The adventure began in May 1987, when Cora bought a small diner in Montreal’s Saint-Laurent district. After just a few months of operation, Cora changed the diner's mission, making breakfasts her specialty. Combining fruit, cheese, cereal, omelettes, crepes and French toast, culinary magician Cora started a whole new breakfast concept in Quebec. Since opening her first restaurant, Cora has changed the eating habits of an entire generation.
Inspired by family traditions, customer requests and sometimes outlandish suggestions from her children, Cora designed her new breakfasts to coincide with the new trends toward healthy eating. One by one, she improved the traditional breakfast dishes and then conjured up a hundred others.
Every new creation merited its own colourful illustration, which was then posted on the wall of the little Côte-Vertu diner. The menu imagery was used in the now-famous signage that still decorates each Cora restaurant.
Soon, the little Côte-Vertu establishment grew to be such a success that Cora’s children had to quit school to help out. Even back then, going out for breakfast at Chez Cora Déjeuners was a morning gastronomic adventure.
Cora’s philosophy: "Offer the highest quality ingredients and service, give people the best and they will come. If we serve the best breakfasts in town, why would they go somewhere else?"
Very quickly, Cora's reputation for great breakfasts far exceeded the small diner's capacity to meet demand. So the family decided that mom would open a second Cora, while her children managed the little Côte-Vertu establishment. In February 1990, the new restaurant on Saint-Martin Boulevard in Laval generated a lot of press, reinforcing the success of the new breakfast concept. A few months later, partnering with a former co-worker, Cora opened a third establishment in a large, defunct restaurant that was three times the size of the first two. The success of this new restaurant quickly led to the opening of five more Chez Cora Déjeuners. The Cora family continued to grow and several new partners were introduced to the secrets of successful entrepreneurship, with the founder's children being the first to train the new business partners in the foundations of this winning formula.
Today, the Cora family includes over 130 franchised restaurants and the adventure continues.
For the founder of Cora Breakfast and Lunch restaurants, initiative, perseverance, self-confidence and boundless energy have been the main ingredients in her recipe for success.
From the Gaspé Peninsula to motherhood
Cora Mussely Tsouflidou was born into a modest family in Caplan, a little village in the Gaspé Peninsula. Cora had all the ingredients for success right from the very start. In 1960, she enrolled at Montreal's Cardinal Léger Institute, promising to pay for her education. There she studied Latin, Greek, literature, art and other courses that would prepare her for a professional career. But destiny had other plans: Cora was now expecting her first child, so she quit college during her final year to devote herself to her new family, and to the two other children who would soon follow. Cora abandoned her plans for a career to become a loving full-time mom.
Mouths to feed
When her husband left her ten years later, Cora was suddenly a single mother with three teenagers to support. With her usual determination, Cora bought a small neighbourhood canteen, worked hard, tripled its value and sold it.
Not one to rest on her laurels, she became a hostess in a well-known Montreal restaurant, where she worked her way up the ladder as a day manager, general manager and junior partner. For the next five years, Cora perfected her knowledge of the foodservice industry until she mastered all aspects of the hospitality trade.
A fresh start. A second family.
In May 1987, Cora bought a defunct snack bar on Cote-Vertu Road in the Ville Saint-Laurent district of Montreal and embarked on a venture that would take her further than she'd ever dreamed.
Still just as passionate!
Even after all these years, Cora stays up to date on industry matters and regularly visits restaurants. She ensures that her quality standards are being respected by remaining in contact with her guests, her main source of inspiration and motivation. Cora takes to heart and remains involved in the creation of new dishes by testing and evaluating new recipes, in order to better introduce them in the restaurants.
Cora is the best example of a “self-made businesswoman.” In recognition of her contribution, she has received, in 2013, the Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Medal and the Life Achievement Award from the Canadian Franchise Association. More recently in 2014, she was inducted at the Temple de la Renommée du Conseil Québécois de la Franchise—the Quebec franchise industry association’s “Hall of Fame”—as a “Bâtisseur”. She has also been recognized at the international level, being named, in 2014, as Veuve Clicquot Business Woman of The Year. In 2003, she won the Governor General’s Award. She has also won several awards including the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the Manufacturing/Consumer Products Category, the Pinnacle Award and the Tops in Hospitality Award from Food Service and Hospitality magazine.
In 2004, Mme Cora, was inducted into the Canadian Professional Sales Association’s Hall of Fame and in 2005 she received the Hall of Fame Award from the Canadian Franchise Association. In 2006, the company was named one of Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies. During that same year, Cora also won the Femmes d’Affaires du Québec award for “Entrepreneur of The Year”, granted by the Réseau des Femmes d’affaires du Québec Inc.
From mother to son
Since 2008, Nicholas Tsouflidis, Cora Tsouflidou’s youngest son, is the President of the company. Having worked in the restaurant from day one, Nicholas has held a wide range of positions.
It’s when the future of the company was first discussed that Nicholas told his mother about his interest in leading it one day. Due to his vast experience in the operations and restaurant management, Nicholas was the obvious choice to fulfill the role of president.
The story behind some of our plates
To satisfy the craving of a friend who had asked her for a surprise, Cora prepared a magnificent fruit cup topped with her own special custard, with a bagel and cream cheese on the side. Seeing the platter as it passed, one client exclaimed "It's magic! Tell Cora that we love her handiwork!"
We owe the creation of this surprising platter to Cora’s daughter, Gigi. Spotting a large brioche, she had the idea of slicing it in half, dipping each half in the French toast batter, and toasting them on the griddle. She then topped one half with an egg and a few slices of bacon, and the other with a mountain of fresh fruit. Delectable! Proud of her daughter's initiative, Cora was moved to harvest the fruit of her efforts. This was in 1990 and she named the platter 1990’s harvest!
Cora found the inspiration for the Buckwheat blessing after a visit to the US. In one restaurant, she saw an amazing plate of three large sausages rolled in pancakes and served with a variety of fruit sauces. Like a great magician, she transformed the dish into a more refined version: three sausages and Cheddar cheese, tucked inside buckwheat crêpes and topped with a lovely mountain of fresh fruit.
Motivated by the success of her breakfast concept, Cora and her ambitious family decided to franchise their restaurants.
For Cora, developing the breakfast food business niche meant doing it better than anybody had ever done it anywhere. Like any good recipe, success takes time to perfect. Cora, supported by her diligent team, slowly but surely developed more expertise in the business, and her unwavering drive for perfection earned her the title, "Queen of Quebec Breakfasts." Because she loved cooking for a crowd, Cora was continually opening new restaurants until she realized she could teach others her winning recipe. So began her journey into franchising.
In 1993, Cora explored the possibility of franchising and was delighted to find that her business formula met all the criteria established by franchising specialists. Her dream of having restaurants throughout Quebec was about to become a reality. Franchising soon became Cora’s business strategy to achieve her primary objective. For Cora, franchising allowed her to offer breakfasts in as many places as possible, as often as possible and to as many guests as possible.
Cora soon understood that by franchising, the team would be able to quickly build a strong brand image and dominate the Quebec market. An exciting new chapter for the newly formed Franchises Cora Inc. began in April 1994 when it granted its first franchise to open a restaurant in Pointe-Claire, in Montreal's West Island community. Ten more franchises would follow shortly. Always looking for a challenge, the Cora team's new objective was to open restaurants "all over Canada."
In 2000, Cora developed the Cora Franchise Group to target the market in the rest of Canada, and soon opened its first restaurant in Nepean, Ontario. Shortly after, Cora also conquered other Ontario markets as well as markets in the Atlantic Provinces, Manitoba and Alberta.
The result is impressive. The Cora group today includes 130 restaurants across Canada, with even more restaurants opening their doors in the months to come. Collectively, the Cora restaurant chain serves 12,000 litres of coffee, 60,000 crêpes and 317,000 eggs every week on average. It is the recognized leader in the Canadian breakfast industry, serving more than 10 million guests each year.
Would you like to join the Cora family? Find out about franchising opportunities.
Established in the early part of 1998, The Cora Foundation’s mission is to aid children in need. The Foundation supports and works in collaboration with non-profit organizations trying to improve the quality of life of Canadian children.
The Foundation is financed through the profits generated by fundraising events as well as through special events created by employees and the owners of the more than 130 franchised restaurants across Canada.
Over the last years, the Foundation has been working very closely with the Breakfast Club of Canada to help provide support and food to schoolchildren so that they can start their day off right. The two groups share the same goals of well-being and education of youth across the country.
Contact the Cora Foundation
Use the address below to request additional information on the Foundation or to send us a donation:
The Cora Foundation
16, rue Sicard, unit 50
Telephone: 450 435-3900
Breakfast Club of Canada