24-year old plant-based, fast-casual concept eyes growth
ST. LOUIS (June 18, 2018): Millstone Capital Advisors, a St. Louis-based private equity management company, recently announced its purchase of the Native Foods restaurant chain. Native Foods’ management team, led by president and restaurant-industry veteran Scott McDonnell, will continue to build the brand following the acquisition.
Founded in 1994 in Palm Springs, California, Native Foods has earned the reputation as a premier plant-based, fast-casual restaurant group, with 13 restaurants in California, Colorado, Oregon and Illinois.The chain’s 100-percent plant-based menu features chef-crafted, made-from-scratch entrees with global flavors, including Pad Thai, Bulgogi Kimchi Tacos, Native Double Cheeseburger and Chicken & Waffles.
Native Foods compassionate dining focus extends beyond the menu and includes an emphasis on environmentally friendly business practices. Its unique menu and approach has earned Native Foods a crossover appeal that covers a broad segment of the population, with a majority of customers (75 percent) identifying themselves as non-vegan and non-vegetarian.
Millstone Capital Advisors’ investment and support will provide Native Foods with the resources it needs to expand, while staying true to its core values and quality, plant-based offerings. Robert Millstone, managing director of Millstone Capital Advisors, cited Native Foods loyal employees and customer base, as well as their quality product offering in a growing segment in the restaurant industry, as key factors in the decision to acquire the chain.
“To be aligned with a brand with the core values and healthy, sustainable dining options that Native Foods has is an honor,” said Millstone.“The plant-based dining segment has experienced solid year-over-year growth and Native Foods has been at the forefront of this segment for well over 20 years. We feel they are well positioned for even greater success and we intend to help them achieve this through organic, fiscally responsible and sustainable growth.”
According to a June 2017 GlobalData study, Global Trends: Top Trends in Prepared Foods 2017, the number of people in the U.S. who identified themselves as vegans increased 600 percent – from 1 to 6 percent of the population – between 2014 and 2017. In a separate trend report, respected restaurant consultancy Baum & Whitman (https://www.baumwhiteman.com/trend-reports) named plant-based dining its 2018 trend of the year, indicating that the trend is being led by meat-eaters who are reducing their meat intake in favor of vegetables, grains, fruits, and plant-based proteins.
This upward trend has not gone unnoticed in the restaurant industry, including in the fast-casual segment. QSR Magazine (Taking Root by Maggie Hennessy, March 2017) reported that increasing “craveability” of plant-based food options, combined with the health and sustainability benefits, “could have an enormous impact on the limited-service industry.” Native Foods Café has been on the forefront of this trend for nearly a quarter century.
“In 1994 our company first set out to bring compassionate dining to the fast-casual segment,” said McDonnell. “We are eager to share our passion for great food and creative, innovative and diverse menu offerings with more customers in both new and existing markets, and we’re confident Millstone Capital Advisors is the right partner to help us realize this goal.”
The acquisition of Native Foods is Millstone Capital Advisors’ second investment in the quick-service and fast-casual dining segments. In 2013, the company purchased the iconic St. Louis-based Lion’s Choice family of restaurants. Under Millstone’s ownership, the company has grown to 26 locations throughout the St. Louis metropolitan area. Both brands offer high quality, great tasting food with friendly service to the customers they serve.
About Native Foods
Founded in Palm Springs, California, in 1994, Native Foods is focused on inspiring health, happiness and a sustainable future through amazingly delicious and innovative plant-based food. Based in Chicago, Native Foods has 13 restaurants California, Colorado, Oregon and Illinois. The company’s 100-percent plant-based menu items are made from scratch daily—from its Twister Wrap and Buddha Bowl, to its Pad Thai and Bulgogi Kimchi Tacos, to its sauces, drinks, dressings and desserts. For more information, visit http://www.nativefoods.com.
About Millstone Capital Advisors
Millstone Capital Advisors is a private equity management company dedicated to helping small to mid-sized companies grow through direct investments and strategic assistance. The company has extensive experience working with companies in a broad range of industries and is primarily focusing on restaurants, manufacturing, infrastructure, financial services, information technology and health care. Based in St. Louis, the founder and principals of Millstone Capital Advisors have a long history of philanthropy and volunteer support in the region. Their collective mission includes enhancing quality of life and economic development for the people in the companies in which they invest, as well as in the communities they serve. For more information, visit http://www.millstoneca.com