Mustafa Yusuf, founder and owner of Toronto-based fast casual concept Big Smoke Burger, has announced that, since joining forces with franchise development company Fransmart, the chain has signed multiunit deals with five franchise groups.

The agreements are for various regions, including New York/Chicago, Kuwait, Colorado, Michigan and Bahrain.

Big Smoke Burger signed with Fransmart in 2011. Prior to that, the brand had four corporate stores open in Toronto and has since increased that number to six.

The newest candidates turned over to Yusuf and Big Smoke Burger by Fransmart include JCT Management Company LLC, with a five-unit deal for the Denver area; the Abdelfattah brothers, who signed a 10-unit deal for Southeast Michigan, covering four counties; and Sevens Holding, a group with a diversified business portfolio (including other food brands), which signed a five-unit deal for the country of Bahrain.

"Big Smoke Burger is a unique player in the segment due in part to its unique signature sauces and offering of traditional Canadian poutine," Dan Rowe, Fransmart CEO, said in a news release.

Big Smoke Burger also flame broils its burgers, offers chicken and lamb proteins, and features a lounge ambience. Yusuf, who is from the UAE, is optimistic for the Middle East and the U.S. expansion efforts.

"The Middle Eastern countries are ravenously procuring successful concepts from the U.S. and Canada. The investors are keen on the 'next, next thing' among fast casual concepts, and we are that next concept," he said. "I see Big Smoke thriving in the U.S. as it already does in Toronto. Few Americans will be familiar with poutine because there are no other chains that offer it in the traditional Canadian fashion that Big Smoke does — but it is so delicious that they're bound to go nothing short of crazy over the dish once they've experienced it."

Fransmart has also helped propel the expansion of brands such as Five Guys Burgers and Fries, Qdoba Mexican Grill and zpizza.

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