An Appetite For Growth: Foodtastic is Growing its Portfolio and Expanding its Reach

Photo by David Curleigh

When brothers Lawrence and Peter Mammas partnered with Jacque Gaspo in 2012 to create a new trend in the restaurant industry, La Belle et La Boeuf Burger Bar was born in Laval, Que. It was the first independent-concept chain for the trio and the first phase in their vision of creating Foodtastic — a multi-branded company with concepts that would appeal to the Quebec market.

Designed by Gaspo, La Belle et La Boeuf offered a cool but comfortable space serving top-quality burgers, poutine, desserts and cocktails. And it’s struck a chord with its customer base — since 2012, the concept has expanded to 15 locations across the province, with six more slated to open in 2020.

Following the success of La Belle et La Boeuf, Foodtastic acquired Montreal-based Mexican restaurant Carlos & Pepe’s in 2014 and evolved the concept into an all-in-one Mexican sports bar. Two chefs were recruited from Mexico to helm the kitchen and Foodtastic updated the menu, focusing on traditional ingredients such as corn, avocados and peppers to make the food rich in flavour and texture. The bar offers a vast selection of tequilas and margaritas, as well as a variety of other cocktails. A second location opened in Laval shortly after and Carlos & Pepe’s has since expanded to four units.

In the same year, a trendy, yet original Greek concept joined the Foodtastic portfolio. The first Souvlaki Bar opened September 12, 2014, featuring Greek singing-superstar Mihalis Hatzigiannis as its spokesperson. With offerings focused on Greek products, including wines and famous Greek coffees, its early success quickly fuelled a second location in Ville Saint-Laurent. Today, there are 10 locations in operation with six more in development.

Foodtastic’s portfolio quickly grew to include Bacaro, Gatto Matto, Blossom Bar and Vinnie Gambini (which will be converted into Gatto Matto and Enoteca Monza Pizzeria Moderna locations over the next 12 months). Also part of the portfolio is Nickels Delicatessen, which underwent a relaunch and rebrand after being reacquired in 2017.

Although its restaurants have long been a staple in Quebec markets, Foodtastic is looking to capitalize on its success and reach the next level after receiving a $47-million investment from Restaurant Royalty Partners — a joint venture managed by Oaktree Capital Management L.P. and JHR Capital LLC — in November 2018.

“Our partnership with Restaurant Royalty Partners marks an exciting next step in our company’s growth,” says Peter Mammas. “This capital will accelerate Foodtastic’s strategy of acquiring brands with strong growth potential.”

In the first year following the investment, Foodtastic acquired five brands — Enoteca Monza Pizzeria Moderna, Les Rôtisseries Au Coq, CHOCOLATO, Big Rig and Les Rôtisseries Benny — with more acquisitions in the works for 2020. The company now operates more than 90 locations, serving approximately 106,000 customers a week.

“Peter and his team at Foodtastic have a strong track record of value creation,” says Alex Taubman, SVP for Oaktree. “They’ve built a high-quality business and we look forward to partnering to support the next stage of the company’s growth.”

While acquiring new brands has been a focus for the company so far, going forward, Mammas says Foodtastic will focus on bringing more concepts into the fold, including a vegan restaurant. Whether it’s an acquisition or the creation of a new concept, Mammas is confident it’s only a matter of time before the company reaches its goal of $400-million in system sales by 2021.

Having access to more capital over the next few years will only help with future expansion efforts, Mammas says, as the company looks at eight different opportunities that could take its location total above 100.

“At the same time, we’re looking at expanding our geographical area,” Mammas added. “Our focus over the next 12 months is finding compelling stories and acquiring companies in Ontario. [Lawrence and Jacques] are real foodies, so we’re focused on
innovation and quality so we can bring a lot of new tastes to people.”

But, Mammas adds, the company is taking its time, navigating the differences in real-estate and development costs in Ontario versus Quebec.

Its appetite for creative restaurant concepts, thirst for sales growth and profitability and hunger to draw money-making franchisees and entrepreneurs led the company to more than $160 million in total systems sales in 2019.

“As far as our organic growth, we’re ramping up more for the current year and looking at opening roughly 14 locations,” Mammas says. “We’re looking to get into all the different segments [of the food industry] one by one. It’s really a multi-branded company that we’re trying to build; we have something in the brewery space, the dessert space, the Middle-Eastern space. We have a large appetite for growth.”

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