National casual steak brand MR MIKES restaurants has just opened its 45th location in Canada with plans for further expansion with its latest design and floor plan.
The latest location opened in Merritt, BC, in a 4,000-square-foot space with an open concept and a centre bar that is one of the main features noticed by customers as soon as they walk into the restaurant. The brand said the new layout creates visibility and energy in the room where dining and socializing will enjoy the same space.
The first MR MIKES was opened by two brothers, Bob and Nick Constabaris. Over the past decade, the restaurant concept has embraced the heritage that was established back then but it also has been revitalized by Mike Cordoba, Al Cave, and Robin Chakrabarti with the introduction of the Steakhouse/Casual concept.
Tony Zidar, Senior Vice President with the Burnaby, BC-based company, said the new concept is “a really welcoming space.”
“It’s just a blending in the middle that really kind of marries the energy into both sides (restaurant and lounge) without one trumping the other. I’m thrilled with the design. It’s a home run.”
The Merritt location is the brand’s 17th in BC. It also has 17 locations in Alberta, five in Saskatchewan, four in Manitoba and two in Ontario.
“It started off in BC and it was more of a steak and salad bar concept. At its height, we don’t have the exact number of how many units it got to, but it was over 80 and then went through a few incarnations of concepts throughout the years as concepts do,” said Zidar.
“In 2010, it was acquired by the current owners and rebranded as MR MIKES SteakhouseCasual which was kind of a new space in the steakhouse world. Obviously The Keg being the Godfather of classic steakhouses in Canada and that niche is filled. Our strategy was to go into different and smaller markets to fill that in with the need for a steakhouse but not wanting to compete with The Keg.”
“Obviously if you can not compete with the big gorilla it’s probably a wise strategy. Also our markets are different and we wanted to be open for lunch in all of our markets and we rebranded as more of an every day person’s, every occasion approach to a steakhouse. So great product, great steak offering, super beverage program in a little more relaxed atmosphere bringing some good humor to the brand.”
Zidar said the company plans to continue to expand and is in growth mode.
“COVID was troubling to restaurant growth and investors as everything was unknown when it hit. In our business, we talked about having a pipeline of leads and prospects and that for us has already started to pick back up again quite vigorously,” said Zidar.
“We’re very happy with how it’s sprung back to life with the end of COVID obviously in sight. Our plans are to fill in holes in the West. We can certainly go into different markets, now even smaller or a closer shared market space, now that it’s a smaller footprint (with the new concept). So filling in the West but really going to begin to focus on the Ontario market where we have two stores.
“The Ontario market is, almost in our world, the same size as the rest of Canada when you look at market share. That’s pretty much wide open for us. We have a lot of leads out there right now that were put on hold by COVID but re-engaging them. We’re looking at the end of everything and getting business back to normal. We are setting our team back into growth mode where the past two years was really in support mode – keeping our existing franchisees maneuvering through COVID with all of its pitfalls and government regulations and the financial help available to them. It was really two years of assisting them. We came through with all of our stores still in operation and we’re thrilled with that. The franchise community really did an amazing job coming together, helping each other out, getting all the information they could through that time and now our reset is for growth again.”