Axum Capital Partners, a Charlotte, North Carolina-based private-equity firm, today acquired a controlling interest in Wild Wing Café, a 32-unit restaurant company based in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.
Wild Wing Café operates 11 corporate-owned restaurants and 21 franchised restaurants across North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, Texas, and Florida. For fiscal year ending December 31, 2011, Wild Wing Café generated about $100 million in systemwide sales. Fifth Third Bank provided debt financing for the transaction. McGuireWoods, LLP, represented Axum.
Edna Morris, a managing director with Axum, will be interim CEO of Wild Wing Café.
Edna is a 30-year veteran of the restaurant industry, having served as president of Red Lobster (Darden) and Quincy’s Family Steakhouse (Advantica) and as the first president of the Women’s Foodservice Forum.
“Wild Wing Café provides Axum with a proven and well-run concept allowing for strong growth in existing and new markets,” Morris says.
“Our management team has more than 120 years of restaurant experience. With Wild Wing’s broad demographic appeal, quality food and superior service, we believe that the concept will sustain and continue to strengthen its competitive position.”
Wild Wing Café founders Cecil and Dianne Crowley will retain an ownership stake in the company and will serve on the board. They founded the concept on the idea that people would flock to a place that served the best flavored wings, cold beer, and good times. “We’re not flying the coop,” says Dianne Crowley. “We look forward to working with the Axum team to continue growing this wonderful brand.”
“This is a great partnership for our firm," says Muhsin “Moose” Muhammad, a managing director at Axum and former pro football player.
"We’ve developed a strong relationship with the Crowleys and share a similar vision regarding the future of Wild Wing Café. In addition, this transaction reflects Axum’s strategy and what we set out to do. By targeting specific sectors, we’ve been able to establish a team that is uniquely suited to effectively execute our firm’s investment strategy.
“Edna’s extensive expertise, strong leadership, and broad-based relationships enabled us to quickly and properly evaluate this opportunity and develop an effective growth strategy.”
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