LLCP acquires Tropical Smoothie Cafe in partnership with management team

With 870 locations, fast casual has more room to grow

Private equity firm Levine Leichtman Capital Partners (LLCP) acquired Tropical Smoothie Cafe in partnership with its management team. Now a chain of 870 better-for-you cafes, serving smoothies, sandwiches, wraps, and flatbreads, Tropical Smoothie Cafe got its start in 1997, selling primarily smoothies. Buckhead Investment Partners purchased a controlling stake in the fast-casual chain in 2012.

LLCP has invested in franchise brands, such as Bertucci’s, Cici’s Pizza, FastSigns, Quizno’s, and Wetzel’s Pretzels. Tropical Smoothie Cafe began franchising in 1997. The Atlanta-based fast-casual chain has room to grow in the better-for-you, functional foods restaurant category, and the current executive team will continue to manage the chain, led by Charles Watson, Tropical Smoothie chief executive.

“We are excited to partner with Charles and the rest of the management team who have led the tremendous growth of Tropical Smoothie Cafe,” said Matthew Frankel, LLCP managing partner. “We look forward to working with them as they continue to increase system-wide sales, improve franchisee unit economics and expand unit count in the significant remaining whitespace.”

Tropical Smoothie Cafe becomes the fifth investment from the Levine Leichtman Capital Partners VI, L.P. fund. LLCP was advised by Kirkland & Ellis LLP, while debt financing was provided by Golub Capital. Robert W. Baird & Co. and Alston & Bird LLP advised Tropical Smoothie Cafe, and Jamieson and Peter Klein, P.A. advised the chain’s management team.

LLCP’s announcement did not disclose the terms of the transaction.


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