One Location vs. Expansion
A lot has been said for good food places like Lick's, California Sandwiches, St. Louis Bar and Grill, and Il Fornello. All of these places have multiple locations.
But don't you wish places like Thai Shan Inn would expand too? Is there only one cook who knows how to cook their pad thai? It's a pain to get to Eglinton West when I'm all the way in east Scarborough...to make things worse, they only open for dinner...and the neighbourhood isn't the greatest either.
There's also Schwartz's in Montreal. One location still.
But I guess there's a mystique about a good food place with only 1 location. Everyone flocks there. Where else are you going to?
Typical obstacles to expansion: capital, time, manpower, and quality control.
Thai Shan, judging by the decor, runs on a shoestring. They probably wouldn't qualify for the $500,000 it takes to open a new restaurant. Plus, the staff probably doesn't have the time to research new locations, or the manpower to train a new staff. Finally, why risk having the quality taper off at *BOTH* locations if your chef has to split time between the two spots? I remember when Wendy Young of Young Thailand on Gerrard opened up a new location; we visited after it had been open a few months, and found that the food quality was less than it had been at the original location.
Places that can be franchised have simple recipes that can be replicated easily, like Lick's. Or, they have a management team that can search for a chef who can take over the day-to-day running. For example, Freddy Lo Presto, who runs the Whistling Oyster, Fred's Not Here, Red Tomato, etc., is the entrepeneur who looks after the business end, and finds a chef to cook. Ditto the group that runs Auberge de Pommier, Oliver's, Bofinger, etc.; a management team runs the group, and although an executive chef may provide input to each individual location, they are not meant to be 'cookie-cutter' imitations.