Founded in Quebec in the early 1950s, Lafleur restaurants have just passed quietly into the hands of the second generation of the Papagiannis family. A newly formed team that doesn’t hide its ambitions to quickly double the size of the fast food chain.
“Montreal’s North Shore, Trois-Rivières, Quebec, Saguenay… We want to expand our presence wherever the population base allows. We are not closed to any territory, not even outside the province,” he says protocol George Papagiannis, the new CEO of the family business.
The 42-year-old is the son of Achilles Papagiannis, an immigrant from Greece who landed in 1971 at the age of 16.
In 45 active years, the 68-year-old entrepreneur has always made a career in fast-food restaurants (Le Petit Québec, La Belle Province and Lafleur). The hours were long and the family quickly learned how to get their hands dirty.
“When I was 10, I was chopping potatoes with my dad in the kitchen at the weekend! remembers young Papagiannis. Catering has always been part of our lives.”
Today, with twenty years of experience in business and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Concordia University, George has agreed to continue the torch passed to him by his father.
“It is certain that I could have decided beforehand and to sell to someone else. But what’s the point of working a lifetime if it’s not about leaving something for our children? The family is the most important thing, the father replies. I am now convinced that by leveraging the advice I have given him throughout my life, George will be able to develop the company to its full potential.”
The chain of 16 restaurants, all but one of which are corporate, is preparing for a new growth spurt.
In addition to investing heavily in refreshing its existing restaurants, the company is also preparing to open new ones.
Will she succeed in becoming a franchisor and share her recipe for success? Or by acquiring existing operations across the province?
“It’s true that localization is a key aspect of our success,” the new CEO admits, in the same breath acknowledging that all of these options are on the table. “However, we are not ready to outline our game plan.”
Across the country soon?
If all goes according to plan, the company will double that number with 32 restaurants within ten years. And who knows, maybe some will be from the provinces?
Because the company regularly receives calls from investors interested in developing the chain in Ontario, the Maritimes and even as far west as Alberta and British Columbia.
“You have no idea how many non-Canadians tell me that Lafleur is their first stop when they arrive in Quebec to enjoy a hot dog or poutine!”
- Founded: 1951, by Denis Vinet
- Headquarters: Saint-Hubert
- Number of employees : 200