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Which Wich founder buys Paciugo Gelato Caffe

Sinelli Concepts International has acquired the 32-unit gelato chain.
Photograph courtesy of Sinelli Concepts/Paciugo

Sinelli Concepts International, the company that founded Genghis Grill and Which Wich, on Monday said it has acquired the 32-unit gelato chain Paciugo Gelato Caffe. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Paciugo was founded in 2000 based on a family recipe and is the country’s largest gelato concept, having generated more than $13 million in system sales in 2017, according to data from Technomic.

It boasts 400 gelato flavor combinations and operates locations ranging from 120 to 1,400 square feet. The concept also sells gelato pops, ice cream sandwiches, macarons, smoothies, shakes, coffee and pastries, and it caters large orders.

Jeff Sinelli, founder of Which Wich and Sinelli Concepts, said in an interview that Paciugo helps expand his company’s dayparts. His sandwich concept, for instance, does well at lunch. His company is developing a Mexican burger concept and coffee concepts. Paciugo does well at dinner.

“It gives us the ability to play within dayparts,” Sinelli said, adding that his company could help develop the concept further while keeping the brand authentic. “It’s something I’ve done my whole life. We love developing concepts.”

Paciugo will become a sister company of the 400-unit Which Wich, which had system sales of more than $220 million last year, according to Technomic data.

Sinelli Concepts will begin working to expand Paciugo in markets across the country. The gelato chain will operate independently from Which Wich.

Paciugo has brought in Jeremy Cook from Cold Stone Creamery to run the brand as its vice president.

The brands will share some services, but each concept will has its own brand team, Sinelli said. And the acquisition of Paciugo comes with a manufacturing facility that the brand has used to make gelato for its restaurants and for grocery stores.

At the very least, Sinelli said, the deal for Paciugo will win over two customers closest to him: His two daughters, who are 6 and 9.

“It’s already paid dividends with the family being in the gelato business and having fun with my daughters,” Sinelli said. “It’s been a real happy acquisition for the Sinelli family.”

UPDATE: This story has been updated to add details and comments from Jeff Sinelli.

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