Cara Operations

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Cara Operations Limited
Public company
Traded as TSXCAO
Industry Branded restaurants and airline services
Founded 1883
Founder Phelan family
Headquarters Vaughan, Ontario, Canada
Key people
Don Robinson, President & CEO; M. Bernard Syron, Chairman
Number of employees
Divisions Swiss Chalet
Kelsey's Neighbourhood Bar & Grill
Milestones Grill and Bar
Montana's Cookhouse

Cara Operations Limited is a Canadian company that provides catering services to airlines and operates several restaurant chains including: Harvey's, Swiss Chalet, Kelsey's, Milestones and Montana's. Its headquarters are in Vaughan, Ontario in the Greater Toronto Area.[1] It was previously headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario.[2] In November, 2008, the company moved to its new headquarters in Vaughan, Ontario near Vaughan Mills shopping centre.[citation needed]

In 2002, sales for the whole company were C$1.9 billion. 88% of the business comes from the restaurant services with the remaining 12% deriving from airline catering.

The name Cara was derived from the first two letters of each of the words "Canada Railway"; it is also an Irish word meaning "friend".


In 1890, Canada Railway News Co. was founded. Cara began as a steamship company on the Niagara River in Ontario. It soon moved into the food business, catering to a boom in passenger rail traffic in Canada.

In the 1930s, Cara began offering catering services to the airlines. By 1951 it was serving about 1,500 meals a day.

In 1961 the company changed its name to Cara Operations Limited.

Cara was owned solely by the Phelan family from its inception in 1883 until it finally went public in 1968. At the time, its primary business was catering to the transportation sector (airline and rail meals), but it did operate a few 'no-name' restaurants and coffee shops in various office towers and airport terminals in Canada. Total sales of all the various operations was C$30 million in 1968.

In 1986 Cara provided services for Vancouver's Expo 86.

In 1999, Cara purchased Kelseys inc. from owner Paul Jeffery, acquiring Montanas, Kelseys and the Outback(Canada). The rights to Outback steakhouse were owned in Canada by Cara, but it was sold back to Outback in the USA because of high food costs.[3]

On February 26, 2004, Cara went private.

In 2008, Cara was in the middle of a controversy when 3 employees were arrested at the Montreal-Trudeau airport in relation to a drug distribution network that used the planes for which Cara provided the catering.

In 2013 Cara came to an agreement with Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. to make Prime Restaurants a wholly owned subsidiary of Cara. This added restaurants such as Casey's, East Side Mario's, Bier Markt and Prime Pubs to its operations.


Cara currently employs more than 38,000 people.

Catering Services[edit]

Cara servicing a Czech Airlines flight in Montreal

As of Nov. 8, 2010 [4] Gate Gourmet (GateGroup) having met all customary closing conditions acquired substantially all of the business assets of Cara Airline Solutions, Canada’s premier airline catering and logistics provider, from Cara Operations Limited. Before Nov 08, 2010 Cara controlled 85% of the Canadian airline market, providing meals for more than 60 of the world's major airlines including KLM, American Airlines, British Airways and Air Canada. Meals were prepared at Cara's nine flight kitchens located across Canada.

Restaurant Operations[edit]


  1. ^ "footer_cara_contact_01.gif." Cara Operations. Retrieved on September 13, 2011. "Address: 199 Four Valley Drive, Vaughan, ON L4K 0B8"
  2. ^ "Contact Information." Cara Operations. April 5, 2004. Retrieved on September 13, 2011. "Head Office 6303 Airport Road Mississauga, Ontario Canada L4V 1R8"
  3. ^ :Cara Operations Limited:
  4. ^ :Nov. 8, 2010 - gategroup completes acquisition of Cara Airline Solutions

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 43°41′27″N 79°37′26″W / 43.690824°N 79.623928°W / 43.690824; -79.623928