Private equity firm Mercato Partners has hired former Garbanzo Mediterranean CEO James Park as an operating partner in Savory Fund, its restaurant-focused investment arm.
Savory earlier this month completed its second fund, a $100 million investment vehicle targeted at growth concepts.
Park has two decades of restaurant and retail experience and was Garbanzo's CEO from 2015 until its sale to Centre Lane Partners in 2020. He will use that experience to help guide Savory's future investments.
Mercato's current restaurant investments include The Crack Shack, Mo’Bettahs, R&R Barbeque, Swig and Via 313, which together are expected to open 40 locations this year and 70 in 2022. Its goal with Savory is to take brands from fewer than nine locations to 40 to 50.
“I am thrilled to be joining Savory, who is fast becoming the leading financial sponsor for early-stage emerging brands in the food and beverage industry,” said Park. “In just a few years, they have built an enviable track record with five incredible companies, and I am excited to support the firm’s existing portfolio brands, identify new brands and help build out many more.”