- Corner Bakery has been acquired by Pandya Restaurant Growth Brands, one of the Rohan Group of Companies, from Roark Capital Partners, according to a press release. Rohan Group is owned by real estate investor and restaurant operator Jignesh "Jay" Pandya. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Roark Capital acquired Corner Bakery in 2011.
- This acquisition follows Rohan Group affiliate Engage Brand's purchase of Boston Market in April. The company has been working to grow Boston Market by opening restaurants and expanding its menu. The company sees opportunities for strategic alliances between both brands.
- The transaction could breathe new life into the bakery chain, which has been struggling during the pandemic with urban traffic down as consumers continue to work from home. In September, it reportedly hired DLA Piper to help restructure debt and Stifel to explore strategic alternatives, such as a sale, according to Debtwire.
Cafes in urban areas have had a tough year, with virtually nonexistent lunchtime populations and a lack of demand for catering. A large part of Corner Bakery’s revenue comes from office catering as well as breakfast and lunch from commuters, according to Debtwire.
The restaurant had been working on trying to bolster customer traffic, launching a loyalty program in July through its new Corner Bakery App. It also expanded its menu with a Beyond Meatball Panini and Beyond Meatball Linguine in September, after testing them in December 2019 in Los Angeles.
Corner Bakery CEO Frank Paci said in the press release that Pandya will provide resources to help Corner Bakery continue to operate during the current business climate. "We will continue to focus on key operational initiatives to improve guest experience, menu development, and the growth of our brand," Paci said. "We are now well-positioned to achieve future success during a period of unprecedented disruption for our industry."
Other cafe chains are struggling, too. Pret A Manger permanently closed 17 units in Boston and Chicago during the summer. It reopened 51 locations in New York, Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia, but sales were down 87%. Le Pain Quotidian filed for Chapter 11 in May and sold itself to Aurify Brands, which allowed it to keep at least 35 locations open. Maison Kayser also declared bankruptcy in September.
Pandya could have a slight uphill battle. Corner Bakery's sales were down even before the pandemic, declining 3.9% to $348 million in 2019 from $362 million in 2018, according to Technomic data. Units also were down to 175 in 2019 compared to 182 in 2018.