Cafe Rio, a fast-casual Mexican restaurant company headquartered in Salt Lake City, has been acquired by Freeman Spogli & Co. of Los Angeles. According to a release from the company, Cafe Rio’s existing management team will continue to lead the company and will retain a meaningful equity stake in the business. Cafe Rio was purchased from Greenwich, Connecticut-based KarpReilly, which bought the business in 2004. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Founded in 1997, Cafe Rio operates over 100 restaurants in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Maryland, Montana, Nevada, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming. 

“Cafe Rio is a differentiated restaurant concept with a focus on serving ‘craveable’ food that is 100 percent made-from-scratch,” said Christian Johnson, a partner at Freeman Spogli.  “The company’s unwavering commitment to food quality and customer service have engendered an extremely loyal customer following, which has led to strong financial results and an impressive track record of consistent growth.  We are excited to partner with Dave Gagnon, Steve Vaughan and the management team at Cafe Rio as the company enters its next phase of growth.”

“We are very pleased to be working with Freeman Spogli as we embark on this next chapter for the company,” said Gagnon, CEO of Cafe Rio. “We are incredibly proud of the culture we have built during our partnership with KarpReilly, and believe it provides us with a strong foundation for future growth. Through our new partnership with Freeman Spogli, we will be able to leverage their team’s extensive experience growing restaurant concepts as we look to expand Cafe Rio in both existing and new markets.”

Piper Jaffray acted as financial advisors to Cafe Rio and KarpReilly. Ropes & Gray LLP and Kirton McConkie PC acted as legal advisors to KarpReilly. Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP acted as legal advisor to Freeman Spogli.

Freeman Spogli & Co. is a private equity firm dedicated exclusively to investing in and partnering with management in consumer-related and distribution companies in the United States.  Since its founding in 1983, Freeman Spogli has invested over $4 billion in 57 portfolio companies with aggregate transaction value of approximately $22 billion.

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