AUA Private Equity invests in Tijuana Flats

AUA Private Equity Partners LLC has invested in Tijuana Flats Holdings LLC via a recapitalization. Financial terms weren’t announced. Orlando, Florida-based Tijuana Flats is restaurant chain offering Tex-Mex cuisine.

PRESS RELEASE

New York, NY – August 3, 2015 – AUA Private Equity Partners, LLC (“AUA Equity”), a private equity firm investing in family-owned businesses and companies benefiting from the growth of the U.S. Hispanic population announced today it has completed a recapitalization of Tijuana Flats Holdings, LLC (“Tijuana Flats”), a leading fast-casual, Tex-Mex restaurant chain based in the Southeastern U.S. AUA Equity’s strategic partnership with Tijuana Flats will help fund the company’s expansion into new markets, enhance its brand and promote its further development. The recapitalization was completed in partnership with the company’s owners, Brian Wheeler and Camp Fitch, both of whom will continue to remain closely involved in strategic decisions going forward. Brad Kaemmer will continue to lead the company as Chief Executive Officer and no other management changes will be made. In conjunction with the transaction, Andy Unanue, Steven Flyer and Kyce Chihi, from AUA Equity, will be joining the Board of Directors along with experienced restaurant and real estate investors Barry Goff and Mike Wood. Brian Wheeler, Founder of Tijuana Flats, will remain on the board and Camp Fitch will serve as the Chairman. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Tijuana Flats, founded in 1995 in Orlando, Florida, is a high-growth restaurant chain offering made-to-order Tex-Mex cuisine with fresh ingredients in a fun, service-oriented fast-casual environment.  With every restaurant decorated in distinctive wall art and designed around a hot sauce bar that includes 12-15 flavors, Tijuana Flats embraces the “unchain-chain” approach to dining. Giving back to communities where they are located is the heart of Tijuana Flats restaurants and the Tijuana Flats ‘Just In Queso’ Foundation. The Foundation has contributed over $2.1M in support of organizations benefitting children and our brave military and stands ready to provide a helping hand when needed, “just in case.” The Company has over 110 corporate and franchise locations in the Southeastern U.S. Tijuana Flats was recently named to Fast Casual Magazine’s 2015 Top 100 Movers & Shakers list.

 

“It’s been incredible watching the growth and the extraordinary loyalty among all of our guests throughout the years,” said Wheeler. “With AUA as a partner and our great management team in place, I look forward to the future and continued success of Tijuana Flats.”

 

“We are pleased to be partnering with the founders of Tijuana Flats to help accelerate the company’s further growth into Florida and into out-of-state markets,” said Steven Flyer, Partner at AUA Equity.  “Tijuana Flats is well positioned to continue its strong and impressive growth in the fast casual segment by leveraging its fresh ingredients, customizable offerings and fast, high-touch service offering.”

 

The AUA Equity deal team was led by Partner Steven Flyer, Vice President Kyce Chihi, Senior Associate Jack Lin, and Summer Associate Leland Carter. Ropes & Gray provided legal counsel to AUA Equity.

 

About Tijuana Flats

Established in 1995 in Winter Park, Florida, Tijuana Flats is a unique, fast-casual Tex-Mex dining experience featuring superior guest service and fresh, made-to-order food. Tijuana Flats has 110 locations in Florida, Georgia, Indiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia. The brand has been named to the Fast Casual Magazine’s 2015 Top 100 Movers & Shakers list. For more information on Tijuana Flats, visit www.tijuanaflats.com.

 

About AUA Equity

AUA Private Equity Partners, LLC is a New York-based, operationally-focused, lower middle-market private equity firm providing strategic capital to companies in the consumer, media, and business services sectors, with a particular focus on family-owned businesses and companies benefiting from the growth of the U.S. Hispanic population in the United States. AUA Equity makes equity investments of $10 to $50 million in companies that generate in excess of $3 million in EBITDA. For more information on AUA Equity, visit www.auaequity.com.