New Brunswick com­pany plans to open new KFCS in va­cated N.L. com­mu­ni­ties


As the doors of Re­nee Mar­quis’s KFC out­lets closed last week, a New Brunswick-based res­tau­rant group an­nounced Oct. 1 it would keep the fran­chise go­ing in all lo­ca­tions she is va­cat­ing.

Fran­chise Man­age­ment Inc. (FMI) an­nounced it will open new KFC lo­ca­tions in Car­bon­ear, Bay Roberts, Clarenville, Stephenville, Marys­town, Cor­ner Brook, Gan­der, Lewis­porte, Deer Lake and Grand Falls.

The an­nounce­ment came as the last of the KFC out­lets in those lo­ca­tions owned by St. John’s busi­ness­woman Mar­quis closed, as she con­tin­ued with her plan to con­vert her restau­rants into din­ers that serve health­ier fare.

FMI pres­i­dent Dwight Fraser told TC Me­dia last week the com­pany will be the fran­chise holder.

“We’ve been work­ing on this for quite some time,” he said. “It’s dif­fi­cult to find lo­ca­tions and se­cure the deals, and it’s a process that’s been in the works for a while.”

Fraser said he hasn’t ex­pe­ri­enced one fran­chisee giv­ing up so many li­cences at once, but added Mar­quis’s de­ci­sion has cre­ated an op­por­tu­nity for FMI.

“We will own and man­age the busi­nesses our­selves,” he said.

The com­pany ex­pects to hire 50 to 80 cooks and res­tau­rant staff over the next few months.

“We’ll be look­ing for res­tau­rant gen­eral man­agers and em­ploy­ees to op­er­ate with us.”

Mar­quis an­nounced ear­lier this year she wouldn’t re­new the KFC leases in her 10 lo­ca­tions, but would in­stead open a new ven­ture called Oppy’s Diner, where she will of­fer a wider range of fresh, health­ier op­tions.

Mar­quis said been great.

“We’re wildly suc­cess­ful. We’re thrilled,” she said. “Peo­ple seem to re­ally love the food. The food’s de­li­cious, not full of sodium.”

In two of the spots — Clarenville and Stephenville — FMI is tak­ing over the for­mer KFC res­tau­rant space, but in all oth­ers, the com­pany will open in a new space or build a new lo­ca­tion.

Lo­ca­tions in Car­bon­ear, Deer Lake and Grand Falls are expected to open next spring, and the com­pany is scout­ing a suit­able lo­ca­tion in Bay Roberts. FMI is close to con­firm­ing lo­ca­tions in the re­main­ing places.

“We’d like to have them open to­mor­row if we could,” said Fraser. “Once the de­ci­sion was made by the for­mer owner what they were do­ing, we started mov­ing for­ward.”

Fraser and Mar­quis agree on one thing: FMI and Oppy’s Diner won’t be in di­rect com­pe­ti­tion.

“She’ll have a com­pletely dif­fer­ent menu than we will, and it wouldn’t be any dif­fer­ent than go­ing against an­other food op­er­a­tor,” said Fraser. “I don’t think that will be a fac­tor.”

Mar­quis’s fam­ily res­tau­rant dy­nasty was built with KFC, she noted, and har­bours no ill will to the brand.

“I vol­un­tar­ily let my con­tract go be­cause I wanted to do some­thing dif­fer­ent,” she said. “I have no prob­lem with Dwight Fraser and FMI com­ing in. I grew up in the KFC brand, I’ve been say­ing that all along. ... There’s no bat­tle, no com­pe­ti­tion. My food is fresh, home­made from scratch. It’s a dif­fer­ent niche al­to­gether than a quick-ser­vice res­tau­rant with deep-fried prod­uct.”

If they’re not com­pet­ing on menu, they might be com­pet­ing for staff. Fraser said the new lo­ca­tions would ben­e­fit from hav­ing work­ers from Mar­quis’s for­mer out­lets, as they’d know the menu and pro­ce­dures.

“That’d be nice, and they’re cer­tainly very wel­come to ap­ply, and we hope they do,” he said.

Mar­quis said FMI is work­ing hard to re­cruit her for­mer KFC staff.

“They’ve been try­ing to poach my staff from the get-go,” she said, laugh­ing. “They hired away one of my area man­agers, so he’s on the phone ev­ery day to my guys, and that’s OK, too. If peo­ple don’t want to work with me and they’re happy to stay with KFC, God love ya. Go ahead.”


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Photo by Ni­cholas Mercer/the Com­pass

DIS­PLAY­ING HIS­TORY — The Town of Car­bon­ear un­veiled a new sto­ry­board last month at Har­bour Rock Hill. The sto­ry­board tells the story of Car­bon­ear Is­land and the work be­ing done there by the Car­bon­ear Is­land Arche­ol­ogy Project. The board was spon­sored by the Gill Rat­cliffe Foun­da­tion in mem­ory of Mary (Saun­ders) Gill. Gill was the mother of sis­ters Rosalind Gill and Eli­nor Gill Rat­cliffe. Eli­nor is a di­rec­tor with the foun­da­tion that bears her name. In this pic­ture, Car­bon­ear Mayor Sam Slade (left) and Deputy Mayor Ches Ash un­veil the sto­ry­board along with Eli­nor Gill Rat­cliffe (sec­ond from right) and Rosalind Gill.

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