Edmonton-based ZZA Hospitality Group, which operates several Boston Pizza franchises in Alberta, is expanding the gourmet Crumbl Cookies brand in the province.
The company recently opened Canada’s first location in Edmonton at the Rabbit Hill Crossing shopping centre in the southwest part of the city.
Dan Arndt, President of ZZA Hospitality Group, said more locations are coming in the province.
“Crumbl is a franchise out of the U.S. and they have been operating since 2017 and whole concept behind Crumbl is that we only sell cookies. So we have a rotating menu of six gourmet flavours of cookies each week,” said Arndt. “And those flavours rotate out of a catalogue of more than 200 different flavours of cookies. So the whole idea with Crumbl is this rotating menu. Every week we come out with six new cookies and they’re all gourmet flavours, interesting flavour profiles. That’s basically the whole song and dance behind Crumbl.”
Cookies are made from scratch and in-house and everything is baked fresh. There is no seating area, just pick up.
“Crumbl in the U.S. opened five years ago and I think they just opened their 850th store in the U.S. I don’t know what their plans are for the brand overall in Canada but our group is working to open six locations through Edmonton and beyond.” said Arndt.
“We’re quite keen on the brand. It’s done very well to open and it’s been a good process for us to get this first store open. We are currently under construction on our next site in Airdrie and that’s set to open at the end of June. And then we have an agreement with Crumbl corporate to open four more locations that we’re currently working through real estate on but intend to open more locations in and around Alberta including St. Albert and Red Deer and then other locations.”
He said key real estate locations include busy grocery store areas in shopping centres or other similar anchor tenants like Walmart and Costco. The Freeson Bros. Fresh Market is located at Crumbl’s first site at the Rabbit Hill Crossing in Edmonton.
“There’s a lot of buzz around the brand. They do a lot of things incredibly well. Their social media presence is incredible. They have more followers on Instagram and TikTok than almost any other food provider. It’s crazy. I think they have 6.5 million followers on TikTok which is nuts. At one point, I think that was more than Starbucks and Nike combined. It may still be true today. A couple of months ago I know it was true for sure. Absolutely staggering numbers,” added Arndt. “They have a really strong brand presence.
“On top of that, it naturally appealed to our group. We all have young kids and it was a brand that just intuitively made sense to us. It was the kind of thing that we would be spending our own money. And it made a lot of sense. It felt like there was a real hole in the market for something like this here in Edmonton and in Alberta frankly.”
ZZA Hospitality Group has 11 Boston Pizza franchises – nine in Alberta, one in Whitehorse and one in Yellowknife.
“My dad got into the business 40 years ago this year. We’ve been doing that for a long time,” said Arndt. “That’s our background. We’ve a strong operations piece all through the province with that team looking after our Boston Pizza franchises.
“We had as many as 16 before COVID but we’re currently operating 11.”
Crumbl was founded in 2017 in Logan, Utah by Canadian dual-citizen Jason McGowan, and his cousin, Sawyer Hemsley.
It was love at first bite for Crumbl store owners Daniel, Andy, and Barry Arndt, Megan Moore, and Tamara Reich in Alberta.
They said the appeal of Crumbl was obvious; a tech-driven bakery offering a fun, exciting, rotating menu was exactly what they were looking for in their next venture.
“We picked our first location in Rabbit Hill because we know this community well. Having a business in our own backyard also gives us an opportunity to support the local community. As we open our store, we are excited about opportunities to partner with schools and local groups to raise funds and strengthen the community,” the owners said in a statement.