By The Wall Street Journal February 8, 2019
By Jaewon Kang
Jan. 4, 2019
An investment firm founded by a former Metropoulos & Co. executive is eyeing opportunities to bring together the restaurant sector’s fallen angels.
High Bluff Capital Partners-backed Rego Restaurant Group, which consists of Quiznos and Taco Del Mar
chains, named industry veteran Tim Casey as president and chief executive. Mr. Casey previously led
Qdoba Restaurant Corp. and PepperJax Grill.
Anand Gowda, who started his career at Carlyle Group LP and most recently led private-equity investments at family investment shop Metropoulos & Co., launched High Bluff last year and established fastcasual restaurant platform Rego. San Diego-based High Bluff acquired Quizno’s Master LLC in June and
TDM Franchising LLC, which operates as Taco Del Mar, in July.
“We’d like to restore these businesses to new, fresh concepts that resonate with consumers,” Mr. Gowda
said, adding that both are big names that have fallen behind the consumer’s radar in recent years.
High Bluff envisions building Rego into a portfolio of six to 10 quick-service and fast-casual restaurant
chains with about $50 million of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. Under
High Bluff, Rego will pursue acquisitions and promote organic growth initiatives such as enhancing backoffice operations, brand management and marketing efforts.
High Bluff, which operates as a family office, has developed a pipeline of regional and national restaurant
franchisers for Rego. The investment firm will seek to acquire businesses with more than a couple hundred million dollars of systemwide revenue and Ebitda as high as $50 million to $75 million.
High Bluff focuses on turning around businesses with a strong brand name that have fallen out of trend—
a strategy that mirrors that of Metropoulos. The firm, run by financier C. Dean Metropoulos and his sons,
Evan and Daren Metropoulos, has earned a reputation for revitalizing household brands including Hostess Brands Inc., Ghirardelli Chocolate Co. and Chef Boyardee.
High Bluff will initially concentrate on the restaurant space, but will also look across other consumer-products segments. Mr. Gowda said he anticipates more investment opportunities as consumer spending gets
softer over the next couple of years. At the same time, the market will continue to see a set of undercapitalized or undermanaged assets.
High Bluff typically injects less than $50 million of equity in businesses with enterprise value below $500
million and less than $50 million in Ebitda.