Back Yard Burgers Sold to Private-Equity Group

Back Yard Burgers celebrated its 30th anniversary in May.
Back Yard Burgers celebrated its 30th anniversary in May.
Back Yard Burgers

Back Yard Burger's 30th anniversary is turning out to be a milestone year in more ways than one. The company announced Monday that Axum Capital Partners, a Charlotte, North Carolina-based private equity firm, acquired a controlling interest from Pharos Capital Group, LLC.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“Partnering with Axum creates an exciting opportunity for our dedicated franchise partners and loyal team members to reach the next level of success,” says David McDougall, CEO of the 55-unit chain, in a statement. “We’re well on our way to becoming the market leader in our category, and we’re thrilled to be working with Axum’s experienced leadership team.”

There are currently 32 franchised and 23 company-owned stores across 11 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Illinois.

For Back Yard Burgers, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in May, the move further cements the brand’s comeback following a rough post-recession patch. Back Yard Burgers had 85 locations in 2012 when it filed for bankruptcy. The fast casual dropped nearly 100 units from its top-level number of 180 stores.

Back Yard Burgers also changed its structure over time, spending its early days as a public company before private equity firms Pharos and Cherokee Advisors turned it private in 2007.

Monday’s announcement could signal accelerated growth, Axum says. “David and his team have made great strides and we are pleased to support their next phase of growth,” says Edna Morris, Axum managing director, in a statement. “The better burger category remains strong, and Back Yard Burgers is poised for growth.”

“We will continue to maintain our disciplined and comprehensive investment approach and are pleased to add Back Yard Burgers to our portfolio; what I love most about Back Yard Burgers is the food,” adds Muhsin Muhammad, Axum managing director, in a statement.  “It has the best-tasting burgers, and we are looking forward to being part of its future success.”

McDougall joined Back Yard Burgers around five years ago and will continue to lead the brand. The company says “Axum’s deep industry expertise will enable Back Yard Burgers to achieve its long-term objectives.”

Axum focuses on strategic equity investments in middle-market operating companies across North America, including food and beverage and educational services. Full-service brand Wild Wing Café is one of their chains.