Tres Carnales

Customer Experience Superstar

Location Edmonton Owner Daniel Braun, Edgar Gutierrez and Chris Sills
Employees 28 Founded 2011

★ The Business

Alberta has plenty of Mexican restaurants, but it has never seen anything quite like Tres Carnales before. The Rice Howard Way taqueria has become the go-to lunch spot in Edmonton thanks to its authentic flavours, a charming aesthetic and first-rate team of owner-managers who make sure that everyone feels like they belong. It was featured on the national TV show You Gotta Eat Here, and received rave reviews from the Edmonton Journal’s Alan Kellogg, who wrote that “this is honest, soulful food, worthy of a Morelia street corner or market fonda in East L.A.”

★ The Case

It’s one thing to make great food, which just about everyone agrees is something Tres Carnales does. But what’s even more impressive is the fact that it has managed to change the way Edmontonians think about and interact with food. Tres Carnales doesn’t take reservations, and the combination of a relatively small number of seats and overwhelming demand creates a daily backlog of customers. Given that Edmonton isn’t a place where people are accustomed to standing around and waiting for a seat, that combination could have been trouble. But the aggressively friendly customer service – led by the inimitable Chris Sills – and fast-casual set-up (one that’s based on a hugely popular American chain called Chipotle Mexican Grill) keeps the line moving and the patrons happy. The lines have grown so big, in fact, that the owners recently created a position that’s dedicated solely to servicing the line, which can include everything from taking orders and answering questions to serving up a cocktail or two. It seems to be working, judging by a July that saw them move 10,000 people through a 40-seat restaurant. “If you put the product first and have fun,” Sills says, “people will wait in line in this city.”

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