Business Models that should come to Toronto – III

The concept:

Quickserve restaurants like Pret a Manger (just say “Pret”) which are a little like upmarket Tim Horton’s.

Why it works:

These places are everywhere in London – chain shops that specialize in lunch.  Don’t bother making a sandwich at home because there are 3 Prets on every block and they can make the food cheaper than you can.  The above sandwich is about GBP2.50-3.00, or C$3.50-4.50.  I have a personal rule against spending more than $5 at lunch.

Where Tim Horton’s serves the middle market in Canada (905 Suburb + Minivan + DriveThru), Pret targets the City worker.

Toronto examples:

Think of a Tim Hortons with the following alterations:

  • moved a little upmarket (+10-20% price and quality)
  • really high quality flavorful cheeses
  • with healthier options
  • smaller portions
  • staffed by French exchange students
  • superior coffee
  • focus on takeaway – smaller store footprint, all the better to take your sandwich to a park and enjoy

Starbucks differs from Pret in its price is higher, its food tilted more towards snacks/cookies/muffins rather than lunch options, and focus on providing free wifi and comfy chairs.  Most of the other affordable lunch options in Toronto are takeaway of dubious health value, or well above the C$5.00 pricepoint.  There is a last option of a bank-owned subsidized cafeteria, but then you gotta know somebody to savor that flavor.


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