Creating a business model focused on a multi-unit/multi-brand operation has proven to be a recipe for success for Peter Park, owner/operator of three Ontario franchises including Casey’s Grill • Bar in Guelph and two East Side Mario’s locations in London and Milton.
This successful business model coupled with his strong work ethic has enabled Park to work from his Etobicoke, Ontario-based home office while operating and overseeing all three franchises. This has afforded him greater flexibility in his home life where he can now enjoy more quality time with his wife and children sometimes even walking the kids to school in the morning – a perk he notes that was never possible in his previous corporate job.
His restaurants are run through his company, called IAS Inc., which stands for It’s About Service. A typical work week for Park includes a day and a half of paperwork and correspondence, where he reviews his daily sales and monthly financial statements, handles all the banking and makes a lot of phone calls – not just to his managers but also to suppliers, government contracts and job applicants. He also visits his restaurants once a week and speaks with each of his general managers at least once a day who in turn manage the day-to-day running of the restaurants.
Park started purchasing the three franchises almost three years ago from Prime Restaurants of Canada who operate and franchise a diverse portfolio of leading brands of casual dining restaurants including Casey’s Grill • Bar, a contemporary dining experience with a variety of fresh, high quality International cuisine and old favourites known as Casey’s Classics; authentic Irish pubs called Prime Pubs that operate under the trademarks of Fionn MacCool’s, D’Arcy McGee’s, Tir Nan Og and Paddy Flaherty’s; and East Side Mario’s, authentic Italian restaurants featuring fresh, premium-quality ingredients.
Interestingly before becoming a franchisee, Park worked for Prime Restaurants of Canada as Chief Financial Officer. He admits it was a bit of a leap of faith moving from being a full-time executive to entering a new world as a franchisee.
“When embarking on a major investment like buying a franchise you must consider all of your options. To me, the integrity and strength of the franchisor is just as an important as the brand and having worked there for so many years I knew first-hand that Prime was a franchisor I could trust,” says Park.
Park notes that one of the big selling points for the Casey’s franchise, is the new menu and design prototype that was unveiled shortly before he made the decision to make the leap from franchisor to franchisee. In 2006, Casey’s restaurants’ traditionally warm and friendly casual dining environment was redesigned in line with Casey’s revamped “class to mass” brand position to be more warm and welcoming with contemporary accents to create a dynamic experience – such as the shimmer screen in the dining room. Other highlights of the redesign include rich warm colours, more booth seating, updated brand touch-points including fresh white plate ware, new glass ware and heavier weight cutlery to ultimately create an atmosphere for Guests to dine and linger.
The redesigned interior was created to complement the redesigned menu that was unveiled earlier in 2006 – but was also updated again in early 2009. The new menu combines a variety of exotic offerings such as Mango Mahi Mahi, Shrimp Pad Thai, and Cobb Salad, with the restaurant’s best and most popular signature items including Casey’s Classic Back Ribs, Casey’s Classic Chicken Wings and Casey’s Classic Bloody Caesar.
Park credits his success as a franchisee to having a strong team in place in each of his restaurants. Each of his locations is run by a team comprised of a General Manager, two or three assistant managers and a kitchen manager. This team has direct control over the servers and kitchen staff. While Prime has exceptional operating policies and training methods that all of its restaurants must adhere to, Park instills some of his own philosophies into the culture of each of his franchises.At the end of the day it takes more than a balanced budget to bring job satisfaction to Park, as he says, “our Guests need to be happy before we can consider ourselves a success.”