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Sam Fox sells Sauce

Concept creator Sam Fox has sold his Sauce fast-casual pizza chain to a group led by veteran chain builder Scott Kilpatrick. Terms were not disclosed.

The deal suggests a new pattern for Fox’s company, Fox Restaurant Concepts, which had run most of the concepts hatched by its founder. Now the company appears to be functioning more as an incubator of new ventures that will ultimately be sold to outside parties for expansion.

For instance, one of Fox Restaurant’s other concepts is True Food Kitchen, a health concept developed by Sam Fox at the start of the decade. About 50 percent of the venture was subsequently sold to P.F. Chang’s in a deal that gives the Asian chain rights to buy all of True Food once it expands to 20 stores. Ten are currently open.

"Our organization is really good at innovating and cultivating and building some new brands,” Sam Fox told the Phoenix Business Journal."As we get a certain scale, from time to time, it might be appropriate for someone else to take that vision and grow it even bigger."

Sauce, which has nine branches, was one of the first entrants in the now-crowded field of fast-casual pizza upstarts that hope to duplicate in that market what Chipotle did in the Mexican quick-service sector. It was founded in 2003, and its stores are all in Fox’s headquarters area of Scottsdale and Phoenix.

Kilpatrick, the buyer, is best known as the creator of RA Sushi, an upscale Japanese brand he sold to Benihana. There are now 27 RAs in operation throughout the country.

Fox Restaurant’s other concepts include Wildflower, Flower Child, Culinary Dropout and Olive & Ivy.

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