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餐饮业遭疫情重创,这家基金却逆势增资

餐饮业遭疫情重创,这家基金却逆势增资

Jennifer Alsever 2021年11月18日
一位投资人称,眼下是在餐饮业大展身手的绝佳时机。

新冠疫情让美国的餐饮业受到了重创:据估计,有9万家餐厅关闭,590万员工失业,近四分之一的美国人完全停止外出就餐。即使在今天,有一半的小餐厅仍然在为支付租金而挣扎,许多餐厅的经营能力有限,难以雇佣工人,也难以获得餐巾纸和外卖盒等供应品。

然而,如果你问安德鲁·K·史密斯,他会告诉你现在是在餐饮业大展身手的绝佳时机。作为Mercado Partners公司的萨沃里基金(Savory Fund)的董事总经理,即使六分之一的餐厅关闭,300万人失业,他仍然加大了对餐饮业的投资。自新冠疫情爆发以来,总部位于美国盐湖城的萨沃里筹集了两只独立基金——每笔1亿美元——并大举投资7个新的餐饮品牌,开设了55家新餐厅。

对投资者来说,美国的餐饮业从来就不是一个稳赚不赔的行业。即便是最有经验的经营者,其利润率也往往只有个位数。因此,当新冠疫情席卷而来,重创全国各地的餐厅,导致该行业去年销售额下降2000亿美元时,大多数投资者选择了相反的方向。史密斯称,他从来不相信经营餐厅赚不到钱的说法。“这是一个不劳而获的谬论。”史密斯说。

多年来,史密斯曾经作为投资者和三家软件公司的首席执行官,但他从未真正经营过餐厅。在经历了2000年的互联网泡沫破灭和2008年的经济衰退后,他离开了科技行业。作为建筑行业风险管理软件公司AxisPointe的首席执行官,史密斯回忆说,有一天晚上,他躺在床上盯着天花板,意识到他想脱离一个如此容易受到市场波动影响的行业。“作为一名科技公司的首席执行官,我感到非常失控。”

史密斯决定和他的妻子肖娜一起投身食品行业,肖娜开了自己的面包店和咖啡馆。意识到餐饮基本就是一个吸收冲击的行业,从主要的经济衰退中获得每日和每月的现金流和一些缓冲,两人共同创立了Four Food Groups,这是一家餐饮投资公司。

“人们总是会在外面吃饭。”他说。“我喜欢它给很多人带来快乐和慰藉,这是我在科技领域没有体会到的感觉。”

十年后的2018年,史密斯加入了犹他州的私募股权公司Mercado Partners。他在周末与Mercado的创始人格雷格·沃诺克见面,一起赛车。沃诺克与史密斯夫妇合作,在公司内部成立了萨沃里基金。

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图片来源:Courtesy of The Savory Fund

2020年10月,该基金投资了一家现代炸鸡餐厅,在南加州有六个营业点,并计划推动50家门店的扩张。在整个新冠疫情期间,该基金还在忙着为Swig新开7家门店,这是一家提供定制口味的免下车汽水连锁店。作为犹他州“脏汽水之乡”,Swig今年又增加了10家门店。今年秋天,萨沃里向南佛罗里达的拉丁汉堡和烤肉串连锁餐厅Pincho投资了2000万美元,并向位于奥斯汀的比萨连锁店Via 313投资了2000万美元。史密斯说:“这个行业是我15年来见过的最活跃的行业。”

看起来史密斯好像住在暮光之城。毕竟,新冠疫情让餐饮、酒店和休闲行业的私募股权投资大幅缩水,从2019年的53笔交易降至2021年上半年的仅8笔。今年,私募股权支持的申请破产的餐饮连锁店增加到了14家,而2019年只有4家,其中包括Ruby Tuesday、Chuck E. Cheese和California Pizza Kitchen等餐厅。曾经押注Boston Market和Johnny Rockets的Sun Capital Partners公司已经完全放弃了餐饮生意。史密斯说,如果他们真的投资,大多数私募股权公司已经发展得如此之大,因为他们通常会在今天的餐饮生意中投资不少于1亿美元。

“萨沃里有点像沃伦·巴菲特——他曾经说过,投资者应该‘在别人贪婪的时候恐惧,在别人恐惧的时候贪婪’。”Branded Strategic Hospitality公司的管理合伙人吉米·弗里施林说。该公司在纽约拥有25家餐厅,并投资为餐厅服务的科技初创公司。弗里施林能够理解史密斯的扩张心态,因为他的公司也做了与大多数相反的事情:在新冠疫情期间积极发展。

赞恩·亨特和布兰登·亨特对扩张也很支持。但是这两兄弟在2011年创办了Via 313比萨店,当时没有足够的资金在全国范围内发展壮大,也不知道该怎么做。他们从一辆比萨食餐车开始,以此向中西部的年轻人致敬,吃了无尽的“底特律式比萨”。一年后他们又增加了第二家,然后在三年内开了三家餐厅。去年,在一位银行家告诉他们,他们的餐厅估值可能高达5000万美元后,他们开始与投资银行家交谈,寻求帮助扩大规模。史密斯只是碰巧在他们的一家餐厅吃过饭——而且他非常喜欢这家餐厅,并支持它。

萨沃里向这家比萨连锁店投资了2000万美元,并帮助Via 313在犹他州奥伦开设了一家新餐厅,并开始建设另外两家餐厅,明年还将有12家餐厅开业。虽然布兰登·亨特承认,随着行业和新冠疫情的恶化,继续扩张是可怕的,但他欣赏史密斯看到机会的态度——即便是在最糟糕的时候。他的哥哥补充道:“这就像在别人都减速的时候踩油门。”

萨沃里正在开拓的是大多数私募股权投资公司都不愿意涉足的一块市场——拥有新兴概念的小型连锁企业,它们至少有150万美元至350万美元的收入,以及2至8家门店。弗里施林说,大多数大型投资公司希望在全国范围内设立50家门店,这降低了风险,但也限制了回报。对餐厅老板来说,要达到这样的规模很难:美国至少有一半的餐厅是小型夫妻店,它们以准时的方式自主经营。

萨沃里通常会先投资600万美元到1000万美元来控制这些餐厅,然后再投资1000万美元到1400万美元来扩张。

随着“德尔塔”变种毒株导致的新一波新冠疫情的消退,餐厅的销售额开始回升,但仍然受到新冠疫情的长期影响。由于该行业严重的劳动力短缺,目前有140万个职位空缺,橱窗上贴满了招聘广告。白色城堡(White Castle)、麦当劳(McDonalds)和塔可贝尔(Taco Bell)等一些快餐连锁店仍然因为新冠疫情而关闭或限制室内用餐区。其他一些公司,比如星巴克(Starbucks),由于劳动力短缺,不得不减少工作时间。现在,各地的餐厅都面临着食品供应的严重短缺,例如杯子、盖子、吸管、盘子和打包盒。史密斯说,他希望他独特的概念和强大的粉丝基础,以及高薪的多元化员工的策略,将使他的餐厅成为吸引员工的“酷孩子”。他还鼓励餐厅不断创新,提前储备产品。

“现在是经济疫情了。”史密斯说。“需求大量涌入,但供应有限。”(财富中文网)

译者:Transn

新冠疫情让美国的餐饮业受到了重创:据估计,有9万家餐厅关闭,590万员工失业,近四分之一的美国人完全停止外出就餐。即使在今天,有一半的小餐厅仍然在为支付租金而挣扎,许多餐厅的经营能力有限,难以雇佣工人,也难以获得餐巾纸和外卖盒等供应品。

然而,如果你问安德鲁·K·史密斯,他会告诉你现在是在餐饮业大展身手的绝佳时机。作为Mercado Partners公司的萨沃里基金(Savory Fund)的董事总经理,即使六分之一的餐厅关闭,300万人失业,他仍然加大了对餐饮业的投资。自新冠疫情爆发以来,总部位于美国盐湖城的萨沃里筹集了两只独立基金——每笔1亿美元——并大举投资7个新的餐饮品牌,开设了55家新餐厅。

对投资者来说,美国的餐饮业从来就不是一个稳赚不赔的行业。即便是最有经验的经营者,其利润率也往往只有个位数。因此,当新冠疫情席卷而来,重创全国各地的餐厅,导致该行业去年销售额下降2000亿美元时,大多数投资者选择了相反的方向。史密斯称,他从来不相信经营餐厅赚不到钱的说法。“这是一个不劳而获的谬论。”史密斯说。

多年来,史密斯曾经作为投资者和三家软件公司的首席执行官,但他从未真正经营过餐厅。在经历了2000年的互联网泡沫破灭和2008年的经济衰退后,他离开了科技行业。作为建筑行业风险管理软件公司AxisPointe的首席执行官,史密斯回忆说,有一天晚上,他躺在床上盯着天花板,意识到他想脱离一个如此容易受到市场波动影响的行业。“作为一名科技公司的首席执行官,我感到非常失控。”

史密斯决定和他的妻子肖娜一起投身食品行业,肖娜开了自己的面包店和咖啡馆。意识到餐饮基本就是一个吸收冲击的行业,从主要的经济衰退中获得每日和每月的现金流和一些缓冲,两人共同创立了Four Food Groups,这是一家餐饮投资公司。

“人们总是会在外面吃饭。”他说。“我喜欢它给很多人带来快乐和慰藉,这是我在科技领域没有体会到的感觉。”

十年后的2018年,史密斯加入了犹他州的私募股权公司Mercado Partners。他在周末与Mercado的创始人格雷格·沃诺克见面,一起赛车。沃诺克与史密斯夫妇合作,在公司内部成立了萨沃里基金。

2020年10月,该基金投资了一家现代炸鸡餐厅,在南加州有六个营业点,并计划推动50家门店的扩张。在整个新冠疫情期间,该基金还在忙着为Swig新开7家门店,这是一家提供定制口味的免下车汽水连锁店。作为犹他州“脏汽水之乡”,Swig今年又增加了10家门店。今年秋天,萨沃里向南佛罗里达的拉丁汉堡和烤肉串连锁餐厅Pincho投资了2000万美元,并向位于奥斯汀的比萨连锁店Via 313投资了2000万美元。史密斯说:“这个行业是我15年来见过的最活跃的行业。”

看起来史密斯好像住在暮光之城。毕竟,新冠疫情让餐饮、酒店和休闲行业的私募股权投资大幅缩水,从2019年的53笔交易降至2021年上半年的仅8笔。今年,私募股权支持的申请破产的餐饮连锁店增加到了14家,而2019年只有4家,其中包括Ruby Tuesday、Chuck E. Cheese和California Pizza Kitchen等餐厅。曾经押注Boston Market和Johnny Rockets的Sun Capital Partners公司已经完全放弃了餐饮生意。史密斯说,如果他们真的投资,大多数私募股权公司已经发展得如此之大,因为他们通常会在今天的餐饮生意中投资不少于1亿美元。

“萨沃里有点像沃伦·巴菲特——他曾经说过,投资者应该‘在别人贪婪的时候恐惧,在别人恐惧的时候贪婪’。”Branded Strategic Hospitality公司的管理合伙人吉米·弗里施林说。该公司在纽约拥有25家餐厅,并投资为餐厅服务的科技初创公司。弗里施林能够理解史密斯的扩张心态,因为他的公司也做了与大多数相反的事情:在新冠疫情期间积极发展。

赞恩·亨特和布兰登·亨特对扩张也很支持。但是这两兄弟在2011年创办了Via 313比萨店,当时没有足够的资金在全国范围内发展壮大,也不知道该怎么做。他们从一辆比萨食餐车开始,以此向中西部的年轻人致敬,吃了无尽的“底特律式比萨”。一年后他们又增加了第二家,然后在三年内开了三家餐厅。去年,在一位银行家告诉他们,他们的餐厅估值可能高达5000万美元后,他们开始与投资银行家交谈,寻求帮助扩大规模。史密斯只是碰巧在他们的一家餐厅吃过饭——而且他非常喜欢这家餐厅,并支持它。

萨沃里向这家比萨连锁店投资了2000万美元,并帮助Via 313在犹他州奥伦开设了一家新餐厅,并开始建设另外两家餐厅,明年还将有12家餐厅开业。虽然布兰登·亨特承认,随着行业和新冠疫情的恶化,继续扩张是可怕的,但他欣赏史密斯看到机会的态度——即便是在最糟糕的时候。他的哥哥补充道:“这就像在别人都减速的时候踩油门。”

萨沃里正在开拓的是大多数私募股权投资公司都不愿意涉足的一块市场——拥有新兴概念的小型连锁企业,它们至少有150万美元至350万美元的收入,以及2至8家门店。弗里施林说,大多数大型投资公司希望在全国范围内设立50家门店,这降低了风险,但也限制了回报。对餐厅老板来说,要达到这样的规模很难:美国至少有一半的餐厅是小型夫妻店,它们以准时的方式自主经营。

萨沃里通常会先投资600万美元到1000万美元来控制这些餐厅,然后再投资1000万美元到1400万美元来扩张。

随着“德尔塔”变种毒株导致的新一波新冠疫情的消退,餐厅的销售额开始回升,但仍然受到新冠疫情的长期影响。由于该行业严重的劳动力短缺,目前有140万个职位空缺,橱窗上贴满了招聘广告。白色城堡(White Castle)、麦当劳(McDonalds)和塔可贝尔(Taco Bell)等一些快餐连锁店仍然因为新冠疫情而关闭或限制室内用餐区。其他一些公司,比如星巴克(Starbucks),由于劳动力短缺,不得不减少工作时间。现在,各地的餐厅都面临着食品供应的严重短缺,例如杯子、盖子、吸管、盘子和打包盒。史密斯说,他希望他独特的概念和强大的粉丝基础,以及高薪的多元化员工的策略,将使他的餐厅成为吸引员工的“酷孩子”。他还鼓励餐厅不断创新,提前储备产品。

“现在是经济疫情了。”史密斯说。“需求大量涌入,但供应有限。”(财富中文网)

译者:Transn

The pandemic decimated U.S. restaurants: An estimated 90,000 restaurants shut down, 5.9 million workers lost their jobs, and nearly a quarter of Americans stopped eating out entirely. Even today, half of small restaurants struggle to pay rent, and many operate at limited capacity and struggle to hire workers and get supplies like paper napkins and to-go boxes.

Yet if you ask Andrew K. Smith, he’ll tell you it’s a perfect time to get aggressive in the restaurant industry. As managing director of the Mercado Partners' Savory Fund, he doubled-down on restaurants even when one in six eateries shut down and 3 million people lost their jobs. Since the pandemic’s start, the Salt Lake City-based Savory raised two separate funds—$100 million each—and aggressively invested in seven new restaurant brands and opened 55 new restaurants.

The U.S. restaurant industry has never been a slam dunk for investors. Even the most experienced operators tend to record single digit profit margins. So when the pandemic crushed restaurants across the nation, leading the industry to record a $200 billion decline in sales last year, most investors ran the other way. Smith said he’s never bought into the narrative that you can't make money backing restaurants. “It’s an unearned and undeserved fallacy,” Smith said.

Smith spent years as an investor and the CEO of three software companies, but he has never actually run a restaurant. He defected from the technology industry after a decade of surviving the 2000 dot-com crash and later the 2008 recession. As CEO of AxisPointe, a risk management software company for the construction industry, Smith recalls staring at the ceiling in bed one night and realizing he wanted to get out of an industry so susceptible to market swings. “I felt so out of control as a tech CEO.”

Smith decided to jump into the food industry with his wife, Shauna, who had started her own bakery and cafe. Realizing that eateries are a mostly shock absorbent industry, garnering daily and monthly cash flow and some cushion from major economic dips, the two cofounded Four Food Groups, a restaurant investment firm.

“People will always eat out,” he said. “And I like that it brings happiness and comfort to many, something that I did not feel like I got in tech.”

A decade later, in 2018, Smith joined Utah private equity firm Mercado Partners. He met Mercado founder Greg Warnock racing cars with him on the weekends, and Warnock teamed up with the Smiths to establish the Savory Fund within the firm.

In October 2020, the fund invested in a modern fried chicken restaurant with six locations in Southern California, with plans to fuel a 50-store expansion. And throughout the pandemic, the fund was also busy opening seven new stores for Swig, a drive-thru soda chain with customized flavors. Known as Utah’s “home of the Dirty Soda,” Swig added another 10 this year. This fall, Savory invested $20 million in Pincho, a Latin burger and kabob restaurant chain in South Florida, and put $20 million behind Austin pizza chain Via 313. “The industry is the most alive I’ve seen in 15 years,” Smith said.

It might seem as though Smith is living in the Twilight Zone. Afterall, the pandemic crushed private equity investments in the restaurant, hotel and leisure sector, down from 53 deals in 2019 to just eight in the first half of 2021. The number of private-equity backed restaurant chains that filed for bankruptcy grew to 14 this year, up from just four in 2019 and includes names like Ruby Tuesday, Chuck E. Cheese, and California Pizza Kitchen. Sun Capital Partners, which bet on Boston Market and Johnny Rockets, has abandoned restaurant deals entirely. If they do invest, most private equity firms have grown so large they typically invest no less than $100 million into a restaurant deal today, said Smith.

“Savory had a bit of a Warren Buffet moment—who once said investors should be ‘fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful,’” said Jimmy Frischling, managing partner of Branded Strategic Hospitality, which owns 25 New York restaurants and invests in tech startups that cater to restaurants. Frischling can appreciate Smith’s mentality about running toward expansion, because his firm, too, did the opposite of most and embraced aggressive growth in the pandemic.

Expansion sounded great to Zane and Brandon Hunt, too. But the two brothers, who started Via 313 pizza in 2011, didn’t have enough cash to grow nationwide—and no idea how to do it. They started as a single pizza food truck as a salute to their Midwest youth, eating endless amounts of “Detroit-style pizza." They added a second a year later, and then opened three restaurant locations within three years. After a banker told them their restaurant’s valuation could be as high as $50 million, they began talking to investment bankers last year for help to expand. Smith just happened to eat at one of their restaurants—and loved it enough to back it.

Savory invested $20 million into the pizza chain and has helped Via 313 to open one new restaurant in Orem, Utah, and start construction on two more, with 12 more locations set to open next year. While Brandon Hunt admits that it was scary to continue expansion as the industry and pandemic worsened, he appreciates Smith’s attitude of seeing opportunity—even in the worst of times. His brother added: “It's like hitting the gas pedal at a time when everyone else is slowing down.”

Savory is tackling a slice of the market that most PE firms avoid—smaller chains with emerging concepts that have at least $1.5 million to $3.5 million in revenue and two to eight locations. Most big investment firms want to see 50 locations nationwide, said Frischling, which reduces risk—but also limits returns. That’s tough for restaurant owners to get to that size: At least half of the nation’s restaurants are small mom-and-pop restaurants that bootstrap and operate in a just-in-time manner.

Savory typically makes initial $6 million to $10 million investments for controlling interest in the restaurants and then puts up to $10 million to $14 million more in for expansion.

As the Delta wave begins to recede, restaurant sales are starting to perk back up, but restaurants are still feeling the long-haul effects of COVID-19. Help wanted signs decorate window fronts, thanks to a severe labor shortage with 1.4 million job openings in the industry. Some fast food chains, including White Castle, McDonalds and Taco Bell, still have closed or limited indoor dining areas because of COVID. Others, like Starbucks, have had to reduce schedules because of the labor shortage. And now, restaurants everywhere face a major shortage of supplies, such as cups, lids, straws, plates, and to-go boxes. Smith said he hopes his strategy of unique concepts and strong fan bases—and diverse employees who are well paid— will make his restaurants “the cool kid” that attracts workers. He also encourages restaurants to constantly innovate—and stock up on products in advance.

“It’s an economic pandemic now,” said Smith. “There’s an influx in demand with limited supply.”

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