Shari's exterior of restaurant.
Shari's Management Corporation

Shari's was in the midst of a transformation agenda before COVID struck.

Shari’s Restaurants Picks Up Investment from MGG

The funds will help the chain continue its pandemic bounceback.

Gather Holdings, LLC, the parent company of Shari’s Restaurants and Coco’s Restaurants, announced that affiliates of MGG Investment Group made an investment in the company’s 42 Oregon-based restaurants that operate under the Shari’s banner—there are 85 total systemwide. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Sam Borgese, owner of Gather Holdings, said MGG has “deep knowledge of video lottery gaming operations, which are present in our 42 Oregon restaurants.” 

“And we look forward to leveraging their expertise as we continue to provide the delicious meals and entertainment our loyal customers expected.”

Added Dale Stohr, a managing director at MGG: “As a capital partner of choice to entrepreneurs, we are pleased to provide Sam and his team with the resources to drive future growth in Gather’s Oregon portfolio of Shari’s Restaurants.”

Borgese noted the capital would help Shari’s in its COVID-19 recovery. “I am grateful for the determination, resilience, and grit of our entire team of restaurant operators and support center employees who stood by the business and are the reason we are positioned for success,” he said.

Shari’s, founded in 1978, is known across the Pacific Northwest for its hand-finished pies and all-day breakfast. 

The company was deep into a multi-year business transformation when the pandemic struck. In 2018, Shari’s purchased California brands Coco’s and Carrows from Food Management Partners. Borgese, who became CEO of Shari’s the previous year, had led Coco’s and Carrows (then under the Catalina Restaurant Group) in the mid-2000s. 

COVID accelerated the company’s “Business Transformation Plan,” which centered on lowering G&A costs while retaining and attracting top management talent. The company decentralized corporate headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, to include new offices in Carlsbad, California, and Dallas, Texas.

That allowed the company to pull from talent in L.A., Orange County, San Diego, and Dallas. Also, it was able to leverage synergies from major regional hubs while reducing direct facility costs by nearly 50 percent, the company said at the time. The corporate office and finance and accounting functions remained in Oregon with executive, human resources and marketing headed to Carlsbad, and purchasing, IT and legal focused to Dallas.

Borgese previously told FSR the new trio of offices cost half what the original Oregon headquarters did.

Additionally, Shari’s grew its off-premises business by redesigning everything from menu to packaging to pick-up staging spots and overall execution.

It launched several virtual brands with Coco’s Famous Hamburgers to utilize kitchen space from more than 130 venues, and developed new menus that spotlighted existing items consumers demanded from each brand, while also introducing new ones around healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner items; including the introduction of plant-based offerings (such as a line of breakfast sandwiches featuring Impossible Sausage, with Shari's becoming the first family casual concept to roll the Impossible Sausage out across all locations).

It also updated the Shari's Rewards App, featuring new “tier levels” that guests could unlock based on purchase amounts and revealing increasingly valuable rewards such as free birthday pie slices, 2x points during birthday month, discounts on whole pies, free birthday entrees, and a free birthday meal for two.