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OPINIONFinancing

Former Jamba, Barteca executives form a SPAC

Tastemaker Acquisition Corp. seeks to raise $200 million to make an acquisition, potentially of a restaurant chain, says RB's The Bottom Line.
Photograph courtesy of Barcelona Wine Bar

The Bottom Line

A group of restaurant and investment industry executives have banded together to create the latest public shell company designed to make an acquisition.

Tastemaker Acquisition Corp. on Friday filed documents with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. It is a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, and seeks to raise $200 million and could buy a restaurant chain or a hospitality-focused technology company.

Its list of officers is notable. Its co-CEOs are David Pace, the former CEO of Jamba, and Andy Pforzheimer, co-founder of the Barteca Restaurant Group, which operated Barcelona Wine Bar and Bartaco before they were sold to Del Frisco Restaurant Group (and later L Catterton).

Its president is Greg Golkin, managing partner with the growth-chain restaurant investor Kitchen Fund. Its CFO is Chris Bradley, managing director of the investment firm Mistral Equity Partners. Its non-executive chairman is Hal Rosser, co-founder of the private-equity firm Bruckmann, Rosser, Sherrill & Co., and directors include Rick Federico, former P.F. Chang’s CEO, and Starlette Johnson, president of Lucky Strike Entertainment.

Tastemaker is the latest SPAC with its eyes on the restaurant industry, following Fast Acquisition Corp., which features Ruby Tuesday founder Sandy Beall. Serial restaurant acquirer Tilman Fertitta is among the names behind Landcadia Holdings III, his third SPAC, though neither of the previous two bought a restaurant chain. The investment firm Starboard Acquisition formed another SPAC that is believed to be considering a restaurant chain among its options—that one features former Dunkin’ CEO Nigel Travis.

SPACs sell shares to public investors, with plans to use those funds to make an acquisition, usually of a private company. They’ve become increasingly popular in recent years.

SPACs are not limited to the industries they say they plan to target, though they typically aim for companies in industries their officers are familiar with. In the case of Tastemaker, the company is targeting either a restaurant chain or a hospitality technology company.

The filing notes that the restaurant industry generated $864 billion in revenue in 2019 from more than 1 million people and is ripe for investment.

“Consumers are demanding convenience, experiences and higher quality options to replace the restaurant chains that have been a pillar for the industry for decades,” the filing says. “Many of the large-scale ‘legacy’ chains, which built and defined the category, have seen a loss of market share to the new guard of restaurateurs who are embracing new consumer mindsets. It is our belief that this intersection of a massive industry with quickly shifting dynamics provides a ripe sector for investment.”

Technology, meanwhile, “is a major driver and supporter of these shifting dynamics” and could provide further opportunities for investment. The filing notes that there are several technologies leading to a shift in the industry, including data analytics, automation and robotics, customer relationship management, supply chain blockchains and voice technology.

The filing also says that the pandemic has created “volatility and opportunity in the restaurant brands themselves.”

“We believe that certain brands that navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic will be in a stronger competitive position in the future,” the filing says.

Tastemaker is looking for companies with “strong and differentiated brands, strong unit economics and market share” along with “exceptional management teams and significant growth prospects.”’

It is also looking for brands that can benefit from partnering with Tastemaker’s experienced management team and has “unrecognized value or other characteristics.”

Tastemaker is proposing to be listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange under the ticker symbol TMKR.

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