Jack Astor's® Bar and Grill Celebrates 20 Years of Success

~ The City Where It All Began: SIR Corp.'s flagship restaurant has its roots in St. Catharines ~

BURLINGTON, ON, Nov. 15 /CNW/ - This month marks the 20th anniversary of Jack Astor's, one of Canada's most memorable and successful restaurant brands.

St. Catharines entrepreneur Peter Fowler and his partners in a company called C.A.F.E. unveiled the first location in 1990 on Ontario Street in St. Catharines. Twenty years and 32 locations later, Jack Astor's has soared to become a huge player in the casual restaurant scene. The restaurants are sought after dining experiences in four Canadian provinces and two American states - as far west as Calgary and east to Halifax, as well as in Buffalo, New York and Cary, North Carolina. There are 22 Jack Astor's in Ontario including 16 in the Greater Toronto Area, and three in Quebec. As of August 30, 2009, the last year results currently available, Jack Astor's in Canada sales totaled over $100 million (based on 29 locations). The brand has become the flagship concept of the restaurant company Fowler and his partners formed in the 1990s, called SIR Corp.

Known for its lively environment, Jack Astor's was created to be a casual, entertaining and enjoyable restaurant for the whole family. From the onset, the restaurant didn't mind having a little fun along the way. In fact, according to SIR Corp. CEO, Peter Fowler, the restaurant had a distinctive style and energy right from the start.

"When we first opened Jack Astor's in St. Catharines, we introduced something cutting edge. There was a laid-back style; an irreverent sense of humour and our service staff were wearing t-shirts they'd decorated instead of uniforms. No one else was doing that," says Fowler. "In some ways, they were pretty daunting times, because we were doing something completely new. But we also knew we had something unique in Jack Astor's, and by 1991, we began to expand. Twenty years later, with 32 locations, we're still relevant, and innovative. We have changed along the way, but the sense of humor, the energy and authentic service style still prevail."

Over the years, Jack Astor's has transformed from more of a roadhouse or bar-like atmosphere with shelled peanuts on the floor, into a more contemporary casual restaurant, appealing to a broader demographic including families. The new image is evident in locations such as Yonge-Dundas Square in Toronto, where the elevated restaurant and its impressive patio overlook the excitement of the bustling streetscape and square below.

Jack Astor's locations have proven successful in both the urban centers and suburban neighborhoods of Canada's largest cities. In 2008, Jack Astor's opened three new restaurants in Toronto including at Yonge & Dundas, at Yonge & Bloor and on John Street in the Entertainment District. More recently, on October 25, 2010, a new Jack Astor's was opened just outside Montreal in Boisbriand, Quebec. Boisbriand is the third Jack Astor's in the Montreal area.

With all that has changed, Jack Astor's continues to embrace a bold sense of humor with unique staff uniforms, memorable decor and marketing, while offering a fun and relaxed service approach. The staff set a jocular mood at the table by writing their names upside down on the kraft paper tablecloths using crayons that they leave behind for all ages doodling. An Elvis booth is featured at most Jack Astor's, where "The King" is paid tribute with statues, photographs, and other eclectic trappings.  Most locations also offer large and distinctive patios.

As part of its lasting appeal, Jack Astor's continually re-engineers its menu to reflect the changing tastes of its customers. The restaurant has developed a number of affordable and addictive signature dishes using quality, fresh ingredients. This approach is a key point of difference between Jack Astor's and its competitive set, and is an important part of its success. Favourite dishes include fresh - not frozen - chicken, which are marinated, seasoned and breaded in house, to order, as well as chicken wings, AAA-grade steaks and internationally inspired dishes including Pad Thai, Greek chicken salad, chopstick chicken salad and crispy honey sesame chicken.

"You would think after twenty years we would be running out of steam but Jack Astor's is positioned for growth. We are just getting started," says Fowler. "We look forward to  continued success and growth."

About SIR Corp.
Jack Astor's is a multi-unit concept owned and operated by Canadian company SIR Corp.

SIR Corp. ("SIR") is a privately held Canadian corporation that owns and operates a portfolio of 46 casual and fine dining restaurants in Canada. The business is focused on creating, developing, and operating best-in-class restaurants. Best-in-class means SIR strives for the best people, the best food and the best atmosphere at each of its restaurants.  These values are shared company-wide and the resulting high level of quality and attention to detail can be found in each restaurant. SIR's passion is reflected in its name, which stands for Service Inspired Restaurants.

SIR is about bringing people together, building lasting relationships and setting the standard for best in class. SIR has grown from five restaurants and $17 million in revenue in 1993, to 45 restaurants and over $197 million in revenue in its fiscal year ending August 30, 2009. Currently, SIR has approximately 3,800 employees across Canada. SIR's diverse portfolio of restaurants is designed to appeal to a broad set of consumer tastes. Concept restaurants have multiple locations, reflecting their broader demographic appeal.

SIR concept brands include: Jack Astor's® Bar and Grill, with 30 locations in Canada; Alice Fazooli's!®, with five locations; and Canyon Creek Chop House®, with eight locations. SIR's Signature Restaurants are one-of-a-kind brands located in downtown Toronto that range in offerings from fine dining with award-winning menus to a very active sports bar. Signature Restaurants comprise the upscale reds®, Far Niente®, FOUR™, Petit Four™ and the casual Loose Moose Tap & Grill®. All trademarks related to the concept and signature brands noted above are used by SIR under a license agreement with SIR Royalty Limited Partnership. For more information on SIR Corp. or the SIR Royalty Income Fund, please visit www.sircorp.com.

For further information:

Media Contact:
Michele Enhaynes / Karen Krugel
PraxisPR
905.949.8255 x 229 / 233
michele@praxispr.ca / karen@praxispr.ca