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Baja Fresh was acquired from Wendy’s by David Kim, an entrepreneur and Cinnabon franchisee, along with unnamed private-equity investors behind current parent Fresh Enterprises LLC. Fresh Enterprises also owns the 26-unit La Salsa Fresh Mexican Grill and the five-unit Canyons Burger Company brand.

Kim, who served as CEO after the acquisition, left the company in 2012, though he maintains a minority stake. At that time, Rink, who was then Baja Fresh’s president of four years, became CEO.

Rink said Baja Fresh left Wendy’s as a “troubled brand” that faced internal challenges going into the recession.

The floor plan of Baja Fresh's new restaurant design

According to the annual Nation’s Restaurant News Top 200 research and franchise disclosure documents, Baja Fresh had domestic sales of about $342 million, with 298 units, in 2006. By 2012, the chain had 211 units, with U.S. systemwide sales of an estimated $240.2 million.

At one point in 2011, Kim and the company’s backers were shopping Baja Fresh for sale, but Rink said the sale process was terminated for reasons he couldn’t disclose.

Contact Lisa Jennings at lisa.jennings@penton.com.
Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout