Waitress-Turned-Owner: Nikita Kish at StrEATS

NikitaWhen Nikita Kish, who had spent over a decade feeling unfulfilled working in the service industry, learned about strEATS’ franchise offering, she knew that she had to take a bite of the appetizing opportunity.

“My job was becoming less fulfilling as the years went by, and I wanted more freedom to live my life while still doing what I loved – connecting with people. I had the opportunity to be one of the first strEATS to open, and it was one of the best decisions in my life.” said Kish, owner of the West Lethbridge location…

A great restaurant investment in Medicine Hat

Our franchise partners in Medicine hat have this awesome story about our restaurants on InvestMedicineHat.ca! Robyn and Mauricio have done so well to succeed in the toughest of conditions.
We thank them for their hard work and their attention to customer service! They have revived Joey's in Medicine Hat!

The shift to Fish Shack is growing serious momentum

The growth of Canadas largest seafood restaurant chain has been spurred on by a change in how consumers are eating out. Joey’s Fish Shacks focus on the experience has drawn the attention of restaurateurs nation-wide.

“Our restaurant has grown up. It’s less cafeteria and far cozier,” says Joe Klassen, founder and CEO of Joey’s Only Franchising Ltd. “Our restaurant décor makes for a more welcoming feel.

Another new Joey’s has evolved in the west end of Edmonton. The opening of Joey’s Fish Shack in Terra Losa in August 2021 makes 8 new Joey’s Fish Shacks in less than a year.

strEATS has opportunities abundant for you to be your own boss

strEATS is powered by 35 years of restaurant franchising. Experienced franchisors with a wealth of restaurant background. We make it easy for you to make money and we are growing like crazy. Give us a call and become a member of the strEATS fam. Michael Klassen is a second-generation fishmonger and a current owner of a strEATS Kitchen. Nikita is a classic example of our new generation of restaurant owner. Engaged with her network and involved in the lives of her customers.

Franchise Advice - What to look for in a franchise

Trust-Word-Cloud-300x300I have written on this topic many times with varying degrees of specific content. This time it is about trust in the franchise system. Not necessarily trust in the business model or trust in the brand although those are also of the utmost importance. Rather, today it is about trust in the Franchisor itself, trust in the franchisor’s people.

How can you tell if the franchisor can be trusted? Of course, there is disclosure documents and the letter of the law within the actual franchise agreement but what does your gut tell you.

I suggest two ways to determine ‘trust’ in a franchisor;

  1. Use that disclosure document to your advantage by calling as many of their franchise partners (franchisee’s in normal speak) as possible. Ask those franchisee’s point blank. Does the franchisor do what they so they are going to do, can you trust them in what they are saying?
  2. How does the franchisor act? Act with you when you are dealing with them, act with their franchisee’s?  This is where your instincts come into play. A franchisor that nurtures relationships with its partners or franchisee’s, builds trust.

So what does trust even mean in franchising? Trust enables you to execute on objectives that are beneficial to your business. Trust lets you open the door to the help and experience that a franchisor can provide.

Hospitality in Franchising is just SMARTICLE.


Yes, Smarticle is a word, another Urban Dictionary find! woot woot! Actually, Smarticle was made famous by Homer Simpson and the irony within is fantastic. Ironic because Homer is a very simple man and the idea of Joy or a.k.a. smarticle is also just so very simple.

I recently spoke in one of my posts about people and their impact on business (the people post). What I did not specifically say in that post about those particular people were that one of the key things that made all of them truly great at what they do is their hospitalitude. OK, that word I totally made up, do you see it? Hospitality/Attitude. It is what I would describe as their ability to bring Joy to every guest, the ability to check their problems at the door and focus on the task at hand. To make their guests experience a truly memorable one each and every time. Dare I say, treat them like family.

I had a manager many years ago that was as hospitable as they come, a well known GM in the city who bought every customer he met a drink, always a smile, always a hand shake and always a drink to be given out. He was well liked by all of our guests. But, so was I, and I barely bought a drink for anyone. Don Cooper says in this video that its theatre and he is right, so right. My manager was great at the theatre but what I learned from this manager was that it wasn’t only theatre but respect and joy to see our guests. My manager would use his promo tab for the month in under two months, where as I would not use 10% of it in the month. Why? Because it was my genuine interactions and the joy I had in dealing with them that kept them happy. I knew their birthdays, their anniversaries, their kids names, their friends and on and on…..Joy and respect are the value added items that no one can describe, its the ingredient that keeps people coming back without them even knowing why. Yet so many refuse to use it in dealing with their clients and guests.

I challenge you to be smarticle today, bring Joy to your clients, guests, friends and family. Be joyful, you’ll be amazed what you get in return.


  • Donald Cooper, MBA, has been both a world-class manufacturer and an award-winning retailer. He speaks and coaches internationally on marketing, management and business excellence.

Donald can be reached at donald@donaldcooper.com in Toronto, Canada.  To read more of his articles, go to www.donaldcooper.com and click on “Free Articles”.


The trick to successful franchises


One of our franchise partners forwarded me this article. I was ecstatic to have some feedback on the blog and he suggested I use this article as inspiration for my blog this week. I was excited about it for two reasons, one was that our franchise partner engaged with the blog and two was because this particular franchise partner is one of those “thinkers”. A multi-store operator with diverse experience who “gets it”.

Thinkers are a rare breed in our world of franchising. Franchisee’s often only ‘think’ about what the franchisor is doing for them but rarely do we hear feedback from franchisee’s about what they can do for the franchisor or themselves. In any franchise system you will find that the “thinkers” are the ones who excelerate (urban dictionary, look it up!) in the system. They are the ones who are the half-million dollar thinkers that are thinking outside and inside the box to excel in their business, to challenge themselves to hit the next level. The trick is to train the non-thinkers to become thinkers and utilizing the thinkers in the system to help do that. I find thinkers are also, all too often, leaders.

So, like the author of the article asked, What kind of ‘thinker’ are you?

  • Donald Cooper, MBA, has been both a world-class manufacturer and an award-winning retailer. He speaks and coaches internationally on marketing, management and business excellence.

Donald can be reached at donald@donaldcooper.com in Toronto, Canada.  To read more of his articles, go to www.donaldcooper.com and click on “Free Articles”.


I have a friend who uses this motto, literally religiously. So when I saw a posting about being ALL IN on Linkedin I thought it would be appropriate to use my friend Michael Chiasson as my inspiration for today’s blog. Check out his amazing story here All Access Ministries.

Franchising to franchisors is about consistency in the brand and product but its also about finding that franchisee that is ALL IN.  It is hard to see success as a franchisee if you believe the franchise is the only reason people come in. Franchises drive the brand and the product, the franchisee drives the service and the atmosphere and if you are ALL In, your guest see it, hear it and support it!


At JFG were are ALL IN in supporting our partners and their success. How about you? Are you ALL IN?

Longevity & Joe Fortes - It's all in the people

This article from the Georgia Straight, Joe Fortes Golden Plates Winner’s Circle – Georgia Straight, came into my Inbox today forwarded from a colleague. He thought I’d enjoy it given my families involvement in Joe Fortes.

Reading this short blurb literally brought a tear to my eye as a flood of memories about this Vancouver institution and its people entered my mind. My father was a very minority partner in the restaurant and I clearly remember November 1985 when my father brought us to this magnificent place that he had a part of. I was proud, very proud, and of course at 11 not understanding corporate structure, thought it was all ours! I was fortunate enough to start working at Joe Fortes in 1995 and throughout the next couple of years forged my ideologies of what a restaurant was and how its people are truly the #1 factor in its success.

You see, what makes Joe Fortes truly unique isn’t just the structure, the atmosphere or the food but the people that work so hard within its four walls (ok and maybe the patio!). I am now twice the age of when I worked at Fortes and yet I can probably still tell you every table number, the names on the ownership placard on the grand staircase, the names of all the regulars with nameplates on the bar, eg. Todd Hilditch, he spent way too much time there! However, I can also tell you the names of so many people who forged my attitude in service, who I call friends to this day and to whom I call experts in their fields. It is those people who drove and continue to drive the success of this restaurant.

I had a few GM’s and managers that formed my ideologies and that I considered mentors, a couple of them I followed to other restaurants and bars as I carved my career path in this great industry. I followed Thane Campbell to Steamworks, Bennie Graydon and Lou Mihailides to Century Grill. I had impactful mentors like Pino Falbo, Michael Paulhus, Shaw Pemberton, Gerald Tritt, Gilbert Marino, Oyster Bob and Terry Multhauf. It is indeed a family, a brotherhood and sisterhood of forged friendships that last forever, between both staff and guests (you all know who you are). A family led by none other than the famous Robert Gagne, aka ‘Frenchy’, a unique personality that never forgets a face and treats every guest like his family. This is how he and the others taught me to work, to believe and to carve a career path in this industry.

It is rather ironic that my path would lead me to another “Joe’s”, Joey’s Franchise Group, a company that is led by another “frenchy” in our namesake, Joe Klassen. We instill the same attitudes towards service and the treatment of our partners and guests at Joey’s Franchise Group that have become synonymous of Joe Fortes. I like to think I landed at home, from one Joe’s to another and it is this family and relationships with people that are so integral to how we run our restaurants today.

The family that this restaurant has built envelopes me to the point that even though I do not know every staff member at Fortes right now, I feel their pain in their recent loss of Emily Sheane to a tragic car accident. This is what creates the restaurants success and its longevity, it’s people, its family. May Emily rest in peace not only as part of her own and extended family but as part of the Joe Fortes family.


I preface this blog posting this week by saying that I am going to steal a few tidbits from my mentors and from an item/posting I saw on LinkedIn today.

All too often our attitudes get in the way of our success. There are many, many reasons are attitudes change our mindsets but I believe the number one way that you can adjust your attitude is by surrounding yourself with people with generally positive attitudes. Take a look at this picture, can you think of either of these tycoons that you haven’t always seen in a positive light, with a good attitude?

Success has so much to to do with NOT giving up, to keep on striving for your goals and therefore having a good attitude. After all, how do you overcome your failures if you can’t keep a good attitude on the outcomes.

At Joey’s Franchise Group, we stole a mantra from Simon Sinek that we try to live by and instill Values into our franchise community to keep great attitudes;

  1. Take an unconventional perspective
  2. Keep it simple
  3. Make long term progress
  4. Share………and,
  5. Silver Line it!

The goal is not necessarily to fix thing that are broken but to amplify the things that work!

Siomn Sinek | Values Video