Butterfly Equity Agrees to Acquire Qdoba, Plus More Bold Deals | Franchise Mergers and Acquisitions

Butterfly Equity entered an agreement to acquire Qdoba, the no. 2 players and no. 1 franchisor in the Mexican fast casual restaurant sector, via a merger with Modern Restaurant Concepts. Qdoba will join two brands, Modern Market Eatery and Lemonade, also owned by the Los Angeles-based private equity firm Butterfly.

When completed, the new entity will comprise 800 units, 750 of those in the Qdoba chain, employing nearly 18,000 systemwide. Butterfly Equity bought Modern Market Eatery in 2018 and then paired it with a second brand under its umbrella, Lemonade. Apollo Global Management bought Qdoba from Jack in the Box in 2017 for $305 million. “We’ve only scratched the surface of Qdoba’s potential to date,” said Qdoba CEO Keith Guilbault in a statement. “Butterfly’s food focus will strengthen our ability to grow.”

MTY Food Group agreed to acquire BBQ Holdingsowner of Famous Dave’s, for $17.25 per share. The deal is valued at $200 million, including BBQ Holdings’ debt. BBQ Holdings operates nine restaurant brands, including Granite City, Village Inn and Barrio Queen. The owner of Papa Murphy’sMTY operates 6,660 locations in North America.

Easyvet, a walk-in veterinary clinic franchise, closed on a $5 million Series A-1 funding round. The investment round was led by Unavetsan animal healthcare investment portfolio backed by funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management. US-based Easyvet clinics offer wellness exams, core vaccines, parasite screening and prevention, microchipping and more, and has 19 locations open in eight states.

Easyvet plans to use the funds to reach its goal to double in size by 2022, and already has 27 locations in 20 markets in various stages of construction and development. The emerging brand wants to grow its clinical support resources, increase learning management tools and focus on ways to improve technologies that advance both the veterinary and franchisee experience. Oaktree’s ecosystem will also provide access to resources, tools and scale through their existing portfolio companies, said Easyvet President Rivers Morrell. Unavets offers shared services and commercial and development support to more than 69 practices, and has a large presence in the veterinary healthcare market in Iberia, including Spain and Portugal.

Following its acquisition by Garnett Station Partners in April 2021, Fat Tuesday announced it was refinanced and closed on a new senior secured credit facility provided by Comvest Credit Partners. Fat Tuesday, an off-premises alcohol business in the US, has 23 franchised locations and operates 61 company-owned locations, primarily in warm geographies, tourist destinations, entertainment districts and outdoor malls.

Fat Tuesday CEO Alex Macedo said the brand grew same-store sales more than 30 percent last year, and plans to use the capital to accelerate new unit expansion in the US and in select international locations. Fat Tuesday expects to have more than 150 locations in the next several years. Founded in Louisiana in 1983, Fat Tuesday touts itself as the largest off-premises and take-away alcohol business in the US that specializes in frozen drinks. Garnett Station Partners is a principal investment firm founded in 2013 by Matt Perelman and Alex Sloane that manages more than $1 billion of assets.

Related: Twin Peaks Turnaround Was Big Win for Garnett Station Partners

Private equity firm Sentinel Capital Partners bought the largest franchisee in the Anytime Fitness system, Bandon Holdings. Based in Austin, Texas, Bandon operates 213 Anytime Fitness gyms with more than 140,000 members. Bandon plans to continue expanding its footprint in the Anytime system, and will use Sentinel’s expertise in helping franchises accelerate growth.

Sentinel has invested in 14 franchisors and three franchisees in its 27 years in existence, including consumer retail, restaurants, healthcare and more. Recent investments include a franchisee of Pizza Hut and Vital Care, a franchiser of infusion therapy clinics. Anytime Fitness was founded in 2002 and is headquartered in Woodbury, Minnesota. It serves more than 4.2 million members at more than 5,000 gyms in nearly 40 countries, and is known for being open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Au Bon Pain operator Ampex Brands acquired bellagreen, a fast casual American bistro concept with locations in Houston and Dallas. Founded in 2005 by Tabbassum Mumtaz, Ampex is also a Yum Brands and 7-Eleven franchisee and has more than 500 QSR and fast-casual restaurants and convenience stores. Ampex acquired Bellagreen from Bellagreen Holdings and plans to retain Erik Bednar as regional operator and Silvestre Reyes as director of culinary, plus all restaurant-level staff.

Bellagreen prioritizes reducing its ecological footprint by using water-saving devices, alternative power sources, sustainable food and furnishings and reducing waste. Ampex Chief Financial Officer Eric Easton and Vice President of Growth and Strategy Sameer Mumtaz will play integral roles in the strategic direction and operations.

Related: Franchise Operator Ampex Becomes Au Bon Pain Franchisor

Meritage Hospitality Group acquired six Wendy’s restaurants in the Jacksonville, Florida area, and expects the additional stores will add about $11 million in annual sales. Currently operating 54 Wendy’s in northern Florida, Meritage plans to immediately integrate the acquired restaurants into its operating and accounting platforms.

The newly acquired restaurants will also be added to its Wendy’s remodeling schedule, said Meritage CEO Robert Schermer Jr. Meritage, which has nearly 350 restaurants with about 11,000 employees, funded the acquisition with cash on hand. The Grand Rapids, Michigan-based franchise group did not disclose terms, and forecasts sales growth between 10 and 15 percent in the second half of 2022. Meritage increased sales 8.4 percent to $145.1 million in the first quarter, compared to $133.8 million in the prior -year period. Net income was $1.7 million in the quarter, compared to $4.9 million in the prior-year period.

Related: With 50-unit Taco John’s Deal, Meritage to Exploit White Space

Pearson Smith Realty merged with United Real Estate’s National Network, bringing together one of the largest independent real estate organizations in the US with a fast-growing brokerage. This deal expands United’s and Pearson Smith’s service footprint in metro DC, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, and increases United Real Estate’s network to more than 21,000 agents total in 630 offices globally.

Founded in 2014 by Eric Pearson and Chuck Smith, Pearson Smith Realty will retain its company name and leadership team post-closing, and the offices will now serve clients in the multi-state region. United will provide resources such as national reach, a referral network and technology. This deal follows United Real Estate’s previous mergers with Platinum Realty, Leading Edge Real Estate Group, Texas United Realty, Virtual Properties Realty, Benchmark Realty, Charles Rutenberg Realty Fort Lauderdale and others yet to be announced.

Private equity firm Sycamore Partners acquired Goddard Systemsa franchisor of early education centers The Goddard Schoolfrom an affiliate of Wind River Holdings. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Established in 1988, Goddard Systems has nearly 600 Goddard School franchises serving more than 80,000 students in 37 states and Washington, DC New York-based Sycamore Partners specializes in retail and consumer-related investments and partners with management teams, working to improve operating profitability and strategic values.

Joe Delphrya franchisee of The Athlete’s Foot since 1999, sold his seven locations to the Dahir Group. Dahir Group is led by Shady Dahir, who has been friends with Delphry for years; Delphry was a mentor to Dahir when they first joined The Athlete’s Foot system. This deal will bring Dahir’s store count to 20, adding stores in Atlanta; Charleston, South Carolina; Winston-Salem, North Carolina; and Portsmouth, Newport News and Suffolk, Virginia. The Athlete’s Foot is a specialty footwear and lifestyle franchise with 550 stores and e-commerce shops in more than 30 countries. Its global headquarters are in Stans, Switzerland and in Atlanta.

Scott and Michelle Hislop, Transworld Business Advisors franchisees, grew their footprint with the acquisition of the Des Moines, Iowa territory. The Hislops joined Transworld, which is under the United Franchise Group umbrella, seven years ago and have since secured rights to all territories in Minnesota. The Minnesota and Iowa locations will operate separately as business brokerage companies, and the Hislops hope to expand into additional territories, including other neighboring states.

Jan-Pro regional developers Brad Rush other Tony Craig bought the central Alabama market, including Mobile and Baldwin, from Jan-Pro of Alabama, which has now been split into two new markets. In what the company described as “more of a territory change rather than just a simple transfer,” Dominic Gentile, the previous owner of Jan-Pro of Alabama, is now the owner of Jan-Pro of Huntsville, while Rush and Craig now own Jan-Pro of Central Alabama. Jan-Pro, a Lynx Franchising subsidiary, has more than 9,900 franchised units in the US and is one of the world’s largest janitorial cleaning service providers.

Haberkorn Managementled by franchisee Joe Haberkorn, sold six Popeyes in the Midwest and was advised by Unbridled Capital.

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