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.”
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.