If Burger King structures it right, the Miami-based company could bring a whopper of a Tim Hortons expansion to Florida.
Burger King confirmed Tuesday its intent to buy Canada's Tim Hortons Cafe & Bake Shop for $11 billion to leverage the brand's coffee and breakfast market.
I've always thought Tim Hortons would be a genius move for a business in Florida despite having to slug it out with Dunkin' Donuts and Starbucks.
In the last year, Manatee and Sarasota counties combined attracted about 100,000 Canadian tourists. That's just a few of the 3.7 million Canadians who visited Florida. The number of Ontario license plates roaming these roads during winter had me questioning whether I lived in the southernmost province of the
Great White North.
A good number of Canadian transplants now live here year-round. I remember first meeting Schroeder-Manatee Ranch's Todd Pokrywa last year and we struck up a brief chat about love for Tim Hortons, or Timmy's. The Canadian native had his stash of Tim Hortons coffee in his office for a cup of joe that reminds him of home.
Getting Tim Horton's now might mean a gift basket from relatives up north or ordering online. The U.S. locations are predominately in the Great Lakes region stretching from Michigan to New York. If you want to get a Tim Hortons fix now, you'll have to go to the Tampa Bay Times Forum and BB&T Center in Sunrise where a small stand sells only coffee. Sorry, no Timbits or sandwiches there.
Tim Hortons made a concerted push this past year to get more American franchisees, airing prime-time ads during the National Hockey League's outdoor games. So, they're trying. It's going to take a franchisee signing for multiple locations to make it work, and that means a lot of capital. That's where Burger King's executives could help their Tim Hortons counterparts navigate site selection and Florida regulations, as well as connecting with investors and existing Burger King franchisees looking for something new.
You'd think someone would hit up the retired NHLers and coaches living part time in the area who might have a warm place in their heart for Tim Hortons. But really, I'd ask Supervisor of Elections Mike Bennett.
Bennett once operated Dunkin' Donuts franchises and he co-owns the Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex. The ice rink has a vacancy where restaurants have come and gone. Bennett had said he'd like a national chain to go in there, and why not Tim Hortons? There's a fixed, dedicated audience because hockey demographics know Tim Hortons. If the space is too big, stick an urgent care in there to handle all the bumps and bruises from the ice rink, and that space would be humming.
I'd ask Bennett what he would think of this, but he was tied up at the primary election Tuesday looking to count votes instead of coffee beans.
I'm rooting for the brand in Florida because it brings back some good memories of when I played travel hockey in high school and we tried a Tim Hortons. We didn't have any in Maryland. I was impressed with the clean layout and how breakfast entrees were served with a glass plate and silverware.
I don't think I ended up trying a Tim Hortons doughnut until I interned at the Erie Times-News in 2006. At the time, Timmy's flooded the Erie, Pa., market and there seemed to be one on every corner. Somebody brought them into work one day and I wasn't impressed at first. But then I tried it again and there's something about them that makes them worthwhile. Maybe it's the special lard, I don't know.
If Timmy's ever comes to Florida, it won't have a problem finding a familiar audience.
Charles Schelle, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Read his blog at bradenton-herald-business.blogspot.com.