Canadian Cartoon Food Disrupter Nathen Mazri Discusses His New Venture Scooby-DooEATS
The CEO of Entergage Inc. swears he never betrayed Garfield
Published Mar 12, 2021It's been a wild, whirlwind few years for Canadian food disruptor and friend of cartoon characters Nathen Mazri. Once known as the GarfieldEATS guy, his love of Garfuccinos led him down a path that included a pilot episode of a reality show and a shuttered storefront on Bloor Street. Still, the man who (sorta) coined the phrase "Love me, feed me, don't leave me" is as resilient as ever, and now plans to "meddle with supermarkets" with a new furry friend: Scooby-Doo.
Yes, Nathen has launched Scooby-DooEATS and plans to take over grocery stores with a line of savoury meals emblazoned with the infamous crime-solving dog. The move has proven controversial — wasn't this the man that devoted his life to Garfield? But Nathen insists it's the right decision.
In fact, in our latest interview, he reveals that he hopes to use his hybrid of cartoon characters and grocery store hot dogs to launch a larger initiative involving natural, chemical-free food culture.
Read the latest from Nathen below. Scooby-DooEATS launches on March 13.
Since I last talked to you, so much has happened in your life. I guess my first question is, is your relationship over with the character Garfield?
Yeah, great question…. You have no idea how I was attacked by the Garfield fans because of that post, which I did remove, where I said, "I'm done with the cat, it's time for the dog." And everyone just went crazy. And Warner Brothers contacted me. They asked me "What is going on?" Because they're following me and they're following ScoobyEATS and they're always, you know — they're there. They're like a radar. And they said, "What's going on with all these mentions?" They have a software called Radius. It's like it's a listening tool. It's a social media listening tool. So when they put "Nathen Mazri" and they put "Garfield," it starts listening. And oh, can I tell you — the thousands of hate messages about me leaving Garfield — I betrayed him? What would Jim Davis think? And Warner was concerned like, "What is really going on?" Like, is this gonna be repeated with Scooby Doo as well. They want to understand and they get it now — I've never left. I am maybe the only one investing more than anyone, maybe after Nickelodeon, obviously, but maybe more than anyone on Garfield. Until today.
You know, closing down restaurants — there's a closing budget. That was the best decision that that I have made — not the landlord that made, that wasn't his decision. And so I left, closed down, and we're doing better than ever selling our frozen lasagne. People love it. People love it. It comes with thermal bags and ice packs to their door. And now we're launching same-day delivery. I got to work on the logistics for GarfieldEATS — actually for Entergage. The holding company's called Entergage and it owns GarfieldEATS and Scooby-DooEATS. And whatever I do, in my daily activities or affairs, it's for both brands as well as future brands to come. And so I'm setting up the foundation. So I have invested more than anyone in Garfield. And I have not left Garfield, I have not left Nickelodeon, and I still report to Nickelodeon on a weekly basis. No licensee is under such scrutiny. Just because they said, and I quote, Nickelodeon said that, "Nathen is an anomaly in the licensing industry. And so and we admire his entrepreneurship, but that is why we constantly need to see what you're doing every single week, 'cause we don't know what you're gonna post tomorrow and we can't control you. We don't manage you. You're not JoJo." You know, JoJo [Siwa] by Nickelodeon? Yeah, I'm not JoJo. The licensing manager Chris at Nickelodeon, Viacom and CBS, he told me, "I think we should do NateNate. Like JoJo." I said, sure. If you're gonna turn me into a multimillion dollar empire, why not? But they don't. They're not my manager, and they're not my agents. So you know, I'm free to do so. But I'm very respectful. And I respect my licensing agreement. I'm very respectful, but I've never left the cat.
Well that's what the people want to know. They know you as the GarfieldEATS guy, and then all of a sudden you're the ScoobyEATS guy.
Right? So true. I always say, Can I can I not love more than one cartoon? Or can we not be in a polygamy relationship?
Well, you know, dogs and cats are kind of mortal enemies, famously.
Yeah, correct. Correct. And so it depends how you'll position it in the media.
I'm still just so interested in this because last time you also said that it was people sending you death threats because they wish that you had done a Bugs Bunny restaurant. I mean, what do you think it is that's making people so worked up about everything that you do?
With this Garfield betrayal thing, they're interested. Obviously they're seeking attention. And I do I respond. We share people's stories. They send me art pieces, and oh, look what I drew, I drew you in Garfield. And I do upload it instantly on the store. And I say thank you and I do respond to everybody. But when it comes to hate — when it comes to those who don't know me, and when it comes to the Reddit users, that "Nathen is delusional" — when it comes to that. First of all, you don't create the Barbra Streisand effect. I don't touch it. Number one, don't touch it. Don't play with fire. Let it go. Number two, what's their intention? I don't know. They're sitting bored in their basement in order to… I don't know, their hand is on their dick and they're there typing, you know? We don't know where they're at they so I let them go. But what could be the draw? They're shocked or surprised. I mean, can you imagine a Scooby-DooEATS burgers at Loblaws? Finally, you're eating burgers by Scooby-DooEATS. This hasn't been hasn't been done since 1969. So obviously, people through many generations, people are surprised. And so they get they get sassy. I guess they're trying to provoke. Of course, a lot of it has to do with provocation. But I let them go. I have no grudge, really. Even those who say I'm delusional, it appears number one on Google. What can you say to that? I did a little TikTok thing about it. You know, laughing about it. I put the song "My Prerogative" by Britney Spears, and why won't all these people let me go. I don't know how the song goes. But yeah, I thought that was cool, right?
There's that old saying, "Haters make me famous."
You're right. You're right about success. You know the haters are around, those who don't understand are around, those who have no wisdom are around, and you can't discipline the world. You can't. It's impossible for you to go ahead and discipline everybody. This is my motto. I cannot discipline everybody and I can't teach you what you don't know and what you're not ready to know now. And so I let them go and I do what I have to do. Many call closing stores a failure. And GAP closed stores, DavidsTea closed 100 stores. Why don't they attack them? Why isn't he number one on Google and creating a conversation? Why hasn't it stimulated or instigated a conversation and called the the founder of DavidsTea a loser or a failure or delusional? Why me? Why? GAP closed down on Bloor. Why me? Starbucks closed down 200 stores. Yeah, Starbucks has success worldwide. That's fine. He's been affected by pandemic, we get it, but Nathen barely started and he closed already. What can I do? Did I know that COVID was going to happen a year later? I could have sustained, I was fine. I was doing fine. I had successful franchisees and I had more on the waiting list. We were opening 32 of them. Wow. And imagine going back and 32 becomes zero. They become zero. You get emails saying sorry, we cannot move forward. Sorry, because because because we have no money. It's COVID sorry, we're relocating sorry, my grandfather died. We are living in a shifting era with a cluttered app economy. And we're shifting, and I'm riding that shift with the cartoons. I mean, I'm riding it alone with the cartoons. I'm riding it alone. And I have the valour to continue that ride. Many would have quit and said, fuck that. I am opening another restaurant or business because I love entrepreneurship. I love creating, you know, building a company where I can work and have 20,000 employees. I love it. I breathe on it. Some people are made to get married and have five kids. I am made to build companies and have 20,000 employees. That's how I'm structured. People ask me: will you ever find love? Are you still single? I get many love messages as well. And it's nice. But will I ever be in love? I don't know.
With the death of GarfieldEATS as a brick and mortar, that also means that you weren't able to make more episodes of your reality series. Do you have any interest in making more television? Maybe it's even Nathen looking for love as a TV show.
First of all, regarding Garfield, at least for now, you know, you can order. We're alive, we're doing great. But now it's no longer 10 SKUs. It's now one SKU, it's the frozen lasagne, which is what Garfield is great at, right? And you never know — I might open another GarfieldEATS store in two months, but in a better location. That location didn't help us. But I was bound by my agreement to open at a certain time. I couldn't find other locations. So I opened on Bloor. But you never know, I might open another restaurant. And we might continue with the reality show. But the thing is about this show — the pilot, which has now, since February, generated over 16,000 views. It's good, it's nice. But what happened is that the director, Howard, he sent it around and fished around to networks. We've received a lot of interest that they want to do [it]. It doesn't necessarily have to be tied up with Garfield the store, but with Nathen himself, right? And I'm open to that, absolutely. Now that we have Scooby-DooEATS, Warner Bros. are so supportive. They really really value my effort. They really value it. They're so supportive and there might be a Nathen and Scooby reality show or whatever. It could still be called "Love me, feed me, don't leave me." That phrase is mine. "Love me feed me never leave me," that's Jim Davis. That's Nickelodeon's. So that's why I did it. I did it in the early days. That's why I removed one word — I changed one word so I can own own it. And it's been working very well. I created a jingle out of it with music. We're producing an entire music video clip for "Love me, feed me, don't leave me." So that's cool. It's gonna be a flash mob. It's a flash mob style.
At what point did you think, "Scooby Doo! That's the next one that I need to do."
I'm always after relevance. What makes sense? What is a cartoon that makes sense that eats a lot? I'm in the food business. So what makes sense for a kitchen to turn it into a food concept? And Scooby eats a lot of burgers and hotdogs and fries and pasta and lasagne and Scooby Snacks. Scooby Snacks are coming soon. In summer, we're creating the world's first Scooby Doo Snacks by Scooby-DooEATS. They're going to be there. We will be partnering with a factory where the cooks are powered by 700 solar panels. And they're natural with a lot of fiber and vitamins. It's going to be chocolate and one will be with caramel because, according to the founders of Scooby Doo, the idea of the Scooby Snacks in the TV show, there was some caramel it in it. I had to research what was in that. I mean, it's a cartoon, but the writers would tell me what they envision for the snack. And so we're launching our Scooby Snacks for all ages, and if you can see the packaging, they're really branded in a way that is not kiddy kids. Like, it's not for children. It's not Walt Disney and targeted to children. It's very premium and it's very health-conscious. It focuses on food. I really wanted to ensure that we are not just a cartoon stuck on a box. This is not your typical licensing deal where you just license Scooby and you put him on merchandise and you sell it. No. This is from the ground up, baby. This is where I go to the farmers. I partner, I understand how the cows are doing. How are they raised with no vaccines, no stimulants, raised without antibiotics. And then I found the product and then I bring a cartoon that has relevance, where he does actually eat burgers. Warner actually gave me Flintstones, they wanted me to do a FlintstonesEATS. I said no. It's just because of the statistics. Flintstones has good statistics, but Scooby Doo is still alive till today. It's the longevity. The proactivity of the brand still persists today for Scooby Doo. And plus I've done a little survey using my GarfieldEATS fans, and they all went for Scooby Doo. That's what's great about the GarfieldEATS, is that I've accumulated so many fans and followers that now I can test on them.
Your branding emphasizes a "farm-to-plate" model. Forgive me but in my mind, farm-to-plate is not usually associated with frozen food. To me frozen food usually seems unhealthy.
It's an interesting question because it's so timely. Just yesterday I was on a call with Texas FFA, a 91-year-old organization in the States, who were responsible for protecting farmers and educating students and children about farming practices, that have turned the agriculture business and exploded it in the United States because of Texas FFA. We are now in discussion to partner with them for the farm-to-place core ideology which we have at Scooby-DooEATS and GarfieldEATS. First of all, you're going to start seeing some information and you're going to find some literature. What does farm-to-plate really mean? What do we mean by it? And here's the problem with food in general. When I go to grocery stores, as a consumer, when you're walking down the aisle, you pick a Silk coconut milk that goes with your coffee. Let's say you look at the ingredients and it says gellan gum and dipotassium phosphate. What does it really mean? What does it mean? My responsibility is that I have to trace this ingredient to understand. Google it, ask Siri or Alexa to understand what the hell am I putting into my body. That was my problem since I was a teenager. That's always been like, what are we doing? I wanted to know, how does cancer come? How do diseases come? How do we get sick? What are groceries feeding us? And so it's just amazing. Destiny, again, maybe I'm doing all that for a reason. It brought me to farm-to-plate, where we're creating an auditing company where they would come to us and we would audit them in order for them to get that farm-to-plate seal.
How does it work? Right now, we're in the early stages. But here's what farm-to-plate really means, to answer your question about frozen [food]. For us, when it's deep-frozen, it's frozen. It lasts when it's deep-frozen. There's no preservatives. You don't have to put a preservative for it to last if it's deep-frozen. You just froze it. When you put it back into the fridge, bacteria starts to emerge. And then you put it back into freezer. That's not good. And that's why in the fridge it lasts for two three days, meat. You got to cook it if it's in the fridge because there's bacteria. So when it's frozen, it's frozen. So we have no preservative. Farm-to-plate means no chemicals. Zero, at the end of the day. Nothing. No chemicals. No chemicals, zero. That's what farm-to-plate firstly means.
Number two, if there is a preservative, it's a natural preservative. If there were any, I would say on the label. I would say natural so far as your preservatives: no nitrates, no stimulants, no vaccines, raised without antibiotics, no vaccination. And, and so that's what farm-to-plate means to me. Like for example, Starbucks, when they do their coffee. That's why we did our Garfuccino. They use syrups. Tons and tons. You just read the ingredient label on the back. Oh, that's fine, it's approved by FDA. Oh, that's fine, it's approved by Public Health Canada. Well, no, no. Did you know that? That's in our food? I don't know if you knew that. But I went crazy when I was doing my research. Thanks to the FDA and the grocery stores.
For me, there should be, when you scan the barcode, a farm-to-plate label. You're going to scan it in the future. And it's going to tell you everything about that product. Where did it originate from? Which farm? It's called traceability. That is what I'm trying to build — an auditing and traceability company.
Okay, well, my final question for you is just kind of a little bit more fun. Since the Scooby Doo show first came out, people have always kind of thought that Shaggy was a little bit of a stoner and then he always had the munchies. I mean, what do you think about that? And now that cannabis is legal, is that something you could spin into your marketing?
I would do it with approval and the blessing of Warner Brothers. I would create a I would create ShaggyEATS. Is Shaggy a stoner? I mean, when I watch it, I feel that sometimes. I feel that sometimes. I feel that he could be. You will quote me right, Josiah, yeah? "Nathen says that Shaggy may be. And it wouldn't surprise Nathen. And it wouldn't be surprising if Nathen starts ShaggyEATS with cannabis. As long as it's farm-to-plate." The cannabis founders will hate me. They're gonna be like, "Who the fuck is this guy coming with his cartoons?" Yeah.