The NextGen Casual has been sold twice in the past four years.
Garnett Station Partners announced Monday that it acquired Firebirds Wood Fired Grill. Financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed.
Firebirds was founded 23 years ago in Charlotte, North Carolina, and has expanded to 56 locations across 20 states. Garnett said its strategic capital will help the casual-dining chain accelerate growth and development.
“We are incredibly proud of the brand that Firebirds is today and are thrilled to work in partnership with Garnett Station as we enter this next chapter,” Firebirds CEO Steve Kislow said in a statement. “Through our bold menu offerings and customer-oriented approach, Firebirds has become a neighborhood staple in each of the local communities we operate in. We are confident that Firebirds will continue its impressive trajectory of growth while delivering the best possible dining experience for our guests.”
Firebirds found opportunities to innovate during COVID. In March 2022, the chain released a brunch menu available on Saturday and Sunday mornings. A few months later, Firebirds launched Flybuy Pickup, which allows staff to see incoming orders in one place instead of tracking multiple tablets. Employees receive receive location updates and audio/visual alerts when guests or delivery drivers are approaching the restaurant and when they arrive.
This is the second time in four years Firebirds has been sold. In early 2019, J.H. Whitney Capital Partners revealed that it acquired a majority interest in the brand. At the time, the brand had 48 restaurants. J.H. Whitney bought the company from Angelo, Gordon & Co., who had owned Firebirds since 2011 when it had 18 stores in eight states.
Garnett Station Partners, founded in 2013, manages roughly $2 billion in assets. Other food and beverage investments include Authentic Restaurant Brands (Primanti Bros., Mambo Seafood, and P.J. Whelihan's), Kona Ice, and the world's largest Burger King franchisee, Carrols Restaurant Group.
"Firebirds has found tremendous success over the past 20 years through the power of its concept, the passion of its team and the loyalty of its guests, contributing to its consistent industry outperformance from both an average unit volume and same store traffic perspective,” Matt Perelman, co-founder and managing partner at Garnett Station, said in a statement. “We look forward to working closely with Steve and the entire management team to support and accelerate the brand’s long-term growth.”
TD Cowen and Netrex Capital Markets, LLC served as financial advisors to Garnett Station Partners. Kirkland & Ellis LLP served as legal advisor to Garnett Station Partners. NorthPoint Advisors served as financial advisor to Firebirds.
The purchase marks the largest M&A move in the casual-dining segment thus far in 2023. Other notable acquisitions include Xperience Restaurant Group buying Texas-based Rio Mambo Tex Mex y Mas and THE RIM, and Wild Eggs, a 15-unit brunch chain based in Louisville, being acquired by investment group PG Growth Opportunities Fund.