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You are here: Home Ontario  Movenpick coming back to Ontario

Movenpick coming back to Ontario

By Mike Deibert

KEMPTHALL, SWITZERLAND—The restaurant chain that made marché-style restaurants popular in Ontario is coming back.

Swiss-based Mövenpick Group announced recently that it plans to open a Marché Restaurant in downtown Toronto next year.

The company also has ambitions to open 10 other new units under the banners Marché Restaurant, Marché Bistro, Marchélino and Marché Natural Bakery, but has no locations yet and not timelines.

A release from Marché International, the Mövenpick division that is handling the expansion in Canada, said that in 2010 and 2011, Mövenpick plans to open several Marché Bistros, Marchélinos and Marché Natural Bakeries “in and around the Metropolitan Toronto area.”

This could put Mövenpick in competition with a chain that is the successor to the original Mövenpick operation in Ontario.

A Marché Restaurant is set up to resemble a European marketplace. Customers wander around ordering plates of food at different stations, and then sit down to eat. The emphasis is on fresh, healthy and fast.

A marché has Asian, pasta and grill counters as well as salads, homemade cakes and Swiss-inspired dishes such as Rösti cheese straws.

Marché Natural Bakery offers sandwiches, made with different types of bread baked from scratch, using flour from local suppliers. Also on the menu are muffins, short crust pastries and a variety of constantly changing cakes. The bakery has seating for dine-in customers.

A Marchélino is a smaller version of a Marché, and a Bistro is a table-service restaurant smaller than a regular Mövenpick restaurant.

Mövenpick first came into Canada in with the opening of a restaurant in 1980, and two years later Jorg Reichert and his wife Marian took over its management. The first Marché opened in 1992.

In 1996 the Reicherts started Richtree Inc., a company that acquired the rights to the Mövenpick concept in Canada and the United States. They built Movenpick into a chain of sit-down and marché-style restaurants in Canada and the United States.

Richtree and Movenpick eventually became embroiled in a legal dispute, with Richtree claiming that the Swiss company interfered with the Canadian company’s expansion plans in the United States and also that Mövenpick had not given Richtree the support required under the franchise agreement. Mövenpick launched a countersuit claiming Richtree had reneged on its agreements.

Eventually, the Reicherts left Richtree with a S3.3-million settlement after becoming involved in a dispute with their own board and company executives. The legal battle with Mövenpick was settled and the franchise agreement ended. The name on the restaurants was changed to Richtree Market.

Then Richtree Inc. ran into financial problems and came under court protection from creditors. Its restaurants were taken over by the venture capital firm Catalyst Fund General Partner, which was owed $8.5-million by the restaurant company, and a new parent company called Richtreee Market Restaurants Inc. was formed.
Today, Richtree has seven restaurants in Toronto, Ottawa and Mississauga.

Meanwhile, the Reicherts now have a 14,000-square-foot marché restaurant in a log cabin-style building in Innisfil, just off Highway 400 near Barrie, which they call Stop North 400 Café Restaurant Bar.

They previously called their restaurant Innisfil Heights Marché but Mövenpick launched a lawsuit against them claiming trademark infringement. While they were fighting Movenpick in court their restaurant went bankrupt and they opened under the new name last year.

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