Los Angeles-based Freeman Spogli had an active 2017, quickly buying the fast-casual chain Cafe Rio after selling another growth concept in First Watch. Cafe Rio had been considered an IPO candidate, with more than 100 locations in 11 states and unit volumes above $2 million, but the IPO market fell apart—and Freeman was there waiting with its investment.
In 2016, Freeman invested in the 26-unit City Barbeque chain. It was also a big investor in chicken chain El Pollo Loco, which it took public in 2014. Freeman now manages investment funds of $4 billion and has investments in 15 companies total.