With industry observers questioning whether the Dow’s 300-plus-point plunge in late July has punctured the leveraged-buyout bubble and put the kibosh on debt financing, operators in need of funds—especially those at smaller companies—already are seeking alternatives away from the volatile credit markets.While observers agree that private equity will continue to play a role in the restaurant industry, smaller operators in need of capital to expand are relying on cash, lease arrangements and ...

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