Mimi’s Café, the Irvine-based casual dining chain, has been purchased for $50 million by LeDuff America, the Dallas-based division of French food giant Groupe LeDuff. LeDuff’s acquisition of Mimi’s will bolster that company’s growing North American portfolio, which includes the similarly styled restaurant La Madeleine, as well as Bruegger’s Bagels and Brioche Dorée.
LeDuff’s purchase of Mimi’s Café was not unexpected. Last November, Mimi’s parent company, Ohio-based Bob Evans Farms, announced that it was reviewing “strategic alternatives for Mimi’s Café” following disappointing sales figures. In fact, Mimi’s posted a $7.5 million operating loss for the quarter that ended on Oct. 26.
Speaking about the decision to sell, Steve Davis, Bob Evans’ chairman and CEO, was upbeat. “This transaction is a positive development for Bob Evans as well as for Mimi’s Café. After closing the sale, Bob Evans will have reset itself to better focus efforts and investments on achieving our long-term commitment to grow earnings.”
Bob Evans Farms purchased Mimi’s Café in 2004, just as Mimi’s was preparing for an initial public offering. Bob Evans was looking to get a foothold in the west, and it paid $182 million to take over the Mimi’s brand. That is a stark comparison to the $50 million deal it has struck with LeDuff, which will pay $20 million of that sum in cash. The deal should be finalized within the next 45 days.
“We are very excited by the potential of the brand,” said Claude Bergeron, chairman and co-CEO of LeDuff America, adding that the company looks forward to introducing Mimi’s Café to more communities in North America.
Mimi’s Café, with its French-farmhouse façade, is a staple of the Southern California landscape. The first location opened in Anaheim in 1978, and the chain currently operates 145 restaurants in 24 states. Of those locations, 57 are in California and ten of those are in Orange County.
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