Ever since Perkins® started as a simple pancake house, there’s always been a drive to provide truly delicious plates and exceptional service. The menu has changed to keep our guests’ taste buds guessing, but our dedication to provide the best possible experience has not. Take a quick walk down memory lane with us.
As gold prospectors in Alaska, Matt and Ivan Perkins didn’t strike it rich; however, the bakery which they opened was very successful. While traveling, Matt came across Smitty’s Pancake House, which had a line around the building with people trying to go in. Matt’s curiosity pushed him inside and he struck up a conversation with Smitty. Matt strikes a deal with Smitty and gets the rights to use the secret pancake recipe east of the Mississippi, with the exception of Pennsylvania and North and South Dakota. Matt and Ivan Perkins open their first Perkins Pancake House in Cincinnati, Ohio. They introduce the secret buttermilk pancake recipe to their clamoring guests. Their delicious product offering, coupled with a personalized approach to service, quickly gains them a reputation for having the best pancakes in town!
Matt and Ivan continue to develop the concept, expanding to a full menu that includes sandwiches and entrees. They turn to franchising as a means of expanding to new markets.
1967 – 1978
Intent on tapping into the full potential of the brand, a Minnesota franchisee, Wyman Nelson, launched an aggressive advertising campaign to promote his newly expanded menu. He renames his restaurants, “Perkins Cake and Steak” so guests would know they offered more than pancakes; he begins to develop Perkins restaurants in 21 western states, converting “Smitty’s” into Perkins; and eventually begins to franchise in the east. In May of 1978 Perkins Foods, Inc. and Perkins’ Cake & Steak, Inc. merge, consolidating all rights to operate or franchise in one company.
In 1978, Matt and Ivan Perkins decide to retire and sell their remaining interest in the company to Wyman Nelson. In August 1979, Nelson strikes a deal and Perkins becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of Memphis-based Holidays Inns, Inc. and the company’s headquarters are established in Memphis.
1981 – 1982
The company’s name changes from Perkins’ Cake & Steak, Inc. to Perkins, Inc., then to Perkins Restaurants, Inc.
Seasoned restaurant entrepreneur Donald N. Smith purchases ownership interest in Perkins, becoming Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of the company. Don Smith sat on the board of Holiday Inn and realizes this company has tremendous potential.
Smith introduces innovation in the form of remodels and in-store bakeries. New omelets are introduced along with melt sandwiches and salads.
Don Smith develops the Perkins Advisory Council to garner ideas and learn best practices.
Perkins Restaurants, Inc. is reorganized as a master limited partnership with interests publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange, trading as Perkins Family Restaurants, L.P.
Perkins goes international with a franchise opening in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada.
Perkins begins a philanthropic relationship with Give Kids The World, contributing both money and free meals to the Florida based charity.
Perkins Family Restaurants, L.P. becomes a privately held wholly-owned subsidiary of The Restaurant Company and, in 1999, merges into it.
The Restaurant Company acquires Marie Callender’s and changes its name to Perkins & Marie Callender’s, Inc.
Perkins & Marie Callender’s, Inc. reorganizes and is converted into a limited liability company, becoming Perkins & Marie Callender’s, LLC.
Business transformation begins with the hire of Jeff Warne as CEO.
A nationwide restaurant remodeling initiative begins for both company and franchised locations.
Perkins celebrates 60th Anniversary