With office closures on the rise and more people working from home, Corner Bakery Café saw its performance slide dramatically in the wake of COVID-19. Sources told Debtwire in September the 1991-founded fast casual, which ended 2019 with 174 locations, according to FoodserviceResults, hired DLA Piper as restructuring counsel and Stifel as investment banker to begin exploring strategic alternatives.
The end result, announced Thursday afternoon, was a sale to Pandya Restaurant Growth Brands, LLC, one of the Rohan Group of Companies, owned by real estate investor and restaurant operator, Jay Pandya. It’s the same firm, through affiliate Engage Brands, that acquired Boston Market in April from affiliates of Sun Capital Partners for an undisclosed amount.
Thursday’s deal with Corner Bakery Café also kept terms under wraps. PRGB purchased the brand from affiliates of Roark Capital Partners.
Roark—the company backing Inspire Brands and FOCUS—purchased Corner Bakery Café in 2011 when it was part of Il Fornaio Corp, also buying sister concept Il Fornaio. There were 119 locations at sale. Roark sold the Il Fornaio portion of its business to Create Restaurants in 2019—a sale that valued the Italian chain at $74 million.
Pandya said in a statement the company sees opportunities for strategic alliances between Corner Bakery Café and Boston Market, which closed 2019 with 376 domestic units, down from 430 the prior year. Boston Market shuttered 45 venues last summer.
“Our acquisition of Corner Bakery aligns with what we believe families are seeking—high quality kitchen crafted food and good, consistent customer service,” Pandya said.
Per Debtwire, Corner Bakery Café recorded slightly less than $18 million in LTM (last 12 month) adjusted EBITDA and just under $350 million in LTM revenue through February 2020. Both figures tumbled due to depressed traffic as a well as a pandemic-fueled catering hit, Debtwire said.
Two of the sources noted office closures proved especially problematic for Corner Bakery Café, “as a large part of its revenue is derived from catering for workplaces, as well as breakfast and lunch for commuters.”
According to FoodserviceResults, Corner Bakery Café recorded $350 million in revenue in 2019, down 2.8 percent from $360 million in 2018. Its domestic unit count slipped to 174 from 180 and average-unit volumes inched forward to $1.977 million from $1.973 million.
“We are very pleased to partner with Pandya Restaurant Growth Brands as we seek to expand our brand,” Frank Paci, CEO of Corner Bakery Café. “Pandya Restaurant Growth Brands brings an enthusiastic, experienced, and successful ownership group to Corner Bakery, as well as access to resources that we need to continue to operate our business in this challenging environment. With the strategic and financial backing Jay and his team bring, we will continue to focus on key operational initiatives to improve guest experience, menu development, and the growth of our brand. We are now well-positioned to achieve future success during a period of unprecedented disruption for our industry.”
“I am delighted to be a part of Corner Bakery, an outstanding restaurant chain with a superb, high quality menu. I look forward to working with and being a resource for the more than 3,400 Corner Bakery team members, and expanding this genuinely great brand,” Pandya added.