Tim Hortons announces development agreement with Show Me Hospitality to open 40 restaurants in St. Louis area by end of 2019

ST. LOUIS , June 27, 2014 () – A man responsible for bringing Krispy Kreme stores to St. Louis in the late 1990s will soon introduce another chain serving coffee and doughnuts to the region.

Tim Hortons, a Canadian restaurant chain that sells coffee, baked goods and sandwiches, has signed Chesterfield-based Show Me Hospitality, led by president Eric Sigurdson, as its exclusive area developer.

The chain in February announced its plans to open 40 restaurants here by the end of 2019 but had not yet named a franchisee. Tim Hortons is known for its "timbits" doughnut holes, and its Boston Cream is its most popular doughnut in the U.S.

The first local Tim Hortons Café & Bake shops will open either in the city of St. Louis or St. Louis County by next spring, Sigurdson said, adding he plans to open seven local Tim Hortons restaurants in the next 18 months.

His team is scouting sites in the city and county for freestanding restaurants that will range between 1,300 and 3,000 square feet of space, in addition to kiosks at stadiums, hospitals, universities and corporate campuses.

Sigurdson's more than two decades of food and beverage industry experience includes opening a Krispy Kreme store in Ferguson in 1997, bringing Krispy Kreme back to the market after an absence that spanned decades.

As the area developer for Krispy Kreme, Sigurdson's Sweet Traditions ultimately opened 25 Krispy Kreme restaurants in St. Louis and Chicago from 1997 to 2006.

Sweet Traditions was acquired by private equity firm Allied Capital in 2006, and the business went bankrupt a year later. The company's assets were sold, and four local Krispy Kreme stores remain.

Sigurdson said Tim Hortons' broad array of food and beverage offerings, from coffee and donuts to grilled paninis and soups, persuaded him to partner with the growing chain. It also helps that he was born in Canada and is keenly aware of the devoted following the chain has.

"I had a lifetime of experience of Tim Hortons in Canada," said Sigurdson, who moved to St. Louis in 1992 and became a U.S. citizen in 2009. "We have great coffee with no aftertaste, and a wide array of food at a great value."

Tina Bryan, vice president of marketing for Show Me Hospitality, said Tim Hortons fans can voice their opinions online at TimHortonsSTL.com on where restaurants should be located and sign up for store opening alerts.

Tim Hortons is seeking to grow its U.S. footprint, and St. Louis is a big part of its expansion efforts. Founded in 1964, the chain named for a former professional Canadian hockey player has grown to more than 4,500 locations companywide but only 870 restaurants in the U.S.

The company is seeking to add 800 restaurants globally by the end of 2018, including 300 in the U.S. In addition to the 40 St. Louis restaurants that are planned, Tim Hortons also has signed development agreements to add 25 locations in Youngstown, Ohio; 15 in Fort Wayne, Ind.; and 15 in Fargo and Minot, N.D.

"What we're really looking for is ... a void in the market where speed is important and providing morning breakfast on the run," said Mike Meilleur, executive vice president of Tim Hortons' U.S. unit. "We really see St. Louis as the 'Gateway to the West' for us."

Lisa Brown is a business reporter at the Post-Dispatch. Follow her on Twitter @LisaBrownSTL and the Business section @postdispatchbiz.

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