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Yorkdale Shopping Centre

interchange42

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Actually, large American chain restaurants have not fared that well here, really.

Planet Hollywood failed. the Hard Rock is gone from two locations. Wolfgang Puck? He failed to get going I think 3 times. Rainforest Café, gone from a number of locations. PF Chang's? Nope. Carl's Jr., Ponderosa, Olive Garden, gone gone gone. Other than the fast food chains, what has worked out?

The Cheesecake Factory, to me is only a symbol of excess, which is a turnoff, so while there may be a constituency for that, I'm not convinced that its future here is assured.

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ShonTron

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Actually, large American chain restaurants have not fared that well here, really.

Planet Hollywood failed. the Hard Rock is gone from two locations. Wolfgang Puck? He failed to get going I think 3 times. Rainforest Café, gone from a number of locations. PF Chang's? Nope. Carl's Jr., Ponderosa, Olive Garden, gone gone gone. Other than the fast food chains, what has worked out?

The Cheesecake Factory, to me is only a symbol of excess, which is a turnoff, so while there may be a constituency for that, I'm not convinced that its future here is assured.

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Applebee's too dropped a lot of its locations since it moved up here in the late 1990s. Outback disappeared, though it was a Cara-owned brand here. Denny's has done okay (but not amazingly well), as has Ruth's Chris. But Cara, SIR, The Keg, and the western chains (Moxies, Earl's, Joey, Boston Pizza) dominate the mid-range chain restaurant market in English Canada.
 

interchange42

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Yeah, the Canadian chains do better in the casual market than the American ones do. Cactus Club is the latest one entering the market. Anyway, we're veering of the Yorkdale topic here…

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Fritter

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Actually, large American chain restaurants have not fared that well here, really.
he Keg, and the western chains (Moxies, Earl's, Joey, Boston Pizza) dominate the mid-range chain restaurant market in English Canada
Yeah, the Canadian chains do better in the casual market than the American ones do.
Any thoughts as to why this occurs?

Anyway, we're veering of the Yorkdale topic here…
I am sorry, just following the chain of thought.
 

Northern Light

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I don't wish to feed the OT on the thread, but shall beg indulgence.

I think the American chain restaurants overwhelmingly operate in low-competition environments for good food at a reasonable price.

Obviously they face this is Manhattan, SF and pockets of Chicago and DC..........but by and large I find the US to have a small ultra-Fine Dining segment, and then a broad, mediocre chain segment.

There isn't much in the middle or upper middle or perhaps, it might be better said that the middle in Canada is simply somewhere different.

Portions here tend to be a bit smaller, spicing a bit hotter, more ethnic variety etc.

****

The big thing US chains face here, aside from different diner expectations, is simply more competition and higher labour standards.

The cost of doing business here is higher, the margin in thinner.

All that and different expectations are tough on many American chains.

They could, in many cases, succeed here.

However, a la Target, they often come under prepared, assuming this is merely one more adjunct of the familiar US market, and that dooms them.

FWIW, I tried PF Changs to see what the fuss was about, I and my guests were near universal in panning the food as dull and tasteless and we all agreed over-priced for what it was, or even for something 1/2 as good.

****

The only fail I didn't get was Olive Garden, in so far as they were always very busy, so far as I saw, even to the end, which makes me wonder how they managed to lose money in this market......
 

gabe

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American chains can't afford Canada. I tried Buffalo Wild Wing. ( American chain) Pint of beer and small wings was $25 :eek: In the states it cost me about $10. I don't know how these places are going to survive the minimum hike.
 

Skeezix

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[...]
The only fail I didn't get was Olive Garden, in so far as they were always very busy, so far as I saw, even to the end, which makes me wonder how they managed to lose money in this market......
I don't recall Olive Garden having a location in Yorkdale (we are still on topic!), but your comment made me curious and I found Andrew Poon's article "Why Olive Garden Fell out of Favour" in the Sept 22, 1997 Globe and Mail. According to the article, the parent company Darden was having financial issues (having just closed a number of restaurants in the US), supply and labour costs were much higher in Canada (as you noted), they couldn't find a master franchisee to take over the Canadian outlets, and in Canada too many of their outlets were in urban centres where they were a mid-price option that faced many competitors (many of which offered better food for less). So they shut down all of the Olive Gardens in Ontario, and all the Red Lobsters in Quebec (leaving a handful of Olive Gardens in BC and Alta, which are still there AFAIK).
 

AlvinofDiaspar

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American chains can't afford Canada. I tried Buffalo Wild Wing. ( American chain) Pint of beer and small wings was $25 :eek: In the states it cost me about $10. I don't know how these places are going to survive the minimum hike.
Yup - was at TGIF awhile ago and they have $15, 3 course combos - XL sized salad/main/dessert. It is probably best that they can't afford Canada. Canadian health system can't afford American restaurant abundance (neither can their Medicare/Medicaid/Health insurance system really).

AoD
 
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Bruno Republic

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The only fail I didn't get was Olive Garden, in so far as they were always very busy, so far as I saw, even to the end, which makes me wonder how they managed to lose money in this market......
Yes, I recall the one at Atrium on Bay always being busy.

I still miss OG. Some of my American friends chide me for wanting to go to one when I visit them, reminding me that "it's not real Italian food" as if it wasn't blatantly obvious.
 

interchange42

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We used to do a monthly work lunch at the Olive Garden, years ago, and I always enjoyed Soup, Salad & Breadsticks. I'm tasting that salty, buttery, garlicky breadstick right now in fact…

I agree that the one other thing besides higher labour and food costs for the American chains here is that Toronto (and some of the other major Canadian cities) already has a more sophisticated restaurant scene which offers more options, or at least we have a populace that is looking for more varied cuisines, and more independent restaurants, less chain locations in general.

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AlvinofDiaspar

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I'd also argue that what Canadians are looking for from chain restaurants is comfort, familiarity and nostalgia - which is not something American chains can offer given they are new. Like just how exotic can PF Chang really be in a city filled with authentic and exciting eats? One look at the Cheesecake factory food porn so far and meh.

AoD
 

steveve

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I'd also argue that what Canadians are looking for from chain restaurants is comfort, familiarity and nostalgia - which is not something American chains can offer given they are new. Like just how exotic can PF Chang really be in a city filled with authentic and exciting eats? One look at the Cheesecake factory food porn so far and meh.

AoD
+1. Definitely harder for these chains in larger cities (like Toronto) with vast food options. Take the Olive Garden in Times Square, which I’d argue exists solely for tourists (also a guilty pleasure of mine, IIRC I’ve eaten there every time I’ve visited). Part of reasoning behind why people visit these restaurants in the States, is that you can’t find them back home... it’s very experiential. Bringing them over here, in many ways, slowly wears off those feelings over time, to the point where it’s no longer a novelty. Just because Canadian tourists flock to these restaurants in swarms, doesn’t there is a strong enough demand for cross-border expansion - something other American brands (not just restaurants) have failed to take note of -or misinterpreted. There are exceptions of course.
I think Cheescake has a shot of sticking around for the long haul, especially if they remain few and in strategic locations. Sure, there food isn’t really special when you break it down, nor is it over-the-top-gotta-get-it-now, but I find it exceeds most offerings by similar Canadian chains like the Pickle Barrel (which coincidentally is right next door). Yorkdale is also as perfect of a location as it gets.
As consumers, I think we all win. Not a huge fan of some of mega-chain offerings found around here. Competition is good.
 

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