Veggie Grill Gets An Infusion


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Is health food the next big wave? Investors sure think so. Current shareholders and other investors, led by Los Angeles-based private equity group Brentwood Associates, recently pumped $20 million into Santa Monica-based vegetarian fast-casual chain Veggie Grill.

The funds will be used to support the company’s plans to double its unit count over the next 18 months—the chain currently has 16 units, mostly in Southern California but with some locations in Northern California, Oregon and Washington. “The interest we received from our investors was substantial and exciting,” Greg Dollarhyde, Veggie Grill’s CEO, said in a statement.

Brentwood became the largest minority shareholder in Veggie Grill with its investment. Bill Barnum, a partner at Brentwood, and Managing Director Rahul Aggarwal will join Veggie Grill’s board of directors.

Veggie Grill has been on a tear. Its same-store sales grew 16 percent last year, when the company more than doubled its presence. Dollarhyde, former CEO at Mediterranean chain Zoes Kitchen, joined Veggie Grill in 2011 with a mandate to aggressively expand the chain. This is Veggie’s fourth round of investment funding. It had previously raised $11 million in 2011. The chain plans to open new locations in Southern California and in Seattle the first half of this year.

The investment is one of many deals in the restaurant industry in what was a busy end of 2013, and many groups seem to be targeting concepts that serve healthy food—such as Morehead Capital’s recent investment in the salad chain Chop’t.

 

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