Private-equity firm Catterton Partners has made a capital investment in fast-casual waffle-sandwich chain Bruxië, an emerging concept based in Orange, Calif.
Terms of the deal, which was announced Tuesday, were not disclosed, but Catterton officials said the investment would be used to expand the six-unit concept’s presence in Southern California and beyond.
The move comes just days after Catterton Partners announced an investment in 14-unit Piada Italian Street Food, based in Columbus, Ohio. The Greenwich, Conn.-based firm also recently took a stake in the Austin-based, 10-unit healthy takeaway brand Snap Kitchen and is reportedly close to a deal with Chicago-based, 12-unit Protein Bar.
Bruxië — which was among 50 “Breakout Brands” spotlighted by Nation’s Restaurant News earlier this year — is known for its gourmet waffle sandwiches served with waffle-cut fries.
Signature dishes include the buttermilk fried chicken sandwich; prosciutto and Gruyere; and hot pastrami. The menu also includes sweet waffles topped with options like crème brulee, Nutella and bananas, or a s’mores-inspired combination of chocolate and marshmallow. Most items on the menu are under $10.
The three-daypart concept was founded by Dean Simon and Kelly Mullarney in 2010. Earlier this year, when Bruxië had only four units, the restaurants were averaging more than $2 million in sales in about 2,700 square feet or less.
Simon said that’s still the case, though the chain is finding a “sweet spot” with a roughly 2,500 square-foot footprint.
Bruxië’s seventh location is under construction in Costa Mesa, Calif., and another is scheduled to open in San Diego next year. The company is also looking for locations in Los Angeles, Denver and Dallas.
The company hopes to open four to six restaurants in 2014.
In an interview with Nation’s Restaurant News, Simon declined to characterize the investment, but he said Catterton’s involvement brings in another level of experience for the brand, which has already benefitted from the input of industry veterans.
Bill Allen, the former chief executive of what was OSI Restaurant Partners Inc., now known as Bloomin’ Brands Inc., was an early investor in Bruxië and serves on the chain’s advisory board, said Simon.
Allen has long had a relationship with Catterton, which took a minority stake in OSI in 2007.
Other veterans that have served on Bruxië’s board include Paul Fleming, founder of P.F. Chang’s and many other concepts, as well as Gordon Miles, chairman of the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and the Rusty Pelican.
“Catterton is the perfect partner for Bruxië. Since opening our first store less than three years ago, we have been very fortunate to have several industry professionals join the Bruxië team and help guide us with our strategic growth,” said Simon in a statement. “Partnering with Catterton is a natural fit given the extensive resources and expertise they bring to the table.”
Known for an emphasis on consumer-focused brands, Catterton’s portfolio includes the restaurant companies Noodles & Company, Bloomin’ Brands Inc., Cheddar’s, Primanti Brothers and Mendocino Farms.
Realized investments include First Watch, P.F. Chang’s and Baja Fresh.
Jon Owsley, a partner at Catterton, said, “With its unique gourmet waffle sandwich concept, fresh ingredients and expansive culinary creations that are ideal for any meal, Bruxië offers a truly special culinary experience across multiple eating occasions. We are excited to leverage our experience in the fast-casual restaurant space as we partner with Dean, Kelly and the Bruxië team to help the company realize its full growth potential.”
Catterton recently closed its seventh buyout fund, Catterton Partners VII LP, and its second growth fund, Catterton Growth Partners II LP. The two funds include a combined $2.1 billion of limited and general partner commitments. Catterton has over $4 billion under active management.
Update: Oct. 1, 2013 A previous version of this story has been updated with additional information about Bruxië and comments from co-founder Dean Simon.
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