Concept Watch: Lovepizza, Union Chicken and Holy Grill

By Sophie Mir

In this edition of Concept Watch, we highlight three restaurants that are making an impact on Canadian diners, including a pair of fast-casuals from Alberta and a new-ish Ontario chicken joint. Below, we look at the characteristics and menu offerings that make these restaurants unique.


The Numbers

Locations: 2 (Edmonton and St. Albert)

Instagram: 11,200 followers | Facebook: 2,820 likes | Twitter: 2,710 followers

Concept characteristics:

Lovepizza is a family-owned, fast-casual pizza concept known for its creative, oblong pizzas. In addition to its core business, it also caters special events, and its owners partner with community-based groups and organizations for charitable causes. A mobile app also encourages loyalty and repeat visits.

Menu snapshot:

Pizzas: Signature pies feature unsual — for a pizza, at least — ingredients including roasted corn, barbecue sauce, and creme fraiche. Customers can also opt to build their own or go for one of the rotating features.
Salads: Instead of just greens, salads here include heartier ingredients including chickpeas, pickled beets, toasted walnuts, hard-boiled eggs and bacon.
Desserts: Go for an Italian classic like pistachio ice cream, or go for a peach pie pizza.
Beverages: Craft beers and soda, as well as a small, quaffable selection of red and white wine.

Union Chicken

The Numbers:

Locations: 2 (Etobicoke and Toronto)

Instagram: 4,515 followers | Facebook: 1,434 likes

Concept characteristics:

A trendy, yet approachable, full-service concept with a focus on rotisserie and fried chicken that appeals to on-the-go customers passing through its shopping centre and train station locations.  Union’s brand is built on naturally-raised, free-run chicken from family-run farms across Ontario. Inside, contemporary decor includes vibrant green tiled counters, geometric floor tiles and ceiling design, flat-screen TVs and upscale wooden furniture

Menu snapshot:

Chicken: Variety of chicken-based dishes including spit-fired rotisserie chicken, fried chicken, wings and a “truck stop” pulled chicken sandwich.
Not Chicken: Sides, snacks and salads such as shishito peppers, jalapeno cornbread, quinoa and spinach salad, smashed potato salad and poutine.
Brunch: Sweet potato hash, fried chicken and waffles, and breakfast sandwiches
Beverages: The cocktail list includes riffs on classics maple Manhattan and root beer stormy. Kombucha, soda and Ontario craft beers are available, as is wine on tap.

Holy Grill

The Numbers

Locations: 2 (Calgary)

Facebook: 1,871 likes | Twitter: 2,827 followers

Concept characteristics:

Fast service, modest prices and American cuisine made with local ingredients are the cornerstones of this fast-casual concept. Holy Grill makes a point of accommodating several dietary restrictions and preferences, and partners with Brown Bagging for Calgary’s Kids Society to provide students’ lunches to a neighbouring school at no cost. A mobile app allows guests to place and pay for an order in advance.

Menu snapshot:

Breakfast: Sizeable social media-friendly breakfast sandwiches and spins on eggs Benedict like the South Beach, which features tomato and avocado.
Burgers: For brunch, Holy Grill’s six-ounce prime rib patty comes standard with a fried egg, as well as more expected toppings like cheddar, bacon and red onions. Guests have more options later in the day, including a chicken burger and a veggie burger.
Sides: In keeping with its commitment to quality ingredients and fresh preparation, the fries are hand-cut and made start-to-finish in house, as are the beet and sweet potato chips.
Paninis: Like its burgers, Holy Grill’s paninis are sizeable entrees not for the faint of heart, albeit with more variety than the burgers. Smoked salmon, cappicola and grilled zucchini offer a bit more menu diversity.

Sophie Mir is an Associate Editor for Technomic Inc., a Chicago-based foodservice research and consulting firm. Technomic provides clients with the facts, insights and consulting support they need to enhance their business strategies, decisions and results. The company’s services include publications and digital products as well as proprietary studies and ongoing research on all aspects of the food industry. Visit for more information.

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