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Works Gourmet Burger Bistro
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Burger Buzz. The Latest News

The Works focusing on Ontario growth

Thursday, 8 Jan 2015
TORONTO—The Works Gourmet Burger Bistro is continuing to focus its growth on Ontario while scouting for about eight locations. Fresh Brands Inc. purchased the brand in 2010 from Ottawa restaurateur Ion Aimers, and has since expanded from the original six Ottawa stores to 25 Ontario locations—with its most recent opening in Kitchener, ON, on Sept. 19—and one in St. John’s. This summer, chief executive officer Andy O’Brien left his post to take up the CEO role with M&M Meat Shops. President and chief operating officer Scott Lewis told ORN the company isn’t looking to fill the CEO position and that O’Brien is “still very much involved as an investor.” The Works moved into the Atlantic Provinces in 2013, also opening a location in Halifax, which was one of three stores to close over the past year. Bruce Miller, co-owner and marketing and development officer, said the company plans to continue its trend of quick growth, noting the number of locations has doubled in the last two years. The company focuses on eight-ounce burgers, with a menu of more than 50 creations. The full service restaurant offers beer, wine and milkshakes served in measuring cups and has an average check of about $18. The Works uses its limited-time, feature menus, such as “cooking with beer” and its recent “get stuffed” and bacon-focused creations to determine what guests enjoy, said Miller. During the bacon promotion, “‘Getting Piggy with it’ was our No. 1 seller,” he noted, so the creation made it onto the menu. “It’s a great way to test innovation,” said Lewis. He said the company would continue to infill the Ontario market. “We’ve got huge areas, huge populated areas, that we’re not in yet,” he said. “In time, we’d love to head west; we’d be looking to do that a bit further out” said Lewis, estimating The Works could be looking for partners in the western provinces in the next 12 to 18 months. The company’s franchise territory fee is $45,000 and restaurant build costs range between $400,000 and $800,000, with a required financial liquidity of between $300,000 and $350,000, royalties of six per cent and two per cent for marketing. The average store footprint is about 2,500 square feet with between 75 and 85 seats. Miller said they are looking to open with new franchisees as well as with exiting ones who want to operate multiple locations: a handful already own two, two own three and one just signed on for a fourth. The company is scouting locations for eight new stores, adding a lot of time goes into finding the appropriate real estate. “We won’t bend on locations; it has to be right,” said Miller.
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