Quebec’s 1st first Virtual kitchen concept located in Ville St Laurent has seen groundbreaking success since its launch on July 1, 1st, 2021.
“We knew our concept would be a success,” said Dan Vigderhous, president of Q-ZN Solutions, “but we never thought we’d see such an explosion right off the bat!”
Q-ZN has secured 21 brands operating out of only 13 kitchen spots, with just 3 kitchens left available for rent. Concepts include American Eclectic Burger, AYA, Big Daddy Wings, Bubble Tea, Cattlemans Pizzeria, Cote Saint-Luc BBQ, Jerk House, Maneki, Man vs. Fries, Mezzmiz, Mia Pasta, Moushi, Nosh Box, Petit Sao, Quebec Pizzeria, Rebel Wings, Shodz, Sofia 2 Go, Wendy’s, Wings & Things and the much-acclaimed MrBeast Burger.
“Working with Q-ZN has been ideal for us,” said Nick Monaco, owner of Sofia2Go, Pizzeria Sofia’s first Montreal location (and only delivery-only location) complementing their other two locations in Brossard and Rosemere. “The facility provides everything we need in a seamless, efficient concept. The management team is outstanding, they provide incredible support, and the Q-ZN concept is simply brilliant!”
With no on-site dine-in facilities, Q-ZN is geared towards pick-up and delivery only and has partnerships with Uber Eats, Skip The Dishes, DoorDash, LightSpeed and Eva. They have also just launched their proprietary online ordering application – Q-Zone
Q-ZN allows its operators 24/7 access to their own kitchen space, tailored to meet their individual business needs and includes:
State of the art kitchen facility fully equipped with all necessary equipment to run a Delivery-Only restaurant
Partnership deals with key Delivery partners such as: Lightspeed & Deliverect, Sysco, UberEats, Skip The Dishes, Doordash, Tzanet and more!
Low overhead and initial costs tailored to maximize profitability for delivery-only restaurants
Flipdish: Digital ordering from kiosks or phones, and grow your business with marketing and loyalty campaigns.
Q-ZN, as it is cleverly called, recently opened in the industrial sector of St. Laurent. When Dan and his partners, Jason Nishmas, Jason Martin and Steve Merling, were putting the concept together and approaching restaurants he began waxing nostalgic about Cattlemans. Before you could say “pepperoni,” a plan was in place. He approached the owners of Quebec Pizzeria in Laval (order.quebecpizzeria.ca) and with the blessing of the Blutman family, he gave them the Cattleman’s (now reborn without the apostrophe to please the language police and known as Cattlemans Retro) pizza recipe. The Papa family from Quebec Pizzeria nailed it.
Peter Morentzos is behind the development of more than 50 restaurants, with the Queue de Cheval always serving as the flagship. Others included Moe’s Deli and Bar, Weinstein and Gavino’s and 40 Westt Steakhouse, just to name a few.
La Queue de Cheval Steakhouse and Raw Bar, (www.queuedecheval.com), located at 1181 Avenue de la Montagne, has been a powerhouse for 22 years. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Morentzos tried to develop a curbside pickup service. The food was delicious as always, but economically the format was not sustainable.
Morentzos tells me that he fears La Queue may never open again. Last summer he was supposed to open a Toronto edition, right in the heart of the popular theatre district. That project is off for good as well. However, the pandemic has not resulted in a total loss. In 2014, while he was preparing to reopen La Queue in a new building, Morentzos launched a new brand called QDC Burger in the back alley on Avenue de la Montagne. It was such a hit that he placed the burgers on the regular La Queue menu and then opened standalone locations at 210 St. Viateur Ouest in the Mile End District and another at Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport in Dorval.
QDC Burger is a throwback concept that has a down-to-earth feel. Burgers are simply spectacular as they are uniquely created with a secret recipe of USDA Prime & Canadian AAA “steak-cut” along with QDC a signature brioche bun. Amazingly delicious! The taste profile on its own has the ability to create a loyal cult-like following the menu has two options: Build Your Own Burger, for adventurous foodies, or, choose one of the Chef’s selections of 10 mind-blowing burgers. From crowd favorites like the Surf n’ Turf or the MOB Burger to the health-conscious Kong Burger (Ahi Tuna) or the creative À Louer Burger (Organic King Salmon). Really hungry? No problem add two bucks and go from the large 1⁄4 lb to the extra-large 1/3 lb of USDA steak-cut beef.
This is where Morentzos is focusing his attention now. The airport locale has been closed since the spring, but business at St Viateur is booming. I recently did a pickup for the family and it is an understatement to say how fabulous these burgers are.
There was Peter himself cooking the burgers and placing them into neat containers. I dropped a classic half pound burger and fries at my mom’s first and then went home. It was about 35 minutes door to door. At my household the selections were Lefty’s Burger, the Steakhouse Burger and the Jefferson. I added the lobster roll sandwich for the following day as an extra treat.
“QDC Burger is shining for us during this dark period,” says Morentzos. “Business is up 40 percent over last year.”
And yes expansion is on the agenda. Another location will open in Old Montreal by the end of November. That will be followed in December by what Morentzos calls a “dream spot” downtown on Cyprus Street, between Peel and Stanley, right near Le Windsor ballrooms. In the spring QDC will land on trendy Monkland Avenue in NDG.
“It is an amazing kind of business,” Morentzos says. “You get a high-end quality product in between some bread for less than $20. Of course, we look forward to opening our doors again to dine-in customers, but pickup and delivery work well for us and the clients.”
Morentzos paints a dreary portrait of the future. “Big-box restaurants will not be back for three to five years,” he predicted. “Everything has changed.”
QDC Burger is located at 210 rue Saint Viateur Ouest. Opening hours are Wednesday to Sunday from Noon to 9 pm, with a curbside service takeaway menu and delivery available via Uber Eats, Skip the Dishes and Door Dash. For more information go to www.qdcburger.com or call (514) 312-0321
PizzaPita has been going strong in the Snowdon area for more than 30 years. With their recent move across Decarie Boulevard to the former Pizza Hut location in front of Decarie Square, at the corner of Decarie and Vezina, they have a prime spot to garner the attention of thousands of commuters, shoppers and locals each and every day. Hence they’ve rebranded PizzaPita to PizzaPita Prime.
For so many years now I have walked or driven by Sushi Shop (www.sushishop.com) locations, but never stepped inside to order. With our family focusing exclusively on take-out and delivery options during the COVID-19 pandemic, we agreed to finally give this place a whirl. Let’s just say they can count on us being regular customers from this day forward. What a pleasant surprise the entire experience was.
It is hard to believe but 2020 marked Sushi Shop’s 20th anniversary. Owned by the MTY Group, there are now 165 locations across Canada.
The menu is full of innovative, original creations that excite the most devoted sushi fanatics and appeal to sushi newbies.
Prepared fresh with care by their chefs, Sushi Shop products offer great flavour and superior freshness. Their popular poke bowls, sushi tacos and blossom and temari collections are just among a wide selection of unique creations available
In 2000, when Sushi Shop opened the doors of its first location at the Atwater Market in Montreal, sushi was a long way from becoming one of the most popular foods in Canada. Sushi had a small and loyal following, and the few sushi restaurants that were open catered to the already-initiated. As the internet worked to increase awareness of global cuisine, sushi became a cultural mainstay and Sushi Shop emerged as one of the fastest-growing brands in the nation.
Sushi Shop has been passionately committed since its beginning to being unlike any other sushi experience available. Its progressive approach to sushi pays homage to the artisanal beauty of traditional sushi, while also pushing the boundaries by combining sushi with other global cuisines and flavor profiles. The result is a wildly unique experience that appeals to sushi fanatics and to those who have never tried sushi before. It has helped us win thousands of devoted fans who make Sushi Shop a part of their daily lives.
Sushi Shop goes far beyond the traditional and cliché California rolls with its own creations, which seek to blend high art with new and exciting flavor profiles. The Blossom Collection artfully shapes rolls such as our teriyaki salmon and salmon truffle into bursting petal designs. The temari collection literally rolls exciting flavor profiles such as tuna tataki and crispy lobster into delicious and bite-sized balls.
Sushi Shop also takes sushi where it’s never been before by offering such genre-bending products as sushi tacos, sushi pizza, sushi burrito and black sesame ice cream. The brand also appeal to those who may not be in the mood for sushi by offering a fresh twist on Japanese cuisine. For example, the Poke bowls are delicious, nutrient-packed, flavor explosions that use several core sushi ingredients but are styled more like a salad.
I called in my order at 5:10 pm on a Saturday and they told me it would be ready in 30 minutes. When I arrived, everything was packaged and ready to go.
We started off with the Umami poke bowl with crispy sticky rice. Beautifully presented like a tartare, their poke bowls come with the choice of white rice, brown rice and Sushi Shop’s unique crispy sticky rice or lettuce. We shared this three ways and each agreed that we did not want it to end. Every morsel was so delicious.
The delicious sushi pizza recipes come with crispy rice and cheese crust, served with your choice of spicy light mayo, soy, sesame or Yin Yang sauce. We had the one topped with lobster, crab, shrimp, spicy light mayo, mango, red masago, green onion and sesame.
I must say that the menu is overwhelming: so many amazing choices. We studied the selections closely and settled on a nice variety. In the temari section, we went for the bomb. Now each temari is prepared with distinctive ingredients, inside and out, giving them a unique character and personality, with spicy light mayo, soy, sesame or yin yang sauce. The bomb has Japanese mayo, teriyaki sauce, sesame and Japanese spices, crab, shrimp, mozzarella, spicy light mayo, Japanese mayo, teriyaki sauce
For maki, we went for the black mamba. These are medium sized rolls served in eight bite-sized piece and containing all sorts of flavour combinations for the beginner to the sushi expert. In the case of the black mamba, there is shrimp tempura, salmon, kanikama, red and black masago, spicy light mayo, Japanese mayo and green onion.
The sumomaki rainbow features large rolls, cut into five pieces. Simple as well as more complex flavour combinations ours had tuna, salmon, avocado, green onion, cucumber, tempura, spicy light may and spicy sauce.
We loved the blossom volcano mini (eight pieces). The top mimics the beautiful Japanese flower. This one had torch-seared salmon, avocado, tempura, red masago, light and spicy light mayo, sesame and soy sheet.
Still on the blossom section, we tried the phoenix. There were six pieces, containing popcorn shrimp, kanikama, avocado, crispy sweet potato strings, tempura, red masago, sesame sauce, spicy light mayo, Japanese spices, sesame, and rice paper.
The tartare maki tuna is slightly spicy, tasty and crispy. It represents your ultimate choice of fresh fish or seafood wrapped in lettuce and rice paper. The four pieces contained tuna, tempura, lettuce, cucumber, carrot, green onion, spicy light mayo, spicy sauce, orange masago and sesame, rice paper.
There were no sushi tacos available that night, so something for us to try next time as well as a number of other items being rolled out; a new maki green crush, combo bamboo and two new poke bowls, all made with their new bamboo rice. The taste is described as light. delicate and packed with nutrients like vitamin B and antioxidants. In fact, all of their rolls, poke bowls and combos can be made with this new rice.
States Marc Benzacar, the chief operating officer of MTY’s Fast-Casual Division: “We strive to be different, and we have a unique vision of what sushi can be. We don’t just do the common rolls, we do rolls our way — and it’s an art. We deliver all of the artisanal quality of high-end sushi, and we deliver it at an affordable price. This is why fans are so happy with us, and it’s why business took off so quickly in Canada.”
Like all restaurant chains, the pandemic has not made things easy.
“We had more than half of our locations closed during COVID and the pandemic was an extremely difficult time for our franchisees,” said Marketing Director EmilieMercier.
Sushi Shop locales had to cope with a lack of staff, constant change from the government’s measures, rental fees, food supply interruption, a loss of traffic and delivery services not being readily available in certain regions. “We can now say that most of our locations are opened and we are slowly catching up to where we are in sales before COVID, but the battle has not been won yet,” said Mercier.
For 2020, Sushi Shop had planned to open 10 new locations. Expansion will still occur, but not at the intended rate.
As for the large menu options, Mercier notes: “We are known by our fans to have an extensive menu, as well as new menu items every few months. Our team helps each location with training. We also try to create new items with ingredients we already have in our store.”
Delivery orders can be made via Skip the Dishes, Uber Eats, and Door Dash while for pickup you can call it in yourself or use bon app or ritual. Check each location first to which of these services is available.