Simms declined to disclose annual sales for the chain. The Business Journal estimates it has sales of $60 million.
It’s still modest growth relative to the company’s larger competitors in the casual dining segment.
Those rivals include Darden Restaurants Inc.’s Yard House USA Inc. of Irvine, which has more than 40 restaurants and plans to open one restaurant each in Massachusetts and Idaho this year.
There’s also Huntington Beach-based BJ’s Restaurants Inc., which opened its sixth restaurant last week. The company said it plans to add a total of 17 restaurants to its 135-unit chain by the end of the year.
Simms said Lazy Dog is set to its own pace and seems to have hit its stride now.
“As the base of the restaurants have grown to 12, and soon to be 13, we find that it’s a little bit easier to open up an extra restaurant,” he said.
The job of opening a Lazy Dog restaurant—at a cost of about $4 million each—never gets easy, he added, but “our team has gotten better at it.”
That doesn’t mean faster growth is on the horizon.
“That’s always the tricky part in expanding. If you expand too fast, then you really run the risk of having quality suffer,” he said.
The company doesn’t plan on franchising, and that’s the same approach to Irvine-based Mimi’s Cafe, the chain of 145 company-owned restaurants Simms’ father, Thomas, and grandfather, Arthur, founded. Simms grew up in the San Fernando Valley but opened the first Lazy Dog in Huntington Beach because of Mimi’s presence here.
Mimi’s was sold by Ohio-based Bob Evans Farms Inc. to LeDuff America Inc. of Dallas earlier this year for $50 million.
Simms said he believes the chain can still grow to a sizable footprint under its current strategy but didn’t specify a number. There is also interest in growing outside of California in the next couple of years.
“There are lots of restaurant groups that are pretty big, so there’s a very long runway ahead of us,” Simms said. “We’re just in the beginning phase, but we always want to make sure we’re able to keep our arms around it.”