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

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 9:00 a.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

The Nanaimo sign at Maffeo Sutton Park could be hazardous for children, says letter writer. (News Bulletin file photo)
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Nanaimo sign will cause falls

Children can’t resist climbing on sign, says letter writer

John A. Read, who was inspired to leave his former career to become a professional astronomy by the purchase of a $13 telescope, will give beginning astronomers key pointers on how to set up and get the best performance from their instruments at Nanaimo Astronomy Society’s meeting June 24. (Photo courtesy Jennifer Read)
Astrophysicist will talk about getting the most out of a telescope at Nanaimo astronomy meeting

John Read’s purchase of a $13 telescope led to a degree in astrophysics and a career in astronomy

Nanaimo rapper Sirreal plays the Port Theatre on June 25. (Photo courtesy Alanna Morton)
Nanaimo rapper Sirreal and friends play the Port Theatre

Live-streamed concert the second in venue’s Discovery Series highlighting local artists

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement, stating that Nanaimo will see temperatures between five-10 degrees above seasonal the next two days. (News Bulletin file)
Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement, stating that Nanaimo will see temperatures between five-10 degrees above normal the next two days. (News Bulletin file)
Heat wave will see Nanaimo temperatures rise 5-10 degrees above normal

Sun with highs of 28 C forecast by Environment Canada for Harbour City on Sunday and Monday

According to a staff report, Regional District of Nanaimo has seen some $13.6 million in grant applications approved between Jan. 1 and May 15. (News Bulletin file)
Close to $14 million in money granted to RDN in first half of year

Successful grants include more than $4 million for transit service in Regional District of Nanaimo

Robin Dutton, left, and Peter Sinclair are taking their mountain bikes and travelling down trails in the Mount Benson area June 19 as part of a 24-hour fundraiser benefiting Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Full-day mountain bike fundraiser gives financial support for Nanaimo food bank

Event part of Loaves and Fishes Community Food Bank’s Food 4 Summer campaign

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
Fort St. John man arrested after allegedly inviting sexual touching from children

Two children reported the incident to a trusted adult right away

A Lotto 6/49 ticket purchased in Parksville for the June 19, 2021 draw is a $3M winner. (Submitted photo)
Winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $3M purchased on Vancouver Island

Lottery prize winners have 52 weeks to claim jackpot

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

This undated file photo provided by Ernie Carswell & Partners shows the home featured in the opening and closing scenes of The Brady Bunch in Los Angeles. Do you know the occupation of Mike Brady, the father in this show about a blended family? (Anthony Barcelo/Ernie Carswell & Partners via AP, File)
QUIZ: A celebration of dad on Father’s Day

How much do you know about famous fathers?

(V.I. Trail/Google Maps)
Now 90% complete, Vancouver Island trail forges new funding partnership

Victoria Foundation takes on Vancouver Island Trail Association; fund valued at $40,000

Emily Steele holds up a collage of her son, 16-year-old Elijah-Iain Beauregard who was stabbed and killed in June 2019, outside of Kelowna Law Courts on June 18. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kelowna woman who fatally stabbed teen facing up to 1.5 years of jail time

Her jail sentence would be followed by an additional one to 1.5 years of supervision

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

The George Road wildfire near Lytton, B.C., has grown to 250 hectares. (BC Wildfire Service)
B.C. drone sighting halts helicopters fighting 250 hectares of wildfire

‘If a drone collides with firefighting aircraft the consequences could be deadly,’ says BC Wildfire Service

Most Read