Orange County Business Journal

Mimi’s Parent Looking into Possible Sale

Kari Hamanaka Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The parent of Irvine-based Mimi’s Café confirmed that it is looking into a possible sale of the casual dining chain amid a prolonged sales slump for the French-inspired restaurant concept.

Bob Evans Chief Executive Steve Davis said in a statement released Monday with the company’s second-quarter earnings report that the “strategic fit and long-term growth potential of Mimi’s Café relative to our other businesses prompted us to initiate a process to evaluate our strategic alternatives for that segment, including but not limited to a potential sale.”

The chain’s parent, Columbus, Ohio-based Bob Evans Farms Inc., was rumored to be in talks with potential suitors, according to a summer report by trade publication dealReporter.

The company’s spokeswoman declined to comment on the report at the time.

Mimi’s operates a chain of 145 restaurants, mostly in California and neighboring states and is known for its French-inspired restaurant theme and menu.

Bob Evans said it is working with financial advisory firm Lazard on its options for Mimi’s.

The confirmation comes with another disappointing quarter for Mimi’s, which saw net sales down 5.6% to $81.3 million for the quarter ended Oct. 26.

Mimi’s same-store sales fell 5.6% for the quarter, led by a 6.8% decline in August and a continued slump in September and October.

Mimi’s hasn’t seen same-store sales growth since 2007.

Bob Evans lowered its fiscal year same-store sales guidance for Mimi’s, based on the recently ended quarter, to a decline of between 4% and 1%. That compares with previous guidance of a 2% decline to 1% increase.

Bob Evans said it plans to spend about $1 million on three Mimi’s Café remodels with no plans to build new restaurants for the chain for the rest of this fiscal year, which ends in April.

The news follows a new bakery-café concept the chain unveiled last month at a redone Mimi’s restaurant in Valencia.

The Mimi’s Bakery, Café & Bistro concept offers gourmet coffees, carry-out items and café seating for guests. The new concept is seen as a way to “reclaim our roots as a French-inspired neighborhood bistro,” Mimi’s President and Chief Concept Officer Mark Mears told the Business Journal last month.