Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Mary Brown's chicken chain eyes Manitoba, Saskatchewan

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THE battle for chicken supremacy in Manitoba is going to heat up.

Mary Brown's Famous Chicken & Taters, a Toronto-based chain with more than 90 locations in Alberta, Ontario, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, is on the hunt for franchisees in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

Nigel Beattie, president of Mary Brown, said his goal is to open 50 stores throughout Manitoba. The company hosted an information session for potential franchisees at the Winnipeg Free Press News Café on Wednesday evening.

"We made the jump from Ontario to Alberta and now we think it's time to fill in the two central provinces," he said.

What makes Mary Brown's a rarity in the quick-service restaurant segment, Beattie said, is it buys whole chickens and cuts them up in-store. Its signature menu items include its Big Mary sandwich and "taters" or potato wedges.

The company has a couple of corporate-owned stores but prefers a franchise model. Most locations it opens are between 1,500 and 1,800 square feet and a combination of sit-down, take-out and drive-thru.

Beattie said he is well aware of deep-rooted competitors in Manitoba, including KFC, Chicken Delight and Chicken Chef.

That doesn't mean Mary Brown's will shy away from the fight.

"If the area is densely populated, with good access, good visibility and good parking, we wouldn't hesitate setting up shop next to a competitor," he said.

"We have stores across the street from KFC is pretty much every market."

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 18, 2012 B8

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