Where halal meets fast food franchising

Chadi Sreis and his franchise B12 Burger are making an impact in the Montreal food industry


Danial Farshchi and his friends enter a small burger shop in Laval. Inside they are graced by one room with a few tables and a counter to order food. From the back, they can see freshly cooked burger patties being flipped in the kitchen. When asked what to order, the group scours the menu available — the selection contains a wide array of halal angus burgers, subway sandwiches, fried chicken, and hotdogs. The young man decides to try the special B12 burger trio served with fries and chips. When he gets his order, he opens the box and is faced with a juicy halal burger. The enormous patty, practically the size of his own head, is covered in a huge load of cheese sauce, and stuffed with onion rings, bacon, lettuce, and tomatoes.

B12 Burger was once a small mom-and-pop shop in Laval. It is one of the few local fast food restaurants that provided an option for halal burgers for Muslim Quebecers like Danial Farshchi.

“There are not many trusted fast food chains that are 100 per cent halal. A lot of places will say they’re legit, but there’s no proof, there’s no nothing,” he said.

One of the main competitors to the B12 franchise is Bergham, which serves halal subway sandwiches. Customers like Danial Farshchi believe their food is good, but the quality of service does not meet the same level as B12.

In 2018, the business caught the eye of entrepreneur Chadi Sreis. He is one of the owners of the Lebanese fast food franchise Boustan. Sreis is a respected businessman  who deals with an intense time schedule — our brief conversation was held on the phone while he was in his car. He was excited to discuss B12 and its origins while also bouncing in and out of other work situations that came up during our conversation over the phone.

“I tried out the burgers there and really liked it,” he said. “Initially we [Sreis and his business partners] were looking at all kinds of brands and this is one that we really liked. We believed in it and took it to the next level.” Three restaurants are now open in Laval, Kirkland, and Acadie Boulevard. “After acquiring the first shop, we had to go to the banks to loan us the money to set up our own burger restaurants.”

The growing franchise remains successful despite the pandemic.

“Our revenues went up because the big strip malls were closing, so all these small, quick service restaurants did fairly better in the pandemic,” he said. “The rent is lower, the space is lower, and the bills are generally lower.”

B12 made a yearly volume upwards of $1 million in 2020 according to Sreis. The store set up in Kirkland continues to have around 75 to 150 customers daily with an average customer spending around $18 to $20 on an order. “During the pandemic, the sit down [area] was closed, so our menu was strictly available to people who wanted to pick up and go, or delivery through third parties.” Expenses for the company increased with delivery services such as Uber Eats and DoorDash charging over 30 per cent on orders. Mr. Sreis asserted that the volume of sales during the pandemic balanced out the extra expense of third party partners without debt accumulation. “It wasn’t really that bad. Don’t forget we didn’t really need people to serve in the restaurant, and stuff like that. All you needed is people to cook.”

Going forward, Chadi Sreis has big plans for the B12 franchise. “Right now, our main focus is to expand the business. Montreal is still a virgin market for us, and we only have three stores.” The goal is to have 20 to 25 more locations on the island of Montreal in the next two to three years.

“There is a big demand on the product because it’s part of a niche market,” he added.

There are some things Danial thinks the franchise could improve upon. The locations are small and do not make for comfortable dine-in experiences. “When I go there with my friends… I can’t tell you how many times we sat on the curb outside the parking lot just because there’s no space in the seating inside!” he said. Another issue he has with the business is the food packaging. Often when he orders from them through Uber Eats, the food is delivered soggy and cold. He also wishes that the burger could be served better while also keeping its humongous size. “For the love of God, why can’t they cut the burger in half? When I pick it up it’s so messy and I have to make sure the burger doesn’t drop out of the buns.”

Graphics Courtesy of James Fay


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