Inventing a millennial playground.

With over 900 restaurant locations across Canada, Cara Operations Ltd. (now Recipe Unlimited Corp) asked Breakhouse to reinvent one of its Canadian legends – Kelsey’s.

First opening in 1978, and growing to a peak of more than 120 locations from coast to coast, Kelsey’s was the first of its kind in Canada – a national branded restaurant which was enjoyed as a local hangout. The banner had remained relatively untouched for nearly 30 years when Kelsey’s recognized that it was time to reposition and build stronger relationships with the evolving millennial marketplace.

We studied multiple restaurant locations of varying vintages, in various surroundings. We interviewed staff and held stakeholder workshops. We compiled a competitive landscape audit. The resulting brand strategy would evolve the Kelsey’s brand narrative from old and tired to energized and forward-thinking.

Uniting both customers and employees under the new mantra, “Ambitiously hardworking and socially unpredictable,” Breakhouse developed a marketing and communications plan to match the bar-focused restaurant renovation design and strategy. The plan was scalable to work across different store footprints and budgets, always a challenge with franchise networks.

Not only did the new Kelsey’s now register on the radar of an audience who hadn’t been aware of the brand, it was enthusiastically embraced.

The first store opened in 2013 on Toronto’s The Queensway.

Project Highlight
30-40% jump in guest count and sales.
Kelsey’s Vibrant Rebrand Strategy Magazine, February 2014

For Breakhouse it wasn’t about winning awards, it was about building back the integrity of a brand, not from the outside in, but from the inside out. It was an approach we had not experienced before and it was incredibly refreshing.

Guest feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, far beyond our expectations. People come to us and tell us it is so unique – they have never seen anything like it in the marketplace and that the food, service, and overall experience far exceeded their expectations.

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