Update on March 25, 2015: Chipotle is officially not coming to Montreal.
Quesada, Canada's de facto answer to Chipotle, which has a foothold in Ontario and British Columbia, is about to invade la belle province. Or, to be more specific, Quebec City and Dollard-des-Ormeaux. The fast food franchise seems like a brazen homage to the cult-like Chipotle but without the apparent commitment to sustainability and Food with Integrity. Founder, CEO and "software wizard" Steve Gill admits that the business opportunity first came to him in Denver—the corporate home of Chipotle and, indeed, Chipotle's founder Steve Ells—but never specifically names the U.S. company with 37,000 employees. This not-so-subtle image, however, makes the connection clearer.
Quesada has grand ambitions in Canada. President Tom O'Neill, a former Quiznos and Subway executive, affirms that the "game plan is to double in size every twelve months." The bulk of this growth will hinge on the company's flagship menu item, "The Famous Big Ass Burrito", or, in Quebec, "Le Fameux Méchant Gros Burrito." The take on Chipotle's burrito comes with cilantro, lime rice, black or pinto beans, lettuce, cheese, sour cream and protein hits like Chile-Lime Shrimp, Chile-Lime Fish, Spicy Chipotle Chicken and Ancho Chile Adobo Pork. Oh and a "One Bite Guarantee."
Michel Dionne and Charles Garneau, both of Quebec City, will open a Quesada franchise in the West Island suburb of Dollard shortly, with a development plan for the provincial capital in the works. How the province, and possibly Montreal, will respond to "gourmet, Toronto-style grilled burritos" is anyone's guess.