By Mario Toneguzzi
“The initial consumer response has been tremendous, which validates our strategy of developing franchise units in super-regional enclosed malls in Canada. Positioning the brand in malls takes advantage of built-in traffic with an impulse purchase item, as well as smooths out the sales fluctuation of a seasonality product,” says Jeff Young, chief development officer of Monarchs & Misfits, the parent company of Sweet Jesus.
“Our development strategy is to target super-regional enclosed shopping centres and very selective high street storefront locations. Over the next 12 to 18 months, we’ll probably open another 20-25 units.”
Sweet Jesus opened its first location in downtown Toronto in 2015 at the back of the La Carnita restaurant and since its inception has quickly become one of the hottest franchises in the industry. To date, it has been awarded franchises throughout Canada, in the United States, Dubai, India and Bangladesh.
Sweet Jesus features hand-crafted, chef inspired, pimped out soft serve ice cream, with flavours such as Cookies Cookies Cookies & Cream, Bangin Brownie, Rocky Road Rage, Lemon Coconut Cream Pie, Birthday Cake, Hella Nutella, Sweet Baby Jesus, and Red Rapture. It also has “pimped out pints” for takeaway and “mind blowing” milk shakes such as Red Velvet Cake Batter, Peanut Butter Pretzel & Nutella, Triple Chocolate.
The brand also serves an assortment of hot and cold beverages including S’more’s Hot Chocolate, Cake Batter Hot Chocolate and Salted Dark Hot Chocolate as well as bottled Holy water and cold brew.
“I think it’s successful for a number of reasons. The branding is absolutely on point. Everything from the name, the design package, the colour,” says Young. “The product itself is sensational in terms of product quality and flavour. And most importantly it really resonates with the Millennials who are not only social media savvy but real foodies. We have now garnered more than 109,000 loyal Instagram followers. It’s probably the most Instagramed food in all of Canada.
“This recent store opening reinforces our position as the market leader in the specialty frozen dessert segment. As one of Canada’s fastest growing franchise brands, we have many new locations under development.”
Internationally, it’s expanding into the USA and will be opening in Mall of America and Baltimore Airport. It is also finalizing deals in Florida and Hawaii. Overseas, it will be opening soon in Dubai, India and Bangladesh under the trade name Sweet Salvation.
“All of our products are artisanal in the sense they’re fresh, made-to-order, hand-made toppings, using ingredients and recipes, created and curated by our executive chef,” says Young.
There are currently seven open locations: Ottawa’s Byward Market; Niagara Falls; 106 John Street, Toronto; Vaughan Mills; 780 Queen Street, Toronto; 130 Eglington, Toronto; and Scarborough Town Centre. Two other locations at the CNE and in Port Carling are not open right now.
Young says locations under development over the next 12 to 18 months in the Greater Toronto Area include: The Annex at 416 Bloor Street in Toronto; CF Toronto Eaton Centre; CF Sherway Gardens; Square One; Upper Canada Mall; CF Markville mall; Yonge Sheppard Centre; Woodbine Centre; 499 Danforth Avenue, Toronto. Deals have also been in done in the West Edmonton Mall and Southgate Centre in Edmonton.
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary has 37 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, city and breaking news, and business. For 12 years as a business writer, his main beats were commercial and residential real estate, retail, small business and general economic news. He nows works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Email: email@example.com.