A roundup of interesting bits of news that came across the editor’s desk, including news about Starbucks, McDonald's, a bunch of mergers and acquisitions, development deals, and more. 

mergers + acquisitions + more

  • Private equity firm Advent International made a majority investment in First Watch Restaurants Inc. First Watch’s existing management team will continue to lead the company and will retain an equity stake in the business. The transaction is expected to close in the coming weeks. Financial terms were not disclosed. First Watch is a portfolio company of Freeman Spogli & Co.
  • Perpetual Capital Partners and CR3 Capital acquired Garden Fresh Restaurants, parent of Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes restaurants.
  • Starbucks Corporation acquired the remaining 50 percent share of its East China business from long-term joint venture partners Uni-President Enterprises Corporation and President Chain Store Corporation for approximately $1.3 billion in cash consideration in the largest single acquisition in the company’s history. Starbucks will assume 100 percent ownership of approximately 1,300 Starbucks stores in Shanghai and Jiangsu and Zhejiang Provinces, building on the company’s ongoing investments in China, its fastest-growing market outside of the United States in terms of store count.
  • Restaurant tech platform company Toast announced an additional $101 million in financing, led by new investors Generation Investment Management and Lead Edge Capital. Existing investors including Bessemer Venture Partners also participated in the oversubscribed round.
  • Atlanta-based airport foodservice operator Hojeij Branded Foods (HBF) acquired Vino Volo, which has more than 40 locations in 32 airports throughout North America. HBF’s portfolio included more than 70 foodservice outposts in 14 airports in the U.S.


  • Cold Stone Creamery signed a development agreement to open up 20 locations in Malaysia in the next five years, with the first to open in Kuala Lumpur.
  • Marco’s Pizza is targeting the greater Raleigh-Durham, N.C., market and plans to open 20 locations there by 2020, the first of which just opened in Chapel Hill.
  • The Melting Pot signed the largest development agreement in its history: a 17-unit deal to expand the brand’s presence in Mexico. GINgroup will develop 17 new Melting Pot restaurant franchises throughout the country over the next seven years.

new hires + promotions

  • Church’s Chicken named David Knies to the newly created role of vice president of franchise development.
  • Tim Breen was promoted to vice president of franchise operations and support at Pie Five Pizza. He previously served as Pie Five’s director of franchise and company operations. Prior to joining Pie Five, Breen served in restaurant-operations roles for Steak ‘n Shake, The Walt Disney Company and Carlson Restaurants Worldwide (T.G.I. Fridays).

go big or go home (and have it delivered)

  • McDonald’s expanded its McDelivery program with UberEats to 13 countries, including 3,500 U.S. restaurants. McDelivery is now available from over 7,800 restaurants in 47 countries and 6 continents.