Levine Leichtman acquires Tropical Smoothie Café

The private equity firm partnered with management on the deal for the fast-growing chain.
Photo courtesy of Tropical Smoothie Café

Private equity firm Levine Leichtman on Tuesday said it has partnered with management to acquire Atlanta-based Tropical Smoothie Café.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the acquisition gives the Los Angeles-based Levine one of the industry’s fastest-growing concepts. Tropical Smoothie has averaged 23% system sales growth over the past five years, including 22% in 2019, according to data from Restaurant Business sister company Technomic.

Existing management will continue to run Tropical Smoothie, including CEO Charles Watson.

The deal represents something of a return to the restaurant industry for Levine Leichtman, which in the past has invested in Bertucci’s, Cici’s and Wetzel’s Pretzels, among others.

It takes over a rapidly growing franchise in Tropical Smoothie, which was founded in Florida in 1997 and sold to BIP Opportunities Fund in 2012. The chain currently has more than 870 locations in 44 states.

“We look forward to working with them as they continue to increase systemwide sales, improve franchisee unit economics and expand unit count in the significant remaining white space,” Matthew Frankel, managing partner of Levine Leichtman, said in a statement.

Kirkland & Ellis advised Levine Leichtman in the deal, while Golub Capital provided debt financing to complete the deal. Jamieson and Peter Klein P.A. advised Tropical Smoothie management, while Robert W. Baird Co. and Alston & Bird advised Tropical Smoothie.

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