Baja Fresh buys La Salsa

CARPINTERIA Calif. CKE Restaurants Inc. said late Tuesday it had agreed to sell its 96-unit La Salsa Fresh Mexican Grill chain to Baja Fresh Mexican Grill, the 292-unit competitor led by David Kim and M Plus Capital.

Under the deal, CKE's Santa Barbara Restaurant Group subsidiary would sell its wholly owned La Salsa Inc. and La Salsa of Nevada Inc. Terms were not disclosed, but CKE, based here, said the sale is expected to close by the end of June.

Kim, a Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based Cinnabon franchisee who owns the Sweet Factory candy-store and KaBloom flower-shop concepts, is a former franchisee of CKE's 1,087-unit Carl's Jr. burger chain. Baja Fresh officials are "pleased that we will have two great Mexican concept brands" whose "combined efficiencies and resources" would "create a dynamic growth company," Kim said. He led the group that bought Baja Fresh from Dublin, Ohio-based Wendy's International Inc. last November for $31 million.

CKE's chief executive, Andrew Puzder, said the sale of La Salsa would not have a material impact on the future earnings of his company, which also owns the 1,906-unit, St. Louis, Mo.-based Hardee's brand.