The Chopt tossed-to-order salad chain said “significant” investments have been made in the fast-casual operation by the private-equity firm Catterton and health-foods powerhouse The Hain Celestial Group.
The infusion of an undisclosed amount of money promises to heat up the race for dominance in a fast-casual category abounding in big-name backers. Chopt was a pioneer of the segment, but has since been joined by such contenders as SweetGreen, Tender Greens and Mad Green.
SweetGreen is backed in part by AOL founder Steve Case, New York restaurateur Danny Meyer and fine-dining legend Daniel Boulud. Meyer is also a backer of Tender Greens. Mad Greens is owned by the Coors family, a clan better known for its beer.
Chopt was founded in 2001 and currently extends to 32 locations in New York, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina and the District of Columbia.
Catterton is a familiar source of funding to the restaurant business. It currently holds stakes in 10 restaurant companies, including the fast-casual growth chains Piada, Hopdoddy, Noodles and Company, Bruxie, Protein Bar, Snap Kitchen and Mendocino Farms. It is also an investor in the casual brands Primanti Bros., Cheddars and Bloomin’ Brands, parent of Outback, Carrabba’s, Flemings and Bonefish Grill.
Hain Celestial’s products are stocked on grocery and specialty-food store shelves under such brands as Celestial Seasonings, Earth’s Best, Health Valley and Rudi’s. It has apparently been a supplier to Chopt.