Every great team, every once in a while, takes a step back to take stock, get its bearings, and make some purposeful decisions about its future path. This past year, Mr. Greek has done just that, and the brand is now moving forward with a renewed vision and energy.
“We are a 31-year-old company that feels more like a one-year-old company as we update our brand. We are moving away from opening new corporate-owned locations, and are expanding the franchise side,” says Peter Rakovalis, VP, Franchise Development & Operations.
With and updated menu and look, he adds, “We are excited to take Mr. Greek to the next level and make it the top choice in the fast casual segment, for our valued guests and franchise partners.”
Mr. Greek is looking for franchise partners who share the system’s core values of great food, great service, and profitability. Franchisees of the system benefit from a number of different income streams, including in-restaurant, home delivery, and catering.
Franchisees start with a comprehensive eight-week training program, through which they learn every element of how to operate their business. Mr. Greek then provides on-site support in advance of opening, and assistance with the Grand Opening event. Franchisees also receive ongoing support from the operations team, which includes regular site visits, quarterly regional meetings, and annual conferences.
In the first half of 2019, the brand welcomed three new franchise partners in Canada, and Rakovalis projects that over the next four to five years, an additional eight to 10 new restaurants will open annually. “Our domestic growth strategy is focused on middle Canada – Ontario outside of the GTA and west into Alberta,” he says. “We also continue to attract and engage master franchisors internationally to add to our current successful locations in Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.”
Mr. Greek is also fielding a deeper corporate team these days, building capacity as the company prepares for robust growth going forward. Kevin Leung (Director of Finance), Peter Rakavalis (VP Franchise Development & Operations), and Ajay Singh (Director of Operations) join Lambrini Sinopoli (Marketing) and Vicki Tranos (VP Corporate Affairs).
Focusing on food first
Mr. Greek’s roots go back to a family restaurant that opened in 1988 on the Danforth in Toronto. With its “Yiassou! Welcome! Every day is a culinary celebration of health and well-being” attitude, warm relaxing atmosphere, and quality food, it has become the largest and fastest-growing Greek Mediterranean franchise system in North America.
The chain is known for its made-to-order fare including souvlaki, gyros, kalamari, and fresh Greek salads, and high-quality standards with no tenderizers, chemicals or MSG. “Our food is the heart of our business,” says George Raios, President, CEO, and Founder of Mr. Greek. “I eat in a Mr. Greek at least five to six times a week and still enjoy the food the same way I did over 30 years ago.”
From the beginning, long before it was trendy, Mr. Greek used all-natural, locally sourced ingredients – a practice that continues to this day. Wherever a new restaurant is opened, the menu will incorporate fresh, locally raised proteins and locally grown produce, says Rakovalis. “Our success has always been about the quality of our food. That’s what makes Mr. Greek a strong brand, and that’s what keeps our guests coming back again and again.”
The brand’s mission statement has also remained the same: Because life has to be enjoyed®. “The mission statement encompasses all of us,” says Raios. “From the Head Office, to all staff within our restaurants, and of course ultimately to our valued guests who continue to be loyal patrons. We have seen people who started dining with us as children now bringing their own families and putting their trust in us to provide an exceptional dining experience. We have hard-working people within our system who have spent the better part of their lives with us. Seeing them achieve their personal goals and enjoying the work they do is what it’s all about.”
By Kym Wolfe