Those keeping track of the restaurants on Eighth Street can add another name to the list when Calgary-based Original Joe's opens on the strip mid-spring.
Construction of the neighbourhood-style restaurant and bar is underway and progressing nicely, said local franchise owner Ryan Peet in a telephone interview from Calgary where he was attending business meetings.
The restaurant will occupy the former Burger King site in Cumberland Square, a prime location for the business which is set to offer a new option to Saskatoon diners, he explained.
"I think anyone in Saskatoon who eats out even occasionally knows that the wait times on Eighth Street and even some other locations in the city, especially on weekends, can be over an hour at some restaurants," Peet said.
"We think we can fill some of that demand with our upscale casual dining. It's not white tablecloths, but we definitely have some great menu items that we think will go over well."
Peet, who owned Saskatoon's Badass Jack's franchise for four years until he sold in January, said the region's growth was a major factor in bringing the Original Joe's chain to the city. He believes the restaurant's down-to-earth attitude will be a perfect fit with the local population.
"I think they have a great menu, great atmosphere, the service - I'm in Calgary at one of the stores now - and the service is unbelievable. They seem to have it together and it will be a great fit for Saskatoon," he said.
Original Joe's is among several national and regional chains announcing new restaurants in the city.
Calgary-based Avacado Fresh Mexican Grill recently opened on Eighth Street and Chili's Grill & Bar announced in February it plans to open its doors in Saskatoon by the end of the year. Tony Roma's is set to open soon in Stonegate shopping centre.
Kim Beingessner, vice president real estate of Franworks Franchise Corp., Original Joe's franchisor, said the company already has more plans for Saskatchewan. The group is currently working on finding property in Regina, and plans for one or two more restaurants in Saskatoon are beginning to take shape, he said.
While the Original Joe's location set to open here is currently the chain's eastern-most restaurant, Franworks has its eyes set on Winnipeg and beyond. The company, which owns 15 of the restaurants already, will own 25 of them by the end of the year, Beingessner said.
"We have our own little niche, we don't try to compete with the Earl's and the Joey's (Joey Tomato's) and the Moxie's and that, we aren't near their size, but that's OK by us. We have a good little opportunity in the niche that we have and we're focused on that," he said from his Calgary office.
Saskatoon's location will be slightly different from Original Joe's restaurants in Alberta and British Columbia, said Beingessner. The restaurant on Eighth Street will allow minors and will feature a separate lounge area rather than following the traditional adults-only style. The interior of the restaurant will showcase photographs of well-known Saskatoon scenes, to be added to as time goes on with photos of customers, staff and community events, he said.
"It's always been that little gem on the Prairie," Beingessener said of Saskatoon. "It's always had a lot of appeal to a younger crowd, and that's ideally who our market is, kind of a 25- to 45-year-old in the Original Joe's concept. Our target fits along nicely with the way Saskatoon is coming along and we think that there is plenty of opportunity there."