In early 2018, Buddy’s Pizza sold a majority stake to CapitalSpring, a private investment firm that invests exclusively in the restaurant industry. Thanks to CapitalSpring’s industry expertise and financial resources, Buddy’s is now expanding outside of Detroit—and even outside of Michigan—for the very first time.
“Bringing the Buddy’s brand to new customers is our No. 1 priority,” says Jim Balis, interim CEO of Buddy’s Pizza and Head of CapitalSpring’s Strategic Operations Group. “Buddy’s wanted to bring in a knowledgeable partner to help identify and execute a growth strategy beyond their core market. Our past experience across 60+ restaurant brands was the perfect fit as the concept embarked on expansion.”
Since last year’s investment, Buddy’s has opened new locations in Grand Rapids and at the Detroit Zoo. The brand is set to open three more Michigan units this year: one in Plymouth in July, another in Woodhaven in late August and one in downtown Detroit in November. Several more are currently under construction and in lease negotiations.
Buddy’s is also signing locations in Ohio and Indiana, while looking at additional markets throughout the Midwest.
“The downtown Detroit Buddy’s will be a unique location and a reflection of the brand’s connection to its hometown. We have also divided the space 80/20 into full-service and fast-casual formats,” adds Balis. “We are developing a new limited-service prototype that will significantly upgrade the offering with heated-to-order slices as well as new sandwiches, desserts, beer and wine, and more contemporary decor.”
CapitalSpring has leveraged several new resources to support Buddy’s rapid growth, including new technology platforms, efficiencies via back-office support, strengthened reporting as well as business insights from CapitalSpring’s investment and operations teams. CapitalSpring has also invested in bringing in the right people to scale Buddy’s sustainably.
“With our intended growth, we knew we needed to add several positions that are critical to supporting accelerated development such as a Training Manager, IT Director, HR Director and District Managers,” says Balis.
While there has been change since the investment, CapitalSpring has remained steadfast in preserving the quality of the product and the brand’s connection to consumers. “Buddy’s is a special concept and one with a deep connection to the greater Detroit community. Our goal has been to identify and preserve what has allowed the brand to thrive for 74 years. That’s where our partners in the company come in handy; they keep us focused on quality. But together, we’re looking forward to growing this iconic brand—the right way.”