Canadian Brand Comes South

Tysons Corner, Virginia
Tysons Corner, Virginia Earls Kitchen + Bar

Crossing the border is easy, but despite all the similarities in the two countries, Earls Kitchen + Bar found its U.S. restaurants required localization.

Emerging Chains Report
Earls Kitchen + Bar
Opened: 1982 in Canada
U.S. presence: Seven locations in six states, two opening in 2016
Father/son Co-founders Leroy Earl Fuller and Stanley Earl Fuller

What’s not to love about an upscale Canadian concept with inventive food and beverage? Only that it’s not immigrating at a faster clip. Earls Kitchen + Bar—with 59 locations north of the border—has seven U.S. locations with two more set to open this year, in Boston and Orlando, Florida. The Vancouver-based chain also plans to open one new location in each country next year.

“In the U.S. you either get a high-quality dining experience or a high-quality bar experience, but we offer both,” says Earls’ chief development officer Stephen Andrews. “So even though [the U.S.] feels like a crowded market, our offering is different.”

In fact, Earls itself is different and has turned 180 degrees from the first restaurants the company opened in 1982, when it broke ground as a burger-and-beer operation. Earls now has a made-from-scratch menu that includes items from curry to burgers, sushi, tacos, and rice bowls, plus entrées like chimichurri skirt steak and Cajun chicken.

The U.S. locations are fairly different from the Canadian restaurants, Andrews says, noting that food sales are higher than in Canada, and there’s a weekend culture in the U.S. that doesn’t exist north of the border. Plus, Andrews says, “We are also just starting to see the shift in the U.S. to a preference for higher-quality food over quantity. Canadians appear to have made that shift earlier than their U.S. counterparts.”

The U.S. venues are located throughout the country in Bellevue, Washington; Chicago; Denver; Lone Tree, Colorado; Miami; Somerville, Massachusetts; and Tysons Corner, Virginia. Another difference Andrews notes is that the U.S. locations have a larger footprint, since they’re in bigger cities that are more densely populated and the additional seats are needed to support the required investment in the build and design of the restaurant. They also have a lighter color palette and incorporate natural light to give great daytime energy.

To bring Earls’ culture to the U.S., the company has worked hard on creating teams mixed with employees from both north and south of the border. “Our culture is critical to our DNA and we need enough Canadians to implant that culture in the U.S.,” Andrews explains. “We approach each market with a lot of humility. We are forever students and forever learning about what our customers want. We didn’t airdrop in with a package built for Canada.”



Great Food with healthy options, vibrant bar scene, beautiful surroundings and a super friendly staff make Earls unique.


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