JR Canada Restaurant Group Ltd. (JRC) was founded in 2015 by Canadian business entrepreneur Lewis Gelmon, better known as the original master developer for Domino’s Pizza in Canada. In 2015, JRC purchased the Canadian Master Development rights (“Master License Agreement”) for Johnny Rockets, an iconic world-renowned “Americana” restaurant brand. Gelmon raised and contributed to the initial equity seed capital of $8.8 million with plans to expand JRC across Canada via acquisition and franchising. By the end of 2019, JRC had proven out the Johnny Rockets brand having reported consolidated store profitability on its corporate locations, including same-store annual sales growth of 12.5%.
JRC entered the COVID-19 pandemic in an enviable position of a strong balance sheet with zero debt, solid management, capital reserves, and a robust online delivery component. JRC’s decision in 2018 to decelerate growth and embrace third party delivery, rather than open additional locations, gave JRC a significant advantage from March 2020 and beyond. Unlike many of its competitors who were forced to implement delivery haphazardly, Johnny Rockets Canadian store sales were only marginally impacted (down 20%) and did not suffer the significant financial losses and store closures that became common in the industry.