Orange County Business Journal

Report: Mimi’s Café On Sales Block

Kari Hamanaka Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The parent of Irvine-based Mimi’s Café has begun the process of selling off the chain, according to a report from trade publication dealReporter.

The French-inspired restaurant chain, which has 145 restaurants mostly in California, is owned by Columbus, Ohio-based Bob Evans Farms Inc.

A Bob Evans spokeswoman declined comment citing a company policy not to comment on rumor or speculation.

Mimi’s has 475 OC workers, according to the most recent Business Journal estimate.

The article by dealReporter, part of the Financial Times Group, cites two anonymous sources who said the parent company recently held presentations that cited a value of about $210 million for the Mimi’s chain. The report indicated that the chain would likely go to private equity investors.

Mimi’s has introduced new promotions, a menu redesign, happy hour deals and full bars at some restaurants among other initiatives over the past year to boost sales.

Bob Evans Chief Executive Steve Davis said late last year that Mimi’s needed to show “significant progress before we are satisfied.”

Mimi’s net sales fell 4.3% to $364.1 million for the year ended April 27. The chain’s same-store sales fell 4% for the year.

Bob Evans acquired Mimi’s in 2004 for $182 million.

Deal activity within the restaurant industry has remained robust so far this year, and has included New York private equity firm Centerbridge Partners LP’s $1.1 billion purchase of Scottsdale, Az.-based P.F. Chang’s China Bistro Inc.

In Orange County, Irvine-based Yard House USA Inc. was sold by San Francisco private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners LLC to Orlando, Fla.-based Darden Restaurants Inc. for $585 million in a deal announced last week.

Cypress-based Real Mex Restaurants Inc.’s sale to a group of creditors was approved by a bankruptcy judge earlier this year. Real Mex, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last year, was sold for $46 million in cash, an $80 million debt-for-equity swap and the assumption of certain liabilities.