Canada’s largest seafood restaurant chain began with a young man’s vision of a casual full-service restaurant catering to the Canadian love for down home style fish and chips. “I was 21 and had an idea for a seafood restaurant,” says Joe Klassen, founder of Joey’s Seafood Restaurants and founder/partner of Joey’s Franchising Group. “I knew it couldn’t be a burger place — there were already so many out there — so in Calgary in 1985, with my wife, Theresa, I started our first store with 39 seats.”

The new restaurant, first known as Joey’s Only, was a mid-priced, friendly place to go for heaping plates of simply delicious seafood, but as Klassen notes, it wasn’t easy going in those early days. “After about six or seven months, one Sunday morning I woke up and looked across at my wife and said, ‘It’s just not working, and all we’re doing is feeding it money. Should we close down the store?’ But she said ‘No, let’s give it another good chance’, and that’s what we did. Things started to climb after that.”

The menu featured not only the ever-popular fish and chips, but also a variety of dishes and recipes including salmon, halibut, shrimp, mussels, and crab. The concept took off and after a year, the couple opened another restaurant in Calgary, and another four after that. In 1989, Klassen partnered with David Mossey to open three more Joey’s in Edmonton.

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