How Kibo became the sushi McDonald’s in Toronto


Kibo Sushi is fast approaching its 10th anniversary and they’ve exploded into around 30 locations across the GTA, making the chain feel like it’s almost as ubiquitous as McDonald’s or Starbucks.

It looks like more locations than ever are opening recently, and that’s because while 10 locations were opened in Kibo’s first five years of operation, the remaining 20 were opened in the next five.

Founder and CEO Bo Seo opened the first location in Cabbagetown in 2012, which still exists today. In 2013, he had opened a third location on St. Clair West.

His 10th location opened at Ossington and College around 2017, Seo took the leadership role by opening them all himself.

At this point, he decided he needed to open a central office to develop the business more independently of him, selling franchises so he didn’t have to manage them all himself.

“I want to have life and business together,” Seo told blogTO. “If everyone owns this restaurant, then I don’t have to take care of all the customers myself.”

Typically, a chef or manager who has worked at a Kibo establishment for two or three years usually has the option of going out on their own and opening a new franchise.

For example, a team of 10 at the Liberty Village location in Kibo became a team of six when three people opened the first Kibo store in Oakville, chaired by the former Liberty Village manager who had moved to Oakville.

The young generation of workers at Kibo who move around and stay in touch has a beneficial effect on the growth of the company: people who have moved to places like New Brunswick and Quebec have contacted Kibo to open their own locations. , and Seo is all for that.

There are now 29 Kibo locations in the GTA and two in Calgary. Seo’s plan is to eventually build a model that will expand across North America and the United States. He says his goal is to have a Kibo in every “big city”.

In the meantime, Kibo continues to steadily increase its number in the GTA, already planning to open three more stores next year. One should be at the Hillcrest Mall and the other in the Food District in Mississauga Square One.

The one Seo is particularly excited about will be at Union Station and has been groomed for three years due to delays. Currently under construction, it hopes it will open in April.


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