Fuzzy’s Taco Shop becomes first portfolio brand
NRD Capital has formed Experiential Brands, a new platform company for the purpose of acquiring additional food and beverage brands, with a focus on restaurants. The management fund’s first Experiential portfolio company is Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, a Baja-style Mexican restaurant chain in which it took a controlling interest in 2016.
Paul Damico, most recently the chief executive of Global Franchising Group (GFG), which was acquired by Fat Brands, will head the new Experiential Brands unit as CEO, expanding his role of chief executive officer of fast-casual Fuzzy’s Taco Shop.
At GFG, Damico oversaw six national, franchise-centric, quick-service brands. Prior to GFG, he was president of Focus Brands with oversight of six brands, including Marble Slab Creamery, with international operations.
“Paul is an experienced veteran in the restaurant franchise industry and has a proven track record of successfully scaling and growing franchised brands, most notably growing Moe’s Southwest Grill from 200 to 700 units, making him the ideal fit for this role,” says Aziz Hashim, founder and managing Partner of NRD Capital.
Damico plans to double the size of 150-unit Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, and grow Experiential into a multi-brand portfolio of food and beverage companies.
He added, “While the industry has seen an increase in online ordering and delivery, we believe there is still a place in the market for guests who are searching for a ‘dining experience.’ Fuzzy’s Taco Shop is a prime example of why we believe this model to be successful.
The move by NRD Capital follows similar initiatives by Arby’s Restaurant Group when it launched Inspire Brands, with the Arby’s and Buffalo Wild Wings chains, and portfolio companies, like Fat Brands and WOWorks, both acquiring popular restaurant brands, with consistent franchise appeal and development potential. Fat Brands recently purchased the Twin Peaks sports chain, while WOWorks acquired The Simple Greek in March.
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