The company owns a franchise consultancy that has 40 percent of its business in restaurants.
The Lost Cajun, which filed bankruptcy more than a year ago, was acquired by investment firm Executive Decisions Group (EDGI).
The deal closed April 15 and includes the chain's franchise system, a company-owned unit in Slidell, Louisiana, and The Lost Cajun Spice Company, an entity created in 2016 to coordinate the sale and distribution of goods to restaurants. The business will be operated through EDGI's newly formed subsidiary, Happy Cajun Hospitality.
Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.
EDGI has experience in the franchise space. It oversees Summa Franchising Consulting, which has roughly 40 percent of its business in restaurants. Robert Stidham, founder and CEO of Summa, said the company is committed to "preserving the traditional Southern hospitality culture and authentic Cajun cuisine" built in the past dozen years.
“We recognized something special about The Lost Cajun and we’re excited to commit our time, talent and resources into growing this popular family-friendly restaurant franchise and introducing it to a new and expansive customer base over the next few years,” Stidham said in a statement.
Raymond Griffin founded the Lost Cajun in 2010 and began franchising five years later. By 2016, the chain had nine restaurants and set a goal to open as many as 50 stores in the next five years. Two years later, 15 franchises were open, eight more were scheduled to debut, and 11 others were in the pipeline. The casual-dining chain expected to open 10 franchises per year going forward.
The growth trajectory was significantly disrupted by COVID in 2020. The company was forced to cut salaries, and eliminate fees for "financially distressed" franchisees who closed stores or reduced operating capacity. Because of the never-ending pressures, the Lost Cajun decided to file bankruptcy in April 2021 and emerged from court proceedings in December.
Griffin expressed optimism to FSR in February about the direction of his restaurant chain. At the time, he claimed to have seven inquiries on his desk, which gave him confidence that the restaurant could refill its pipeline with franchisees held to stricter criteria. He even took a cross-country drive to visit each location, meeting with franchisees and documenting the journey on Facebook. Above all else, his goal was to have "a handful of successful owners, a bunch of happy employees, and provide food that nobody else provides except for me."
The founder felt EDGI's relationship to Summa offered The Lost Cajun an opportunity to expand, but also preserve what made the concept authentic. Griffin will remain with Happy Cajun Hospitality as an advisor and consultant for The Lost Cajun.
“I look forward to remaining part of the brand and watching it grow under Robert’s leadership, particularly given his proven track record in the franchise world," Griffin said in a statement.
EDGI is also the second-largest investor in The Homecare Advocacy Network, an investor in several Thrive Healthcare franchise locations, and owner of the Orange County territory for Season 2 Consign, a luxury consignment brand. Additional EDGI and affiliated businesses include franchise consultants, developers, investors, franchisors, and franchisees.
The purchase, EDGI's first direct acquisition, brings its annualized revenue to more than $50 million per year.