Adam Bellefontaine was still in junior high school when he had his first experience with Lebanese Mezza cuisine at its original location in the Halifax Mall.
Bellefontaine remembers the welcoming setting and family atmosphere, but it was the food that sealed the deal.
“The donair plate has always been my favorite, and it’s as good today as it was 30 years ago,” he recalls. “As far back as I can remember, I eat Mezza food and the food consistency of this brand hasn’t waned.”
In addition to enjoying Mezza’s food, Bellefontaine was childhood friends with the company’s current president and CEO, Tony Nahas. The family connection, combined with his years of restaurant franchise experience, prepared Bellefontaine for his current role as Director of Franchise Performance within the company.
“My role is to support franchisees in every way – from A to Z – and provide them with everything they need to succeed in business,” he says. “I’m here to help new and existing franchise owners increase their sales, grow their business and increase their profitability.”
Bellefontaine is now part of a team that has extended the Mezza brand to a network of franchises throughout the Atlantic region.
Mezza is one of the largest and fastest growing Lebanese restaurant chains in Canada. By the end of 2022, the company is expected to have between 250 and 300 employees in 20 locations across the Maritimes.
Although food quality is the foundation of a restaurant’s success, the requirements for a successful franchise operation are many and varied. Site selection, building design, construction, staff training, budgeting, project management, purchasing and accounting are all key ingredients, and the Mezza team has a proven track record guiding franchisees at each step of the process.
“We have developed a solid business model,” says Peter Nahas, vice president of business development and franchising. “We give our franchisees the tools they need to succeed within the system we have developed. That’s what you buy a franchise for – that proven recipe for success.
This recipe has been proven time and again over the past few years at new Mezza locations in Moncton, Antigonish, Truro and Larry Uteck, and with new locations in Fall River, Bridgewater, New Minas, Fredericton and PEI.
As the company continues to expand in the Atlantic region, opportunities exist for new and existing franchisees. Franchisees who found success with their first Mezza location soon invested in a second, third and even fourth outlet, Nahas points out.
“Territories are quickly taken over,” he says. “We are targeting Newfoundland for 2023 and 2024, and we still have large territories available in Cape Breton, Yarmouth and Saint John, NB”
While the company’s growth throughout Atlantic Canada has been impressive, this is in many ways only the first chapter in Mezza’s story.
“We’re actually several years ahead of our plan,” Nahas points out. “By the end of next year, we expect most of our territories in Atlantic Canada to be sold, so we’ll be targeting the rest of Canada and starting to move west to Ontario and the United States. ‘Alberta.’
The new Mezza establishments will benefit from the same fast-casual atmosphere, combined with the latest innovations and service platforms – online ordering, drive-thru and delivery – deployed in recent years in the highly competitive restaurant sector.
Although the Mezza team has a successful 30-year track record in the business, they remain open to new ideas and contributions from franchisees and staff.
“The business is constantly evolving, so we’re constantly innovating and finding better ways to do things,” says Nahas. “Sometimes our best ideas come from franchisees and staff, so our ears are always open and we’re ready to adapt and evolve as needed.”
Every new Mezza opening has an important economic development component. While a new outlet will provide 20-30 permanent jobs, the construction and design phase also generates jobs for carpenters, plumbers, painters and electricians.
“We rely on local artisans to help us grow our business,” adds Nahas. “The economic benefits continue for decades as we source products from local suppliers and promote the brand through local media.”
“Eat like family” has been the motto of Lebanese cuisine Mezza since Peter’s father, Elias, founded the company more than three decades ago.
The word “family” still comes up frequently when talking to the people of Mezza, adds Bellefontaine. From the friendly atmosphere that customers feel inside the store, to the way that staff and management interact, the Mezza family is both big and tight-knit, and keeps growing.
“Even though I just started with Mezza in 2022, I feel like I’ve always been here and part of the company,” says Bellefontaine. “So it’s no surprise that current and new franchise owners want to continue to grow with us. It makes sense on so many levels.
To learn more about Mezza’s delicious new locations, projects and offerings, visit ordermezza.com