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Mimi’s Cafe chain sold

U.S. subsidiary of French-based company buys restaurant

Posted: January 31, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: January 31, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Mimi's café chain was sold to another operator this week. Above, the Santa Clarita restaurant reopened Oct. 12, 2012 after two weeks of remodeling to re-brand the chain.

A little more than three months after the Santa Clarita Mimi’s Café re-opened post-remodeling, the owner announced this week that it is selling the chain for $50 million.

Parent company, Bob Evans Farms, Inc., said it has entered into a definitive agreement to sell the chain to LeDuff America, Inc.

Based in Dallas, Texas, LeDuff owns and operates several café-bakery chains including La Madeleine Country French Cafe, Brioche Doree, Bruegger’s Bagels, Timothy’s Coffee and Michel’s Baguette.

LeDuff America is a U.S. based subsidiary of Groupe LeDuff SA, a global bakery and restaurant company headquartered in Rennes, France.

Bob Evans announced in November 2012 that it was seeking a buyer for the café chain. The announcement came after the chain had just completed some light remodeling of the Santa Clarita restaurant as part of a pilot program to re-brand the café.

In 2011, Mimi’s was ranked 7th on the list of the 10 largest chains by Nation’s Restaurant News.

The same year, however, Valencia resident Mark Mears was hired to improve sales and profitability which had been sliding for years according to financial reports issued by Bob Evans. Prior to Mimi’s, Mears served with The Cheesecake Factory as its chief marketing officer and a senior vice president.

Aiming to grab a larger share of the market by offering diners a little bit of everything, Mimi’s menu was revamped and several new food items were offered.

At the time of the October remodel, Mears told The Signal that Valencia was the test market and the company was “putting its faith and trust in the SCV community to help make the change successful.”

The plan was to remodel a few other California restaurants, at a cost of approximately $1 million, and then possibly continue to expand nationally over the next few years depending on the results, Mears said at the time.

Future plans for the Mimi’s chain are to “further enhance Mimi’s Cafe’s position in the market and to introduce it to numerous communities across North America,” said new owner Claude Bergeron, Claude Bergeron, chairman and co-CEO of LeDuff America.

Terms of the purchase include a $20.0 million cash payment and a note for $30.0 million. The deal is expected to close within the next 45 days.

The Irvine-based cafe began in 1978, but was acquired by Bob Evans Farms Inc. in 2004.
LeDuff American said it plans to continue operating and managing the company out of its current Irvine-based headquarters.


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