Danny Meyer is the latest to join what is now becoming the war of special acquisition companies.
Meyer, the CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, formed USHG Acquisition Corp., which is looking to raise $250 million in an IPO. The newly created company isn’t limiting itself to any sector. The SEC filing listed examples, such as technology, e-Commerce, food and beverage, health and retail, and consumer goods, but the company acknowledged that it may pursue an acquisition in any industry.
“We are passionate about combining with a purpose-driven business that is scalable and built for the long-term,” Meyer wrote in the filing. “We will invest in a market leader whose greatest moat is its talent and heart. We are looking for a business whose stakeholders—employees, customers, community, suppliers and investors—have all become enthusiastic fans and brand evangelists.”
“In short, a company where people love to work and with which customers, suppliers and partners love doing business. If this philosophy of Enlightened Hospitality resonates with you, we would be honored to invite you to join us on this next journey.”
Meyer is serving as chairman while Adam Sokoloff, managing partner of merchant banking firm Asgard Capital Partners, is working as CEO. USHG CFO Tiffany Daniele is serving in the same role for the acquisition company. Shake Shack CEO Randy Garutti and former Whole Foods CEO Walter Robb are both serving as board members.
USHG Acquisition believes the culture, reputation, and network of USHG, along with the management team, board of directors, and advisory council, will provide “differentiated access to a deep pipeline of investment opportunities.” The company lists its competitive strengths as fostering “Enlightened Hospitality,” building disruptive brands, and scaling rapidly.
Since its founding in 1985, USHG has created more than 30 brands, including Shake Shack. In its current form, USHG and its affiliates now comprise more than 20 restaurants and bars in New York City and Washington, D.C., including Union Square Cafe, The Modern, Manhattan, Marta, and Studio Cafe.
“We will focus on target businesses that will materially benefit from our collective expertise and where we are best positioned to augment the value of the target following the completion of the initial business combination,” the filing said. “We believe that USHG’s reputation, experience and track record across multiple business lines will make us a preferred partner for these potential targets.”
Special acquisition companies, which seem to be growing in popularity each day, are formed with the sole purpose of merging with an existing brand and turning it into a publicly traded company.
FAST Acquisition is the most recent example of this process. The company, formed in August 2020, announced its intentions to merge with billionaire Tilman Fertitta’s Golden Nugget and Landry’s conglomerate. The enterprise value of the future public company is expected to be $6.6 billion.
In late January, Bite Acquisition Corp., which includes former IHOP and Applebee’s CEO Julia Stewart, submitted its plan to acquire a traditional or nontraditional restaurant brand that has “robust development potential in national and international markets.”
Additionally, Red Robin Chairman Dave Pace and Bartaco and Barcelona Wine Bar Founder Andy Pforzheimer helped form Tastemaker Acquisition Corp. Starboard Value Acquisition Company, which includes former Dunkin’ and Papa John’s CEO Nigel Travis, was also created last summer.