News

Recent News and Announcements from Centre Partners

March, 10 2004

Garden Fresh Completes $16.35 Per Share Merger

LOS ANGELES, CA, March 10, 2004 Centre Partners Management LLC and certain of its affiliated entities today completed the acquisition of Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp. (formerly NASDAQ:LTUS). Centre Partners is a leading middle market private equity firm, with offices in New York and Los Angeles. The friendly, going-private transaction brings to a successful conclusion the sale process initially announced by Garden Fresh on October 1, 2003. The investment represents a partnership between Centre Partners, Fairmont Capital, Inc., and Garden Freshs management team, which acquired a portion of the restaurant companys equity in connection with the transaction.

Garden Fresh is a leading national soup, salad, and pasta buffet restaurant chain with 97 locations in 15 states and over $220 million of annual revenues. Operating under the names Souplantation® and Sweet Tomatoes®, Garden Fresh offers a broad variety of fresh food alternatives in an all-you-care-to-eat format. Garden Fresh has a strong history of stable financial performance, with same store sales growth in eight consecutive fiscal years and 33 of 35 consecutive fiscal quarters. The company has also demonstrated consistent levels of profitability.

Garden Fresh becomes Centre Partners seventh current investment in a Southern California-based company and follows the firms 2003 acquisition of San Diego-based Bumble Bee Seafoods, which was also completed in partnership with management.

Centre Partners Managing Director Robert Bergmann said, We are very pleased to partner with Garden Freshs management team to complete this acquisition. Garden Fresh is the best-in-class player in an attractive niche in the restaurant industry and has an extremely loyal customer base throughout its core markets. This transaction is consistent with Centre Partners strategy to acquire leading middle market companies with proven management teams supported by strong brands and operations.

Garden Fresh CEO Michael Mack added, Going private is a strategy to fulfill our vision, and we are very pleased to be doing so with Centre Partners. We believe this is a very exciting development for our management, our employees, and our business. We look forward to a strong and successful partnership with Centre.

Headquartered in New York, Centre Partners established an office in Los Angeles in 2000 to extend its focus on this region. Bergmann commented, We believe that our local presence enables us to identify new acquisitions and better serve our existing portfolio of companies in Southern California. We remain committed to investing in leading businesses in this region.

Garden Fresh represents the first investment within the firms newly raised fund, Centre Partners IV.

With respect to the transaction, Fleet National Bank underwrote a senior credit facility, affiliates of CNL Restaurant Capital provided sale-leaseback financing, and Northwestern Mutual provided mezzanine financing for Garden Fresh.

About Centre Partners

Centre Partners, founded in 1986, with offices in New York City and Los Angeles, is a private equity firm with a middle market focus that seeks to make investments in friendly acquisitions alongside management teams who have or desire a meaningful economic stake in the future success of their business. Centre Partners and its affiliates have invested over $3 billion of equity capital in more than 80 private equity transactions.


Back to News List