In 2016, the Canada-based concept collector bought the Arizona-based Kahala Brands, giving MTY its long-desired U.S. beachhead. MTY has since used Kahala to keep acquiring more brands, including The Counter late last year, while continuing to make acquisitions in its home country.
It may be relatively new as a U.S. operator, but MTY was founded in 1979 by Stanley Ma, a Hong Kong native who immigrated to Canada and opened his first restaurant in Quebec in the late 1970s. Today, Ma oversees an empire of 75 brands in North America, with 21 in the U.S., including Pinkberry, Blimpie, Baja Fresh, Cold Stone Creamery, Planet Smoothie and Tasti D-Lite. Across the board, many of MTY’s companies are smaller brands, and are often concentrated within malls, especially in Canada.