Restaurants & Hospitality: Atlanta private-equity firm raises $1.4B; Sushi restaurant furloughs 94


Roark Capital Group may be looking to spend some more money on restaurants.

The Atlanta-based private equity firm has raised $1.398 billion for a venture called Roark Diversified Restaurant Fund II LP, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The fund was incorporated in March 2019, per an SEC filing.

Roark Capital vice president of financial planning and analysis Brian Duke did not immediately return a voicemail seeking comment.

The firm owns more than a dozen dining chains through its subsidiary companies such as Inspire Brands and Focus Brands. Among Roark Capital’s restaurants are Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr., Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q, McAlister’s Deli, Moe’s Southwest Grill and Schlotzsky’s.

Restaurants are currently hurting as they deal with fallout related the novel coronavirus pandemic. Sharply declining sales have led to a spike in unemployment. Focus Brands last month furloughed 136 employees from its corporate office in Sandy Springs, and Jim ‘N Nick’s furloughed a total of 79 hourly employees from its locations in Smyrna and Hiram.

Midtown sushi restaurant furloughs 94

RA Sushi Bar Restaurant, which sits on the ground floor of the 1010 Midtown condo building, temporarily laid off 94 employees, according to a WARN notice filed with the Georgia Department of Labor. In a letter explaining the furloughs, the restaurant said hourly employees affected by the furloughs were terminated March 20, and affected salaried employees were terminated March 22.

The restaurant cited an “unforeseen, sudden and dramatic loss of business,” due to the forced closure of its dining room by a city of Atlanta mandate. RA Sushi Bar Restaurant is continuing to operate takeout and delivery services for the foreseeable future.

“We do not know at this time when we will be allowed to reopen for onsite dining,” the letter reads. “Once we do reopen, we hope to rehire as many employees as possible once business levels return to normal after the coronavirus pandemic ends.”

Buckhead Japanese staple temporarily closes

Buckhead’s Nakato Japanese Restaurant has temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, after previously offering curbside pickup service.

“As an essential business, Nakato stayed open as long as possible, but in light of Governor Kemp’s recent statements addressing the projections of a steep increase in COVID-19 related illness and death in the coming weeks, we feel that temporarily closing Nakato during this time period is the only socially responsible course of action,” proprietor Sachi Nakato Takahara said in an announcement.

“This is a painful decision for all of us at Nakato, and one that we have not come to lightly, but the health of our team and our community is of the highest importance. We want to do everything we can possibly do to help flatten this curve, and if that means having ourselves and our employees self-isolate, then that is what we need to do.”

Nakato Takahara said the restaurant “will be taking this time to regroup,” and it will reevaluate its course of action “at the end of the next couple of weeks.” Nakato will post updates on its Facebook page and a GoFundMe drive has been established to support its employees.

Buckhead Meat opens to the public for the first time

Buckhead Meat has been serving Atlanta’s high-end restaurants for more than 30 years. Now, diners can get the brand’s products to cook in their home kitchens.

Buckhead Meat of Atlanta (formerly The Buckhead Beef Company) began retail operations out of its College Park April 1, in response to declining restaurant sales due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Founded in 1983 and acquired by Sysco Corporation (NYSE: SYY) in 1999, Buckhead Meat has never before opened to the public. The experiment has been a hit. Buckhead Meat sold $12,000 worth of product to 108 customers on its first day of retail.

The company is opening its doors each Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. First responders can begin placing orders at 9:30 a.m. and receive 20% discounts. Customers line up in their cars down Buckhead Meat’s long driveway, and once they reach the front of the line, hand over pieces of paper with their orders. Employees call in the orders, which are brought out and loaded up into trunks. Purchases are made with credit and debit cards only.

As Atlanta restaurants have been forced to operate as takeout and delivery operations or close down altogether because of the COVID-19 outbreak, Buckhead Meat is trying to adapt to a rapidly changing business climate.

“Our business is down and we’re not selling to restaurants and we have all this product,” President Paul Mooring told Atlanta Business Chronicle. “Clearly, there’s a need and a gap, and how can we best fill that? We’ve had to shift our model and innovate.”

By   – Restaurants and Airport Reporter, Atlanta Business Chronicle

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