Captain D’s CEO reveals expansion plans for 2018 and beyond

Published on
January 19, 2018

Nashville, Tennessee-based Captain D’s, which operates 530 restaurants in 26 U.S. states, has been on an expansion push over the past year. Partnering with franchisees, the chain announced that it would open numerous restaurants in Tennessee, Texas, Alabama, Florida, and South Carolina over the next few years, as part of a company strategy to enter new operating territories.

In December, Captain D’s was sold by private equity firm Centre Partners, which had owned the brand since 2013, to Sentinel Capital Partners. The firm had gained value under Centre’s and Greifeld’s leadership, realizing same-store sales growth for six connective years. Sentinel has extensive experience in the restaurant industry, having invested in TGI Friday’s, Checkers/Rally’s, Border Foods, and other major U.S. restaurant operators and franchises.

In announcing the transaction, Sentinel executives said they believe that Captain D’s seafood menu is “uniquely positioned in the QSR [quick-service restaurant] market, a sub-category that has outgrown the broader restaurant industry since 2011.”

Following his company’s sale, Greifeld said he was excited about the new ownership.

"Sentinel's more than two decades of experience in the restaurant franchising sector makes the firm an ideal partner for us as we enter a new phase of expansion,” Greifeld said. “We see significant opportunities to grow inside our existing footprint, as well as into new regions.”

Soon after the transaction, in an exclusive interview with SeafoodSource, Captain D’s CEO Phil Greifeld spoke more extensively about his firm’s additional expansion and profitability plans for 2018 and beyond.

SeafoodSource: What is the significance of Sentinel Capital buying Captain D's? Will the company's investment help Captain D's expand to new states or countries?

Greifeld: Sentinel Capital Partners’ acquisition is a testament to our historic record of compounding success and growth, and to the future growth of our highly unique and well-positioned seafood brand. We plan to open 35 new restaurants in 2018, growing to 50 new openings per year by 2021.

SeafoodSource: What are your goals for Captain D’s after the acquisition? What are your goals and plans for the chain in 2018 and over the next few years?

Greifeld: Our brand goals have been consistent year after year, and they remain the same today: to exceed our guests’ expectations while heightening our brand presence in the marketplace. We have successfully carved out a unique and defensible niche, and we are enthused about further advancing our brand in the years ahead.

SeafoodSource: Many U.S. restaurant operators are having challenges with profitability. How has Captain D's maintained continued annual growth? What must Captain D's do to remain competitive in the current marketplace? 

Greifeld: The state of the industry remains highly competitive and the battle for quality labor and real estate remains fierce, with both experiencing inflationary pressures. Captain D’s remains competitive, and continues to grow, by employing a guest-centric culture across all of its operating disciplines. All team members are empowered, and encouraged, to always do what is best for our guests.  Our passionate guest-culture has – and will continue – to drive our success. It’s really that simple. 

SeafoodSource: Does Captain D's plan to add new types of seafood to its menu, or new types of dishes, such as poke bowls, in 2018?

Greifeld: We are a highly innovative company, and this includes our menu development.  As such, we are continually seeking top-quality suppliers that can assist us with product innovation that will resonate with our guests. Our culinary and procurement teams are talented and among the best in the industry, and they continually seek new ideas for future limited time offerings or menu inclusion.

Contributing Editor

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