Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Bob Evans buys chain in West

By Mark Williams
The Associated Press

COLUMBUS - Bob Evans Farms is buying the 81-store Mimi's Cafe for $103 million in cash, giving the restaurant and sausage company its first presence in California, the company said Monday.

Mimi's, based in Tustin, Calif., operates 81 casual restaurants in 10 western states, 47 in California. It had revenue of $240.5 million in 2003.

The deal to be completed in July also includes the assumption of $78.7 million in debt. Mimi's will operate as a subsidiary.

Stewart Owens, Bob Evans chairman and chief executive, said Mimi's gives Bob Evans a strong growth opportunity in the casual segment of the restaurant industry and has potential for nationwide expansion.

"I think the Mimi's concept will do well across the country," he said. "I can see Mimi's and Bob Evans being side by side."

Like Bob Evans, Mimi's serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and has an average ticket of $9.50 a person, higher than Bob Evans. The restaurants also serve beer and wine.

Owens said the acquisition also helps diversify Bob Evans geographically, since most of its 561 restaurants are in the Midwest, mid-Atlantic and Southeast - including 21 in Greater Cincinnati.

He said Mimi's existing management team will stay in place.

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