Columbus Café Expands Rapidly in Canada, Opening 10th Location in Montreal and Announcing First Toronto Location [Interview]


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Columbus Café & Co continues to expand its footprint in Canada with the recent opening of its 10th location in Montreal and announcing it will open its first Toronto location in early Fall.

Tony Flanz

Tony Flanz, of Think Retail, which consults and represents international, national, and regional retail chains and is part of Columbus Café & Co’s expansion, said the plan is to open at least 20 locations in the next 12 months.

“Ideal spaces are 1,500 square feet and the preference is for corner locations and/or drive-thru opportunities along high streets, as well as super regional malls, open air plazas, train stations, hospitals and airports,” he said.

“We are flexible. We’re happy to look at something a little bit larger. We’re a bit of a chameleon. We can look at anything from a kiosk at 250 square feet plus some seating to 800 square feet grab and go. So we really can be flexible depending on the location.”

Columbus Café & Co in Montreal (Image: Dustin Fuhs)
Columbus Café & Co in Montreal (Image: Columbus Café & Co

The first North American café debuted on Mont-Royal Avenue in Montreal in 2020 and already there are 10 locations in and around the city. 

The newest is a 2,000-square-foot café at 2020 Robert Bourassa in Montreal, at the foot of a busy office tower owned by Canderel.

Columbus Café & Co will open its first Toronto location, at 283 Adelaide St. W. in the PJ Condos tower. The location is close to 1,700 square feet.

“Toronto was always part of the plans,” said Flanz. “The company has designs to open at least 100 locations in Canada in their first five years of entering the market. So the gradual scale was always to look in Toronto in year three of the program.

“That particular location we collaborated with Urban Reform who had the listing for that space and felt a coffee shop market was very underserved in that area of Toronto, on that street where there’s a lot of QSR restaurants that are very successful. The location has a lot of frontage and a major patio opportunity which we thought we could be very creative and try to animate that corner with our branded elements and we’re very excited about doing so.”

283 Adelaide St. W. in the PJ Condos (Image:
Image: Columbus Café & Co

He said Toronto and Montreal are big areas of focus for expansion. It is also looking at developing more drive-thru locations which is a top priority. It’s also looking to be in financial cores and entertainment districts, hospitals, airports. High traffic walking streets have always been a part of the core business.

Flanz said the company has built a reputation as France’s favourite coffee shop. 

It was founded in 1994. The brand grew because of its premium coffee products and varied menu—sandwiches, salads and Buddha bowls, plus an array of quality baked goods and sweet treats—housed in modern inviting spaces where customers can enjoy a quick bite or linger with friends over coffee and a meal. 

In 2001, the company opened its first café outside of France—in Brussels—and three decades after its inception, Columbus Café & Co operates more than 200 locations across France and internationally.

“We will partner and align with some charitable entities each time we open markets,” said Flanz. “When we open in Toronto we will look to align with an organization that helps others, that we feel has synergy with our global mission and objectives.”

In a previous interview with Retail Insider, Maxime Mayant, the company’s CEO in Canada, said:  “A large food offering to share every moment of the day whether it is lunch, breakfast, or snack . . . Our values ​​are as follows: Live, share and enjoy. We cultivate healthy eating and products and do as much as possible on site. We also cultivate ecology throughout the process, whether for fair trade organic coffee, packaging, rules in branches.”

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.


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