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Private equity fund buying iconic Frisch's Big Boy chain

May 22, 2015

Frisch's Big Boy restaurants are being sold to a private equity fund, ending family ownership of a Cincinnati-based chain that dates to 1948.

Frisch's Restaurants Inc. says NRD Partners I will buy all outstanding shares for $34 each, or some $175 million. Frisch's shares closed Thursday at $28.12.

The regional chain with the iconic Big Boy mascot owns some 95 family restaurants in Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. Its website states it has another 26 operated in the region by licensees.

CEO Craig Maier and marketing Vice President Karen Maier, relatives of the Frisch family, will retire, but continue as franchisees.

The deal is expected to close by the end of September.

Frisch's last month reported $47 million in revenue for its fiscal third quarter, with 45 cents earnings per share.

There are at least five Big Boy restaurants in Indiana, including locations in Anderson, Greensburg and Richmond.

The deal will not have an impact on Big Boy restaurants owned by Warren, Michigan-based Big Boy Restaurants International LLC, which owns about 100 restaurants in the United States and another 280 in Japan.

The original Big Boy chain was started in 1936 in Glendale, California. Dave Frisch, part of a family that had operated restaurants in Cincinnati since 1902, opened the first Frsch's Big Boy near downtown Cincinnati in 1948. He eventually became the company's first franchisee.

Frisch's became its own ownership group in 2001 after the parent company went through bankruptcy and was sold to investor Robert Liggett Jr.

The company recently accused its former assistant treasurer of embezzling nearly $4 million.

NRD is part of Atlanta-based NRD Capital Management LLC, which is a major franchise operator of several well-known restaurants, including Popeye's, Subway, KFC and Taco Bell.

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