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greene-turtle-president-ceo-geo-concepcion.gif The Greene Turtle
Four new company-owned locations of The Greene Turtle are expected to open in 2022.

The Greene Turtle shifts to holding company and makes first acquisition

Clark Crew BBQ joins newly created ITA Group Holdings LLC

The Greene Turtle sports restaurant and bar has been recapitalized and reorganized under a new holding company that has also made its first acquisition, the company said Wednesday.

The new ITA Group Holdings LLC has become the parent of The Greene Turtle Franchising Corp., and has also acquired Oklahoma City-based Clark Crew BBQ, an award-winning barbecue concept founded by pitmaster Travis Clark, who will serve as president of the brand.  

The full-service Clark Crew BBQ was initially developed by BBQ Holdings, the parent of Famous Dave’s, though Clark was the majority owner. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed, and Clark is now an owner in ITA.

The acquisition was completed simultaneously with the recapitalization, with debt provided by Sandy Spring Bank and Pelham S2K. As a result of the transaction, Columbia, Md.-based ITA will own The Greene Turtle and the one-unit Clark Crew BBQ, along with Founder Growth Platform, or FGP, which invests in and supports promising founders and concepts.

FGP has invested in seven fast-casual brands to date, including:

  • Neo Pizza and Taphouse, a four-unit concept based in Columbia, Md., featuring artisan pizza and craft beer;
  • A tapas and wine bar called Madrid;
  • A two-unit concept in Maryland called RegionAle, offering a modern take on American sandwiches;
  • Cypriana, a Baltimore-based fast-casual Mediterranean concept;
  • Papi’s Cuban and Caribbean Grill, with five units in Atlanta;
  • CHX Premium Kitchen, offering gourmet tenders and biscuits;
  • Fat Patties, offering indulgent burgers and shakes.

Company officials said the plan is to grow the concepts to about 10 to 15 units in three different markets, and then to consider franchising the brands.

This year, ITA plans to build six FGP units — though the company did not say which brands —along with four company-owned locations of The Greene Turtle.

Following the closure of a number of units during the pandemic years, The Greene Turtle brand now includes 34 restaurants, of which 12 are company owned.

“For the first time in Greene Turtle’s history, we’ve completed an acquisition of a new concept and added significant immediate scale to the company,” said Geo Concepcion, The Greene Turtle’s CEO, in a statement. “This is an incredibly important step in our company’s rapid growth and puts us in an excellent position to continue to execute on our long-term plan. We’re proud to join forces with Travis and the Clark Crew BBQ team and are excited for what’s to come from ITA’s impressive roster of concepts and leaders.”

Founded in 1976, The Greene Turtle was acquired by private-equity firm Stone-Goff Partners in 2015, when it had 41 units throughout the mid-Atlantic region. Concepcion, formerly with Famous Dave’s, was named president and CEO in 2019. Stone-Goff remains involved with the new iteration.

Concepcion came to know Clark Crew BBQ while at Famous Dave’s, and the launch of FGP offered an opportunity to bring the barbecue concept into the Greene Turtle fold, the company said.

Under ITA, founders are encouraged to stay with the brands to “assist” in areas like culinary and operations as the company works to scale the concepts.

In a statement, Clark said, “My team and I are excited to bring the World Championship BBQ of Clark Crew BBQ together with The Greene Turtle to become a powerhouse. These are companies with a passion to succeed, win and be the best in the business. I’m also excited to take what we’ve learned the last few years and help other entrepreneurs, who are beginning the journey of building their brand, make that dream a reality.”

UPDATE: This article has been updated with more information from ITA Group Holdings.

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected]

Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout




TAGS: Finance
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