Williams Fresh Cafe

Refreshing Coffee Concept

Founded in 1993, Williams Fresh Cafe is celebrating 20 years of success in the fast casual, gourmet coffee segment. Different from your everyday coffee shop, Williams Fresh Cafe offers an eclectic atmosphere that is home to a relaxing, comfortable environment and high quality, tasteful foods and beverages.

The concept behind Williams Fresh Cafe combines over the counter ordering with convenient table service, where once a patron has placed his or her order it is then prepared and served to their seating area.

Originally founded as Williams Coffee Pub, the restaurant rebranded its name and store formats in 2009 in an effort to further its focus on an expanded menu in a quick serve setting, in addition to an overall goal of bringing Williams Fresh Cafe to the next level. Rainer Mueller, CEO of Williams Fresh Cafe, told The Canadian Business Journal, “We re-evaluated our brand and from that came a rebirth with a newer, stronger focus on the fresh aspect. We focus on the depth, quality, and freshness of the culinary experience, and the ‘healthier for you’ aspect of our offering.”

From its initial restaurant in Stratford, Ont., Williams Fresh Cafe today has 37 locations spread across the province, with a concentration on Southwestern Ontario and Greater Toronto.

“The brand is 20 years old but it’s also a young and dynamic company. We are a smaller company, but we are very committed to development and  growth, where we can be more flexible and adaptive to the needs of our individual markets,” added Dylan Gannon, Director of Operations with Williams Fresh Cafe.

“Williams Fresh Cafe offers a unique platform and one of the few fast casuals in Canada. Our high quality menu appeals to a broad range of customers and in the last few years we have developed and built our menu to the point where it is today.”

Restaurant Revamp

The recent economic downturn allowed Williams Fresh Cafe the opportunity to execute a revamped menu of not only caffeinated beverages but also a wider selection of high quality, fresh, never frozen healthy meals and pastries. As an example, the restaurant offers popular items like organic yogurt smoothies and prepared fresh to order salads. Coffees and pastries use agave as a sweetener, rather than the traditional corn syrup.

“That period of time made us realize that we had hung our hat on coffee and quite frankly the world of coffee is highly competitive and I don’t know if anyone could survive in just a coffee market now, so we definitely had to look at how to broaden our image,” Gannon explained. “We decided to focus on the fresh cafe concept, which is all around fresh, high quality food. That was a pivotal point, and unfortunately we all had to live through [the recession] to get to that point.

We had a bit of setback in 2008 where we had to close a few locations. Our expansion now is a little more methodical, where we are currently looking at opportunities to bring new franchisees into the existing system and to develop new cafes in Southwestern Ontario.”

Mueller added, “Our business is in a bit of a sweet spot. We are large enough to have the heritage of 20-plus years of experience and an awareness of the marketplace, but yet we’re not so big that we’re not able to personalize our relationships with each of our franchisees. This is very much an operator-driven business. The key aspect for us is bringing on the right franchises with the right mix of experience and passion to drive the business forward. We’re also focused on continuing to grow sales within our existing community.”

Franchising Model

Williams Fresh Cafe focuses on creating a profitable restaurant business environment for its dedicated franchisees. As a smaller organization, the company can more readily and accessibly support its restaurant owners at an individual level. Williams Fresh Cafe offers an exceptional investment opportunity where franchisees are offered an intriguing balance of support and flexibility.

From its products to its personnel, Williams Fresh Cafe is passionate about and committed to franchisee success and overall business growth. The team at Williams Fresh Cafe is emotionally bonded and loving of its brand.

The Williams Fresh Cafe website reads, “Leveraging our team’s years of experience, we have dedicated ourselves to improving the Williams Fresh Cafe brand by clarifying who we are to our guests and simplifying the operations for our franchise partners. A new name, new logo, improved design, re-engineered menu and yet, through this transition, we have never lost sight of the founder’s original vision.”

As Gannon concluded, “Our core strategy is to grow transactions and franchisee profitability to make our existing and new franchisees as profitable as possible.

The success of our brand is built on the success of our franchisees and our profitability at a corporate level is built on how profitable are franchisees are, so our core focus from an operational point of view is to ensure maximum transaction growth corporately as well as maximum profitability for our franchisees. More locations will come once that is achieved.”