New majority owner for Captain D's

Sun Capital sells to firm with Uno, Buca, Johnny Rockets on its résumé

The Florida-based private equity firm that bought Captain D's in the spring of 2010 has booked its gains after the restaurant chain's strong turnaround, selling to another investment shop with a lot of experience in the food business.

Centre Partners of New York and Los Angeles has paid an undisclosed amount for Sun Capital Partners' majority stake in Captain D's, which runs more than 500 restaurants in 25 states and on military bases overseas. Sun Capital had stepped in at Nashville-based Captain D's three and a half years ago as the chain was seeing same-stores slip steadily, had trimmed its store count and had turned over some senior executives.

Since then, led by CEO Phil Greifeld and a number of other new leaders, the company has revamped its operations, refreshed its branding and posted same-store gains every month for more than two years. (For our Leaders magazine cover on how Greifeld launched that turnaround, click here.)

“We are extremely proud of the transformation and revitalization of Captain D’s,” said Marc Leder, co-CEO at Sun Capital. “We’re confident that the combination of operational improvements and customer-focused solutions that have been achieved over the past three years will enable the business to continue to build on its strong market position.”

Like Sun Capital — which also owns Boston Market, Smokey Bones Barbeque & Grill and Bar Louie Restaurants, among others — Centre Partners focuses a lot of its capital and attention on the restaurant sector. The firm also owns frozen entrees and snacks maker Bellisio Foods as well as specialty coffee company Distant Lands. In the past, it has invested in Uno Restaurant Holdings, Buca and Johnny Rockets, among others.