CBRE’s Urban Retail Team Partners with Joey Restaurants to Expand Presence in Downtown Toronto [Interview]

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Real estate company CBRE’s Urban Retail Team is working with the Joey Restaurant Group as their exclusive broker to assist with site selection for expansion of the brand across downtown Toronto. JLL is representing the chain for its expansion in the rest of Ontario.

Teddy Taggart

Teddy Taggart, Associate Vice President of CBRE’s Urban Retail Team, is working with Arlin Markowitz, Executive Vice President of the Team, to find locations in urban Toronto on high streets, downtown street fronts only and not any malls.

Arlin Markowitz

He said expansion is planned for both the Joey brand and its sister brand Local.

The casual restaurant concept, based in Vancouver, currently has 23 locations in Canada and eight in the U.S.

Joey at CF Toronto Eaton Centre (Image: Joey Restaurants)

Canadian locations include four in Calgary, four in Edmonton, one in Kelowna, two in Ottawa, five in Toronto, five in Vancouver and two in Winnipeg. In the U.S., there are four in California, three in Seattle and one in Texas.

“Both concepts have been performing very well for them,” said Taggart. “And they’re just looking to expand. They have a couple of them in each market now but they’ve been performing quite well as of recently post-COVID. So they’re just looking for a greater presence across both markets for both concepts.”

Taggart said they are looking for spaces of more than 4,000 square feet but the sweet spot is closer to 6,000 to 8,000 square feet with a patio and parking.

JOEY Bentall One in Vancouver (Image: Joey Restaurants)

“In terms of locations, Joey would be more sort of front and centre flagship. Think the (CF) Eaton Centre (in Toronto). High footfall. High density areas. Whereas Local it targets more neighbourhood. It might skew slightly younger, a little more approachable as a brand, and they also look for patios as well. But the Locals would be more like a local public eatery in a traditional sense hence the name. Both do a great job blending a fun environment with high energy but also do a much better job with the food menu than maybe your traditional pub style operator.

“It’s a good sign of the status of the F&B (food and beverage) market. There’s a lot of concerns about how they were recovering post-COVID and these guys are saying we’re doing more of these and we’re seeing great sales. It’s a nice messaging from a retail perspective that restaurant operators are doing quite well these days.”

Lawrence Hildebrand

Lawrence Hildebrand, EVP at JLL Canada Retail, is handling the expansion of Joey and Local for the rest of Ontario outside of downtown Toronto, including potential locations in Ottawa which is a targeted city for the chain.

Hildebrand said, “For the Joey brand, prominent locations in the 7,000 to 7,500 square foot range are ideal.  Having a significant patio in the 2,000 to 2,500 square foot range is a vital feature.” 

“For Local, the search is for spaces in the 4,000 to 4,500 square foot range, with a patio in the 1,500 to 2,000 square foot range.  Locations with patios that can be used year round or during inclement weather are preferred.”

JOEY at CF Rideau Centre (Image: Joey Restaurants)
JOEY Chinook Centre (Image: Joey Restaurants)

The first Joey opened in 1992.

“Like most of JOEY management, CEO Jeff Fuller started his remarkable journey flipping burgers, washing dishes and sweeping floors. It’s called paying your dues, learning from the ground up and understanding what success takes. “If there’s a secret,” he says, “it’s hard work, unwavering commitment to the customer and assembling the very best people”,” says the company on its website.

“Jeff absorbed valuable lessons from his family’s successful businesses before striking out on his own with a brand new concept in upscale casual restaurants. The first JOEY opened in 1992 and, as word spread, plans for a second location were quickly in the works. Today there are 30 JOEY Restaurants across Vancouver, Kelowna, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Seattle, California and Texas. Our model isn’t to repeat formulas but create spaces perfectly suited to the locale and its clientele. Each JOEY restaurant is unique, but they all have plenty in common: great food, lively environments, exceptional dining experiences.”

Courtney Stewart, Coordinator, Real Estate for the Joey Restaurant Group, said the restaurant brand is looking at major urban downtown cores and very busy dense areas for expansion.

“We’re really looking for really unique offerings . . . unique prime real estate,” said Stewart.

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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