Adults Play Arcade Games At Main Event
Triple Lava Burger
The Sicilian Butcher Flatbread Pizza
An Omelette At Keke’s Breakfast Cafe Restaurant
Tumble 22's Chicken
Glory Days Grill Wings
Exterior Photo Of Famous Dave's Drive Thru Restaurant
Clark Crew BBQ Interior
A Spread Of Barrio Queen's Food
Fuzzy’s Taco Shop Interior

Making M&A Moves

The casual-dining segment wasn’t significantly active in the M&A market in 2022, but from the action that did happen, there was variety. 

READ: QUICK-SERVICE’S 19 MOST IMPACTFUL ACQUISITIONS

Private equity firms, franchisees, and public companies all played a role in purchases, ranging from an emerging chicken chain to a budding taco fast casual. The following is a list of the 10 most important acquisitions to remember from 2022. 

Image credits:Main Event

Purchasing Company: Dave & Buster’s

Sold Company: Main Event

Price Tag: $835 million 

Main Event, which offers bowling, laser tag, arcade games, and virtual reality, operates approximately 50 locations in 17 states, including The Summit, a three-unit eatertainment chain based in Colorado.  

Kevin Sheehan, former interim CEO of Dave & Buster’s, described the transaction as a “transformational combination,” noting that Main Event’s model, footprint, and asset quality align well with Dave & Buster’s. The two concepts don’t cannibalize each other either; while Main Event targets families and children, Dave & Buster’s goes after young adults. 

Image credits:Main Event

Purchasing Company: Savory Fund

Sold Company: Sicilian Butcher

Price Tag: Undisclosed 

As part of the agreement, Savory Fund will invest up to $30 million in the Sicilian Butcher and the Sicilian Baker. Both emerging chains fall under the Maggiore Group, run by married couple Joey and Cristina Maggiore and their business partner, Flora Tersigni. 

Savory Fund expects to open almost 20 units in the next four years. The Sicilian Butcher is known for its hand-rolled meatballs, scratch-made spaghetti, and Sicilian-style charcuterie platters, which reach 5-feet long. 

Image credits:The Sicilian Butcher

Purchasing Company: Denny’s 

Sold Company: Keke’s Breakfast Cafe 

Price Tag: $82.5 million

Keke’s Breakfast Cafe has 52 restaurants in Florida, 44 of which are franchise restaurants owned by 19 operators. It earned an AUV of $1.9 million in 2021, up from $1.6 million before the pandemic, and unit-level margins range from the high teens to low 20s.

The emerging company grew same-store sales 18 percent year-over-year in 2021, and 12 percent through May year-to-date. The most impressive stat, arguably, is the company didn’t close any restaurant in the past two years.

Image credits:Keke’s Breakfast Cafe

Purchasing Company: BRS & Co., Rosser Capital, and Doug Thompson

Sold Company: Tumble 22 

Price Tag: Undisclosed 

Tumble 22, which uses Texas-raised chicken and proprietary seasoning, was founded by Guy Villavaso and Larry Foles. The chicken comes in six heat levels, from “wimpy” to “stupid hot,” and is hand-breaded and tumbled exactly 22 times, hence the name. Four of the casual-dining restaurants are based in the Greater Austin area while the fifth is in Houston. 

The restaurant grew from a food trailer to five units in fewer than four years, according to its website. Industry veteran Doug Thompson is CEO. He spent almost 20 years at Texas Roadhouse before retiring in November 2021. 

Image credits:Tumble 22

Purchasing Company: Bob Basham

Sold Company: Glory Days Grill 

Price Tag: Undisclosed 

Outback cofounder Bob Basham, a franchisee of sports bar Glory Days Grill, acquired the company’s 22-unit corporate footprint in Virginia and Maryland, to go with his franchised units. 

The industry veteran purchased the restaurants from Glory Days cofounders Robert Garner and Jeff Newman. Third cofounder Richard Danker, the brother of Basham, co-owns the new corporate entity, while Garner and Newman retired. 

Image credits:Glory Days Grill

Purchasing Company: MTY Holdings

Sold Company: BBQ Holdings

Price Tag: $200 million

MTY Holdings announced the move in August. 

BBQ Holdings has expanded to 10 casual and fast-casual restaurants through a series of M&A moves in recent years. The portfolio now includes Famous Dave’s, Village InnGranite City, Bakers Square, Real Urban BBQ, Tahoe Joe’sBarrio Queen, and a group of independents. The company operates more than 200 franchised and 100 corporately owned locations in 37 states, Canada, and United Arab Emirates. 

Image credits:Famous Dave’s

Purchasing Company: The Greene Turtle

Sold Company: Clark Crew BBQ

Price Tag: Undisclosed 

The Greene Turtle announced in June that it acquired Clark Crew BBQ, an independent casual-dining concept in Oklahoma City. The restaurant, which has won more than 700 Top 10 awards, was founded in 2019 through a collaboration between Travis Clark and Famous Dave’s parent BBQ Holdings. 

As part of the transaction, The Greene Turtle formed ITA Group Holdings, a new multi-brand platform that will own and operate The Greene Turtle, Clark Crew BBQ, and Founder Growth Platform (FGP), a consultancy that partners with multiple fast-casual startups. 

Image credits:Clark Crew BBQ

Purchasing Company: Executive Decisions Group

Sold Company: The Lost Cajun 

Price Tag: Undisclosed 

The Lost Cajun, which filed bankruptcy more than a year ago, was acquired by investment firm Executive Decisions Group (EDGI) last spring. 

The deal includes the chain’s franchise system, a company-owned unit in Slidell, Louisiana, and The Lost Cajun Spice Company, an entity created in 2016 to coordinate the sale and distribution of goods to restaurants. The business will be operated through EDGI’s newly formed subsidiary, Happy Cajun Hospitality. 

Image credits:The Lost Cajun

Purchasing Company: BBQ Holdings

Sold Company: Barrio Queen

Price Tag: $28 million

In March 2022, BBQ Holdings signed a $28 million asset purchase agreement to acquire Barrio Queen, a Mexican fine-dining chain based in Phoenix. In 2021, Barrio Queen generated $35 million in revenue and $5 million in AUV. BBQ Holdings believes the brand has franchising potential, with a 19 percent restaurant-level margin. 

Image credits:Barrio Queen

Purchasing Company: Dine Brands (parent of IHOP and Applebee’s)

Sold Company: Fuzzy’s Taco Shop 

Price Tag: $80 million

Fuzzy’s Taco Shop includes 138 restaurants in 18 states—roughly 98 percent of which is franchised—and has as a development pipeline with more than 125 contracted obligations. As of early December, the chain was earning $1.6 million in AUV, and same-store sales were growing 3 percent.

Of Fuzzy’s three dayparts, dinner mixes 52 percent, followed by lunch (42 percent), and breakfast (6 percent). Off-premises accounts for 40 percent of sales. 

Image credits:Fuzzy’s Taco Shop
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