Food + Drink
May 23, 2019
Spotlight: iQ CEO Alan Bekerman on New Yonge + St. Clair Location
This month we are welcoming iQ FOOD CO. to Yonge + St. Clair as they open their tenth storefront location at 2 St Clair W.
We spoke with iQ FOOD CO.’s CEO Alan Bekerman, to talk about the booming restaurant chain, what drives their brand vision, and to learn how the community at Yonge + St. Clair plays a role in iQ’s long-awaited arrival here in midtown.
Yonge + St. Clair: What is iQ all about?
Alan Bekerman: We’re a seasonal kitchen with sustainable food and scratch cooking at our core. Almost everything that we serve is made daily in-house by our teams. More than half of all the food we buy is sourced within < 100 km’s of our restaurants, and while not everything in our shops is organic, there’s a lot of it. Because of our approach, we recognize that as we grow, we have a real opportunity to change the way food is consumed and experienced.
In terms of inspiration, though we’re a restaurant company, a lot of what moves us comes from outside the industry. Fashion, art, music, design, architecture and technology are central to inspiring the creativity that shapes our brand.
Y+S: Why did you decide to open your newest location at Yonge + St. Clair?
AB: Embracing neighbourhoods in their early stages has been our M/O since day one (we launched our location at 18 York St. before the likes of Apple and Amazon arrived; launched at Yorkdale last September in a newly built west wing of the shopping centre that’s still very much in development; and earlier this year opened up in a Yonge and Sheppard Centre that’s currently under construction). That commitment continues today with our newest, and 10th location, at Yonge + St. Clair.
While the neighbourhood’s been around for as long as I can remember, it’s changing quickly and food – specifically – is becoming a lot more exciting in the area. We’re happy to be a part of the shift.
Y+S: Your store interiors are exceptional. How do you go about the designing them?
Our design process is more principle-based than it is formulaic. Though we have 10 locations, they’re all uniquely different. When we look at and ultimately build out spaces, we work to create environments that make sense given the context of the neighbourhood.
Will our guests primarily be taking their food to go? Dropping in post gym? Are they looking for a place to hang out? Meet up w/ friends? Something else…? What’s important to the community and neighbourhood? Those are the kind of questions we ask ourselves.
In terms of materiality and aesthetic, we’re pretty consistent: lots of natural materials (wood, stone), greenery and great art.
Y+S: What makes your new location at Yonge + St. Clair unique?
AB: Our kitchen!
The kitchen at our Yonge + St. Clair location is the largest we’ve ever built. And while that might not mean much to our guests (b/c they don’t see it), it has a huge impact on the experience. Our teams have more space to prepare food with even more care. And happy teams mean even better service.
I remember hearing Howard Schultz (Starbucks’ former CEO) say something to the effect of “the front of house is where we impress but the back of house is where we win.”
Those words feel particularly true at our Yonge + St. Clair location.
Y+S: What do you hope people take away from their iQ experience?
AB: We’re on a mission to fuel dreams through food.
For the small amount of time people spend in our restaurants – whether it’s through the music, the service, the aesthetic, or the general energy – we hope to inspire. And through our food, we hope to give our guests the nourishment they need to keep moving forward in pursuit of the things they love.
Visit iQ FOOD CO. located at 2 St Clair W., and their website at https://www.iqfoodco.com/