A day in the life of Prime Pubs franchisee Greg Garson is as busy as it is varied. “I’m a busboy, an accountant, a window washer, a babysitter, a father and a cook,” says the owner/operator of Fionn MacCool’s on University Avenue in downtown Toronto, who also says despite the hard work his job is extremely rewarding and nothing beats the freedom of running his own business.
Fionn MacCool’s is part of Prime Restaurants of Canada’s Prime Pubs family of 13 authentic Irish pubs that also operate under the trade-marks D'Arcy McGee's, Paddy Flaherty's and Tir nan Óg. The pubs serve traditional Irish fare made from authentic recipes as well as a selection of contemporary favourites, and feature warm, friendly interiors complete with furnishings imported directly from Ireland.
Its unique concept, combining the “craic” (the Irish word for fun) with a comfortable environment and exceptional cuisine is behind its popularity and exponential growth plans. In 2008, Prime Pubs opened three new locations in Canada and one in the United States, with 60 store openings across North America planned within the next four years, including three in 2009.
Greg became a franchisee five years ago. After working in a corporate role with Prime Pubs, first as an Area Manager then as a General Manager of the Bier Markt in Toronto, he decided it was time to own and manage his own restaurant. He has not looked back. Today, he considers his business an extension of his personal life.
“I run my business like my home,” says Greg. “It’s like having 500 people every day for lunch and dinner at my house.”
Greg’s attention to detail and his dedication to providing exceptional, personal hospitality to each and every one of his guests is typical of all of the members of the Prime Pubs family. The Pubs’ welcoming environment combined with their authentic décor, Irish-inspired cuisine and innovative beverage program keeps guests coming back night after night and Prime has the numbers to prove its success.
In 2007, Prime Pubs achieved same store sales growth of 14.62 per cent and that same year, its average store revenue of $2.3 million was truly exceptional compared with the Canadian full-service restaurant average of $636,000 according to data from Statistics Canada and the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association.
Greg says he was originally attracted to Prime Pubs because “they are visionaries and they carry though on their visions.” He liked that they were willing to take a restaurant or a set of restaurants and try something new. Today, Greg contributes to that vision as he is currently serving a two-year term as the elected Chair of Prime Pubs’ Franchisee Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee meets twice annually to discuss the strategic direction for the brand, and to address franchisee issues and opportunities.
While Greg owns a traditional 5,866 square foot pub that was tailored to fit its location, last year, Prime unveiled its first “pint-sized” format in downtown Toronto. The pub features all of the amenities guests expect from a Prime Pub within a 2,200 square feet footprint. Also in 2008, Prime Pubs unveiled its first airport location in Ottawa International Airport. Today, Prime Pubs offers franchisees a variety of flexible and dynamic formats to fit every possible opportunity. Investment levels range from between $500,000 for its ‘pint-sized’ format to $1,200,000 for its traditional larger Pubs.
As a prospective franchisee, Greg says he finally decided upon Prime Pubs because the package is complete. “When you purchase a Prime Pub you get a purchasing package for food, beer, spirits and a turn-key restaurant – with a lot of fun thrown in.”
While throwing a giant party at home every single night is not for everyone, Greg enjoys the challenge and the thrill. “You need an amazing amount of discipline and organizational skills to pull it off day after day after day, but you also get immediate gratification and immeasurable personal and professional long term rewards.”