Modern Market, an inaugural QSR 40/40 List member and one of the trailblazers of the farm-to-table fast-casual movement, has been acquired by Butterfly, a Los Angeles-based private equity firm specializing in the food sector, the two parties announced Tuesday (February 27). Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Modern Market has 28 restaurants across Colorado, Texas, Arizona, Washington, D.C., and Maryland. Founded in 2009 by Anthony Pigliacampo and Rob McColgan, the brand told QSR in 2017 it felt it “perfectly reasonable to have 150 units in 10 years.”

“By combining their unique technical backgrounds in engineering and business with a deep understanding of the most important trends impacting food today, Anthony and Rob have built a highly-scalable concept with an incredibly loyal following,” said Adam Waglay, who co-founded Butterfly alongside Dustin Beck, in a statement. “We look forward to helping Modern Market share its commitment to delicious, healthy, clean food at an accessible price point with an ever-expanding national audience.”

Pigliacampo was an engineer and McColgan worked on Wall Street before they joined forces in Boulder, Colorado, to form the concept, which focuses on wholesome dishes with a holistic view. The menu serves sustainably sourced, scratch-made dishes highlighted by protein-centric plats and bowls, garden fresh salads, toasted sandwiches, and brick oven pizzas.

Modern Market’s owners said the move would help the concept enter a new stage of growth.

“Butterfly brings years of industry experience and knowhow to the table. We are thrilled to partner with Adam, Dustin and the rest of the Butterfly team as Modern Market moves toward its next phase of growth,” said Pigliacampo and McColgan, in a combined statement. “We’re confident that Butterfly’s deep expertise in fast casual and connectivity throughout the broader food sector will help us to expand and to further our stated mission of serving amazing, healthy food to as many people as possible.

“Modern Market’s innovative menu, emphasis on convenience and ability to meet any dietary need result in a concept with immense, broad appeal and significant room to grow,” Beck added. “We believe that Modern Market’s offering is increasingly representative of the way that modern restaurant-goers prefer to eat, and we’re excited to support Anthony and Rob in leading the charge in the fast casual space.”

Butterfly said its business spans “the entire food value chain from ‘seed to fork’ via four target verticals: agriculture & aquaculture, food & beverage products, food distribution and foodservice,” and that the company “aims to generate attractive investment returns through deep industry specialization, a unique approach to sourcing transactions, and leveraging an operations-focused and technology-driven approach to value creation.”

Modern Market is the latest fast casual 2.0 concept to take the private-equity route. In November, Mendocino Farms, a Southern California-based brand with 16 locations, announced that it sold a majority stake to TPG Growth, the middle market and growth equity platform of alternative asset firm TPG.

TPG Growth acquired its stake from L Catterton. Co-founders Mario Del Pero and Ellen Chen, who debuted Mendocino Farms in 2005, said they would remain the largest individual shareholders. In addition, Harald Herrmann, the former president of Darden’s $1.5 billion Specialty Restaurant Group, took over as CEO. Currently, Mendocino Farms operates in Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Diego.

Fast Casual, Finance, Story, Modern Market