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Foodtastic’s Big Rig Kitchen and Brewery offers diversified comfort food and pints

    As  I continue on my journey to follow the trail of Foodtastic Inc., one of the leading restaurant franchisors in Canada and based here in Montreal, I discovered Big Rig Kitchen and Brewery on Iris Street in Ottawa.

    Foodtastic purchased Big Rig Brewery (www.bigrigbrewery.com ) and Big Rig Restaurants (www.bigrigbrew.com ) back in 2019. Launched in 2012 by brewmaster Lon Ladell and a group of backers that included former Ottawa Senators defenceman Chris Phillips ​– whose nickname inspired the moniker ​– Big Rig Restaurants have become an Ottawa favorite for great beer and food. In 2014 a state-of-the-art brewery was built in order to expand the distribution of the beer into retail outlets. Today, Big Rig beer is available in over 1,000 locations, from St Johns Newfoundland to London Ontario.

    Upon making the acquisition, Peter Mammas, President and Chief Executive Officer of Foodtastic, said: “Big Rig is a treasured local brand and we are excited to welcome it into the Foodtastic family. This acquisition of a homegrown Ontario business is consistent with our strategy of acquiring quality brands with growth potential that complement our existing brand portfolio. We believe the Big Rig acquisition will leverage our marketing, purchasing and operational systems to better serve our Big Rig customers and welcome many new 

    Server Shelby showcases an order of prime rib.

    There are presently four locations in the Ottawa region and two in Greater Toronto. “Our goal now is to expand first regionally around Ottawa,” says Billy Arvanitis, vice president of operations for Foodtastic. “The name certainly has some equity there.”

    For our dinner, we were a party of three and were welcomed by manager Lana Ward. The Iris Street locale is the flagship, seating 250 people and an additional 50 on a seasonal patio. There is a bar and plenty of booths and television monitors throughout showing the sports events of the day. On this evening, there were a lot of families seated at different tables. 

    Big Rig boasts a diversified comfort food menu featuring starters, greens and soups, handhelds, poutine, nachos, burgers, items from the southern smokehouse and the grill, Mykonos chicken, Korean salmon bowl, fish ‘n chips, southern fried chicken and a selection of Montreal-style pizzas. In 2024 a new menu is being introduced with more veggie and vegan options, as well as back ribs and more.

    For appetizers, we shared the soup of the day (a piping hot and delicious bowl of beef and barley) and the fried pickles. As for the main course, we decided to share three items: the smoked prime rib, the smoked brisket (one pound) and the steak frites, a seven-ounce top sirloin. These items all came with homemade sauces. For sides, we each had some coleslaw and mashed potatoes (including some sweet potato mashed).

    Big Rig is a multiple award-winning brewer, having received two gold and one silver medals, at the Canadian Brewer awards. So yes, beer is clearly a big seller at Big Rig. Several years ago, when then US President Barrack Obama was in town, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau brought him to share a pint at Big Rig. Ladell is still on board. Lana Ward offered me to try a beer or take some cans back with me. I have never been a big fan of the suds, so she gave me some of their own made craft sodas – orange and ginger ale. 

    Will Big Rig ever come to Montreal?  It is not presently in the cards, but Arvanitis said that if somebody manifests an interest in a franchise, Foodtastic would at least listen. The flagship Big Rig is located at 2750 Iris Street.  It opens at 11 am each day.  For more information call 613-688-3336 or log on to www.bigrigbrew.com.

    Mike Cohen

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