🍟 4/23/2024 – Advice from a 90 Unit McAlister’s Deli Owner

1) TGI Friday’s Acquired by…their Franchisee?

TGI Fridays is getting acquired for $220 million. Not by a private equity firm or another brand, but by it’s own franchisee…

A massive franchisee group in the UK, called “Hostmore” is the acquiring company. Hostmore was established in 2021, and owns 86 TGI Fridays across the UK. 

Once the acquisition finalizes, the new company would own 189 restaurants in the U.S, while franchisees would operate the other ~400+ stores around the world. The current owner of TGI Fridays, TriArtisan Capital Advisors, bought TGI Fridays from longtime owner Carlson Restaurants in 2014 for a reported ~$800 million.

TriArtisan also owns stakes in P.F. Chang’s and Hooters – but assuming the prior deal terms are accurate, they’re taking a heavy loss on TGI Fridays.

Casual dining has been in a decline for awhile, with pretty much all brands in decline, outside of Applebee’s.

Time will tell if Hostmore can revive TGI Fridays!

2) Interviewing a 90 Unit McAlister’s Deli Owner

To kickoff episode 1 of the new podcast season, I interviewed Adam Saxton, a 90+ unit owner of McCalister’s Deli.

This was a fascinating conversation, as Adam discusses why he prefers building out new locations versus expanding via acquisition (most multi-unit owners I’ve spoken to seem prefer the opposite).

I also love how his group puts a lot of deliberate effort into their franchisee website. He mentions this is often overlooked by other franchisees, but in reality, his group is an independent company with it’s own culture, ambitions, and room for upward mobility. 

He believes the focus they’ve had on thinking of themselves as their own company, just a franchisee, has been a game changer. 

Listen here!

3) Casey’s

One of the largest pizza businesses in the US you may have never heard of: Casey’s.

It’s a gas station / convenience store that specializes in selling pizza at their 2,500+ locations.

Their slogan for years was “Famous for pizza”, and whether you’re buying a breakfast pizza or a standard pie, it’s made with fresh ingredients + 100% real mozzarella.

Which…is probably rare for gas station pizza? Either way, their business model is WORKING.

Founded in Iowa back in 1967, they operate in just 16 states, all in the midwest. In many smaller rural communities, it’s the only fast food, let alone pizza option.

They’ve been publicly traded since 1983, and are valued today at ~$11.5 billion!

With 2,500 stores, they are (depending on how you classify them) the 4th largest convenience store, or 6th largest pizza chain.

For convenience, they’re only behind:

• Circle K
• 7-Eleven
• Speedway

And for pizza:

• Pizza Hut
Domino’s
• Papa John’s
• Little Caesars
• Hunt Brothers Pizza 

Those are some big brands to be in the mix with – which speaks to how dominant they are in the areas they operate.

I’ve personally never been to one – but if you’re taking a midwest road trip anytime soon, check them out!


How The Founder of Chuck E Cheese Turned Down 33% of Apple

No, that is not a click-bait title. Check out another Wolf Original story!

Tijuana Flats Files for Bankruptcy
In a sign of the times for restaurants, the tex-mex chain that started ~30 years ago, declared bankruptcy in addition to closing down 11 stores. The brand will try to support existing franchisees as it ushers in new ownership. 

7-Eleven Japan

It’s rare for a franchisee to buy out their franchisor. TGI Friday’s did it, and 7-Eleven Japan did it as well. Here’s a throwback to that Wolf Original.

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