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First Watch buys Egg & I

The First Watch breakfast-and-lunch chain has acquired a direct competitor, The Egg & I, to form their crowded sector’s clear leader in terms of restaurant count. 

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The parties stressed in announcing the deal that the two systems are complementary. Bradenton, Florida-based First Watch consists of 153 full-service restaurants in 17 states, while Fort Collins, Colorado-based The Egg & I has 114 table-service stores in 20 states, with an overlap in 11 states. 

"We saw this acquisition as an opportunity to expand our presence in markets where we don't currently operate,” said First Watch CEO Ken Pendery. “We look forward to working with [Egg & I CEO] Don Lamb, his team and the The Egg & I franchisees to build upon the success they have already achieved."

Both systems are a mix of franchised and company-run stores. They both offer service predominantly for breakfast, lunch and brunch, though some franchisees stay open for dinner.

Pendery did not say if the two brands would be maintained or combined into one. First Watch allowed 20 units of Scottsdale, Arizona-based The Good Egg to continue operating under that name after they were acquired last year, as it did with Bread & Co., a fast-casual bakery-café concept in Nashville, Tennessee.

A controlling interest in First Watch is held by the private-equity firm Freeman Spogli. 

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