This story appears in full in the January/February 2016 issue of Middle Market Growth.
Walk into any one of the many Giordano’s pizza restaurants around Chicago, and you may notice the homey red-checkered tablecloths or the fresh polish on the floors. Without a doubt, you’ll notice the pizza. Deep-dish pizza pie, known to Chicagoans as “stuffed” pizza, was arguably invented here.
It’s that pizza, from the same recipe used since the first Giordano’s opened on the south side of Chicago in 1974, that drew the interest of private equity firm Victory Park Capital. The firm invested $51.5 million in November 2011, plucking the chain of 43 locations from a messy bankruptcy and turning over management of the company to a veteran in the restaurant business.
“It’s a Chicago icon,” says Chad Peterson, a principal with Victory Park and the lead investor on the Giordano’s acquisition.
“It was in restructuring, the balance sheet was challenged, but the brand, and just the concept itself, we thought had really good bones to it—we knew there was a reason for it to exist,” he adds. “We thought there was a lot of value that could be unlocked.” […]