Craveworthy bought three more brands, this time with an eye for conversion

The platform company this week acquired the brands Taim Mediterranean Kitchen, Hot Chicken Takeover and Sigri Indian BBQ. And more acquisitions are in the works, says CEO Gregg Majewski.
Untamed Brands marketing
The larger platform company Craveworthy Brands now will absorb the smaller platform company Untamed Brands. | Image courtesy of Craveworthy Brands.

It’s been a busy week for Craveworthy Brands, which seems to have an insatiable appetite for new brands.

The platform company launched by Gregg Majewski in 2022 on Tuesday announced the acquisition of Untamed Brands, a group that includes the brands Taim Mediterranean Kitchen and Hot Chicken Takeover.

Terms were not disclosed.

That news follows the announcement last week that Craveworthy has also acquired the two-unit Sigri Indian BBQ, a quick-service concept in New Jersey. The moves add 13 Taim locations, nine Hot Chicken Takeover units, and two Sigri restaurants—plus some locations under construction or closed— to the 150 or so restaurants open under 11 brands already under the Craveworthy umbrella. Another 500 restaurants are in development, Majewski said.

Craveworthy, which has been gobbling up young and struggling brands with potential at a steady clip over the past two years, now includes BD’s Mongolian Grill, Flat Top Grill, Genghis Grill, Krafted Burger Bar + Tap, Wing It On!, Pastizza Pizza, Lucky Cat Poke Co., Scramblin’ Ed’s and Dirty Dough.

Also under the Craveworthy banner are the Mediterranean concept Soom Soom, acquired last year, and chicken concept The Budlong Southern Chicken. It was with those brands in mind that Majewski picked up Taim and Hot Chicken Takeover as conversion targets.

“The reason why this made so much sense for us is because we were really buying them for the two brands that were comparable,” Majewski said.

Taim, which was originally founded in 2005 by Israeli chef Einat Admony, was acquired in 2021 by then-investor in the concept Phil Petrilli, who went on to create Untamed Brands, later adding in Hot Chicken Takeover.

But the menu at Taim is very similar to Soom Soom, Majewski said. So most of the restaurants will be rebranded as Soom Soom, except in New York City where Taim has more brand awareness. Four Taim units under construction will finish as Soom Soom.

Majewski said Craveworthy will take the best from both menus.

“We’ll taste their shawarma and our shawarma and pick the best to move forward,” he said. “But the menus are so similar, consumers probably won’t really notice a difference.”

Soom Soom already has three existing brick-and-mortar units, and a presence in food halls. And Soom Soom will be launching franchising in June. 

“This will give a bigger playing field and footprint for franchisees,” he said.

Likewise, Budlong and Hot Chicken Takeover will also merge, but in this case the name will change for both brands. Majewski said he hasn’t decided what the new name will be.

Hot Chicken Takeover was founded in 2013 as a Nashville hot chicken brand, mostly around Columbus, Ohio. The concept calls itself a “fair chance” employer with a mission to provide jobs to those facing challenges, like previous incarceration or homelessness. Investors reportedly included Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland.

Sigri Indian BBQ

Sigri Indian BBQ has a menu built around a clay oven, or sigri, common in North India. | Photo courtesy of Craveworthy Brands.

And then there’s Sigri, which Majewski calls “my Indian Chipotle.”

Sigri’s North Indian menu is built around the clay stove, known as a sigri, but with a modern quick-service format. It was founded in 2015 in New Jersey by Jagat Parikh, who said Majewski has been working with the brand for more than six years.

With the Untamed Brands deal, Craveworthy picked up three closed Taim locations. The plan is to convert those units and reopen as Sigri.

But wait, there’s more.

Majewski said there are at least two more acquisitions on the table, including a dessert concept, and yet another chicken brand that will be merged with Budlong/Hot Chicken Takeover.

“We are actively looking for comparable brands to build our store count,” he said.

He would love to add a pizza brand, he said. And Craveworthy is also developing a taco concept that could easily slip into a Taim location, which has the right equipment and kitchen layout.

Meanwhile, Craveworthy is tapping some of the legacy brands in the portfolio for cash.

Majewski said seven restaurants have closed among the Genghis Grill, BD’s and Flat Top brands, which freed about $2 million in EBITDA.

“You clean house a bit,” he said. “That was part of the restructuring and it was always part of the original game plan.”

The three acquired brands added this week, however, have brought about $27 million in topline revenue, he noted.

“I can’t be more excited,” said Majewski on Tuesday. “I added roughly a third in value for my shareholders today.”

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