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The blank-check company was incorporated June 4 in Delaware.

Blank-check company with deep bench of industry veterans launches to raise $200 million for restaurant acquisitions

Sandy Beall, founder of Ruby Tuesday, and Doug Jacob of &Pizza serve as co-CEOs of FAST Acquisition Corp.

Founders of restaurant brands ranging from Ruby Tuesday to &Pizza are partnering in a blank-check acquisition company to raise as much as $200 million to buy into unidentified hospitality and restaurant businesses, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

Sandy Beall, founder of Ruby Tuesday, and Doug Jacob, a board member of &Pizza, are serving as co-CEOs of FAST Acquisition Corp., which has filed a preliminary prospectus to issue securities. The blank-check company was incorporated June 4 in Delaware.

“We believe that the current COVID-19 pandemic provides a compelling opportunity” in restaurant and hospitality investments, the filing states.

The New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday certified its approval for the company’s listing and registration. Special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, are formed to allow companies to raise capital through an initial public offering for the purpose of acquiring an existing company.

Besides co-CEOs Beall and Jacob, FAST’s executive team taps deeply into the restaurant industry, according to SEC filings earlier this week.

The chairman is Kevin Reddy, who worked with McDonald’s Corp., Chipotle Mexican Grill, Noodles & Co. and with investment groups like BDT Capital, which acquired a majority stake in Whataburger Inc. last year. He also chairs &Pizza and Qdoba Mexican Grill.

The chief strategy officer is Kimberly Grant, who served as CEO of chef José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup restaurant and hospitality company from January 2014 to April 2020 and previously worked with Ruby Tuesday. She has held a Performance Food Group Co. board seat since 2017. 

Director nominees include Beall, Jacob and Reddy as well as: Ramin Arani, chief financial officer of Vice Media; Alice Elliot, founder and CEO of The Elliot Group executive recruitment agency; Sanjay Chadda, co-head of investment banking at Canaccord Genuity; and Steve Kassin, founder and managing partner of Infinity Real Estate.

Advisers to the company include: Michael Lastoria, co-founder and CEO of &Pizza; Kat Cole, chief operating officer of Focus Brands; Sanjay Lamba, principal at private placement firm Buddhist Wolf LLC; Ndamukon Sugh, former Detroit Lions defensive tackle and founder of the Generals Restaurant Group, an investor in Blue Sushi Sake Grill, and a baker of Bae’s Hot Chicken and Super Deluxe, a burger concept; Dan Gardner, CEO of the Code and Theory creative agency; Todd Gurley, Atlanta Falcons running back and brand ambassador; Allison Page, co-founder and chief product officer of SevenRooms marketing platform; and Kris Stevens, CEO of CoKinetic Systems.

“Although the current COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the restaurant ecosystem, many limited-service concepts, particularly those with strong delivery components, continue to record same-store sales levels at or above those of one year prior,” FAST Acquisition states.

“We believe this level of performance in the midst of industry disruption can be used to clearly evaluate concepts that will be poised for future growth,” it said. “Additionally, we believe there is a strong real estate opportunity, with many underperforming concepts shuttering units, and landlords providing flexibility on lease terms. We believe that now is the best time to apply a lifetime of learning to this opportunity.”

FAST Acquisition said its strategy is “to identify and complete our initial business combination with a company that complements the experiences and skills of our leadership team and can benefit from their operational expertise.”

Bloomberg first reported last month that investment firm &Vest was planning an initial public offering of a blank-check company targeting the restaurant sector and that the initial public offering could be this month.

Book runners on the acquisition company’s offering are Citigroup and UBS Investment Bank and co-manager is Odeon Capital Group LLC.

Update Aug. 20, 2020: This story has been edited to add background on Kimberly Grant.

Contact Ron Ruglgess at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggless

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