Industry News | January 21, 2014

Project Pie Teams Up with Thomas H. Lee

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Project Pie, a fast-casual pizza chain based in Carlsbad, California, announced a partnership with New York City–based Lee Equity Partners, headed by investor Thomas H. Lee. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Lee Equity’s access to capital and strategic resources are suited to accelerate Project Pie’s next phase of growth across the U.S. and internationally and differentiates the franchise from a growing number of competitors in the fast-casual pizza segment. Project Pie is the most recent restaurant concept developed by James Markham, who founded the company in 2012 after creating and launching MOD Pizza in Seattle in 2008 and Pie-ology in Fullerton, California, in 2011.

“I could not be more excited about partnering with Lee Equity Partners,” Markham says. “In addition to the capital that they plan to invest into Project Pie to support our growth, I am equally excited about being associated with Tom Lee, who has a long-term track record of successful, well-known consumer and retail investments. With their strategic partnership and our collective vision, I have great confidence in our ability to execute our plan to become the leader in the fast-casual pizza industry.”

Over the past 40 years, Lee has been responsible for investing in excess of $10 billion of capital in more than 100 transactions. His involvement with brands such as General Nutrition Centers, Dunkin’ Brands, Snapple Beverage Corp., and Playtex Products Inc. are among some of the most notable.

“I see the tremendous growth potential for a brand like Project Pie, which is why we’re excited to help grow the business alongside James Markham to be the leader in the fast-casual pizza segment. James is a pioneer and visionary in this industry, and we believe that this is a brand and concept which can succeed across the country and internationally,” Lee says.

Lee Equity Partners is a middle market private equity firm that seeks to partner with top-tier management teams to build companies with high growth potential. Lee founded the company in 2006 and currently serves as president.

North Point Advisors LLC served as exclusive advisor to Project Pie in the transaction with Davis Wright Tremaine LLP as the company’s legal counsel. Lee Equity was represented by Dorsey & Whitney LLP.