Mimi's Cafe, a chain of French-inspired casual dining restaurants based in Irvine, may get a new expansion boost after being sold for $50 million.
LeDuff America Inc., owner of Bruegger's Bagels, will take over control of Mimi's from Bob Evans Farms Inc., the companies said this week.
Mimi's, launched in 1978 by a former American airman and named after his French paramour, has 145 restaurants in 24 states.
But the chain has had several years of slumping same-store sales growth, hit by the same market pressures that have kept the full-service restaurant sector from growing as quickly as fast-food and fast-casual rivals.
In the fall, Mimi's launched a new prototype store concept in Santa Clarita, molding a bakery section, a bistro portion, a loaded bar, indoor garden seating, a room styled after a winery and the standard cafe area into a single restaurant.
The sale was expected – Bob Evans said in November that it was reviewing strategic alternatives for Mimi's. Claude Bergeron, co-chief executive of new owner LeDuff, said in a statement that it plans to "further enhance Mimi's Cafe's position in the market and to introduce it to numerous communities across North America."
The chain's headquarters will remain in Irvine.