BJ’s Restaurants Inc. has agreed to sell $70 million in common shares to an investment fund run by former Panera Bread CEO Ron Shaich and an investment firm, the company said Friday.
The Huntington Beach, Calif.-based casual-dining chain said the investment by Boston-based Act III Holdings LLC. and funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates Inc. would strength the company’s balance sheet as it emerges from restrictions in the coronavirus pandemic.
“The capital raise announced today, together with other recent actions we have taken,” said Greg Trojan, BJ’s CEO, in a statement, “will enhance BJ’s liquidity and strengthen our ability to welcome back our team members and re-open dine-in service at our restaurants in accordance with the social distancing and safety protocols mandated by state and local governments to ensure the health and safety of our guests and team members.”
In May 2018, Shaich’s Act III Holdings invested in Washington, D.C.-based Cava Group Inc. Cava a few months later acquired Plano, Texas-based Zoe’s Kitchen Inc. a publicly traded Mediterranean concept.
Existing Act III investments also include Tatte, Life Alive Café, Clover Food Lab and Level 99.
Shaich, managing partner of Act III Holdings, said he had admired BJ’s positioning in casual dining.
“The result is a company that is generating some of the highest average unit sales and guest traffic metrics in the industry,” Shaich said in a statement. “This is a testament to the strength and tenure of BJ’s management team, from the restaurant support center down to the restaurants themselves. BJ’s ability to stay ahead of changing consumer trends, while remaining true to its brand heritage, provides a platform to ignite future growth, and the opportunity to more than double its current restaurant footprint.”
Trojan added that “this investment will prove invaluable as we re-open our dining rooms and continue to deliver the delicious food, dining experiences and guest service and hospitality that consumers have come to love and expect from BJ’s.”
BJ’s in April laid off 16,000 hourly workers and suspended rent payments as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.
BofA Securities served as financial adviser and Elkins Kalt Weintraub Reuben Gartside LLP served as legal adviser to BJ’s Restaurants. Sullivan & Cromwell LLP served as legal advisers to Act III Holdings, LLC.
BJ’s Restaurants, founded in 1978, owns and operates 209 casual-dining restaurants in 29 states.
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