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Two South Florida chain restaurant heavyweights are becoming one – North Palm Beach’s BurgerFi and Fort Lauderdale’s Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza – in a $161.3 million deal announced Monday.
In a news release larded with corporate-speak, BurgerFi did not explain why it bought ACFP, currently owned by L. Catterton, a private-equity firm with holdings in Primanti Bros., Velvet Taco, Leslie’s Pool Supply and Peloton.
“This is our first acquisition in building a premium multibrand platform,” Ophir Sternberg, BurgerFi’s executive chairman, said in a statement. “We are well positioned to continue the growth of our existing BurgerFi brand and leverage our scale to unlock value from strategic acquisitions. Our focus on premium fast-casual brands allows us to share expertise, capabilities and best practices across the board.”
The release says ACFP now operates 61 locations in eight states, while BurgerFi runs 116 locations nationwide.
BurgerFi says it plans to expand the use of Anthony’s delivery-only ghost kitchen, “The Roasted Wing,” which began in November 2020, as well as opening “smaller, fast-casual” versions of the Anthony’s chain. BurgerFi’s release described the fast-casual eateries as “an additional lever for expected future growth.”
“Built in a smaller footprint to enable broader real estate opportunities and an even more streamlined operating model, this new format is anticipated to be an exciting growth avenue for both corporate and franchised expansion,” the release reads.
Anthony’s founder Anthony Bruno opened his first namesake pizzeria in 2002 in Fort Lauderdale, modeled after the old New York way of firing pizzas using coal-fired ovens. The first location burned coal at 900 degrees using high-grade anthracite from Pennsylvania, giving the pies a charred, crispy taste. Anthony’s became a hit soon after, with customers craving ACFPs wings and smoky-flavored pies (which cook in about four minutes). Bruno expanded the chain to more than 50 locations before L. Catterton acquired it in 2016. (Bruno’s name is still used in corporate branding on the restaurant’s website, but he no longer has any say in its menu or operations.)
BurgerFi, which debuted its first location in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea in 2011, expanded even faster than Anthony’s. The fast-casual chain’s Angus beef burgers, hot dogs, natural cane sodas, custards, beer and wine connected with diners seeking higher-end alternatives to fast-food hamburgers. Founders David Manero, John Rosatti and Lee Goldberg started aggressively franchising from the start, selling 175 franchises within the first year.