Roark Capital Group has acquired a majority stake in Jimmy John’s Sandwiches, adding a big name to the private-equity group’s growing list of restaurant concepts.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. But Jimmy John’s colorful founder, Jimmy John Liautaud, will remain chairman, and James North will remain president and CEO.
The deal represents an exit for Weston Presidio, which invested in the Champaign, Ill.-based sandwich concept a decade ago.
“We partnered with Michael Lazarus and Jeff Mills at Weston Presidio 10 years ago, and it’s been an amazing journey,” Liautaud said in a statement. “My team and I are excited to bring to our new partners at Roark the same energy and commitment to excellence that helped make our partnership with Weston Presidio so successful.
“I’ve spent two years getting to know the Roark team. They are best-in-class people that have the knowledge and expertise that will help us take this brand to the next level.”
Jimmy John’s has been among the country’s fastest-growing chains for the past decade due to its sandwich delivery model and speed of service.
Liautaud founded the chain when he was 19 years old with a $25,000 loan from his father. The concept grew to about 500 locations when Weston Presidio first invested in the chain. Jimmy John’s now has more than 2,500 locations and $2 billion in system sales.
“Over our 10 years together, Jimmy John’s has generated an outstanding return for Weston Presidio,” Jeff Mills, managing partner of Main Post Partners and a partner at Weston Presidio, said in a statement. “We are incredibly grateful for their exceptional performance, iconic brand and rockstar team.”
Jimmy John’s franchisees have opened more than 200 locations in each of the past five years, and are on track to open more than 1,000 units over the next several years. The chain is the 35th largest restaurant concept in the country, according to Nation’s Restaurant News Top 100 data.
Weston had been looking to exit its investment. Last year, Jimmy John’s was exploring an initial public offering before backing out, sources said at the time.
The sandwich chain joins an increasingly impressive list of concepts controlled by Atlanta-based Roark Capital. In recent years, the firm has acquired or invested in such diverse brands as industry stalwarts CKE Restaurants and Arby’s, as well as the early-stage growth chain Naf Naf Grill.
Once the Jimmy John’s deal is completed, Roark Capital will have acquired 56 franchised or multi-unit brands with annual system sales of $23 billion and 25,000 locations.
“Jimmy has built an amazing business with unlimited potential,” Neal Aronson, managing partner of Roark Capital, said in a statement. “It’s a testament to his vision, commitment to quality, and the team’s outstanding execution.”