CIC Partners, a Dallas-based private equity firm, announced a majority investment in Willie’s Grill & Icehouse. Based in Houston, Texas, Willie’s is a leading regional fast-casual concept operating 17 restaurants across Central Texas.
“I am very pleased to have found a partner in CIC that shares our core values and is dedicated to continuing to provide great food and service to our customers,” says Jay Barnes, cofounder of Willie’s. “We had been looking to partner with someone to help us take Willie’s to the next level, and I can honestly say, we couldn’t have picked a better partner.”
As part of this transaction, restaurant industry veterans, Norman Abdallah and Carey Carrington will join the Willie’s board along with CIC representatives. As chairman of the board, Abdallah brings a wealth of experience from leading over 25 brands as a CEO, franchisee, and owner. He is also the current CEO of CIC portfolio company, Taco Mac. Carrington similarly has held multiple CFO roles across several concepts, notably including California Pizza Kitchen, Romano’s Macaroni Grill, and Raising Cane’s.
“We have been following the Willie’s brand for years and are excited about the opportunity to invest in the company,” adds Bayard Friedman, vice president at CIC Partners. “Jay Barnes, John Barnes, and Jeff McCoy worked to build a really special brand, and we are thrilled to come alongside them and support its continued growth.”
Fouad Bashour, partner at CIC Partners, adds, “This investment fits CIC’s strategy of investing in exceptional concepts with compelling unit economics. We are excited to partner with the founders to provide both capital and industry expertise to help accelerate the company’s growth.”