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B.C.-based Mr. Mikes hires new president, plans to add franchises

Company has kept pace with previous growth projections, aims to expand store count by five, to 52
Tony Zidar is in the newly created position of president at Mr. MIkes SteakhouseCasual

Mr. Mikes SteakhouseCasual has a new president and vision to open up to five new restaurants this year: two in B.C. and three in Alberta.

That would bring the Burnaby-based affordably priced steakhouse chain to 52 locations, said Tony Zidar, who is in the new role of president - one which was previously held by co-CEOs Mike Cordoba and Al Cave.

The company opened two new restaurants in Alberta in 2023, and Zidar said that this was an impressive feat given that the year followed the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"Your development pipeline, your real estate opportunities, your franchisee applications – all of that stuff really turned to dust through COVID," he told BIV.

What sets Mr. Mikes SteakhouseCasual apart from some other ambitious restaurant franchisors is that the company has achieved previous lofty projections for franchise growth.

Cordoba, with partners, bought what was a 16-restaurant chain in 2010.

In 2014, he told BIV that he had grown the enterprise to 22 locations, and that he had sold an additional 25 locations that he expected to open within eight years. That expansion would bring the company to 47 locations, which is exactly what it has today, despite the COVID-19 pandemic throwing a curveball at the sector. 

Sometimes franchisors have told BIV that they have grand plans to expand only to later discover that franchisees are unable to get needed financing. 

Vera's Burger Shack CEO Gerald Tritt, for example, told BIV in 2011, when the chain had 16 locations, that his company planned to soon open a location in Portland, Oregon, and then expand to have between 15 and 18 locations in the U.S. Pacific Northwest by 2014

Financing for that expansion fell through and the now-10-store burger chain is expanding to Alberta with three new stores this year

Zidar said that Mr. Mikes SteakhouseCasual is attractive to potential franchisees despite being in an economic climate where many restaurant owners are struggling to find needed workers and to pass increasing costs onto customers by raising prices.

Many restaurants are teetering on the brink of going out of business. Between 10 and 14 per cent of the more than 15,000 restaurants in the province could close as a result of the federal government not extending its deadline for repaying CEBA loans, BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association CEO Ian Tostenson recently told BIV.

One thing that makes Mr. Mikes SteakhouseCasual attractive, Zidar said, is that its restaurants tend to be in smaller population centres. The only Mr. Mikes SteakhouseCasual restaurant in Metro Vancouver is in Coquitlam. Non-urban locations come with lower lease rates, he explained.

The average size of each new restaurant is getting smaller, and fewer square feet also translates into lower lease costs.

In addition, the company, which helps potential franchsees find their real estate, has shifted to increasingly suggest that franchisees retrofit existing restaurant locations instead of building restaurants from scratch. 

"We've concentrated for two full years at what we can do to get leaner but meaner," Zidar said. "That's still developing our promise of our service, and our food and our hospitality with reducing the initial input costs for franchisees."

Buying a new Mr. Mikes SteakhouseCasual franchise costs $50,000 in an upfront franchise fee, with there being an ongoing six-per-cent royalty fee on revenue. 

Zidar said new franchisees should expect to spend between $600,000 and $2 million all together to open a restaurant. That includes building out the restaurant and all initial costs.

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