Multi-brand group BRIX Holdings announced Friday it’s entered into a definitive agreement to acquire all of Clean Juice’s assets. The deal will add more than 75 existing locations and a dozen more in development to the BRIX network, the company said, which includes Friendly’s, Orange Leaf, Red Mango, Smoothie Factory + Kitchen, Humble Donut Co., and Pizza Jukebox. It brings the group’s footprint to north of 300 stores.

BRIX said the acquisition should formally close “within the next several weeks.” Terms were not disclosed.

“Our BRIX portfolio of brands all share a common thread: each has a unique and differentiated position in their sector with loyal guests and fans. Clean Juice fits right into that mold with a strong foundation of beloved and certified organic offerings that effectively extend our spectrum of ‘better-for-you’ options,” Sherif Mityas, CEO of BRIX, said in a statement. “We look forward to bringing this great brand and its passionate franchisees and guests into our portfolio to support a renewed period of growth and success.”

Clean Juice was founded in 2016 by Landon and Kat Eckles as the first USDA-certified organic juice and food bar franchise. According to its most recently filed FDD, the fast casual closed 2022 with 135 units, which was 15 above the prior year. It had 120 year-end 2021 and 103 at the close of 2020, up from 85 at the start of that year. All but 11 of those 135 restaurants were franchised.

The brand’s average gross sales in 2022 were $580,445 per unit, with average gross profit of $344,428. At corporate stores, the numbers were $548,070 and $290,612, respectively.

In March, the Charlotte Business Journal reported 18 percent of the brand’s footprint was listed for sale via online channels, with prices ranging from $50,000 to $400,000. At that point, the chain had seen its store count fall from 112 to about 90, or some 20 percent.

A line in many of the sales listings, the publication reported, said buyers could choose to stay within the Clean Juice family or open their own concepts in the space.

The brand faced its challenges with franchisees over the past year. Operators claimed sales plunged when Clean Juice switched to high-pressure processing for juices versus preparing them in-house. It had done so, executives said, to streamline operations, cut customer costs, and provide more consistency. Operators, however, complained it hurt sales and drove guests elsewhere. The two sides headed to mediation.

Landon Eckles told the Charlotte Business Journal Clean Juice and many franchisees came to a resolution, but he didn’t provide specifics. The company also parted ways with “most of them.”

Additionally, Clean Juice brought suit against two franchisee owners who closed stores and opened competing businesses.

Eckles in March noted Clean Juice would probably add 10–15 units this year but there wasn’t anybody at the corporate office dedicated to franchise sales. He also didn’t rule out a possible sale.

“We launched this concept with a vision of redefining the fast-casual landscape by introducing an option that truly supports an overall healthy and organic lifestyle,” said Eckles said in a statement Friday. “This is the right next step in our brand’s journey – we are confident that Clean Juice will be well positioned for future growth and success within the BRIX family of brands.”

Fast Casual, Franchising, Story