Private Equity Firms Positively Give a Hoot for Hooters

Hooters of America (HOA), the Atlanta, Georgia-headquartered fast casual restaurant operator that bills itself as “delightfully tacky yet unrefined,” has been acquired by Nord Bay Capital and TriArtisan Capital Advisors. As part of the transaction, the selling entities will each retain a stake in the company. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. 

Hooters photo

HOA is a franchisor of more than 430 Hooters restaurants in 38 US states and 27 countries. The outlets are known for menuing deep-fried chicken wings, burgers, fish sandwiches, shrimp tacos, curly fries, fried pickles and other bar food favorites – most of which are supplied in frozen form – served by waitresses wearing bright orange short-shorts and tight white T-shirts adorned with the company’s trademark hoot owl logo.

The chain’s management likes to say that it has been “liberating guests from the ordinary through great food, fun and world-class hospitality” since 1983, when the first Hooters outlet opened for business in Clearwater, Florida.

Commenting on the sale, CEO Terry Marks remarked: “The partnership with Nord Bay and TriArtisan comes at an ideal time for the company, bringing fresh partners with complementary skills and experience to support our next phase of growth to the benefit of all our employees, franchisees and customers. Our core business is strong with a world-famous and differentiated brand, a first-rate management team and a loyal base of experienced franchisees. In addition, we are pleased with the early results of our new fast casual concept and plan additional openings later this year.” 

Outside of the USA, Hooters operates outlets in Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, Russia and East Asia. Its three largest restaurants are in Singapore, Tokyo and São Paulo.

William Pepper, principal of Tampa, Florida-based Nord Bay Capital, stated: "Hooters is an iconic global brand that has shown strong financial growth and development. With nine consecutive quarters of same store sales growth and 13 consecutive quarters outperforming the casual dining bar and grill category, we see Hooters as a real jewel in the restaurant category.” 

Rohit Manocha, a founding partner of New York-based private equity investment firm TriArtisan, added: "As a true innovator in the chicken wing space for over 35 years, Hooters is highly differentiated in a category that is more popular than ever. Terry and the senior leadership team have done a tremendous job elevating the company and tapping into what today’s consumer wants. We are confident about the future growth of this great brand.”

TriArtisan, which joined with Sentinel Capital Partners to purchase TGI Friday’s in 2014, has been on the foodservice acquisition trail in recent years. In March of 2019 it partnered with Paulson & Co. Inc. to buy the Scottsdale, Arizona-based P.F. Chang’s China Bistro casual dining Asian-themed restaurant chain.