In 1995, a new food trend emerged in San Francisco where Fay Price and her husband Bruce McGee were living. They couldn’t help getting excited about these new “gourmet burritos”. No longer just about salsa and refried beans, these hand held meals, filled with tasty foods from different cultures, caught on quickly as a new and healthy fast food alternative.
Inspired, Price and her husband saw a business opportunity and made plans to open Canada’s first “wraps only” restaurant. Price’s sister and brother-in-law joined the team and together they made the dream a reality, opening the first WrapZone restaurant in Vancouver in 1996.
“Without any real experience in small business or food service, my husband and I moved back to Vancouver to open a restaurant, blithely oblivious to the challenges and huge learning curve ahead of us,” Price told The Canadian Business Journal.
Delicious Menu Choices
Perhaps like they say ‘ignorance is bliss’, as the concept was refined and Price developed unique recipes for Canada’s first wrap restaurant and smoothie bar. WrapZone remains as popular today with a loyal customer base that flocks to WrapZone locations across British Columbia. In fact, this month a new location is opening in Duncan on Vancouver Island which will also serve as testing grounds for a new breakfast menu.
What has made WrapZone a true success story is its delicious, affordable, and diverse menu that appeals to all appetites. From its signature and specialty wraps, to rice bowls as well as smoothies, WrapZone also offers several exclusive taste combinations such as the hugely popular but seasonal Talking Turkey Wrap that is curently featured. At the smoothie bar, WrapZone offers pure fruit smoothies made only with fruit and fruit juice and no added ice. Additionally there are dairy-based smoothie options crafted with low fat frozen yogurt, fruit and other tasty ingredients, such as a perennial favourite, the decadent Peanut Butter Banana smoothie.
Canadian consumers want healthier choices, and as a result are more conscious of the foods they eat. WrapZone has responded to this demand with a menu that is lined with high nutritional value choices. Price commented, “We use basmati rice because it has a lower glycemic index than most other white rices. It’s a little more expensive but it sis considered a healthier rice option. We also offer brown rice which is a great choice because of its higher fibre content. We also use romaine lettuce, which tends to have more fibre than iceberg lettuce, and we’ve made many choices like these along the way.
“We’re also aware of an increasingly greater demand for gluten-free products. Our core product is wraps and we use tortillas which are typically made with wheat flour. The gluten in wheat flour by nature gives the tortilla its stretchiness which is important to prevent cracking or breaking when crafting our wraps. We are always looking for new product innovations and keep an eye out for gluten-free tortillas and other items. In the meantime, we offer all wraps as ‘unwraps’ — all the filling without the tortilla and served in a bowl.
WrapZone franchisees have the advantage of a very loyal customer base. Customers crave WrapZone’s made-to-order offerings, from rice-based burrito style to lettuce-based deli style choices. WrapZone is also renowned for its quality — it speaks for itself that WrapZone has won the Georgia Straight’s Golden Plate Award for the Best Wrap 13 years in a row!
Moving forward, the plan at WrapZone is continuing to concentrate on B.C., but that isn’t to say that the company hasn’t received expressions of interest for franchises based elsewhere in Canada, the United States, and even New Zealand. As Price summarized, “Our customers love the product and see the potential for a successful business in other locations. We want to do it right. We’d love to expand with the right investors in an area development, and to work with someone who is interested in growing the brand.”