copper_branchBy Anna Guy

There is a new kid on the block. Fast food and healthy food are no longer mutually exclusive.

Copper Branch is changing the fast food landscape. The brainchild of Rio Infantino, Copper Branch brings an exciting and welcoming new approach to a fast food restaurant service, swapping traditional deep-fried fare for a 100-per cent plant-based menu.

Rio is uniquely qualified to lead the pack. With over two decades working in all aspects of the restaurant business, from high-end restaurants, to operations, and as a multi-unit franchise owner of two of Canada’s biggest fast food chains, he knows first-hand the state of the fast food industry, and the hunger for change. He also knew first hand the consequences of an unhealthy diet, facing weight gain and health issues personally.

While considering starting his company, Rio learned that continuous studies are proving the negative links between meat, typical fast-food, GMO, and lack of exercise to various diseases and health implications. With Copper Branch, he has created a menu that stands for quality and health. “A menu made of ingredients that he would want to eat and share with his family,” he says. “Our mission is simple: serve our community quality, whole foods and offer the world real food as fast food for a change.”

Think sandwiches, soups, and salads made with ingredients like Organic Brown Rice, Organic Quinoa, Shiitake Teriyaki, Sweet potato, organic spinach hummus, bruschetta, black olives, lettuce, beets, carrot, broccoli…it’s a cornucopia of goodness.

“We wanted to create a plant-powered concept that is accessible to mainstream population in terms of offering healthier foods that promote well being in a fast-casual setting,” adds Andrew Infantino, Marketing Director and son of Rio Infantino.

Community Care

The focus on health and wellbeing extends beyond just the table top. “When we started Copper Branch three and a half years ago, we defined three values,” says Andrew. “Chef-inspired flavours, Power Foods that Nourish, and Environment & Responsibility. We act responsibility and with care in everything we do from the past, present, and future. The majority of our foods are organic and non-GMO, sourced by specialty suppliers.”

“The Industrial revolution with animal farming has been a disaster, and has been very polluting,” Rio adds. “Too many hormones, antibiotics, and GMOs really harm the body.”

Copper Branch customers can trust that they are making a step to eliminate the most harmful causes of the current environmental devastation. By excluding animal products like meat, dairy, and eggs, customers make the biggest possible contribution to saving the planet by preventing climate change, deforestation, water use, species extinction, waste production, and land use.

A natural extension of its brand, Copper Branch has been a proud supporter of the Canadian Cancer Society, and events like Table of Hope, and Strangers in The Night. “We ultimately want to be a lifestyle brand,” says Andrew. “Philanthropy is core to our brand. We want to have a positive impact and help make the world a better place.”

There are currently 17 Copper Branch locations in Canada, but by the end of the year there will be over 30 in North America thanks to tremendous interest from franchisees. There will also be two locations in France. Rio and Andrew say they are looking for potential franchisees who share their vision for a healthier food industry and plant-based lifestyle.

“We want our customers to fall in love with our food, and feel good about their consumer impact,” says Rio. And for those who are new to the plant-based philosophy, Rio says one meal and he hopes they will be convinced. “We want to make healthy foods convenient, accessible, and, most importantly, great tasting. You’re more vegan than you think,” he says.