U.S. restaurant chains such as Carl's Jr., Fatburger and Famous Dave's now making forays into Canada can expect to find themselves competing with sturdy local competitors who've also identified Western Canada for growth.
Take Robin Chakrabarti, an owner of RAMMP Hospitality Brands Inc. - a Canadian company that since 2009 has bought both the homegrown Pantry and Mr. Mike's brands.
"With our brand, Mr. Mike's Steakhouse Casual, we have done a lot of work on ideal markets in Canada and most signs point to the West," Chakrabarti said.
"The western Canadian economy is very strong relative to the rest of North America," he said. "We have approximately 20-plus new restaurants sold for openings slated for the rest of this year and into 2014-15, and all of those restaurants will be in Western Canada."
Famous Dave's is courting franchisees for five B.C. restaurants and expects to secure multi-restaurant deals with experienced players. The 186-restaurant chain launched its first Canadian unit in a Winnipeg strip mall a year ago.
Since opening in Vancouver in 2005, California-based Fatburger has expanded in B.C. and Alberta, where it now has 16 locations, with a total of 31 across Canada.