Toronto-Based Smoke’s Poutinerie Is Headed to Washington

Smoke's Poutinerie is heading to Washington. Photograph courtesy of Smoke's Poutinerie.

Great news for anyone who loves a hot cheesy mess of Canadian goodness: Smoke’s Poutinerie is headed towards the Washington area. The Toronto-based operation, which boasts 100 locations in Canada, is staking out a presence on the East Coast as part of a franchise agreement. Eight restaurants are planned for Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland.

Franchisee and Imperial Restaurant Group executive Raj Rana says his team is initially honing in on locations around college campuses, including University of Maryland in College Park, and closer to Baltimore, Towson University and Johns Hopkins. The model is built on the success of Smoke’s first US location in Berkeley, California, which saw over 1,300 visitors on opening day. Rana, a Canadian native, says if all goes well he’s hoping to open in Maryland within the year, and eventually start scouting DC locations, as well as sites inside stadiums and arenas. The trend throughout: fries coated in cheese curds and gravy are even more attractive to a beer-loving demographic.

Smoke’s staple menu includes 30 varieties of poutine, which range from classic to over-the-top combinations such as chili-cheesesteak and double-pork (pulled and bacon), as well as vegetarian offerings for the semi-health conscious. Franchisees have some flexibility with the lineup, so you might see Old Bay poutine in Maryland.

The East Coast expansion is part of a larger move for Smoke’s, which is plotting a “global domination strategy” that involves opening 1,300 locations world-wide in the next five years. If ruling the world involves fries smothered in gravy and cheeses, we’re in for the takeover.

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.