STACKED: Food Well Built

"Collectively, we’re very excited to continue to build what we believe can be a national brand," says founder Paul Motenko.

Stacked Sets Sights on National Growth after Sale

The tech-savvy burger chain sets its sights on national growth.

Two private-equity firms acquired five-unit Stacked, a tech-forward burger chain that specializes in customization, the companies announced September 10. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Huntington Beach, California-based Stacked was founded in 2010 by Paul Motenko and Jerry Hennessy, the creators of 200-unit casual chain BJ’s Restaurants and Brewhouse. They stepped down from BJ’s board in 2008 to focus on Stacked, known for its proprietary tabletop iPad-based ordering system that allows guests to pick fully customized meals from a bevy of ingredient options. It opened its first location in 2011. Other innovations have included an optional calorie counter and a STACKable breakfast menu. The chain also launched a catering menu in August 2017.

Hargett Hunter, a North Carolina-based PE firm focused exclusively on the hospitality industry, together with Rising Stars, the dedicated platform of global firm TriSpan, combined for the majority stake purchase.

Motenko and Hennessy will remain in their current roles as co-CEOs of Stacked and will focus on “continued operational improvement and unit expansion,” the company said.

“Stacked is a differentiated growth brand that successfully pairs approachable, delicious food with a fun dining experience where customers control their interaction with the brand,” Jeff Brock, Hargett Hunter’s founder, said in a statement. “It is a tremendous honor to partner with both Trispan and two of the best people in the restaurant industry—Paul and Jerry. We look very forward to supporting the world class team at Stacked in expanding this innovative and exciting brand.”

“We couldn’t be more excited to partner with Paul and Jerry and invest alongside the team at Hargett Hunter in what we believe is a very uniquely positioned restaurant concept that stands out in today’s environment,” added TriSpan’s Jessica Kates.

Rising Stars has made three other deals in the past 12 months—the acquisition of Rosa Mexicano, as well as investments in Rosa’s Thai, and Yardbird. Hargett Hunter invested in Original ChopShop in Arizona and Texas, and Texas bistro chain Bellagreen in 2016.

Stacked envisioned national growth since the beginning, with more units planned for California as well as expansion into new markets.

“We are partnering with restaurant experts that share our vision for enhancing the full-service dining experience with hospitality driven personalization,” Motenko said in a statement. “Our relationship with the principals at Hargett Hunter extends six years, thereby creating a significant amount of comfort in our new partnership. The financial and operational resources provided by TriSpan, Hargett Hunter and others will be invaluable to Stacked as we accelerate our growth. Collectively, we’re very excited to continue to build what we believe can be a national brand.”