When Cara Operations merged with Fairfax Financial’s Prime Restaurants in October, the 130-year old company cemented its grip on Canada’s casual dining market by adding East Side Mario’s and Casey’s to an arsenal that already included nationwide chains like Swiss Chalet and Milestones. But the past few years have been tough on casual restaurants—a vast category that occupies everything between fast food and fine dining—as chains have surrendered market share to a growing wave of upscale fast-food brands like Five Guys and Freshii. The best defence, it seems, is to consolidate and conquer. Care to see the merger menu?
CENTRAL CANADA BASED
From its roots selling apples to steamship passengers, Cara has become Canada’s dominant force in casual dining (including more than 240 Harvey’s locations.)
EAST SIDE MARIO’S
In addition to Jack Astor’s, SIR Corp. has added fine dining (Far Niente) and pubs (Loose Moose) to its plate.
WEST COAST BASED
T&M GROUP (BOSTON PIZZA)
Jim Treliving’s family pizza chain has more than tripled its locations in the last 15 years.
Vancouver’s Fuller family recently acquired a 50% stake in Cactus Club, a rival founded by a pair of former Earl’s waiters.
Vancouver’s Tom Gaglardi also owns 37 Denny’s locations, the Sandman Hotel chain and the Dallas Stars.
CHOP STEAKHOUSE AND BAR
KEG RESTAURANTS LTD.
In November, Fairfax Financial purchased a Keg-sized stake (51%) in the steak chain.
EAST COAST BASED
A big player in Atlantic Canada, Imvescor made its move into Central Canada with the acquisition of Baton Rouge.