Holy Falafel - Founder & CEO, Greg Ewasiuk

Date: NOV 6th, 2013

Topic: Interview with a CEO

Greg Ewasiuk started his restaurant career with BC’s leading upscale casual restaurateur while attending Simon Fraser University taking Business, Marketing Communications, and Computer Science minors. Eventually working his way up to the New Store Training/Opening and Management Operations teams he had a chance to work with and learn from the very best talents in the industry opening very successful multi-million dollar restaurants that still set the bar today with their high quality standards.

During his professional career Greg has also been fortunate to work with leading international Fortune 500 companies in the resource, retail, and high-tech sectors in sales management and marketing roles at the executive and corporate director levels of business.

He has been able to successfully merge his operational expertise in restaurants, marketing, sales, retail, customer service, and high-tech to envision and bring together the team responsible for creating the multiple award winning upscale Holy Falafel QSR brand.

He believes companies are only as good as their people, and his goal is to find the best talents, and to then empower them to grow together. Greg also strongly believes in responsibly giving back to the communities in which we do business.

BeTheBoss: Tell us about the Holy Falafel concept.

Greg Ewasiuk: Holy Falafel really has gone way back to the Past to bring our customers and franchisees the Future of Fast Casual Food. Our in-demand, patented and well positioned QSR concept is unique to North America, and possibly the world. We are the very first to bring the complex healthy incredibly exotic flavours of popular traditional Lebanese and Middle Eastern street-fare that is taking the rest of the planet by storm, and fuse them with upscale state-of-the-art modern professional North American design, proven operations, customers service standards, training, cleanliness, technology, and management together in an efficient, streamlined, simple, easy to run packaged franchise system.

BTB: Tell us how and when you became involved with Holy Falafel.

GE: Holy Falafel was born in 2011 out of an insatiable new food craving and business opportunity I identified over a decade prior whilst working in the high-tech industry in Vancouver, BC. I found myself consistently lured on many of our luncheon dates/meetings to a tiny local Middle Eastern Shawarma restaurant, that was lined up out the door most hours of the day and night, with loyal hungry patrons salivating over the incredible smells emanating from this busy little establishment. There were several such ‘donair’ shops around town, but something about the flavours, recipes, and procedures at this place were very special and most certainly unique. They had set the bar, and had their competitors clearly beat with their food... But had limited to no ability to grow, offer consistency, nor appeal/market to more demanding consumers outside of their immediate urban microcosm in this ever more competitive market vertical that was begging to mature with much higher North American standards and operational demands. I had an idea, and knew a good-thing when I saw it (and tasted it!). After years of friendly offers our group successfully navigated and purchased the exclusive rights to this restaurant, it’s prized secret recipes, and carefully honed preparation techniques that go back generations through the now retired owner’s family of successful and well known restaurateurs in Lebanon.

With our professional experienced team we have since been able to capitalize on the significant quality and experience gap in this specific marketplace vertical here in North America. Our fusion of proven modern restaurant operations/systems, management, customer service, marketing, sales, and high-technology with these incredible winning recipes have come together to create the unique multiple award winning Holy Falafel brand. We are able to quickly and uniquely achieve what no other donair or falafel shop can possibly offer – Undisputedly the best people, menu/recipes, and well designed modern, clean, consistent, upscale QSR restaurants with superior professional service, operational standards/systems, training, a strong recognizable brand, and very busy locations with growing profitability/returns for our franchise partners.

BTB: What are some of the advantages of being a Holy Falafel franchisee?

GE:While the Fast Casual Food market is growing in general in North America, don’t believe the hype that all cuisine segments within this market are growing equally. Many of them are experiencing organically flat or declining sales, with growth only achieved through aggressive new store openings at the expense of their quality and service. Our franchisees have the tremendous advantage of being able to offer our customers a flavourful healthy cuisine that is relatively new to most North Americans, and is now beginning to experience enormous growth and popularity here, with strong projected growth trends well into the future. North American ethnic demographics and tastes in food are rapidly changing. Customers now demand healthier, more varied worldly tastes as well as vegetarian/vegan food choices, and are looking for something different – They are tired of the same old boring unhealthy pizza, hamburgers, stir fries, and sub sandwiches. We are able to quickly offer them exactly what they crave. Our innovative, well positioned, very busy stores not only compete with the most well established QSR’s out there, but we also regularly outsell them. Besides having award winning unique, superior menu, people, design, some of the highest average per-sale cheques in the industry, and service levels, our profitable franchisees also benefit from our industry leading training, in-store-systems, cost-saving powerful supply chain, quick return on investment, marketing and support. Why reinvent the wheel, when we have already perfected the falafel? And Shawarma!

BTB: Who is your ideal franchisee?

GE:Our ideal Holy Falafel franchisee is somebody who desires to make a difference in the world. Our people care about other people, the community, and what they do every day. They are customer service champions, with an understanding of basic business practices. They are highly detail oriented, driven to succeed, hard working, creative, passionate about our food/quality, while understanding and able to follow our system to evangelize what powerfully differentiates us from our competition that make us so successful and profitable. They want to successfully own/run their own business, carve their own niche, and manage their own destiny, while making a great return on investment to secure their future.

BTB: Tell us a little about the QSR Market.

GE:The Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) market in Canada and North America is growing. On any given day nearly half of Canadians (47%) visit a restaurant, and this is a rate that increasing annually. Latest trade figures show that Fast-food (QSR) restaurants account for nearly two-thirds (64%) of out-of-home meal traffic. There is a significant shift taking place in traffic from full service to quick service, and Canadian 18-34 year olds have had an incredible increase of 157 million QSR visits in the last six years. The QSR industry in Canada alone is currently estimated at over $16 Billion annually in sales.

Holy Falafel is able to effectively capitalize on and compete in this marketplace for several reasons. Our food is not only healthy, but unique, flavourful, real-food, that appeals across most customer demographics from male to female, young, old, blue collar, white collar, multi-ethnic, vegetarian/vegan, meat lovers... They all love us. Holy Falafel is indeed an oasis in the fast casual food desert landscape.

Along with having healthier unique food, our specific Middle-Eastern QSR market vertical is also trending for significant projected growth well into the foreseeable future and is in fact one of the single largest growth opportunities in the QSR marketplace identified. North America’s multicultural and multi-ethnic make-up is dramatically increasing and with them, our plentiful opportunities in this marketplace.

BTB: What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned in growing this franchise?

GE:I’ve had reinforced what I have been taught and truly believe, which is that quality people are our company’s greatest asset. We have brought together a very talented and experienced group of people from three continents with over 80 years of combined industry experience here at Holy Falafel - From our award winning interior designers, all the way to our chefs who have cooked for royalty. I’ve learned that we can be our best when we put great, talented, intelligent people into the roles here that best fit them, and let them do their job to the best of their abilities... Because they can each perform and excel at their duties, better than I ever could. The right people need to be in the right job, and we are committed to doing it Right here at Holy Falafel, every day.

BTB: Do you have a mentor and is there someone you use for inspiration?

GE: I believe in strongly mentoring and giving back. Some of my own mentors whose industry systems, methods, and successes I have studied closely and greatly admire would have to include great leaders like Ray Kroc, Ingvar Kamprad, Leroy (Buzz) Fuller, Jim Treliving, Vikram Vij, Jim Pattison, Sir Richard Branson, and Steve Jobs. All of these influences have very different styles and strengths, but what they all share is an incredible entrepreneurial vision and ability to execute, innovate, and add value to their high quality offerings/systems while inspiring and caring for their staff, differentiating themselves from their competitors, and growing their company’s bottom lines concurrently. They are the best at what they do and are leaders in their respective industries. Following their teachings, Holy Falafel has already established itself as the North American value, quality, and service leader in our particular QSR vertical.

BTB: What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a franchise?

GE:Do your homework and speak with actual franchisee owners about the details of their franchising experience. What are their real costs, and profit margins? How is their initial and ongoing head office support, marketing, and training? What kind of locations are their franchisors able to secure for their franchisees? Are their sales growing? Some franchisors are not as readily transparently upfront about many of the costs they subsequently pass onto their franchisees for ongoing support... Beware of the franchisors advertising zero royalties, with low, or no monthly marketing costs. These franchisors often charge high overheads for materials and supplies you are locked into buying exclusively from them at inflated rates, which often amount to far more than the average monthly royalty/marketing costs other franchisors charge. At Holy Falafel we invite you to meet with us in person, and see our professional operations and support offerings to show you how our system can best work with you. We have a very affordable, transparent, cost competitive QSR offering that we think you will find very attractive after such a comparison.

BTB: In your opinion, why do you think that Holy Falafel would be a great opportunity for someone?

GE:We are in the right place at the right time with our quality upscale healthy very unique Middle Eastern QSR offering. There is nothing else like our modern patented proprietary fusion concept in North America and possibly the world. People from all walks of life love our superior food and our clean concept – The rest of the world already knows how great this cuisine is as it is the #1 fast casual food outside of North America in many markets. North America is just starting to catch on... We are often lined up daily out our front door (and not because we are not fast!) with hungry salivating loyal patrons. Our franchisees will reap the many ongoing profits, benefits, and rewards of being part of the Holy Falafel team with our rapidly growing popular powerful brand. We offer a proven, simple, affordable, easy to execute system. Real Food. Real Service. Bringing the ‘donair’ into this Millennium. We’ve gone Way back to the Past to bring you the Future of Fast Casual food. Holy Falafel.