Catterton Partners, the leading consumer-focused private equity firm, has sold First Watch Restaurants, Inc., the country’s fastest growing Breakfast, Brunch and Lunch restaurant company, to Freeman Spogli & Co. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. First Watch’s existing management team of Ken Pendery (CEO), Ken Cruley (CFO) and Chris Tomasso (CMO) will continue to operate the Company and will retain a meaningful equity stake in the business.
Since partnering with First Watch in 2004, Catterton has worked closely with the First Watch management team to implement an aggressive growth plan, doubling the total number of restaurants and expanding into new markets throughout the Midwest and Southeast. In addition, these coordinated efforts have led to a significant increase in traffic through culinary R&D, menu engineering, strategic pricing and branding enhancements, while maintaining a focus on delivering a superior customer experience. As a result, First Watch has delivered industry-leading results that include consistent same store sales increases and earnings that have more than quadrupled over the past five years.
“Working with Catterton, we were able to significantly expand our brand and solidify our position as the largest and fastest-growing daytime-only restaurant concept in the United States,” said Kenneth L. Pendery Jr., President and Chief Executive Officer of First Watch. “Catterton has a remarkable track record of supporting and growing great restaurant concepts. With their strategic and operational expertise in site selection, pricing, brand development, and marketing, Catterton has helped us grow and expand our business, and has been instrumental to our success. We believe that First Watch is uniquely positioned to continue our aggressive growth and development and look forward to doing so together with our new partners at Freeman Spogli, who have also demonstrated an ability to work with management to drive significant value.”
Jon Owsley, Partner, of Catterton Partners, said, “We are proud of the significant growth First Watch has experienced and are pleased to have participated in the Company’s great success. Through its dedication to superior customer service and great food at a great price, the First Watch team has established a leadership position in its category with a loyal customer following. We are confident that First Watch will continue this successful trajectory in years to come.”
Catterton’s current restaurant investments include Cheddar’s, Noodles & Company, and Outback Steakhouse. Catterton’s realized restaurant investments include Baja Fresh, PF Chang’s China Bistro, and Culinary Concepts by Jean-Georges.
North Point Advisors LLC acted as financial advisor to First Watch in connection with the Freeman Spogli transaction.