Concept Watch: Brands are building identities that extend beyond the menu

By Sophie Mir

The emphasis on local, seasonal food has become de rigueur industry wide. What started as a trendy, nose-to-tail movement has been co-opted by giants like McDonald’s, which, amongst other things, touts its Canadian beef (from independent farmers, no less). It’s a good thing, but when everyone’s doing it, it ceases to differentiate the brand.

The below concepts still foreground their use of local, independent products (even though everyone’s doing it, but consumers still don’t consider it a given), but have taken on additional characteristics and causes to build their brands. Bin 4, a West Coast burger chain, pushes the premium angle; Kafka, an Ontario-based coffee chain, supports local communities; and B. Good lives up to its namesake, donating food and encouraging its customers to volunteer. Read on to check out the specifics.

Bin 4 Burger Lounge

Locations: 5 (Vancouver, Langford, Kelowna, Victoria and Saanich, British Columbia)

Facebook: 11,925 likes | Instagram: 6,453 followers

Concept characteristics

Inviting guests to “rethink [their] burger], Bin 4 touts premium local ingredients that marry disparate culinary traditions with the humble hamburger, making for an accessible, internationally inspired menu. While reservations are offered, online ordering via the Bin 4 app capitalizes on out-of-restaurant guests and, after its focus on adventurous ingredients, doubles down on younger demographics, like Millennials and Gen Z.

Menu Snapshot

  • Meat-based burgers feature premium beef, free-range chicken, rangeland bison, pork and chorizo, all raised at local farms.
  • Plant-based options include tofu, chickpeas, black beans and lentils.
  • Salads provide a healthy alternative to Bin 4’s meaty mainstay, with options like Blackened Chicken and Cheddar, Almond Praline & Blue Cheese and Ahi Tuna & Citrus rounding out the menu.
  • Local and international wine, as well as craft beer and some macro-brews, offer something for everyone. Cocktails and sangria round out the options.

Kafka’s Coffee & Tea

Locations: 4 (Toronto and Oakville, Ontario)

Facebook: 1,055 likes | Instagram: 2,392 followers | Twitter: 2,113 followers

Concept Characteristics

Three brick-and-mortar units offer house-made cafe staples, while its food truck mobilizes the same concept. Kafka raises its local profile with weekly coffee tastings and, at its Great Northern Way location, a brewing workshop. Local artists see some support as well, with paintings, photographs and other artwork showcased on a rotating basis.

Menu Snapshot

  • Coffee is roasted weekly and almost all sourced directly from farmers. Brewing methods include pour over, siphon, espresso and nitrogen-infused cold brew.
  • Tea is sourced through Jagasilk, resulting in a seasonal menu that includes classic and new tea varieties.
  • Breakfast and lunch fare includes croissants, scones, muffins, toast, sandwiches, bowls, salads, cookies and brownies.


Locations: 5 (Toronto and Oakville, Ontario)

Facebook: 45,465 likes | Instagram: 3,513 followers | Twitter: 765 followers

Concept Characteristics

The menu features healthy, familiar fare, emphasizing the provenance and seasonality of its ingredients. More than that, though, B.Good stakes its identity on its social impact. a company-owned farm grows and donates produce to the surrounding community, while a volunteer program encourages customers to visit and help out.

Menu snapshot

  • Seasonal salads feature chicken, bacon and other proteins, as well as vegetarian options that include kale and avocado.
  • Hearty grain bowls play to the current trend, blending veggies, grains and proteins.
  • All-natural beef, hand-packed turkey and a housemade veggie burger all provide more indulgent, albeit still relatively healthy, options.
  • Smoothies skew superfood-y, with varieties including kale; spinach and mint, dark chocolate and coconut, strawberry-banana and acai berry.

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