Industry News | May 9, 2013

Big Smoke Burger Takes Off in the Middle East

Big Smoke Burger, Toronto’s dominant better burger chain, is taking the Middle East by storm since working with Fransmart, the franchise development company whose track record in the region includes the sale of eight brands and over 200 units.  After signing 2012 deals for Kuwait and Bahrain, Big Smoke Burger closed out the year with Saudi Arabia – the largest F&B market in the Middle East. They then signed another major master development deal in the first quarter of 2013 for the UAE. 

Sheikh Tariq and Sheihk Mohammed Bin Saedan, the brothers and owners operating the Big Smoke Burger franchise under Distinctive Flavor LLC for Saudi Arabia, have an exclusive master deal for a minimum of 15 units for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 
 
Saleh Al-Samadi, the managing partner who will head up development for Big Smoke in the UAE under his family’s company Al-Samadi Retail, signed on for 15 units and exclusivity, with a primary focus on Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah. 
 
Both new franchisees agree that Big Smoke’s founder and CEO, Mustafa Yusuf, played a large role in their decision to partner with the brand. His solid operations and exclusive strategy for entry into the Middle East assured them that they would be working with a company that was scalable and marketable. Al-Samadi said what he and his partners fell in love with specifically was the taste of Big Smoke’s food.  
 
“It was pretty straightforward – we just found a burger that we really liked.  We have studied the market and evaluated competitors; Big Smoke is very different from anything that’s currently out there,” says Al-Samadi. 
 
According to Tariq Bin Saedan, “Big Smoke Burger offers a generous variety of handcrafted burgers that meet the tastes of Saudi Arabian consumers.”
 
Since 1934, the Saedan family has functioned successfully in the real estate industry, and for the last twenty years, the family began to diversify into real-estate-related businesses, eventually contributing to the overall economic development mainly throughout the Riyadh area as well as expanding to major Saudi Arabian cities. They plan to open their very first Big Smoke Burger restaurant on Prince Mohammed Bin Abdulaziz Street (formerly Tahlia Street), one of the busiest and most vibrant entertainment, shopping, and food streets full of big-brand names of clothing and restaurants.
 
Al-Samadi Retail has extensive experience with tourists and retail concepts. Although Big Smoke will be the first F&B company in their portfolio, they have already secured locations for their other concepts in the Mall of the Emirates, the Dubai Mall, and other top shopping malls in the UAE.
 
Big Smoke Burger is a dominant "better burger" brand and is poised to be a quick favorite in any market that it breaks into.  
 
Fransmart CEO, Dan Rowe, says “Big Smoke Burger is a unique player in the segment due in part to its unique signature sauces and offering of traditional Canadian poutine,” – that is to say, French fries topped with brown gravy and cheese curd. Other factors that set it apart are the practice of flame broiling their burgers (hence the name Big Smoke), unique protein options like chicken and lamb, and its gourmet burger ‘lounge’ ambience -  a more upscale feel than the typical fast casual restaurant, without varying in price point.