A man orders food and a coffee from a touch screen while seated at his table in a prototype of a Tim Hortons 'Restaurant of the Future' at the company's owners conference in Toronto on Wednesday

Futuristic Tim Hortons store concept unveiled

Tim Hortons hopes futuristic store gets ideas percolating with its owners

  • Jul. 17, 2014 5:00 p.m.

By David Friend, The Canadian Press

TORONTO – If a pint of coffee-flavoured beer gets you salivating, then Tim Hortons has a few other ideas that could change how you think about the restaurant chain.

Executives have lifted the curtain on a new concept store, buried deep inside the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, as part of an invite-only convention this week for store owners and suppliers that is essentially a visual brainstorming session.

The full-scale model offered the clearest idea yet of where Tim Hortons (TSX:THI) is headed and how it thinks Canadian tastes will evolve, including expecting more than just coffee, doughnuts and sandwiches.

“It’s not your dad’s Tim Hortons, so to speak,” said chief operating officer David Clanachan as he looked around the store.

“Our franchise partners are all going to be here. We want them to think outside the box, along with us, to say ‘What if…’ and ‘What could we be?'”

Certainly there were plenty of ideas to chew on — some even controversial.

Consider the beer taps that pour brews inspired by Tim Hortons’ trademark coffee flavour — and a strawberry lager for the sweeter tooths. Or how about a unisex washroom that centres around a communal sink.

And there’s even a conceptual design for a new Tim Hortons logo that’s features only a bright red coffee bean.

Some of the ideas will never see the light of day, Clanachan admits, while others are certain to land inside your neighbourhood stores only years from now.

Tim Hortons first showcased digital menu boards at its previous model store concept seven years ago and only recently have they become part of the store design.

Redefining itself in the highly competitive food services industry will be a challenge for a mainstay brand like Tim Hortons, but as more companies try to encroach on its dominant position in the Canadian coffee market it’s not like there’s much of a choice but to find ways to be different.

“The consumer is much more savvy today than they have ever been in the past,” Clanachan said.

“They have opinions on what they’re looking for, and they have high expectations.”

Companies like Starbucks have raised the bar for the local coffee shop, while McDonald’s has lowered the price of a cup of coffee and even gives it away for free several times a year.

Tim Hortons executives say that where they can excel is providing something different — a combination of convenience and creativity.

Some of the more immediate changes could be in menu options.

The concept store offers a variety of omlettes, breakfast crepes, cupcakes and decadent cookies that could all be ordered from a touchscreen menu installed in tabletops. Once ordered, a Tim Hortons employee brings the food to you, Clanachan said.

Meanwhile, customers who are registered with a future version of the Timmy Me smartphone app would be able to opt for a more personalized experience.

The app will remember their name and their favourite food items, which in theory will significantly reduce the time it takes to order both in the store and the drive-thru.

Customers in a rush can also swing by a grab-and-go section of food that ranges from sandwiches and salads to hot food items.

Other changes are obvious at first glace, including the entire structure of the building, which is made of glass and wood panels to provide a heightened level of transparency to everything inside, including the kitchen area. The lighting is bright and adjusts to the time of day for a different ambience.

Employees are dressed in white uniforms with a red-trimmed asymmetrical neckline that evokes the retro-futuristic garb of “Star Trek,” accessorized with a visor.

Loyal Tim Hortons customers might start to notice at least some of these changes sooner than later, chief executive Marc Caira said.

“I envision a lot of what you see here being implemented not too far down the road,” he said.

Follow @dj_friend on Twitter.

Just Posted

Council votes to give Chilliwack homeless shelter an 18-month extension

There were more than 40 passionate speakers at city hall who had their say for more than four hours

Chilliwack woman finds mysterious coin among Grandma’s collection

Grandmother died when she was very young and her past is not well known to her mother

VIDEO: Chilliwack musician is embracing the revival of the accordion

Accordionist Debra Kartz has seen the instrument become popular again and wants to inspire the next generation

Time to specify where Chilliwack spending priorities should be

It’s that time of year again when City of Chilliwack engages its citizens to weigh in on budgeting

Fantasy Farms told to stop holding special events on farmland that go against agricultural rules

The Morans say it might spell the end of their seasonal events like Reapers Haunted Attractions

VIDEO: B.C. man’s yard comes alive with grizzlies at night

Malakwa man has captured images of 12 different grizzlies on video

Man who orchestrated Mission murders gets day parole after serving less than three years

Victims’ parents express grief, outrage over parole board decision

Fatal overdoses down by 33% in B.C., but carfentanil deaths continue to spike

Carfentanil, an illicit drug more powerful than fentanyl, causing more deaths than ever

A year after pot legalization in Canada, it’s a slow roll

It’s one year into Canada’s experiment in legal marijuana, and hundreds of legal pot shops have opened

ELECTION 2019: Climate strikes push environment to top of mind for federal leaders

Black Press Media presents a three-part series on three big election issues

ICBC willing to loosen grip on driver claim data, David Eby says

Private insurers say claims record monopoly keeps them out

Most Read