22-year-old cousins open new restaurant franchise in Sydney

These two young university graduates are hoping their new restaurant will make it possible for them to stay in Cape Breton.

The Cape Breton University graduates decide to go into business on the day they finished exams

Nick Walsh and Erika Usher decided a restaurant franchise would make it possible for them to stay in Cape Breton. (Yvonne LeBlanc-Smith/CBC)

A couple of young Cape Breton University graduates are making a big jump into the world of business, saying they see entrepreneurship as a means of creating jobs for themselves in the region.

Nick Walsh and Erika Usher said they decided to pursue a restaurant franchise on the day they wrote their final exams in CBU's business program.

"Me and Erika were getting closer to graduating," said Walsh. "We looked into it and the franchise fees seemed reasonable and we took a shot."

Seven months after graduation, the 22-year-old cousins opened a Burrito Jax in Sydney River on Thursday. 

They have hired 10 people to staff the kitchen.

"We are trying to create work here for ourselves and create some work for other people," said Walsh. 

"I plan on living here as long as I can — my whole life, if possible," said Usher.

Walsh and Usher said their extended family helped with startup costs. The Burrito Jax franchise fee is $20,000, with additional costs for development and other variables.

VP of franchise development, Jeff Clarke, said he's impressed by the new franchisees work ethic. (Yvonne LeBlanc-Smith/CBC)

Walsh and Usher have known each other all their lives; their mothers are sisters and both are chartered accountants. 

"We're the same age, we are neighbours, we've studied together, we went to school together, we went to the university together," said Usher.

"We spend a lot of time together throughout our whole entire lives, so we knew we had the type of relationship that we could do business together."

The Burrito Jax chain was started in Halifax in 2008 by Eleanor and Gord Delano. The Sydney River location is the 10th store in Atlantic Canada.

Jeff Clarke, vice-president of franchise development for Burrito Jax, was on hand to help Walsh and Usher open, saying he's been impressed by the young pair's work ethic.

"They are very awesome, they are energetic," he said. "I was a little surprised and a little overwhelmed by how they exceeded my expectations and I think they are going to do really well here in Sydney."

About the Author

Yvonne LeBlanc-Smith


Yvonne LeBlanc-Smith was born and raised in Cape Breton. She began her career in private radio in Sydney and has been with CBC as a reporter, early morning news editor and sometimes host since 1990.