Revitalizing a Neighborhood Icon
Kristn Romeril and Mahyar Khosravi were inspired to purchase The Bear’s Den, a unique restaurant with a distinctive design in their community just north of Calgary. Open for nearly 14 years, the restaurant featured cherry paneling with custom artwork depicting local wildlife and was a fixture for special occasions and events. The couple believed there was an opportunity to create a successful new restaurant at the site that was both tied to and built for the local community.
They knew they would have to radically change the concept and experience to get their neighbors to become loyal customers. Romeril and Khosravi were looking for someone to take a more practical approach to developing their restaurant concept and they engaged Synergy based on their ability to create a roadmap for development.
After reviewing the plans and walking the property, Synergy helped the client team reorganize the space to incorporate an open kitchen and dining bar and relocated the bar to an underutilized area of the property to create a warm and inviting lounge area at the entrance.
The founders were led through a rigorous development process to define high level details of their concept that included a review of the competitive landscape and a discovery tour in Southern California. The target market needs, wants, and expectations were clearly defined. An exploration of core values brought service and hospitality to the forefront. Romeril and Khosravi knew crisp service and thoughtful programming would be critical to the success of their new brand, so it was woven into every aspect of the concept.
The renamed Flores & Pine restaurant underwent an extensive renovation, adding a patio and reworking the interior spaces to create a more open and airier feel. After working with Synergy to design a powerhouse kitchen, the culinary team helped prepare for launch by refining the chef’s recipes and kitchen production systems.
Open since summer 2019, the founders are surprised by how quickly the restaurant has become the neighborhood hangout. The brand tag line is “Linger Longer” and they find that to be the case, with guests coming for dinner, moving to a fire pit on the patio for after dinner drinks and dessert, or to the lounge to continue chatting with friends.
While the restaurant was predicted to see a slow launch, covers far exceeded estimates and staff had to learn in a “trial by fire” atmosphere. What Romeril and Khosravi discovered is that, with Synergy, they had developed the concept so well and identified the needs of their target audience so completely that their most frequent users were coming four to five times per week. A robust private events program brought additional guests to the property, their popularity prompting some decisions on the fly and the owners hired additional managers to prevent their staff from burning out. Investment in initiatives like takeout and delivery had to wait until issues related to high volume, such as additional parking and monthly septic pumping were addressed. “The response was beyond our expectations,” says Romeril. “We really wanted to create a place where people could come and stay awhile, the record is about 7.5 hours for one visit.”
Overall, the concept has been extremely successful, and the leadership team has done an excellent job of course correcting to meet their financial goals. Menu engineering increased the check average to CAD 60 and the team refined their inventory processes to bring food costs in line. Revenues are far exceeding expectations and the group expects to be profitable within 9 months of opening.
The future for Flores & Pine holds expansion to a new site for events as well as a refinement on their brunch approach to reduce food waste and labor requirements. Their elevated but approachable atmosphere and excellent menu has garnered rave reviews and recognition from the press for their exceptional food and fantastic experience.