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Press Release

Award-winning Canadian burger bistro announces major national expansion program

Canada NewsWire

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- Opportunities for The WORKS franchise stores across Canada -

TORONTO, Jan. 30, 2012 /CNW/ - Based on the success of its initial expansion program, The WORKS Gourmet Burger Bistro (www.worksburger.com) - the award-winning gourmet burger bistro, originating in Ottawa in 2001 - has announced plans to open 50 new stores across Canada.  In 2011, The WORKS opened new stores in London, Kingston, Ottawa, Guelph and Oakville, with three additional sites currently under construction in Toronto, Waterloo and Peterborough.  With each new location delivering strong results, The WORKS continues its aggressive expansion plan by offering opportunities to carefully selected franchise operators.

A strong brand concept
Developing a cult-like following among burger connoisseurs in Ottawa, the brand roused the interest of foodservice and hospitality veteran, Andy O'Brien, former president of Montana's, and his two vice presidents, Bruce Miller and Sean Bell.  The trio recognized the franchising viability of the brand and acquired the WORKS Gourmet Burger Bistro last year, with an eye towards taking the brand outside of its native Ottawa roots.

"Having successfully led one of the largest restaurant chains in Canada, the three of us were impressed by The WORKS Gourmet Burger Bistro concept and its tremendous success in Ottawa.  We jumped at the opportunity to purchase the company," explained Andy O'Brien, CEO of The WORKS.  "Since then, the success of each new location, along with the success of our franchisees has further enhanced our assessment of The WORKS' prospects for growth. Accordingly, we have decided to accelerate our expansion program to add more locations throughout Canada," he added.

Franchisees make the brand
The cornerstone of their expansion success has hinged on finding the ideal franchisee fit for each neighborhood location. The franchisee selection process is rigorous, with emphasis on demonstrated passion for satisfying customers.

"What we are really looking for are highly talented franchisees to represent the brand," O'Brien explains.  "Our potential franchisees must have what we call the 'hospitality gene', a natural passion and aptitude for working with people - brand ambassadors that will become active members of their local community - that's been the foundation of The WORKS brand since day one.

Alongside The WORKS' industry veteran co-owners, the brand is backed by a strong Board of Directors including prominent investors, Michael Bregman, CEO of Tailwind Capital Inc. and former owner of Second Cup, and Ken Finkelstein, CEO of Knight's Bridge Capital Partners.

"Having enjoyed success as a food service owner and CEO of Second Cup, I had no plans to invest in another emerging restaurant concept.  However, I found The WORKS to be irresistible," said Mr. Bregman.  "The quality of food, extraordinary culture, stellar management team and incredible financial success of the stores have made The WORKS the most compelling franchise opportunity that I have seen in many years," he added.

With a relatively affordable store opening cost of $550,000-$650,000, strong leadership team, and impressive profitability within the booming gourmet burger category, the success of the WORKS franchise has not gone unnoticed.

"I am completely impressed and satisfied with my experience as a franchisee," enthused Tony Bruccoleri, owner of the Kingston location, which opened last August.  "From the outset, the WORKS team has exceeded my expectations and made me feel like part of the family.  From staff training to operations, the support is second to none," he adds.

About The WORKS Gourmet Burger Bistro
Open since 2001, the wildly popular and award winning full-service neighbourhood bistro is known for its 68 different fresh gourmet burgers, fresh cut fries, cool classic shakes and ice cold beer - all freshly made from scratch on-site.  The WORKS offers the ultimate gourmet burger experience in your neighbourhood and has won multiple awards including 'Top Tasting Burger' awards in 2011 from The Ottawa Metro, The London Metro and The Kingstonite, as well as 'Fastest Growing Business' from The Ottawa Business Journal from 2008-2011 and Maclean's 'Top Employer for Small, Medium Business' in 2010.  For more information on a WORKS Franchise, email gettheworks@workburger.com or visit www.worksburger.com.  Find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/worksburger or follow on Twitter @WORKSBURGER.  The WORKS Gourmet Burger Bistro is a member of the Canadian Franchise Association and the Canadian Restaurant Foodservices Association.

The WORKS Gourmet Burger Bistro
Andy O'Brien Biography - President and CEO, Co-Owner

An Ottawa native, currently living in Oakville, Andy "Chief Burgerhead" O'Brien first went to The WORKS Gourmet Burger Bistro (www.worksburger.com) in 2001 and has returned over and over again to take in a gourmet WORKS burger - his favourite being the Cracker Jack. 

O'Brien is a successful senior executive who is recognized as a leader in the food industry, with over 20 years of experience working in the food hospitality, food service and food retail industries around the world. He has led, developed and grown some of the most recognizable consumer brands, including Montana's Cookhouse Restaurant, Uncle Ben's, Sunkist, Campbell's® Soups, Pedigree Dog Food, Lucky Charms, Nature Valley Granola Bars, Fruit Roll-Ups snacks and Betty Crocker Desserts.

Along with business partners Bruce Miller and Sean Bell, O'Brien reviewed over 75 restaurant concepts in Canada and chose the award-winning, popular Ottawa-based The WORKS, acquiring it in September 2010.  As the new co-owners of The WORKS, they are excited to expand the highly successful brand and its ultimate gourmet burger experience to neighbourhoods across Canada.

Michael Bregman Biography

Michael Bregman is an experienced entrepreneur and community leader.  Michael earned an MBA degree at Harvard Business School and received his undergraduate degree at The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.  He was formerly the Chairman and CEO of Second Cup Ltd., Canada's leading specialty coffee retailer. Purchasing the company for $12 million in 1988, Mr. Bregman took Second Cup public in 1993, ultimately returning $175 million to shareholders, culminating in the sale of the company to Cara Operations Ltd. in 2002.

Currently, Mr. Bregman is the Principal and Chief Executive Officer of Tailwind Capital Inc., which operates an investment fund.  He serves on the Board of Directors of Clairvest Group Inc., General Donlee Canada Inc., Ideaca Ltd., MapleMusic and The Works.

Michael has one son and three daughters.  He is an active triathlete and skier.  Michael also serves various charitable organizations including United Jewish Appeal (2002 Campaign Co-Chair), Mount Sinai Hospital Foundation (Chairman 2002-2005; Co-Chair 2009-2010), Mount Sinai Hospital (Vice-Chair), Birthright Israel and University of Toronto's Rotman School (Dean's Advisory Committee).  He is a 2002 recipient of the Yakir Award.

Image with caption: "Andy O'Brien, president and CEO of The WORKS Gourmet Burger Bistro (www.worksburger.com). (CNW Group/The Works Gourmet Burger Bistro)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20120130_C7482_PHOTO_EN_9387.jpg