Scottsdale-based Peter Piper Pizza has new owners.
Washington, D.C.-based private equity investment firm ACON Investments said Monday it bought the popular pizza-and-play restaurants for an undisclosed price.
The 135-store chain’s longtime management team will stay in place, and the headquarters will remain in Scottsdale, said Daniel Jinich, ACON managing partner.
“We think Peter Piper is a very well-run operation with significant growth potential,” he said.
The management team includes CEO Frank Sbordone, who has piloted Peter Piper since 2000. Sbordone and other Peter Piper executives get a financial share in the new operation.
He said the cash infusion that comes with the new ownership will propel the business forward.
“We have the management team in place. We have the strategies in place. Now we’re a stronger, better-capitalized business and we can grow faster,” Sbordone said.
Peter Piper owns 41 restaurants and franchises another 94, with locations spread throughout the Southwestern United States and Mexico.
The typically 8,000- to 10,000-square-foot stores, famous for their vast expanse of arcade-type coin-operated games and free kiddie playground area as much as moderately priced pizza, include 14 East Valley locations.
ACON plans to grow the business by opening new stores, continuing ongoing efforts to update older stores, experimenting with different-size operations, expanding the menu, and possibly experimenting with new concepts, Jinich said.
All plans build on Peter Piper’s core strengths in attracting families, he said. The chain especially has broad appeal to the Hispanic population, and that will be a prime focus of growth, Jinich said.
“We think it is a concept well-suited to families,” Jinich said. “We see a terrific opportunity to take advantage of the continued growth and expanding purchasing power of the Hispanic population, and believe that Peter Piper is well-positioned to deliver a unique family dining experience to Hispanic and non-Hispanic consumers alike.”
The popular pizza chain was founded in 1973 in Glendale, later moved to Phoenix, and in 1998 relocated its headquarters to Scottsdale.
The company had its financial ups and downs during the first two decades. In 1992, Venture West Group, an Arizona-based real estate investment group, bought it from its original owners and started a revitalization program.
In 1995, Venture West took on new financial partners, Chicago-based Madison Dearborn Capital Partners, which infused about $13 million into the company. Peter Piper bought its biggest local rival, Pistol Pete’s Pizza, with some of the cash, upping the number of stores to more than 100 — about half company owned and half franchised.