The 93-unit Zoës Kitchen chain is eyeing a possible initial public offering, according to a Reuters report.

The Birmingham, Ala.-based fast-casual concept, held by Los Angeles-based Brentwood Associates since 2007, has begun speaking with banks about an IPO, Reuters said, citing two unnamed sources.


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Zoës Kitchen did not confirm or denythe report. “As a company, it is our policy to refrain from commenting on market rumors or speculation,” a company spokesperson wrote in an email.

A principal at Brentwood Associates had not returned a call from NRN by press time.

However, earlier this month, Zoës moved its media relations to New York-based Integrated Corporate RelationsInc., which is know for its work with public companies.

Zoës could be joining a growing number of restaurant brands looking to enter the public markets. Most recently, Broomfield, Colo.-based Noodles & Company went public June 8. And on Aug. 29, Chicago-based Potbelly Corp., operator of nearly 300 Potbelly Sandwich Shops, filed for a $75 million IPO, which is expected in October.

Others reported to be considering IPOs include Tampa, Fla.-based Checkers Drive-In Restaurants Inc., owned by New York City-based private-equity group Wellspring Capital Management LLC, and Vancouver, Wash.-based Papa Murphy’s Take N’ Bake Pizza, owned by New York-based private-equity firm Lee Equity Partners.

Zoës Kitchen, which features a broad Mediterranean menu with a few Southern U.S. touches such as pimiento cheese sandwiches and slaw, is an order-at-the-counter format with food delivered to the tables after guests get their own drinks.

The menu has a broad number of health-oriented items. This week, for example, the brand rolled out a new quinoa salad systemwide. The grain is available as a side now and, starting Nov. 12, it will also be sold in a “Fresh Takes” take-home tub.

“We are always looking for new and exciting ways to provide our guests with balanced Mediterranean meals that they can feel good about eating,” said Kevin Miles, Zoës president and chief executive, said in a statement.

In earlier interviews with NRN, Miles said the average Zoës customer is between the ages of 25 and 50, with female patrons generally outnumbering men. He said customers often purchase several meals at once, pushing the average check to more than $14.

Miles said all the openings in 2013 are company operations. Only eight Zoës locations are franchised.

Zoës Kitchen has units in 15 states.

Contact Ron Ruggless at ronald.ruggless@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless