Addicted to novelty since 2001

The Weird Connection Between Kelsey’s Restaurant, Kelsey Grammer and Cheers

Last week I had a very forgettable meal at Kelsey’s (Caution! Cheers theme music ahead!), a restaurant at the Calgary airport. It’s apparently a chain of restaurants with over 100 locations in Western and Central Canada.

The entire place has this weird, indirect connection to the TV show Cheers. The Kelsey’s logo is similar to the Cheers branding. The restaurant is apparently named after Kelsey Grammer, the actor who played the stuffy Frasier Crane. And the interior of the restaurant was all brass taps and wood panelling, with the walls were covered in cheesy 8 x 10 photos of celebrities (notably, there were no photos of the cast of Cheers). Plus, of course, when you visit the website, it plays the theme song from Cheers.

Here’s what’s weird: I can’t find any direction connection between the restaurant chain and Kelsey Grammer or Cheers. It’s like they manufactured a Cheers-like franchise brand without ever actually acknowledging what they were doing. Does anybody know the back story of this chain?

UPDATE: Hurray for crowd-sourcing. We have more information. As Jason writes in the comments below, he emailed Kelsey’s to enquire about the origin of the name:

Paul Jeffery was the founder of Kelsey’s Restaurants International Inc. and the first restaurant opened in Oakville Ontario, in 1978. Currently we have 125 stores across Canada and 1 in the US in New York. The name Kelsey’s comes from the fact that our founder Paul Jeffery and his brother frequented a roadhouse on Kelsey Rd in Barrington, Illinois while traveling in the U.S.A – hence the name Kelsey’s.

Andrea writes with links to several trademark filings for Kelsey’s. The most germane one is from 1993, where they seemed to adopt a logo similar to the Cheers brand. Andrea points out that 1993 is also the year that Cheers ended and Frasier began.

14 Responses to “The Weird Connection Between Kelsey’s Restaurant, Kelsey Grammer and Cheers”

  1. Chris

    I’ve never understood how that Restaurant became a franchise. It certainly offers nothing unique nor have I ever heard anyone recommend it and the few times I’ve been to one have been truly forgettable experiences.

    Sue Reply:

    You have to be insane Chris…Kelseys is very deserving of being a franchise and it is highly recommended. I am guessing that you spent way too much time and the bar and none eating…could be why you consider it to be a truly forgettable

  2. Brian

    There was a Kelsey’s in Saskatoon that predated Cheers (or at least the Frasier Crane character) – this must be some sort of retroactive branding thing, or maybe Grammer bought in?

  3. bz

    the tv commercials are using the cheers theme song now as well.

  4. Monique

    I made the mistake of passing over Kelsey’s/Cheers and eating at the Palomino Club in the Calgary airport. There were 3 options on the menu (salad for $15, scrambled eggs for $15 or a burger for $15).

    I suffered through the iceberg lettuce salad while listening to cowboy music and wishing for celebrity photos to look at.

  5. filmgoerjuan

    All I know is that they’re owned/run by Cara and that they have the best damn veggie burger I’ve ever had. Fellow Cara brand Harvey’s has the second best, which I suspect is just a smaller, thinner version of the Kelsey’s version.

  6. Cheryl Stephens

    I am old and my memory is not reliable, but I seem to recall that they used to have the Cheer’s characters involved. But there was a threat of or an actual lawsuit and they had to change it.

  7. Mike K.

    Don’t know their backstory, but they’re not limited to Western and Central Canada. They were quite popular in Ontario when I lived there.

  8. Jason

    I’m a Frasier fan and this piqued my interest. I emailed Kelsey’s and someone from Cara foods responded – here’s the official line:

    Paul Jeffery was the founder of Kelsey’s Restaurants International Inc. and the first restaurant opened in Oakville Ontario, in 1978. Currently we have 125 stores across Canada and 1 in the US in New York. The name Kelsey’s comes from the fact that our founder Paul Jeffery and his brother frequented a roadhouse on Kelsey Rd in Barrington, Illinois while traveling in the U.S.A – hence the name Kelsey’s.

  9. Riny

    I know I’m a bit late…just read this today. Kelsey’s Restaurants (Canada only) opened their first restaurant in 1978 (in my home town). The TV show Cheers didn’t debut until 1982. Therefore, there’s no connection between the two.

  10. Mike

    Kelsey’s is a horrible place to eat. The following is a letter of complaint which I emailed to them just yesterday:

    Last night I took my wife, daughter and son-in-law to Kelsey’s in Georgetown for dinner. This was not my first visit to a Kelsey’s, but it was my first time at the Georgetown location, and it was the worst overall dining experience I’ve ever had in my life. And please let me make it clear that I’m not just complaining in the hope of getting a discount of some kind. I would not eat there again if you paid me. My only reason for contacting you is in the hope that I can make eating at the Georgetown Kelsey’s a bit less of a miserable experience for other diners. Upon our arrival, there was no hostess to greet and seat us. We waiting for several minutes until she finally returned from the bathroom. I understand that when nature calls, you must answer, but surely she could have got someone to cover for her, particularly right at dinner time. Once we were seated, my wife and I ordered 2 rye & gingers, and we specified that we’d prefer Canadian Club. A few minutes later, the waiter came back to inform us they didn’t have Canadian Club. Now I may be wrong, but to the best of my recollection, I don’t think I’ve ever been in a licensed establishment anywhere in the world, let alone Canada, that didn’t have Canadian Club. We then had appetizers, after which our meals came. Unfortunately, since no one had yet taken our empty appetizer plates, there wasn’t room for our meals, but the waitress did her best to clear them off at the same time that she delivered the meals. I ordered the chicken fajitas, and I specified that I didn’t want the lime cilantro seasoning it normally came with. But the chicken was covered in lime cilantro seasoning and I had to send it back. As for the fajita accompaniments, there were only 3 tiny slices of jalapeno, the rice was cold, and the sizzling pan of chicken was filled with onions, but had only 4 pathetic little strips of red pepper. My daughter and son-in-law both ordered steak. She had asked for medium rare, but got blood rare, and both their mashed potatoes were cold. My wife ordered a blue cheese burger with fries, and both were lukewarm.

    After I got home, I received a call from a friend who also lives in Georgetown and I told him about our terrible experience. He told me that his first visit there had been almost as bad, and after giving the place a second chance, which also turned out badly, he would never go back again. So obviously what happened to me was not just a case of the restaurant having a bad night. For the sake of my fellow Georgetownians, I strongly urge you to fix this VERY BADLY RUN restaurant.

  11. Cooker1

    I know this is coming in late but you have it quite wrong about their logo.

    I actually used to cook for them, first at their Burlington, Ontario site on Mountainside Rd. , then at their original and first site at the Oakville Mall.

    It was owned back then (1978-1981?) by Paul Jeffery. My brother did their original logo, which looks somewhat like the one they are using now, but it had some finer detail when it was first made. He also did their original decor, and it was pretty much a replica of T.G.I Fridays.

    It was pretty much one of the first ‘Roadhouse’ styled bar/restaurants in Ontario.

    The logo was simplified (removed the tail on the ‘Y”) when they started to franchise. When they started, they were very successful.

    Paul sold the chain to Cara. He is now a millionaire, although I honestly think the quality has degraded with the change of control.

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