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Sizzler USA acquired in management buyout

Sizzler USA has been acquired in a management buyout that will return ownership of the fast-casual chain to the city where it was born, the company said late Thursday.

Terms were not disclosed, but officials said it will be funded internally. The deal separates the 178 Sizzler locations in the United States from the roughly 100 restaurants overseas that will remain under previous owner Pacific Equity Partners, the Australia-based private-equity firm that has owned Sizzler’s worldwide operations since 2005.

Based in Culver City, Calif., where the brand was founded in 1958, the new ownership team includes Kerry Kramp, who will remain chief executive and president, as well as former chief executive Kevin Perkins, who has been with the company for 35 years and will serve as non-executive chairman of the board.

Also among the buyout team is industry veteran Jim Collins, who bought the Sizzler chain from founder Del Johnson in 1967 and is credited with growing the company to more than 700 locations at one point in the late 1980s.

Sizzler was for sale by PEP when Kramp, who joined Sizzler as chief executive in 2008, came on board.

Kramp has since been working toward a turnaround of the brand by revamping the menu, shifting toward the use of more fresh ingredients and dishes prepared in house.

The chain is also undergoing a remodel program. About 17 locations have been reworked and the company recently launched an incentive program, offering franchisees a royalty rebate to help with remodel costs.

Kramp has also closed underperforming units and eliminated debt, he said.

“Our mantra is ‘stay the course,’” said Kramp. “Our motto now is ‘fresh food and real kitchens,’ and we’re going to continue with that.”

The chain is growing again, with three franchise locations scheduled to open and two corporate locations planned by 2012, Kramp said.

Under the new ownership, Sizzler USA’s territory will include the U.S. and Puerto Rico, as well as Guatemala, where there once were Sizzler restaurants, but are none currently.

Collins, who is credited with growing the Sizzler brand in the U.S. and overseas during his tenure, said, “I believed that Sizzler was very important to consumers back in the 1960s, and I believe it is just as important – and maybe more important – today. Along with helping to grow the Sizzler brand, I am excited about helping the next generation of small business owners create jobs for their communities.”

Of the 178 locations, 30 are company owned and 148 franchised.

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected].
Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout

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