Industry News | June 14, 2011

Roark Buys Corner Bakery and Il Fornaio

Roark Capital Group, an Atlanta-based private equity firm, announced that its affiliates have acquired Il Fornaio (America) Corporation, owner of Corner Bakery Cafe and Il Fornaio Restaurants and Bakeries.

Beginning in 1991 as a small bread bakery in Chicago, Corner Bakery Cafe has emerged over the last 20 years as a leader in the growing fast-casual segment, serving guests made-to-order, hand-crafted favorites for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and boasting segment-leading catering services. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas, and operating 119 locations nationwide, Corner Bakery Cafe launched a strategic franchise development program in 2007 to attract seasoned franchise partners with multi-unit restaurant and retail experience.

Il Fornaio, averaging more than $5 million in annual sales per restaurant, has been a recognized leader in the upscale Italian segment for more than 20 years. Founded in Italy and based in Corte Madera, California, Il Fornaio owns and operates 22 full-service Italian restaurants in California and across the U.S. that serve creatively prepared, premium-quality Italian cuisine based on authentic regional Italian recipes. Il Fornaio’s wholesale bakeries produce a wide variety of hand-made breads, pastries, and other artisan baked goods for sale at their own locations and to high-quality grocers and foodservice customers across the U.S.

“Mike Hislop and his outstanding teams at Corner Bakery Cafe and Il Fornaio have built two terrific brands with strong points of differentiation and excellent consumer appeal," says Neal Aronson, managing partner of Roark. "We are very excited to partner with Mike to help grow the business." 

With this acquisition, Roark has invested in 20 franchise businesses that operate in 50 states and 43 countries. Corner Bakery Cafe and Il Fornaio will be Roark's 10th restaurant investment, along with FOCUS Brands, parent company of Carvel Ice Cream, Cinnabon, Schlotzsky's, Moe's Southwest Grill, and Auntie Anne's Pretzels. Roark is also the franchisor of Seattle's Best Coffee on certain military bases and in certain international markets, as well as McAlister's Deli and Wingstop, which are not affiliated with FOCUS Brands. Other franchise and brand management 

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