Brentwood Associates has made a minority investment in Blaze Pizza, a build-your-own pizza chain that's been backed by basketball star LeBron James since its 2012 founding. The investment gives Blaze an enterprise value of more than $100 million, according to Bloomberg.
With 200 locations and on pace to generate $300 million in revenue this year, Blaze was described in a recent Forbes article as the fastest growing restaurant chain in US history. Brentwood, which closed its latest fund on $1.15 billion earlier last week, is an active investor in the food & beverage space. Coincidentally (or perhaps not), James owns a home in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Brentwood, not far from the firm's office.
PE investments in the US restaurant & bar industry have been few and far between in 2017, with just 17 such deals completed so far, per the PitchBook Platform. That's on pace for the lowest output since the 30 deals in 2009. It's also a sharp departure from 2016, when a decade-high 78 deals closed.