After expanding Kneaders Bakery and Café into multiple locations across several states, restaurant investment company Four Foods Group partnered with Utah-based R&R Barbecue as its next brand to grow.
Twin brothers and barbecue competitors Rod and Roger Livingston started R&R in 2013 in Salt Lake City, and have since opened another location in South Jordan, Utah.
“It is definitely parallel with our original quest when we selected Kneaders Bakery and Café as one of our brands,” says Andrew Smith, CEO and founder of Four Foods Group. “We looked for a brand that had support locally, had what I would call a cult-like following, where people would talk about it in high regard … we really want to perform better quality than quantity, which we’ve done very effectively.”
The acquisition comes after Four Foods recently raised $35 million in capital, which Smith says provides Four Foods with the funds to grow R&R.
“For us, to be able to go out and raise $35 million really was a feat to accomplish,” Smith says. “Now that we’ve got that done, not only did we refinance the existing debt that was on our books and get a better rate of return, we’ve also got a lot of dry powder to be able to invest into R&R and to the future growth of the company."
Rod and Roger Livingston say the partnership with Four Foods will allow them to focus on the quality of the food and restaurant experience while Four Foods focuses on operational aspects.
R&R serves a variety of smoked meats, house-made side dishes, and desserts that the Livingstons developed over the years winning multiple barbecue championships.
“As far the in-restaurant implementation of running the business, everything is going great but what we needed really was a great strategic partner,” Rod Livingston says. “We don’t do HR; we don’t do operations from the standpoint that they do with multiple restaurants, so they are able to bring in all those different pieces together for us where we still run the shop and the catering. As a strategic partner, they could develop us quicker and faster than anybody we know of.”
Through its business model, Four Foods offers a variety of service to its restaurants, including real estate guidance, financial, construction, development and operations management, and manager and staff training while the restaurant owners retain an equity position in their stores.
R&R’s new locations will remain company owned under the partnership, and Smith says that if Four Foods takes on another brand, all restaurants will be part of the decision.
“We’re sister brands, whether its Kneaders or R&R or a future brand that we decide to take on,” Smith says. “It’s a decision that we’re going to be making together.”
By Alex Dixon