Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Industry Thoughts | The Future of Restaurants and Private Equity's Possible Involvement

Back in November, Dan Primack of Fortune penned a post about how private equity firms "have a responsibility to company employees" while not only to their LPs. He alluded to his Bugaboo Creek Steakhouse "BBQ chicken nachos night" (which looks delicious by the way) where his digging led him to Trimaran Capital Partners's selling of the entire parent company (which also owned Charlie Brown's Steakhouse and The Office Bar & Grill, places I grew up with in New Jersey).
Today I saw updates in terms of all the companies:

  • Praesidian Capital is buying Charlie Brown's for a paltry $9.5MM (Trimaran bought them for $150MM in 2005 from Castle Harlan). All of the 20 remaining stores are rumored to stay open.
  • Bugaboo Creek got sold to an unknown buyer for $10.1MM in March 2011.
  • The Office got sold to Villa Enterprises (which runs 4 fast food joints) for $4.7MM in January 2011.

It's a fresh start for all 3 restaurant chains and a good sign. Specialty has been key for consumer-focused private equity acquisitions these years, and restaurants, if owners revitalize their product or brand portfolios (or if PE execs see a potential revitalization), this buying trend should continue.
It will be an interesting sector to watch.

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