Ben Osmow: A Visionary revolutionizing the QSR Industry

Ben Osmow

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Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) in North America have gained significant ground in the past few years. With the continuous growth, several new players are emerging in the industry.

Excelling in this ever-increasing competition, the Canadian-based franchisor Osmow’s Inc., has established itself as one of Canada’s fastest-growing Mediterranean chains with 115+ locations. The company is on a mission to satisfy the cravings of each of its customers, according to their specific needs by providing them with a large selection of rich Mediterranean cuisine options.

For the past 20 years, Osmow’s is family owned and operated. At the helm of the company along with Ben Osmow (CEO and Head of Franchising) is Sam Osmow (Principal and Founder) and Bernadette Farag (President and CMO). Ben is an experienced leader in the Franchising and Marketing sector with a successful history of working in the restaurant industry. He is well-versed in domains such as public speaking, business development, and people management. Ben is a highly qualified leader—having pursued a Master of Business Administration (MBA) specializing in International Business.

Mirror Review’s team recently had the opportunity to interview Ben. We spoke about the company’s growth and factors distinguishing it from the competition. In addition to, we discussed the challenges and opportunities in the QSR segment. Here are some snippets from the intriguing conversation.

When was Osmow’s established? What was the inspiration behind the establishment?

Osmow’s was established in 2001 as a mom-and-pop middle-eastern restaurant by my father Sam Osmow. At the time, there were numerous brands and shawarma places around; however, they were very authentic—which was not necessarily welcomed by Canadian customers. My father made the most of this opportunity by modernizing middle-eastern food and serving the customers in a unique way—which we still do to this day.

Brief us on the factors that differentiate the company from its competitors?

We don’t consider ourselves to be authentic middle-eastern cuisine, we consider ourselves modern Mediterranean cuisine. We were the first brand that looked to modernize ourselves with our menu. In a short time, we became a fan favourite for Canadian customers. Another factor that differentiates us from the rest is that we focus a lot on educating our customers on our proprietary menu items such as Chicken on the ROCKS™, Shawarma Poutine, and Beef on the STIX™. This allowed us to essentially open our doors to almost any Canadian customer across the board.

What is the niche  of Osmow’s that makes your customers happy? How are you planning to better the customer experience?

Our niche is being able to head every health and dietary trend. We have a series of different options that come across the board. We are the first Mediterranean brand to partner with Beyond Meat™. We also provide a lot of plant-based & vegan protein options including our signature sauces.

Pushing more of these dietary trends is something that our brand does very well. We introduce new menu items that are in line with the standard industry trends. Emphasizing innovation, we introduce 2-3 new menu items every year. These items create excitement among the customers and quickly make their way to our Top 10.  

As a leader, what are your primary responsibilities? Also, please mention some notable achievements throughout your journey.

As the Head of Franchising at Osmow’s, I manage all the franchising operations. The company as a brand has doubled in size and has maintained a strong growth trajectory over the past couple of years. We have also onboarded new staff that—with their extensive experience in the industry—is contributing to our growth. We have been platinum winners of the Readers’ Choice Awards across many markets over 13 times—winning Top Middle-eastern, Top Mediterranean Food—across multiple cities around Canada. Recently, we have been awarded as one of Canada’s Best Managed Businesses from Deloitte.

How did the franchise business change during the COVID-19 pandemic? How has it impacted the company?

The entire restaurant industry essentially fell apart during the pandemic. The first two months of the lockdown were detrimental. Sales were at an all-time low as people were under lockdown. They started cooking at home and were not comfortable eating take out. However, our industry came together very quickly.

As a brand, we pivoted, adjusted, and put some things in place that allowed our customers to feel safe—coming into our restaurants as well as ordering food online. By June 2020, we were back to 100% sales, and by July, we even surpassed our year-over-year sales. We also initiated healthcare promotions so that we could welcome all frontline health workers to show our support for all their hard work.

What are the major transformations in the QSR sector that you anticipate in the upcoming years?

We are in the second year of the pandemic and there is still a lot of uncertainty in the market. However, in the near future, I believe that the QSR market will become more competitive. Several big restaurants will shift into a quick-service model—fueling the competition. Moreover, brands will not take more risks regarding high-rent, high overhead locations. Besides, the delivery model has become fruitful for many brands.

Besides your service offerings, what are the initiatives taken by you to give back to the community?

Yes, me and my sister Bernadette Farag started the charity named “Osmow’s Hope Fund”—which is meant to work with charities both locally & abroad. Every year, we will focus on a different country. In 2021, we’re working with Mary’s Meals, a charity with a simple promise; provide one daily meal in a place of learning in order to attract chronically poor children into the classroom, where they receive an education that can, in the future, be their ladder out of poverty. This year we are focusing specifically on Zambia where as an organization we have committeed to feed over 1200+ children daily for the entire school year. We hope that through a series of “ROUND UP” initiatives at the store level, our customers will help us dontate more.

Why Become an Osmow’s Franchisee?

  • Widespread presence throughout Canada
  • One of the highest average sales per unit in the industry—$830 per unit
  • Constant support even through the crisis
  • Several franchisees owning multiple locations
  • Independent delivery service model

Ben Osmow

Read Full Magazine:- The 20 Leaders Transforming Franchise Business of 2021.

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