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October 1, 2021

An unwavering focus

“It’s not that I’m smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”

I don’t think our success can be put down to being smart, but like sunlight concentrated through a mirror to light a twig, it was our unwavering focus on one thing, our single focus on BREAKFAST that made our concept catch fire and become a national success across Canada. It was our bold decision to focus solely on BREAKFAST that is behind the proliferation of the Cora concept today.

When we started in the restaurant business in 1987, the Quebec breakfast table offered little in the way of specialties. So it was easy to dazzle customers with our creative dishes and flourishes. We set up our magician’s benches on these mornings still untouched by emotion. Without fanfare, our little establishments quietly emerged from the dawn and began to hum with innovation.

Soon people were telling anyone who would listen that these new diners were pulling rabbits out of hats as they sat at their table. Everyone who came to our place left delighted and was quick to tell a friend. The applause only made us try harder; it was more of an instinctive reflex that drove our success than some great discovery. They kept coming, more and more of them, from increasingly further away, so we expanded our locations beyond our first establishments to accommodate the growing demand. And that is still essentially what we do today: delight and accommodate as many customers as possible.

Keeping our focus on BREAKFAST is a full-time job for all of us who love to innovate. Sticking to morning dishes takes great courage from our cooks, who often would rather prove to us that they can do more. This rigorous focus is difficult even for me, who has a habit of flipping through every food magazine published in North America. When the will fails, our commitment to our CORPORATE MISSION always has the final word.

Discipline is never too far off, ready to remind us that we are but humble soldiers in the service of the great general BREAKFAST. Dozens of tempting opportunities continue to regularly knock at our door: longer hours of operation, ready-to-eat meals, express counters in urban centres, evening meals, proposals to expand into China, France or Dubai. We learned to remain calm and cautious, however, even when a cousin of an Arabian sheikh promised us the moon during a cocktail reception.

What we wish for the most in the world is to create a strong, healthy and prosperous network for our franchisees, for our employees and for ourselves. I admit that in the past, the temptation was great for such a greedy person like me. But the unwavering focus on our CORPORATE MISSION proved stronger than my urge to gorge on projects.

- “Be patient,” the young president answered me when I became restless.

- “If you run too fast, you risk dropping your eggs," he added, twisting my heartstrings.

He knows I don’t like losing. In the many years we’ve worked together, he's learned how to deprogram my appetite for conquest. I wonder sometimes how he's been able to keep me on a leash.

I listen to him because he’s right. Patience and foresight have served us well so far. In my heart of hearts, I know that our Company will continue to grow. I’m just in a bit of a hurry. Maybe because of my age. Because of that bottomless hunger I’ve always had to expand our network.  

I look up at the sun, and then I calm down. Like her, from up there, I will see it all happen!