Restaurant concepts to watch for May

By Kristin Menas

In our first ever ‘concepts to watch,’ we highlight three restaurant concepts that are making an impact on Canadian diners. These original eateries use social media to their benefit, are positioned as fast-casual and offer guests unique experiences. Here’s a look at our top fast-casual restaurant concepts.


Instagram: 5,797 followers |Facebook: 4,710 likes
Locations: 3 (Montreal, Quebec)

Concept characteristics:

  • Specialty and build-your-own salads
  • Upscale grab-and-go with eco-friendly packaging
  • Boutique-like atmosphere with trendy and colourful aspects

Menu snapshot:

  • Curry Quinoa Salad—romaine lettuce, mixed greens, quinoa, cashews, cilantro, celery, pear, carrots, red pepper and sweet-and-tangy curry dressing
  • Wild Sage Salad—romaine lettuce, mixed lettuce, dried cranberries, toasted walnuts, apple, pear, blue cheese and basil-sage vinaigrette
  • Habibi Salad—romaine lettuce, mixed lettuce, lentils, chickpeas, roasted sweet potato, mint, parsley, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, feta, quinoa and turmeric tahini dressing

Cluck N Cleaver

Instagram: 1,498 followers │Facebook: 548 likes │Twitter: 640 followers
Locations: 1 (Calgary, Alberta)

Concept characteristics:

  • Small footprint: 1,000 square feet
  • Fried and rotisserie chicken with house-made Southern sides
  • Playful, bright décor

Menu snapshot:

  • Chicken—Southern-fried (available by the piece) and classic rotisserie (available in quarter, half and whole sizes) chicken, both made with secret chicken rub; boxed combo meals also available
  • House-made salads—Coleslaw; Potato & Egg; Chipotle Lime Corn & Bean; and Green Salad with Tomato, Radish & Cucumber
  • Sides—rotisserie potatoes, fresh-cut fries, buttermilk biscuits and gravy
  • Beverages—malted milkshakes, vintage sodas and water

La Taquería Pinche Taco Shop

Instagram: 2,745 followers│ Facebook: 7,040 likes │ Twitter: 8,463 followers
Locations: 4 (Vancouver, North Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia)

Concept characteristics:

  • Counter ordering with servers
  • Authentic meat, veggie and seafood tacos and important Mexican and local craft beers
  • Vibrant and fun atmosphere with different décor in each location
  • Catering services

Menu snapshot:

  • Tinga De Pollo Taco—chicken with chorizo in a chipotle tomato sauce, topped with Mexican cheese and sour cream
  • Pollo Con Mole Taco—free-range chicken with chocolate mole sauce
  • Al Pastor Taco—pork marinated in achiote chili and pineapple
  • Calabacitas Taco—vegan option with zucchini, sweet corn, bell peppers and queso fresco
  • Rajas Con Crema Taco—roasted poblano peppers with creamed corn, sour cream and Mexican cheese
  • Atun Taco—seared albacore tuna with wasabi mayo, chili ponzu, cabbage and pico de gallo

About the author

Kristin Menas is the Associate Editor, Canada & Adult Beverage at Technomic Inc. in Chicago. Technomic provides clients with the facts, insights and consulting support they need to enhance their business strategies, decisions and results. Its services include publications and digital products, as well as proprietary studies and ongoing research on all aspects of the food industry. For more information, visit