flickr: Larry Miller
Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q was founded in 1985 and has since spread to seven states.

Prominent Private-Equity Firm Buys Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q

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The 37-unit chain joins a portfolio that includes Arby's and CKE Restaurants.
By Danny Klein July 2017 Chain Restaurants

Prominent private-equity firm Roark Capital Group added Alabama-based Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q to its portfolio. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Roark Capital Group announced that its affiliate acquired a majority stake in the 37-unit chain, which started in 1985 and has since spread to seven states, including Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

“It was important for us to find a private equity partner that is aligned with our commitment to high quality, fresh barbecue and Southern cuisine,” says Nick Pihakis, who along with his father, Jim, founded the chain. “Roark is a highly-respected PE firm, with a strong track record of investing in restaurant brands to position them for sustainable long-term growth. They are an ideal partner for us to reach our expansion goals, while remaining true to our extremely high quality standards.”

Roark’s portfolio includes Arby’s, CKE Restaurants (parent company of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s), Corner Bakery, FOCUS Brands (Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, Carvel Ice Cream, Cinnabon, McAlister’s Deli, Moe’s Southwest Grill, and Schlotzsky’s), Il Fornaio, Jimmy John’s, Miller’s Ale House, and Naf Naf Grille. Massage Envy and Pet Retail Brands (owner of Pet Supermarket and Pet Valu) are among Roark’s other brands.

Overall, Roark has invested in 60 multi-unit companies and 20 restaurant brands. Roark’s most recent acquisition took place in September when it purchased a majority stake in sandwich chain Jimmy John’s.

Brian Lyman, the chief operating officer of Jim ‘N  Nick’s Bar-B-Q and a 12-year veteran with the brand, was promoted to president with the move. Phil Hickey, a 35-year industry veteran, will become chairman of Jim ‘N Nick’s. He was the former CEO of RARE Hospitality and is currently the chairman of Miller’s Ale House. RARE Hospitality operated LongHorn Steakhouse before its acquisition by Darden Restaurants in 2007.

“Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q is highly differentiated, offering authentic, scratch-made cooking to guests choosing to dine-in, carry-out, drive-thru or cater and has a tremendous regional following and strong growth potential. The food is craveable and is served with wonderful Southern hospitality. We look forward to working closely with Phil, Brian, Nick, and the rest of the passionate and talented team members at Jim ‘N Nick’s,” says Geoff Hill, principal at Roark Capital Group in a statement,

Jim ‘N Nick’s is known for its dine-in service as well as drive-thru and catering. The barbecue and smoked meat offerings of beef, chicken, pork, and turkey can be paired with a variety of sauces, and the chain’s signature cheese biscuits are regionally revered.