By Scott Strasser, May 16 2016 —
There could be a battle of the burgers heating up at the University of Calgary.
While negotiations are still underway, a Carl’s Jr. could be coming to MacHall by September 2016.
“Sweet and Savory wants to sell their lease. The proposal they brought to us was for Carl’s Jr., so now that’s currently under negotiation,” Students’ Union vice-president operations and finance Branden Cave said.
Cave said the SU’s operations and finance committee approved the sale and are “looking into all the considerations.”
Sweet and Savory owner Diane Pham confirmed a sale to Carl’s Jr. is likely, but declined to comment until it is finalized.
Carl’s Jr. vice-president general manager of Canadian operations Jeff Branton said his franchise is excited about potentially securing a space in MacHall.
“We are very interested in coming to the university,” Branton said. “We do very well with millennials, who we call ‘young hungry guys.’ It’s one of our target demographics and the people who most appreciate our product.”
Carl’s Jr. opened its first Calgary location in December 2015 near SAIT.
Branton said the Calgary unit has been the most successful of the franchise’s 18 Canada locations.
“We’re very happy with that and we’ve found a recipe for success. We’d like to try to get closer to customers and closer to students,” Branton said.
Carl’s Jr.’s arrival might not be welcome news to everyone at the U of C. According to Cave, A&W has expressed concerns about another burger joint opening in MacHall.
“Those are concerns we’re definitely taking into consideration,” Cave said.
A&W used to have an exclusivity agreement with the SU, stipulating they were the only vendor allowed to sell burgers in MacHall. The exclusivity agreement ended Jan. 1, 2013. Cave said the SU doesn’t make those agreements with vendors anymore.
“I believe the owner of A&W head office would have concerns if they brought in another burger brand to the same food court. I think everybody does. But I think the Students’ Union council’s vote would consider what the students want,” MacHall A&W manager Joni Li said.
Branton said he encourages A&W to welcome competition.
“They’re a very large company in Canada with over 900 units. We have 18. But we’re not afraid to put our product next to theirs or anyone else’s,” Branton said.
“We say bring it on. There’s a lot of business to go around.”