Apparently, a traditional Canadian breakfast isn’t that much different from the all-American.
“It comes back to that staple breakfast, the two eggs and toast and hash browns, pancakes and crepes,” OEB Breakfast Co. CEO Dave Orsten told Nation’s Restaurant News.
The casual-dining chain with 12 units in Canada and one in Arizona recently opened its first California location in Newport Beach with the help of Newport Breakfast Concepts LLC. But there are plans for more units, many more.
“We're very bullish and ambitious in our growth. But we're also conscious enough that we want to do very well,” Orsten said. “Ideally, we'd like to see 25 or 30 locations open in the next five years. But we're going to be smart, we're going to build from areas where we have a foundation.”
That includes in the California market where they have not yet been licensed to franchise but have plans to. California plans for growth include Orange County, San Diego, and Los Angeles.
Newport Breakfast Concepts LLC’s Walid Daoud told Nation’s Restaurant News that a second location in Irvine is currently in the works.
“Being an Orange County resident and knowing how much locals appreciate great food made with the best ingredients, I’m thrilled to introduce OEB and everything that makes it so special to our friends, communities and neighbors,” said Daoud in a release. “OEB is a dining destination like no other where guests can choose from a variety of unique breakfast and brunch items that were designed by our talented chef and founder to delight and excite the senses. My brother and I are looking forward to welcoming everyone into OEB to enjoy the signature experience that has made OEB a household name in Canada and beyond.”
Plans to expand into Seattle and Portland are in the works as well.
“We're not a brand that's going to drop 100 locations a year and just rush out and saturate the market,” Orsten said. “We want to really make a statement and do something that matters.”
Something that matters to the Canadian chain is the quality of its food, which is just subtly different in the U.S. and Canada.
There is more Southwestern influence on the OEB menu in the U.S. than Canada. There’s also a lack of sourdough bagels in the U.S., so those are missing from the menu because Orsten hasn’t found a baker up to his standards.
The favorites at each store vary by region as well.
“In our Arizona location, you definitely see that influence where people tend to navigate a little more towards traditional breakfast items,” he said. “But in California, people are really excited about that kind of creative, culinary-driven menu items that are really challenging your palates a little bit and getting them to try something new.”
Americans like their bars. That’s something Orsten knows now.
“People love to come in and order a cocktail, or sit at the bar on a Friday, and get a shot of tequila with breakfast,” he said. “In that area, our bar sales are definitely stronger and there’s a different culture around that.”
The food at OEB is chef-driven – the chain was founded by a chef – and is all about serving delicious, well-sourced food that’s not pretentious. That’s something the brand prides itself on. The fryer vats use duck fat, instead of fry oil.
“A lot of people aren't courageous enough to spend $160 a day filling fryers with duck fat in order to chase that,” Orsten said. “But we feel that that investment is what separates us.”
And customers seem to be responding well.
“It amazes me every time we open a new location, how quickly our sales increase,” he said. “We love making food look amazing and the response is overwhelming, which is like, kind of near and dear to our hearts.”