Piada Italian Street Food, a 14-unit fast-casual chain, said Friday that private-equity firm Catterton Partners has made a “significant investment” in the brand.

Catterton’s investment is earmarked for continued growth, Piada officials indicated. The Columbus, Ohio-based chain plans to open six more restaurants by the end of 2013, and officials say the brand will begin a “significant national expansion throughout 2014 and the years to come.”

“We are excited to enter into this strategic partnership with Catterton, which has extensive expertise in developing restaurants and expanding brands,” Chris Doody, Piada’s founder and chief executive, said in a statement. “We are confident that Piada’s fresh ingredients, innovative menu and customizable options will translate well to new markets throughout the U.S. and beyond.”

In a statement, Scott Dahnke, co-managing partner of Greenwich, Conn.-based Catterton Partners, said Piada would be “one of the great success stories in fast-casual dining.”

“Piada is the leading player in the Italian fast-casual space and fits squarely within our investment strategy of finding top companies in great categories,” Dahnke said. “We have a long history of partnering with exceptionally well-positioned restaurant concepts such as Noodles & Co., Mendocino Farms, P.F. Chang’s, Baja Fresh, Bloomin’ Brands, Primanti Brothers, Cheddar’s and First Watch, and believe that our extensive experience makes Catterton the ideal partner for Piada.”

Catterton also will enter the health-focused arm of the fast-casual segment with two other recent investments: 10-unit Snap Kitchen and 12-unit Protein Bar.

Piada was recognized as one of Nation’s Restaurant News’ Hot Concepts winners for 2013. The concepts, which also was named one of NRN’s “Breakout Brands” earlier this year, is considered one of the early leaders in the nascent fast-casual Italian sector. Its menu is built upon three platforms: pasta, chopped salads, and the piada, a rolled sandwich that many liken to “an Italian burrito.”

Doody, who also founded Columbus-based casual-dining company Bravo Brio Restaurant Group, launched Piada in Columbus in 2010.

Contact Mark Brandau at mark.brandau@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @Mark_from_NRN