Perkins & Marie Callender's, LLC, or PMCI, doing business as Marie Callender's, is a restaurant chain with over 50 locations in the United States and Mexico. Its headquarters are in the Marie Callender's Corporate Support Center in Mission Viejo, Orange County, California. One East Side Mario's restaurant in Lakewood, California is part of the chain, a remnant of the period (1997-2000) when the chain owned the ESM concept, purchased from Pepsico.
The type of cuisine served is mainly American, although many of the dishes are slanted towards styles of preparation that resemble Italian, Mexican, French, Cajun, or Chinese. Soups and sandwiches are available as meals or à la carte. Pies are signature items on the dessert menu: there are over 30 varieties available. Pies can be purchased whole or by-the-slice.
As of January 2017, there are 59 stores remaining in the United States: California (52), Idaho (1), Nevada (4), and Utah (2).
In the 1930s, Marie Callender, her husband Cal Warren Callender, and their son Don lived in a trailer park off Beach Boulevard in Huntington Beach. Marie baked and sold pies to augment the family's income, with Don delivering pies to customers on his bicycle.
In 1948 Don founded the business as a wholesale outlet for selling pies to other restaurants in Orange County, California. Eventually, Don opened a retail outlet in Orange, California, naming it after his mother, gradually adding other food. In later years, a typical restaurant would have a fully stocked bar, or saloon, serving alcoholic beverages. This is in contrast to family restaurants like Denny's or Village Inn, which generally do not serve alcoholic beverages. A salad bar is also a staple.
The interiors of the chain's earlier restaurants are decorated with antiques circa 1900, providing a theme that is reminiscent of Victorian England as well as early America. Later restaurants reflect more modern tastes, with a clean interior and photos of food.
The business flourished until Don died on January 7, 2009, due to complications resulting from head trauma sustained during a fall at home. He is survived by his second wife of 31 years, Katy Callender and youngest son Lucky Callender, in addition to his adult children from his first marriage - second daughter Cathe Callender and husband Greg Sprunk; eldest son Glen Warren and wife, Coral Callender, and grandchildren, Harmony Callender, Jasmine Winters, Maxx Buchanan, Caitlyn and Cameron Sprunk.
In 1994, the restaurant chain was sold to Ramada Inn, then in 2000, to Wilshire Restaurant Group, Inc.. Marie Callender Pie Shops, Inc. was purchased from Saunders Karp & Megrue (SKM) in 1999 by an affiliate of Castle Harlan, a New York-based private equity firm. In 2006, Castle Harlan merged Marie Callender's with another of its interests, Perkins Restaurant and Bakery. The combined chain, known as Perkins & Marie Callender's Inc. is headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee. The current CEO of PMCI is restaurant industry veteran Joseph F. ("Jay") Trungale. Former Morton's Restaurant Group chairman and CEO Allen Bernstein serves as non-executive chairman; Bernstein also serves as a director of California-based Cheesecake Factory, Inc.
Other CEOs of Marie Callender's following Don Callender included attorney/investor Roger Mercier (1989-1993), former IBM executive Walter F. Strycker (1993-1994), restaurant finance guru Leonard H. Dreyer (1994-2001) and casual chain executive Phillip Ratner (2001-2006); after leaving Callender's Ratner continued his restaurant career by becoming a 30-unit developer in southern California for Five Guys Burgers & Fries. The Connecticut-based private equity firm, Saunders Karp & Megrue LLP now known as KarpReilly purchased a controlling interest in 2011.
For years the chain has licensed its name for shelf-stable and frozen entrees and sides. Various product licenses were included in a sale to ConAgra Foods in 1994 for $140 million. The name Marie Callender's was retained for the food line following the division's sale. In 2010, its Cheesy Chicken & Rice was pulled due to a salmonella outbreak.
On June 12, 2011, 31 under-performing company-owned restaurants closed. The closures came that afternoon, and there were reports of customer complaints of uncooked meals such as their pies. The next day, PMCI announced it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, citing a weak economic climate. A few days later PMCI decided to close 13 stores, leaving 74, mostly in California. PMCI exited bankruptcy under the control of Wayzata Investments Partners.
- "About - Marie Callender's Restaurant & Bakery". Marie Callender's. Retrieved 17 February 2014.
- "Contact - Marie Callender's Restaurant & Bakery". Marie Callender's. Retrieved 17 February 2014.
- Marie Callender's founder, Don Callender, dies
- "Marie Callender's Sold for $150 Million". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2 October 2015.
- "ConAgra recalls Marie Callender's frozen chicken and rice meals". USA Today. Gannett Company. 2010-06-18. Retrieved 2014-08-26.
- "Marie Callender's files for bankruptcy protection". Orange County Register. Retrieved 2011-06-13.
- "Perkins emerges from bankruptcy with Wayzata firm in control". Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal. Retrieved 2016-05-15.