- The parent company of Saladworks has acquired Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh and Frutta Bowls, according to a press release. The three companies will form a new holding company called WoWorks, with brands focused on healthy meals.
- Saladworks will take over both brands’ infrastructure and operations. Garbanzo CEO James Park will serve as special advisor to Saladworks' CEO Kelly Roddy after the acquisition.
- Restaurant-to-restaurant deals have been particularly rare this year, with the exception of Inspire Brands’ $11.3 billion buy of Dunkin’ Brands and Fat Brand’s $25 million purchase of Johnny Rockets. This deal with Garbanzo and Frutta shows renewed interest among restaurant chains looking to expand by becoming multi-branded concepts.
The transaction will give new life to Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh, which declared bankruptcy in August. Nearly half of Garbanzo’s 25 stores are in nontraditional locations like college campuses and airports that were temporarily shut down during the pandemic. Frutta Bowls, which has restaurants in college towns, also has struggled and closed some of its shops.
The 100-unit Saladworks has fared better, expanding by over 40 restaurant locations and entering new markets such as Canada, California, Tennessee, Rhode Island, Ohio, Florida and Indiana. About 80% of these openings were in unconventional locations, such as ghost kitchens, food trucks, grocery stores, hospitals and universities, according to the press release.
Saladworks is also using salad-making robots from Chowbotics that take up less space to quickly expand. These kiosks are expected to be used in hospitals, universities and grocery stores. This same technology could be used with Frutta Bowls, which offers fruit-centric bowls, that could potentially translate to a salad-making robot.
The creation of WoWorks could also show renewed interest among well-performing restaurant brands that want to build platforms of like-minded brands. Fat Brands, for example, expanded its portfolio with its Johnny Rockets buy earlier this year and positioned itself to buy more chains with its Fog Cutter Capital Group merger. Multi-branded concepts also could give struggling brands more resources to recover while also creating diversified portfolios to grow revenue.