Each of our individual restaurant brands falls under our main brand: Chef Inspired®. The Chef Inspired® brand has been prominent in our restaurants since day one because it is at the core of everything we do. Our founder, Chef Bill Pratt, has built all of his food concepts on the same chef inspired premise:
Be committed to quality and exceptional customer service, make as much of the food from scratch as you can, support local businesses wherever possible, and make every effort to minimize your impact on the environment.
It is this philosophy that makes us different. Our products are fresh, homemade, and served with pride.
We opened our first Cheese Curds® Gourmet Burgers + Poutinerie (Cheese Curds®) location in the Woodside area of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia in February 2012 and we were the Halifax Regional Municipality’s very first gourmet burger restaurant. The immediate success of Cheese Curds® was overwhelming, with line ups out the door for several months. Several other gourmet burger concepts soon followed, some have even since closed their doors, but we continued to succeed despite increased competition. We capitalized on the extended grand opening craze of Cheese Curds® by opening our first Habaneros™ Modern Taco Bar (Habaneros™) restaurant just three doors down and just 5 months later, in July 2012.
Both of our Woodside locations performed so well, we opened a second location for our first Cheese Curds®/Habaneros™ combination restaurant in the Burnside area of Dartmouth just over a year later, in May 2013. In the spring of 2014, we opened another standalone Habaneros™ in downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia and launched our first food truck, Gecko Bus, which is a former school bus we converted into a giant Gecko on Wheels, affectionately known as the “Freakiest Food Truck in Canada”, that serves Habaneros™ fare year round.
Cheese Curds® restaurants are situated in high traffic areas and are contained in a space ideally 1,500 square feet or greater, combination Cheese Curds®/Habaneros™ restaurants would require a space around 2,500 square feet. Our restaurants are decorated in a tasteful but fun manner and are kept impeccably clean.
Cheese Curds®/Habaneros™ team members are professionally trained and we focus on hiring people who desire to make hospitality a career. We believe in rewarding hard work by promoting from within wherever possible and we strive to make the workplace a great place to be. The words “it is OK to have fun at work" are written on the walls in the kitchens and staff retention is high – which is rare in an industry of high employee turnover. Our employee loyalty and positive work environment translates to superior customer service.
OUR UNIQUE SELLING PROPOSITION
Cheese Curds® specializes in gourmet burgers, poutine, and hot dogs, which is unique in that not many concepts are doing both, but what makes us truly unique is the variety and quality of all of our menu items. There are a dozen specialty burgers, which include such premium ingredients as house made pork schnitzel and local lamb. The build-your-own burger options are endless and are garnished with over 50 choices of toppings including house made sauces and salsas and house made pickles and jams. The poutines all begin with fresh hand cut fries and are topped with Québec cheese curds and gravy, with the specialty poutines including items such as house made donair meat and sauce, house made taco beef, and house made pulled pork. Our gourmet hot dogs are either grilled, or wrapped in bacon and deep fried, then topped with our house made meats or available as a build-your-own dog, dressed with the incredible selection of fresh toppings at our garnish station. Gourmet burger concepts are a trend and competition is high. Being the first gourmet burger restaurant in its market, Cheese Curds® set the standard and we are thrilled to continue to be perceived as one of the very best gourmet burger concepts in our original market. Being able to grow the brand “at home” and fine-tune our product offerings and procedures has set us up for successful execution of our growth strategy into new markets.
Cheese Curds® believes competition is healthy and can only be positive for the customer. We differentiate ourselves by providing chef inspired menu items using only the freshest ingredients, with an unwavering focus on flavour and we prepare everything to order in an open kitchen concept in front of the customer. Our orders take a little longer to fill as a result but we stand behind our mantra that “it is worth the wait”. Our high repeat customer experience tells us we are right.
The Habaneros™ menu features Mexican fusion items such as tacos, burritos, and burrito bowl salads. In addition to offering 3 types of meats, we also have a vegetarian option – a vegan curry bowl made with lentils and roasted sweet potatoes. Appreciating the increase in food sensitivities, we also ensure almost any of our meals can be made vegetarian or gluten-free. What makes Habaneros™ truly unique is the variety and quality of all of our menu items. The build-your-own options are endless and you can garnish your taco, burrito, or salad with an incredible number of choices of toppings including the freshest local vegetables, house made sour creams and salsas, and house made pickled veggies. And while everyone claims to be using fresh food, where the big national chains are using bagged lettuce that tastes like the gas it is packed in, we are washing, spinning, and shredding the lettuce we buy from our local vegetable stand – every day. And you can taste the difference.
The combination Cheese Curds®/Habaneros™ restaurant is a model that works because we are able to please a wide range of people with the offering it presents. Whether you are craving the comfort of a hand made burger and fresh cut fries, or you are in the mood for a freshly made salad exploding with flavour, we have something for just about everyone in a combo concept.
OUR UNIQUE FRANCHISE PROPOSITION
Cheese Curds®/Habaneros™ provides a unique franchise proposition, not only in the quality and reputation of the brand to the consumer but also in the proven operating method offered to franchisees based on the years of experience of our founder. Chef Bill Pratt, Certified Chef de Cuisine, is the driving force behind and the creator of the Cheese Curds® brand. After 27 years of service, Chef Bill retired from the Canadian Forces in 2008 as the Command Food Services Chief, in charge of all cooks in the Canadian Navy. He has also participated in many other projects including:
competing on The Food Network’s most popular TV show “Iron Chef America” as Michael Smith’s sous-chef
serving as Head Production Chef for the IOC during the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympics and as Executive Chef for the Athlete’s Village during the Vancouver 2010 Olympics
cooking on the Queen’s Yacht for Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana
working as a private chef for the then Vice President of the U.S., Dick Cheney
working in CP Hotels and other fine dining restaurants
competing (and winning) several culinary competitions in both Canada and the U.S.
After retiring from the Navy, Bill acted as the Director of Hospitality at MacDonald Island Park in Fort McMurray (the largest sporting facility in Western Canada) before returning to the east coast to open his own restaurants.
Bill brings a wealth of experience in all aspects of running a business, and he has been on all sides of the restaurant industry – a chef, a manager, a director of multi-unit operations, a sales rep, and an entrepreneur. He can identify with every position, and understands fully how everyone needs to work together to form the ideal team. Bill’s experience opening his first restaurant (he now has 8 restaurants and a food truck under 6 different brands) allows him to first-hand appreciate what our franchisees will go through, and he and his team have created policies and processes to help our franchisees every step of the way. We know the challenges you will face and we will prepare you how to meet them head-on.
Bill knows about not only growth, but how to grow profitably. What differentiates Bill’s success from the many restaurant failures is solid management. Through both our initial and on-going training programs, we will empower our franchisees with all the tools they need to succeed – all they need to inject is a lot of passion and hard work.
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