. We’re in the heart of the entertainment district. We’re sandwiched between the Bisha Hotel and the new Nobu Hotel that will be opening later this year. The Toronto Film Festival, the Dome Stadium, everything is kind of right there. But it’s a condo project and the building won’t be completed until October this year. So we can’t start our construction until October which probably puts us opening around a month after Vancouver.”

The Toronto location will be on the corner of Blue Jays Way and Mercer Street.

55 Mercer (Image: CentreCourt)

“Our commitment for Fogo is 10 sites over 10 years and we think we can do 10 sites over five years,” said Bowen. “Although we have two sites that we’ve announced, we have another three or four brewing away that we hope to be able to announce in the next six months.”

Fiona Ayers, Vice-President of Operations for Fogo de Chão Canada, said Calgary would be a good location for the brand because of the city’s rich cowboy heritage and culture. 

Wilkings said the average size of a Fogo in the US is about 7,400 square feet. 

Debut Development Group is a leading developer, owner and operator of high-end restaurants, hotels, resorts, and entertainment venues worldwide.

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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