Emerging Brands

Elite Restaurant Group finalizes purchase of Noon Mediterranean

The group is eyeing two other restaurant acquisitions in coming months, according to its president.
Noon Mediterranean logo

The purchase agreement between bankrupt fast-casual chain Noon Mediterranean and Elite Restaurant Group is finalized, the parties confirmed. And the parent company of Daphne’s Inc. is starting to convert the 12 units into Daphne’s California Greek locations while keeping some of Noon’s menu items and assembly line format.

“We’re starting the process,” Mike Nakhleh, president of Los Angeles-based Elite Restaurant Group, told Restaurant Business. “We have teams there. They have a lot of good bones. They have a lot of things we can use at Daphne’s. It’ll be exciting to see how they all work together.”

He expects the conversions to be complete in a couple of months. Elite bought once-promising Noon Mediterranean for just under $800,000.

The pattern of buying struggling chains for cheap has become familiar to followers of Elite Restaurant Group in recent years.

Nakhleh’s company acquired Daphne’s early this year and last month entered into a deal to purchase 17-unit Patxi’s Pizza. In 2016, it bought Slater’s 50/50.

“I have a whole checklist of items that I look for when selecting a brand,” Nakhleh said. “But the most important things to me are: that it’s a brand that I truly believe in; [that] they have the culture that I am looking for; and will it fit with my other brands?”

Elite Restaurant Group is currently eyeing two other restaurant purchases and will likely close on one “in the pizza world” by the end of the year, he said.

Nakhleh, 32, bought his first restaurant when he was just 18—a pizza shop in his neighborhood that was selling for $45,000, he said. He later got into the banking industry but left in 2007 during the economic downturn.

“I had a bunch of money saved and started looking into bankruptcy auctions to purchase distressed businesses,” he said. “I started going to auctions every week and purchasing restaurants out of bankruptcy.”

In 2010, Elite Restaurant Group owned locations of Fatburger and Sizzler. But Nakhleh sold off his units several years ago.

Elite Restaurant Group operates with a two-person board: Nakhleh and another person who doesn’t want his name disclosed, he said.

“A two-person board allows us to be able to make quick decisions, and we don’t have to follow so much red tape to get things done,” said Nakhleh, who added that his father oversees accounting for the restaurant group.

For his part, Nakhleh said he enjoys the “challenge” of buying up struggling restaurant brands.

“Anyone can buy something that is doing very well and just enjoy the ride,” he said. “To me, that is boring.”

Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.

Multimedia

Exclusive Content

Financing

Pricing has driven restaurant sales growth for the past 2 years

The Bottom Line: Restaurant sales have grown for most of the past two years. But they haven't kept pace with menu price inflation, suggesting the industry is saturated again.

Food

Restaurants can learn some foodservice tricks from supermarkets

State of the Plate: Nancy Kruse, RB’s menu trends columnist, says grocers are stepping up their game, and restaurants need to keep up.

Financing

So you are opening a restaurant in a Walmart? Good luck with that

The Bottom Line: The retail giant is adding regional restaurant chains to its stores, giving them some key exposure. But there are some real drawbacks to pay attention to.

Trending

More from our partners