CULVER CITY Calif. The Australian owner of Sizzler is putting the grill chain up for sale and Ken Cole is stepping down as president and chief executive of Sizzler’s U.S. operations to head the casual-dining chain Quaker Steak & Lube, company officials said Friday.
Sydney, Australia-based Pacific Equity Partners, which bought the Sizzler brand in 2005, has hired the Los Angeles-based investment banking firm Houlihan Lokey to find a buyer for both Sizzler’s domestic and international businesses. A sale is expected to be completed within six months.
Last year PEP officials indicated they would try to find a buyer for the San Diego-based Pat & Oscar’s chain, also owned by the private-equity firm.
Sizzler operates or franchises more than 300 restaurants in 17 states and Puerto Rico, Australia and several Asian countries. The brand’s first unit in Mexico is scheduled to open later this year.
“The Sizzler team has completed a fantastic journey since the buyout of Worldwide Restaurant Concepts,” the previous parent of Sizzler and Pat & Oscar’s, said Rob Koczkar, PEP's managing director. “It has reinvigorated company properties and operations and greatly improved profitability, while reigniting the franchise community and mapping a new path for the brand. With such a strong foundation now in place, Sizzler can be better guided by a partner with more experience and presence in the U.S. market.”
Officials said Cole’s resignation, effective Feb. 22, is unrelated to the potential sale.
Since joining Sizzler in 2001, Cole has maintained a residence in his home state of West Virginia. He said the move to Quaker Steak, based in Sharon, Pa., is a “return home.”
Kevin Perkins, chief executive of Collins Food Group, which is also owned by PEP, will assume Cole’s duties.