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The year (so far) in strategic restaurant acquisitions

Led by multiple deals from Fat Brands and from BBQ Holdings, concept collectors have been busy this year.
restaurant strategic acquisitions
Fat Brands' purchase of Great American Cookies' parent company has been one of the year's biggest strategic acquisitions./Photograph: Shutterstock

Brand collectors have been busy lately, and new collectors appear to be merging all the time.

On Monday, for instance, BurgerFi announced plans to buy Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza & Wings for $161.3 million in stock and debt. In the process, it indicated that it could look at other deals, suggesting BurgerFi is joining the collect-a-concept trend.

Last week, Famous Dave’s parent company, BBQ Holdings, won the auction for the six-unit Tahoe Joe’s Steakhouse. This came during a year in which BBQ has been a regular buyer, having acquired Village Inn and Bakers Square.

Strategic buyers have been busy. More companies are pushing to add concepts to their portfolios, buying into the idea that they can build scale and cut some ancillary costs, therefore making more money. These deals have picked up the pace this year. Here’s a look at them.

BurgerFi-Anthony’s

The acquisition is the first for BurgerFi since it went public early this year in a reverse merger, but the company hinted it would consider others. “This is our first acquisition in building a premium multibrand platform,” Chairman Ophir Sternberg said.

Yet this one also raised questions about valuation—at $161 million, the deal is more than 1x pre-pandemic revenues.

BBQ Holdings-Tahoe Joe’s

We’ve spent a lot of digital ink on this deal, mostly for what Famous Dave’s parent doesn’t plan on reopening. Yet BBQ Holdings has some of the most unique ideas for its acquisitions in the restaurant space, with this one being just as much about co-branding as it is about operating a steak concept.

Still, the $5.2 million acquisition gives Dave’s a steak concept it could potentially grow. Steak is hot right now.

BBQ-Village Inn

Dave’s earlier in the summer acquired Village Inn and Bakers Square for $13.5 million, a year after they emerged from bankruptcy. The reason? “There’s nothing that goes better with barbecue than apple and peach pie,” BBQ CEO Jeff Crivello said.

Fat Brands-Twin Peaks

The owner of Fatburger and Johnny Rockets has been making bigger deals this year using securitized debt. In this one, it spent $300 million to take on the sports bar chain Twin Peaks, a deal that raised some eyebrows for its valuation.

Fat Brands-Global Franchise Group

The Twin Peaks deal wasn’t even Fat Brands’ biggest this year. It earlier spent $442.5 million to buy Global Franchise Group, which operates five concepts  in Round Table Pizza, Great American Cookies, Hot Dog on a Stick, Marble Slab Creamery and Pretzelmaker.

SPB Hospitality-J. Alexander’s

Logan’s Roadhouse seemed at one point in 2020 to be in legitimate danger of going dark. Now it’s buying upscale casual chains at a premium. SPB Hospitality, which already owned four brands including Logan’s, Old Chicago, Rock Bottom Restaurant and Gordon Biersch, added three more with the takeout deal for J. Alexander’s.

The $220 million deal was a happy ending to the weird life of J. Alexander’s as a public company.

Yadav Enterprises-Taco Cabana

Yadav, one of Jack in the Box’s largest franchisees and an investor in TGI Fridays, paid $85 million to take Taco Cabana off of Pollo Tropical’s hands.

Ampex Brands-Au Bon Pain

This is another franchisee deal. In this instance, Panera Bread opted to unload its other bakery/café chain to the Yum Brands and 7-Eleven operator Ampex. Panera then added Einstein Bros. and Caribou to its roster of concepts.

Black Titan-Fuddruckers

The franchisee Black Titan, owned by Nicholas Perkins, bought the burger chain for an $18.5 million seller’s note.

Amergent Hospitality-PizzaRev

The parent of Little Big Burgers and others is taking a flyer on the struggling 12-unit fast-casual pizza chain that was once owned by Buffalo Wild Wings.

Sweetgreen-Spyce

This is definitely a strategic deal in the purest sense of the word. The salad chain is buying the robotic bowl concept Spyce, which means salad robots could quickly find their way into Sweetgreens.

Amici Partners-Friendly’s

The owner of Red Mango and Smoothie Factory bought Friendly’s for $90 million, $88 million of which was assumed debt.

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