TORONTO — Ontario-based St. Louis Bar & Grill opened a Bradford, Ont., location in February with a new look.
President and owner Brent Poulton opened the first St. Louis at Yonge Street and Eglinton Avenue in 1992 and quickly opened another farther north at 5307 Yonge St.
Poulton’s brother Barry, who has two St. Louis franchises in Barrie, Ont., opened the Bradford, location on Feb. 7 marking the chain’s 44th store.
In the week leading up to the opening, the restaurant hosted a dry run where donations were accepted in lieu of payment. This is practice for franchisees and staff and money raised is given to Shining Through Centre, which educates children with autism.
St. Louis’ menu includes 19 wing sauces including a signature wing recipe, its signature garlic dill sauce, ribs and its own take on onion rings, onion chips.
The new prototype, which will apply to new openings and renovations, features a new logo and increased focus on the colour red.
“We’ve tried to put some fun into it,” said Niki Papaioannou, director of marketing. “There is also some local art that we’ve started to incorporate.”
In Bradford, a wall is dedicated to the history and sports teams of the town. “Locals have been telling each other, ‘You should go see yourself; it’s you when you were eight and you played minor hockey,’” said Papaioannou.
The restaurants have a mix of dining room seating and high tops and an average footprint of between 2,200 and 2,500 square feet.
“Our brand is looking at building restaurants that are slightly larger than we have in the past,” said Papaioannou, adding plans call for new builds to be between 2,500 and 3,000 square feet with 200 seats, 98 inside and 102 on the patio.
“The people who approach us as franchisees start out as fans. It’s really nice to see. They grow up with the brand and then we get a phone call one day and they want to open a franchise,” she said.
A busy start to the year saw the privately-owned chain open in North Bay, Ont. in addition to the Bradford location. Papaioannou said St. Louis plans to open eight more locations in 2015.
The company plans to open its first Calgary location in the fourth quarter of this year and its first in Nova Scotia with a Halifax store planned for Q3. The majority of St. Louis restaurants are in Ontario, but the brand moved into the Maritimes two years ago with a Moncton, N.B., franchise location. Papaioannou said this was the company’s trial run in Atlantic Canada, which has been successful, and plans are to open more locations on the East Coast. “We’re so interested in growth, that we will be moving ahead in these markets corporately or with a franchisee,” said Papaioannou.
In Ontario, growth is focused on Ottawa, Hamilton, Timmins, Mississauga, Bowmanville and Owen Sound.
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