April 11, 2013

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Celebrating 30 years

"The secret to Earls success is in the sincerity behind its opening premise."

Parrots at Earls EdmontonCanada, 1982…the Edmonton Oilers were being coached by Glen Sather. The players that year included Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and Paul Coffee. Grant Fuhr was behind the goal. The first compact disc (CD) was launched that year and the Commodore 64 made computers accessible to the home user (and video gamer).

1982 was also the year Leroy (Bus) Earl Fuller and his son, Stan Earl Fuller opened their first Earls in Edmonton, Alberta. Since then Earls, one of Canada’s most successful independent restaurant groups, (Earls does not franchise), has grown to 65 restaurants - 60 of those in Canada and 4 in the US. We expanded into Ontario in 2008, opened our flagship location on Toronto’s King Street West in 2011 (Earls' busiest location to date) and our 5th Ontario location in London in April, 2012. Our next US location will be this February in Miami, Florida.

Many seek to copy Earls “upscale casual dining” but Earls does it best. After all, they invented it….

The secret to Earls success is in the sincerity behind its opening premise 30 years ago and never deviated from - food made from scratch with only fresh ingredients (something few, if any chains can say), affordable prices, great service, beautiful restaurants and a really fun atmosphere – from there throw in a fierce loyalty to customers, staff and suppliers.

Opportunities for staff development have taken employees from the dishwashing area right up to the executive offices –  President Mo Jessa started as a night prep cook 25 years ago - and many of Earls' former staff have gone on to own and run some of Canada’s best restaurants and food and beverage companies. Those opportunities, and the level of training staff get, have consistently made Earls one of North America’s top employers. Suppliers get equal treatment, and when they supply the best, Earls stays with them as well. Earls created the first long term commitments with wine suppliers in the restaurant industry and are not only working with the same trusted beef supplier for over 28 years, but the same two meat cutters!

When it comes to firsts, Earls broke a lot of rules over the years. They were the first multi-location restaurant group to create their food fresh from scratch in each individual restaurant – which today offers them the opportunity to vary menus for regional, even individual location, preferences. They were the first restaurant to serve draft beer, a license only hotel bars and taverns could get 30 years ago, and that beer was from a craft microbrewery, a local brewer Earls wanted to support, unheard of 30 years ago.

Earls was the first restaurant to travel to wine growing regions and work with winemakers to create their own house wines. They were the first restaurant group to take their chefs right to the source to learn cooking techniques in places like Italy and Vietnam and the first to bring master chefs in to their main test kitchen in Vancouver to teach the cooks and chefs the proper use of the global flavours incorporated on their menus.  Today their tomatoes are grown for them in Italy for their house made tomato sauce, their Jeera Chicken Curry uses only authentic Indian spices and techniques and Hunan Kung Pao continues to get the nod of approval from local Vietnamese chefs. Of course it’s the burgers, wings and house baked bread that gave them their start, with those dishes continuing to be the most popular dishes across the restaurants - still made from scratch and fresh to order. As it should be.

Today, with 65 restaurants, 61 of those in Canada and 4 in the United States (Miami opens February 2014) Earls Restaurants Ltd. and the Fuller Group remains a family owned operation started by Leroy Earl (Bus) Fuller in 1982 with their first restaurant in Edmonton, Alberta.  Bus and his sons own Earls Kitchen + Bar (Earls is not a franchise), operated by eldest son Stan Earl Fuller. The family business also includes other “chain” and small group restaurant concepts in Canada as well as Earls’ award winning restaurant design company, e+ design & construction. Earls head office is located in Vancouver, British Columbia. Awarded Top 50 Employers in Canada, Earls employs close to 7,000 employees.