Kjell Reid and Ann Moore aren’t vegans, but they know good business and good, and healthy, food when they see it
Kjell Reid and Ann Moore didn’t set out to start a vegan restaurant. They’re only vegans maybe half of the time, themselves, but they still jumped at the chance to open a Copper Branch franchise when they saw the opportunity present itself.
“I actually heard about it through a company called Top Shelf Franchising, a company out of Calgary,” Reid recalls.
Maybe not the most romantic start to a business, but Copper Branch—whose first location in Quebec has since expanded into franchises across the country—appealed to the duo for its quickness, its healthiness and its commitment to local food, an oddity among chain operations.
“We flew to Montreal because we found Copper Branch quite interesting. We were able to try all the food and everything, and we all just loved it, and their statement about having sustainable, actually healthy fast food for a change,” Moore says.
Copper Branch locations have 55 percent of their food premade at the franchise’s head offices—things like their beet and shiitake burgers, for instance—but the rest, the franchise needs to source locally.
“It’s a bit of a different take,” Reid says, as it requires the owners find local food vendors.
The restaurant chain became popular in Quebec around four years ago for its vegan burgers, bowls, sandwiches and soups, and quickly spread to Ontario and Toronto. Around a dozen of the franchises will open in 2018. As the business is low-key billed as vegan fast food, Moore expects most of the customers will get their food to go, but it will still have a few seats for eating in.
Reid and Moore’s personal favourite item is a breakfast item called the south-western wrap scramble, though they’re pleased with all the items on the menu. The franchise’s big sellers tend to be their “fusion bowls,” of which the company has a dozen, Moore says.
“It’s nice that they tell what all their ingredients are and there are no surprises,” she adds.
Montreal is, perhaps, a bit more into the whole vegan ethos than Edmonton, which is also the first city in Western Canada to get a Copper Branch location. That said, the co-owners believe there will be a market for the business in town, if only for its healthier options.
“We visited a couple places in Edmonton, and we’ve become kind of part-vegan,” Reid says, listing DIe Pie, Cafe Mosaics, etc., as a few of the local plant-based eateries he scouted. “They’re all really good options. The food is delicious, so it’s pretty hard to say no.”
The co-owners hope the location will be open in June or, if anything goes wrong, July. It will be located on Jasper Avenue and 103th St. As it stands, the duo have no plans on expanding, but are open to the idea.
“We do hope to open one or two more if possible within the next few years,” Moore says.