Fast food doesn’t always mean you have to sacrifice nutrition and quality. Copper Branch is an up-and-coming fast casual restaurant that’s aiming to serve fresh, wholesome plant-based ingredients.
Based in Montreal, Canada, Copper Branch opened in 2014 in two locations with several more restaurants planned for opening in 2015. The menu ranges from quinoa to tofu bacon sandwiches and from sweet potato and black bean burgers to vegetable and grain “power bowls.”
While the chain restaurant is just getting off to a start in Canada, the concept has been well received in Montreal, according to Andrew Infantino, marketing director for Copper Branch. The business has received positive reaction about their menu, atmosphere and overall mission to quickly serve wholesome, plant-based food.
“We hope that as we gain even more awareness and promote our mission in different locations that we can continue to grow,” Andrew Infantino said.
It’s been a journey for owner Rio Infantino. After owning several fast food franchises for 25 years, Rio Infantino decided to seek a healthier lifestyle – and healthier dining options.
“His life was completely changed,” said Andrew Infantino.
Rio Infantino transitioned out of ownership of the fast food franchises, but started looking to the future that would eventually become Copper Branch. Having taken control over his own diet, he was motivated to build a quick-service restaurant that wouldn’t sacrifice health and quality in the name of speed.
“He wanted to develop a concept where he would eat,” said Andrew Infantino.
Copper Branch was in development for several years before opening in late 2014. The restaurant chain does not serve any fried foods, meat or any meat-based products.
“Our menu features ingredients that you don’t find in most fast food restaurants,” said Andrew Infantino. “We serve food that is natural for the body. We were motivated to create something better in fast food.”
The restaurant has been innovated in its menu while catering to local food traditions. Poutine, a combination of french fries, gravy, and cheese curds, originated in Quebec and is a Canadian staple. Poutine is sold in some fast food joints and restaurants throughout Canada. A calorie-filled dish, poutine isn’t exactly a menu item you would see at a health-food based restaurant. But Copper Branch rose to the challenge to create a healthier version of the popular dish while still providing the regional comfort food.
The potatoes are air-baked in an Alto-Shaam CT PROformance™ Combitherm® combi oven, reducing the extra grease and oil associated with frying. The french fries are then topped with a Portobello and organic Miso sauce and Daiya mozzarella dairy-less cheese.
“This is a much healthier poutine,” said Andrew Infantino.
As a start-up company, Copper Branch started food production with an Alto-Shaam combination convection-steamer oven. The combi oven is used to grill the black bean burgers, Portobello mushroom burgers, and vegetables. They also boil rice in the combi oven and bake french fries in the oven.
And with the touchscreen-based recipe management system, it doesn’t matter who is working in the kitchen – results will be consistent across batches.
“We like the programmable features and the timers,” said Andrew Infantino. “It is all very good. It obviously cooks very well. It is easy to use.”
The CT PROformance oven is equipped self-cleaning system that simplifies the cleaning process. Copper Branch staff cleans the combi oven every day.
“It is very simple to use,” Andrew Infantino said.
While Copper Branch started the business relying on Alto-Shaam products, it was the start-up process and customer service that sold them on Alto-Shaam combi ovens. Rio Infantino was considering purchasing combi ovens from several vendors, but the support the company received from Alto-Shaam made the decision for him.
The company was looking to test menu items before committing to an oven. Alto-Shaam chefs were available to meet with Rio Infantino, allowing him to ensure the oven would perform to his expectations.
“Upon testing our products, we were able to get better service with Alto-Shaam. That helped us a lot,” said Andrew Infantino. “The customer service and ability to test the ovens made us choose and stick with Alto-Shaam.”