American restaurateur Bradley D. Blum and Brazilian-based investment firm GP Investments, Ltd. today announced the formation of a new restaurant company, FoodFirst Global Restaurants, Inc.™. With the intention to be a progressive, relevant, diverse and highly successful restaurant company for the 21st century, FoodFirst Global Restaurants has acquired its first brands, Brio Tuscan Grille™ (Brio) and Bravo Cucina Italiana™ (Bravo) in a transaction which closed on May 24, 2018.
The all-new board of directors includes Brad Blum as Chairman and CEO with Antonio Bonchristiano, GP Investments CEO, serving as Vice-Chairman. In addition, it was announced that leading restaurant executive Bob Mock will join the FoodFirst Global Restaurants leadership team and again partner with Blum, serving as Chief Operations Officer. Diane Reed will stay on as the company’s Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer and Secretary.
“This inspired partnership that has created FoodFirst Global Restaurants represents an entrepreneurial endeavor with all parties contributing significant capital and professional skill,” said Blum. “As a private company, the board of directors can take a long-term view and allow the leadership team to focus on developing superior restaurant brands that serve superior food with a superior guest experience. We will set up our diverse employee teams for success, starting with the critical importance of having superior restaurant general managers who are well trained leaders. We believe that focus will create a virtuous cycle that will quickly result in superior profitability. GP Investments is the perfect partner to develop this unique, differentiated company. The opportunities for growth and expansion are significant.”
The Brio and Bravo brands have historically enjoyed success in the polished casual dining segment. The brands now have the opportunity to be refreshed. “We will do this by relentlessly focusing on the quality of the food, improving the menu, sharpening the operations, remodeling the restaurants and delivering a highly differentiated guest experience,” said Blum. “We took the company private, so we could invest in the company. That begins with our almost 10,000 employees who represent the face of the Brio and Bravo brands. By being a private company, this has enabled the liquidity crisis to be solved with much lower debt on the balance sheet and significant investment capital added to profitably grow the business.”
GP Investments, one of the leading investment firms in Brazil, has deep experience in the restaurant industry with brands including Fogo De Chao where the firm enacted a highly profitable turnaround and successfully expanded the chain into the U.S. GP Investments is the lead investor in LEON Naturally Fast Food, a progressive restaurant company headquartered in London that is quickly expanding throughout the UK and northern Europe, and will soon be introduced into the United States.
“Brad has a proven track record with multiple restaurant companies. That is why we are making this investment. His diverse teams drive profitability by creating a great culture, focusing on the food, achieving operations excellence, consistently offering an enjoyable guest experience and providing strong brand communication,” said Antonio Bonchristiano. “As owner-partners, we place our confidence in his leadership and that of his team. We expect a long, profitable relationship.”
“We thank outgoing CEO Brian O’Malley for his leadership in helping to orchestrate a smooth transition as the company went private. We also thank co-founders Rick Doody and Chris Doody for having created a legacy that they now leave in our care. We have great respect for the work that has been done to build these valuable brands.”
FoodFirst Global Restaurants will be grounded within a philosophy Blum created which is referenced as Good Food for the Planet™. The five defining pillars are to consistently provide food that is:
- Exceptionally GOOD tasting
- Remarkably GOOD for you
- You feel GOOD afterwards
- A GOOD everyday value
- GOOD for the environment
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