Chopt Creative Salad Company on Monday said it has received a significant investment from organic products company The Hain Celestial Group, Inc., and private equity firm Catterton.
Terms of the three-way deal were not disclosed, but the investment puts significant backing behind the fast-growing, 32-unit fast-casual salad chain.
“As a team, we believe we can grow Chopt in unique ways,” Nick Marsh, CEO of Chopt, said in a statement.
Marsh said he got to know the Catterton team while he served on the board of another of the firm’s investments, Mendocino Farms Sandwich Market. “And I have long been impressed with their strategic approach to building great brands,” he said.
Marsh also noted that Chopt was among the first restaurant companies to serve Hain Celestial products such as Free-Bird antibiotic-free chicken, BluePrint Juice and Terra Chips. “They have demonstrated a commitment to natural, local and organic food that matches the Chopt philosophy,” Marsh said. “We look forward to adding more of their products to our restaurants.”
The investment continues the flood of cash into disruptive growth concepts, particularly any fast-casual chain that can lay claim to offering a healthy menu. Several private equity groups and other investors in recent months have pumped money into such chains, including Sweetgreen and Tender Greens.
These funds promise to take these concepts beyond their initial markets while bringing consumers more healthy dining options.
Chopt was among the first such chains to appear on the market. Tony Shure and Colin McCabe founded the New York-based chain in 2001 and the company now has locations there, and in Washington D.C. and North Carolina.
“We created Chopt 15 years ago with the vision that salad restaurants could find a place in the fast-food landscape,” the two founders said in a statement. “We thought salad and vegetables had the ability to fix what was broken in traditional fast food. We are extremely excited to continue this journey with Catterton and Hain Celestial as our partners as their passion is as unlimited as our own.”
Chopt is also the beneficiary of a unique investment from a products company, although it is not unique for a food company outside the restaurant industry to take an interest in the sector — Mendocino Farms received an investment from Whole Foods Market this month, for instance.
Irwin Simon, the founder and CEO of Lake Success, N.Y.-based Hain Celestial, said in a statement that the partnership between his company, Catterton and Chopt has numerous possibilities.
“We are excited about the alignment of culture and vision between Hain Celestial, Catterton and Chopt and the tremendous new opportunities that this partnership creates,” he said. “Whether it is innovating new products to bring to in-store or retail distribution, learning about our shared customers or the opportunity to support Chopt growth with additional Hain Celestial brands, our partnership with Chopt represents a continuation of Hain Celestial’s mission to provide its consumers with ‘A Healthier Way of Life’ and further supports our continued leadership in the organic and natural area.”
The deal is also the latest for Greenwich, Conn.-based Catterton, a leading investor in the consumer space, particularly in fast-casual brands. Its investments have included Mendocino, Piada, Hopdoddy, Protein Bar, Bruxie and Snap Kitchen as well as PF Chang’s, Outback Steakhouse and Noodles & Company.
“Chopt’s flavor-forward approach to delivering fantastic, high-quality, craveable offerings has made it the leader in the fast casual salad category,” Catterton Partner Jon Owsley said in a statement. “Nick, Tony and Colin are three of the most innovative and dynamic leaders in the restaurant space today, with a unique vision to change the future of fast food. We are excited to partner with the team and with Hain Celestial, a leader in the natural and organic movement, and look forward to a great partnership.”