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First Watch makes doozy of a deal


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  • | 1:50 p.m. May 28, 2015
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  • Manatee-Sarasota
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UNIVERSITY PARK — In a year-plus of major growth moves, First Watch Restaurants now has a topper: The east Manatee County-based firm, already one of the leading breakfast, brunch and lunch concept chains in the country, has acquired another large chain, Centennial, Colo.-based The Egg & I Restaurants.

Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

First Watch currently operates or franchises 153 restaurants in 17 states while The Egg & I operates or franchises 114 restaurants in 20 states, according to a release. Both concepts are a mix of company-owned and franchised restaurants.

There is little overlap in locations. More than half The Egg & I locations are in Colorado and Texas, where First Watch has few stores. And the Egg & I has eight Florida locations, where First Watch has a large presence. The Egg & I has one Gulf Coast location, in Riverview.

“The Egg & I is a wonderful concept with a loyal following that has experienced tremendous growth — particularly over the past several years,” First Watch President and CEO Ken Pendery says in the release. “We saw this acquisition as an opportunity to expand our presence in markets where we don't currently operate.”

First Watch executives say the acquisition, which gives First Watch 267 restaurants in 26 states, is significant for multiple reasons. For one, the combined organization immediately becomes the leading player in the breakfast category, which is the fastest-growing segment in the restaurant industry, the firm says.

The move also adds to the growth First Watch has experienced over the past few years. That includes opening new company-owned restaurants and franchised locations nationwide. One recent franchise agreement was for 15 future locations in the Dallas/Fort Worth area over the next five years. That deal, First Watch's largest-ever franchise agreement, is with prominent Latino-American hospitality franchisor Guillermo Perales.

The Egg & I was founded in 1987 in Fort Collins, Colo.

“This partnership with First Watch not only allows us to create the largest restaurant company in the breakfast, brunch and lunch category, but it also provides an opportunity to combine the incredible strengths of these two leading brands, creating a better guest experience than ever before,” The Egg & I President and CEO Don Lamb says in the release.

 

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