The special purpose acquisition company has gone from an obscure method for taking companies public to currently the most popular way to take companies public. Already there have been more SPACs created in 2021 than there were all of last year—when there were five times as many SPACs as the previous year.
SPACs, or blank-check companies, take funds from public investors and use it to make an acquisition, usually of a private company. They have two years to make a deal, potentially making for a competitive market for restaurant chains—though every SPAC listed is looking at other industries, too, and all say they could look outside their primary target sectors.
Indeed, two of these SPACs already have deals in place. One of them didn’t combine with a restaurant at all.
Tastemaker Acquisition Corp.
Size: $240 million
Target sectors: Restaurants, restaurant technology.
The SPAC run by former Barteca exec Andy Pforzheimer and former Jamba CEO Dave Pace was oversubscribed when it went public early this year.
Size: $200 million
Target company: Landry’s/Golden Nugget.
Fast Acquisition Corp. featured Ruby Tuesday Founder Sandy Beall and former Noodles & Co. CEO Kevin Reddy, along with &pizza investors, including cofounder and CEO Michael Lastoria. The firm has a deal to merge with the $6 billion empire owned and run by Tilman Fertitta, including Landry’s and the Golden Nugget Casinos empire.
Fast Acquisition II
Size: $200 million
Target sectors: Hospitality businesses, including restaurants, hotels and other “adjacent verticals” such as amusements.
Well, if the first one worked, why not do another one? Fast Acquisition II has largely the same group as the first one, which was able to quickly get a deal done.
USHG Acquisition Corp.
Size: $250 million
Target sectors: E-commerce, technology, food and beverage, health and retail and consumer goods, or “any business industry” that are “culture-driven businesses.”
Danny Meyer, the highly regarded restaurateur and founder of Shake Shack, is behind a SPAC that aims to target companies that follow his principles of “enlightened hospitality.” USHG—which stands for Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group—has a wide range of potential businesses that it could target.
Bite Acquisition Corp.
Size: $175 million
Target sectors: Traditional or non-traditional restaurants.
The most notable name associated with Bite is Julia Stewart, the former CEO of what is now known as Dine Brands Global, parent company of Applebee’s and IHOP, along with Joseph Essa, former CEO of Thomas Keller Restaurant Group. Leading the SPAC is Rafael Felipe de Jesus Aguirre Gomez, founder of the airport restaurant operator Mera Corp.
Do It Again
Size: $125 million
Target sectors: Retail, restaurant and food-related businesses.
Do It Again’s chairman and CEO is Cliff Hudson, who has with him a number of former executives of Sonic Drive-Ins, where he was CEO, as well as Dunkin’. Longtime industry executive Sid Feltenstein is involved in this SPAC, as are franchisees-turned-brand-operators Sunil Dharod and Anand Gala.
Size: $125 million
Target sectors: Restaurants, retail, consumer food, food-related technology or real estate or businesses that serve these industries.
Sizzle features Steve Salis, the cofounder of &pizza and founder of Salis Holdings, which owns Ted’s Bulletin. For what it’s worth this SPAC appears willing to take on companies that might have been hurt during the pandemic.
Size: $360 million
Target company: Cyxtera Technologies.
The SPAC formed by Starboard Acquisition did include restaurants as a potential target—former Dunkin’ Brands CEO Nigel Travis was involved—but ultimately the blank-check company agreed to combine with a technology company in Cyxtera, a data company for retailers. Many of these SPACs, in fact, will not end up with restaurants at all.
UPDATE: This story has been updated to correct that Joe Essa is no longer CEO of Thomas Keller Restaurant Group.