Fast-casual concepts Modern Market Eatery and Lemonade merged Wednesday to form Modern Restaurant Concepts. The two brands now reside in Los Angeles–based private equity firm Butterfly’s portfolio. While the financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, global investment firm KKR will become a shareholder in the new company by contributing its investment in Lemonade.
The new company’s footprint is comprised of 58 restaurants spread across 10 markets including California, Colorado, Arizona, Texas, Washington, D.C., and Maryland.
Executives from both concepts will remain in leadership roles at Modern Restaurant Concepts. In the new company, co-CEOs and cofounders Anthony Pigliacampo and Rob McColgan of Modern Market Eatery will join Lemonade’s chief executive officer Larry Kurzweil, who will take the role of operating partner of Butterfly and advisor to the company.
“We are thrilled to partner with Lemonade in the continued pursuit of fulfilling our mission of serving delicious, healthy food to as many people as possible,” Pigliacampo said in a statement. “This merger creates a platform with the scale necessary to truly disrupt the restaurant landscape.”
The new partnership will allow both brands to take advantage of development in new and existing markets where both corporate stores and franchised locations can open.
Both Modern Market Eatery and Lemonade were recognized on QSR’s inaugural 40/40 List in 2017 as brands that were ready to take off. Founded in 2009 by Pigliacampo and McColgan, the Modern Market told QSR in 2017 that it felt “perfectly reasonable to have 150 units in 10 years.” In February 2018, Butterfly acquired Modern Market to give the brand the resources it needed to grow at a quicker pace to achieve that goal.
Since opening in 2008, Lemonade, which specializes in California comfort food, now has 28 locations.
“Lemonade’s merger with Modern Market Eatery is a major inflection point in the development of both brands, and we look forward to joining forces with the Modern Market Eatery team,” Lemonade cofounder Ian Olsen said in a statement.
On February 20, Modern Restaurants Concepts announced other hires that round out the company’s leadership team. Former chief development officer of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s Jim Sullivan was named chief development officer. In his new role, Sullivan will lead development for both the corporate and franchise growth of the two concepts.
“With Lemonade and Modern Market Eatery under one roof, we will have an offering that will thrive in more markets and nontraditional foodservice outlets across the U.S. than any comparable single-concept company,” Sullivan said in a statement. “We look forward to partnering with franchisees and landlords across the country to bring these great concepts to their markets and customers.”
Kirkland & Ellis acted as legal advisor to Butterfly and Lemonade, while Davis Wright Tremaine acted as legal advisor to Modern Market Eatery.