From POP design to owning a shop...

It’s been a long time since I posted on here, I got tied up in a new idea and it just snowballed from there and I now, strangely, own a small fast casual restaurant :slight_smile:

I wanted to post something on here about my experiences and to give people, especially us creative types, some hope in what you believe is a good idea. It started last year, I was stuck in the “30 something” rut as many of you on here have discussed and was constantly sketching, brainstorming and talking about grand ideas I had to anyone who would listen so I could break out of the POP/Retail design work I seemed to be lodged into. Sure, some of them were terrible and many of my friends and family would roll their eyes at another of my crazy ideas.

But one idea stuck and no matter how many people I talked to about it, not one of them thought it was a bad idea… including my wife who is my harshest critic sometimes. And so Rashers - North America’s only bacon sandwich shop was born.

Having come to Canada from the UK, I knew the bacon in North America wasn’t the only kind of bacon you could get and now living in Toronto, they have a uniquely Canadian bacon called peameal (wet brine cured and rolled in cornmeal if anyone is interested). After talking about it with someone I shared an office with we decided we’d look into it further.
With my experience in branding and retail design and his experience running his own international business we thought we’d make a good partnership (it also helped that he’s lived in London and Dublin and his wife is Irish).

After a long time hunting for the right space, we found something that was relatively close to where we both live in an up and coming popular area of Toronto. We did some thorough research into the industry, spoke to as many people as possible and eventually hired a consultant chef to advise us on the menu. Our business plan outlined everything we wanted to do and when presented to the bank their first words were “Did you guys ever work at a bank ?” because we had nailed everything down so well.

We did the branding ourselves and the store interior… we even did most of the renovations in the store to keep costs down. The only things we let the experts do was the extraction system, gas line work and electrical. We opened with very little fanfare last Thursday and we have been swamped ever since… we even ran out of bacon on Sunday :frowning:

It’s still early days but we have been overwhelmed with the local support we have received and buzz we have managed to create just using Facebook and Twitter (we still don’t even have a proper website)

Here’s some pictures of the rough interior design I did… when you are your own client it doesn’t need to be too polished :slight_smile:
I’ve also attached some pictures that a local magazine took on the day we opened.

My main reason for telling you my story is to really show that even though some of us get pigeon holed into certain areas of design work… the opportunities are simply endless for creative types and sometimes in forms you could never have imagined.

Some pictures…

Let me know if you have any questions… I’d love to share my experiences with anyone else who might be interested in something like this…

Some write ups about us here…

and here…


Talk about a “project”. What do you have there, 300-400 square feet? Or less? Can you say “food truck” business?

The only question I have is, where can I buy a franchise? :wink:


I am hungry now. AND I love bacon. Do you know Schwarzwälder? Not the cake!

From the guy, who as a kid “invented” hubbabubba Bacon", again B R A V O.


Bacon tastes goooood.

Congratulations and good luck.

Very cool. Congrats!

I can relate to your quest - although my family’s side is and has always been the get-a-steady-job-and-don’t-make-waves kind, my wife’s family has always been entrepreneurial and has been a huge influence on my perception of doing things you love and making those things work for you. Her Dad was a Navy Commander turned pizza shop owner turned gas station owner turned printer and her Mom imports high end rugs and has a retail space.

Best of luck growing and growing and growing!!!

Will check it out next time I’m on the east side. Nice work.


“Having come to Canada from the UK, I knew the bacon in North America wasn’t the only kind of bacon you could get”

You’re telling me, ever tried findinding a decent fry up or butty in NYC?

Funnily enough I’ve recently been having the initial “wouldn’t it be great to” talks with people about setting up a bar in London. Although a walk down Kingsland Road on Wednesday showed that there are lots of new places but very few customers at the moment (unless you happen to be Birthdays). Clearly need to try and find a neiche like you’ve done. Good luck with the place.

Cheers for all the encouraging comments guys!

Things have been really busy since we opened last week so I couldn’t be happier. The trick now is having the confidence to allow the people we have put in place to ensure our standards are kept up so we can step back and concentrate on growing the brand and moving onto to shop No.2

Richard, ask for me when you’re in the shop, if I’m there I’d love to meet you and treat you to a sandwich

mo-i, I hadn’t heard of Schwarzwälder, so thanks… I will look into it. We plan on doing monthly specials so that might get on the menu at some point :slight_smile:

Lmo, the whole shop is only 600sq. ft. What you can’t see in the pictures is the back room prep. area we have. We’d love to have more room to be able to prepare more sides and even a smoker… that’s pencilled in for No. 2 so we can do our own in house cures and smoking.

Rukka, We finally got our British style rashers in on Tuesday… they have been a massive hit with the ex-pats here. We even have our own home made brown sauce which everyone is buzzing about.

There’s a “bacon wave” in the food world right now and you’re riding the crest. I think you’ve hit pay dirt Richard.

There was a “bacon” show on one of the cable networks last night (24 Nov.); lots of bars and shops specializing in sandwiches and other bacon grub. I’m trying to find the episode but not having much luck… it will be on again.

My local butcher keeps what he calls “cottage bacon” in his case. It’s a lean shoulder cut but it is incredibly rich tasting; add a dab of horseradish and it’s prefect. Brined and cold smoked with thin threads of fat running scattered across the meat, rather than the thick bands found on “regular” bacon. It has to be kept refrigerated since it isn’t fully. Healthy bacon? Don’t really care if it’s healthy or not. It’s killer.

Christmas Bacon Treats? Chocolate covered bacon!

You may want to design one of your own. Mo’s Bacon Bar

Don’t even get me started on my college days staple… … bacon/peanut butter/ banana sandwiches.

Hi Richard,

Nice stuff. Thanks for sharing.Got any more process stuff on the identity, interior, etc.? Would love to get more of the story.

Sounds great. When are you normally there? Would be great to meet a fellow Core77/TOer.

A few questions-

  1. Why did you choose the Lesliville location? Looks like it might be a great fit for WQW or Ossington with more action happening and the late night “gotta get me some bacon” crowd? Maybe I’m just West-side biased :slight_smile:
  2. Your plan to open up no.2 place seems pretty aggressive given you’ve just opened no.1. What do you have in mind for growth?


PS. I always laugh at the Canadian Bacon thing when in the US as nobody in Canada has any idea what that is…it’s called peameal bacon or ham. Bacon is just bacon. I do love me some bacon though.


I’ll post more of the process when I get some time to organize my files a bit.
My hours are all over the place right now, but if you give me enough warning I can try and be there. Juggling that, design work, kids and wife starting a new advertising job right now

We were actually looking in the west end initially, particularly in the King and Spadina area but space was hard to find and the rents were outrageous, the after pub crowd was exactly what we had in mind. However, my business partner and I both live in Riverdale, we kind of stumbled upon our current location and got a killer deal on the rent so we thought we’d try it out. To be honest we’re glad we did it there… living near by makes it easy going back and forth, we both still have regular jobs so juggling everything is easier when it’s just down the road.

Yes, Store No.2, very aggressive we know but there is a demand for it so we want to fill it as soon as we can.

Eventually we want to get into places like Kingston, Waterloo, Halifax even. The rents are cheaper and we feel we can attract quite a bit of attention because of peoples fascination with bacon.

In reply to LMO about the “bacon wave”… our store was never about jumping on that bandwagon as we never really saw it as such. Coming from the UK bacon sandwiches are part of everyday life, you can buy them at any greasy spoon. In Toronto there is a stall at St Lawrence Market that sells peameal bacon sandwiches (apparently it’s a tourist thing to do here) and have been for the last 30 odd years… we figured we could give people another option and elevate the quality of the ingredients to appeal to a different income class of customer who would be prepared to pay a little bit more for better quality local ingredients.
In all honesty we are trying to avoid getting sucked into the kitschy aspect of bacon… we’re not selling Baconator sandwiches :slight_smile:

Sounds amazing and inspiring! Congratulations, and best of luck with your continued success. I’ll be following along as you progress. I’m always looking for inspiration to jump ship and do something else. One of these days I’ll finally make the leap. It sounds like you went about things the way I would have, too. With an incredible amount of thought and research. If you’re going to risk it, risk it wisely, I feel.

Very cool.

Fock yeah!! Ok, sorry for the “profanity” - not all that professional I know.

I just think this is great. I’ve always have been taught and believe that industrial design is not actually a specific “job” but rather a way of thinking about the world, a way of looking for smart solutions and fresh perspectives in any problem we see. Designing a food shop, and all the related elements, is such a cohesive design exploration - it’s a dream job in and of itself. But for it to be YOUR own shop and now you have the challenge of growing the business is even more exciting. And clearly you have learned a lot about the various tangibles of branding design throughout your career, as your shop is executed very well.

Kudos for making the leap and pulling this off. As Richard has asked, seeing more of the process would be great for all of us. Not to put pressure on you, but a full case study, from sketch to b-plan to final shop would be amazing. Ok - maybe that’s a bit much! I’ll just say thanks for sharing this story and the pics. I wish you guys loads of success and if ever I’m up that way I’ll be sure to hit you up.

Kevin (aka Ludwig)

Great story!! I have to say that after marrying a Brit, there is nothing better than a good bacon buddy!!


Oh Justin, your wife would slap you for that… It’s butty, not buddy :slight_smile:

I think we’re the only place in North America that has the proper cut of British style bacon… Worth the drive from New Jersey :slight_smile:

I’m on my iPhone right now at the shop so I can’t write much, but the idea that industrial designers just design “things” should be dispelled indeed… It really is a way of thinking, connecting disparate ideas and forming new ones.
I realized how different things are in my mind compared to others… I’m obsessed with processes and making them as efficient and fluid as possible.

Damn auto correct!! Yes she would.


Thought I’d bump this up.

A friend of mine is exploring a food truck venture, which brought Rashers to mind. Have any of our Canadian friends heard how Richard’s endeavor is faring?

Haven’t had a chance to make it out to the east end yet to try it but on my list of things to do. Maybe tomorrow.