Captain D's Bought by Centre Partners for Second Time

    The chain is experiencing accelerating growth, including the debut of a new drive-thru-only prototype. 

    Fast Casual | May 23, 2022 | Ben Coley
    Captain D's family deals.
    Captain D's
    Centre Partners first bought Captain D's in 2013, but sold it in 2017.

    Private equity company Centre Partners announced Monday that it acquired Captain D's again, five years after selling the seafood chain. 

    Terms of the deal weren't disclosed. 

    Centre Partners, a middle-market firm with more than $2.5 billion of equity in more than 80 transactions, previously bought the 540-unit chain in 2013, but sold it in 2017 to Sentinel Capital Partners. Captain D's management has invested alongside the private equity company, and will remain in their roles. 

    "We are excited to have the opportunity to partner with Phil Greifeld and this experienced executive team once again," Bruce Pollack, managing partner of Centre Partners, said in a statement.
    With its differentiated menu of craveable seafood, Captain D's provides a unique value proposition to its customers. We look forward to supporting Phil and the team as they seek to significantly expand the business."

    The move comes amid Captain D's accelerating franchise program. In 2021, the brand signed 16 agreements for 40 locations, including Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Detroit, and Tampa. Nearly half of those deals were with exiting franchisees. The year also marked a series of firsts for Captain D's, like its first double drive-thru unit in Mississippi and first Chicago location.

    The chain announced in March that 14 restaurants were scheduled to open by mid-2022 in states such as Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Texas and Tennessee. Two of those openings will be the restaurant's new Express model, which has a drive-thru and walk-up window, but no dining room. 

    The menu will be slimmer to facilitate speed with drive-thru and pickup orders. There will be fewer proteins and sides, but the menu will still reflect Captain D’s core offerings—batter-dipped fish, chicken, catfish, and shrimp. Chief Development Officer Brad Reed said it comes with fewer pieces of kitchen equipment and smaller plots of land, saving "hundreds of thousands" in construction costs.

    The prototype is 970 square feet and fits on three tenths of an acre, compared to the typical 2,000-square-foot model that seats 44 and needs three quarters of an acres. Only 20-25 employees are need, as opposed to the usual 40-45 workers. 

    "We are proud to welcome Centre Partners back to the Company and continue our growth story with their support," Captain D's CEO Phil Greifeld said in a statement. "Their deep understanding of our business makes them an ideal partner for our next phase of growth. We continue to improve the customer experience with new menu offerings; streamlined digital, drive-thru and delivery options; and an expanding geographic footprint. We are excited to build upon these initiatives with Centre Partners."