The shawarma master plan

 Boustan expands into Ontario

Boustan is expanding to Toronto, but its new location in Scarborough is only part of what could be the master plan to conquer the GTA – one pita plate at a time.

“Toronto has a lot of shawarma restaurants. But Boustan, it’s a unique flavor,” said Mohammed Khalid Iqbal, the owner of the new franchise, located on Lawrence Ave., Scarborough, Ontario.

“Toronto is a big market, bigger than Montreal,” said Iqbal. “We will go even further actually. We are talking to people in Hamilton, in Niagara Falls. The plan is to have 50 new locations in the next five years.” Boustan’s plans are ambitious, considering their humble origins as a Montreal neighborhood Lebanese spot.  

Boustan’s first location was opened in 1986. Imad Smaidi, known to regulars as Mr. Boustan, ran the small location down a flight of stairs on Crescent St. until 2012. Smaidi made it a hotspot for late night, tasty Lebanese food where ex-Prime minister Pierre Trudeau would occasionally visit.

Smaidi sold the restaurant in 2012, and it has not stopped growing since. The chain went from five locations scattered around Montreal in 2016 to currently having over 40 restaurants open as far as Ottawa and Quebec City.

“I’m really looking forward to the shawarma war,” said Liam Earle, a Concordia student from Toronto and top 0.02 per cent Boustan customer at their St. Catherine St. location according to UberEatsats. “Ali Baba is finally going to have some competition,” he said, referring to another well-established Middle Eastern restaurant chain in the GTA. 

Boustan is also welcoming new franchisees. Their website states opening a Boustan franchise is “an affordable investment starting from $125,000.” Along with the name, franchisees are supervised and receive the input of an operations team.

When asked about the goal of the new location, Iqbal said that the spot is “for people from Toronto but [also for] people who know us from Montreal.”

The question now is, will Boustan go even further west? “I don’t know of any shawarma place in Vancouver as famous as Boustan,” said Isaac Tetreault, a Concordia student from B.C. 

Tetreault says it would be great if Boustan expanded out west. While Iqbal said that plans to open in Vancouver aren’t yet on the table, the franchise opening in Toronto seems to be the first step of what could be a rapid expansion across Canada.

Graphics by Maddy Schmidt

Exit mobile version