Dunkin' Brands Sells Togo's To Ex-Exec, Equity Firm

A private equity firm in San Francisco has purchased Togo's Eateries, franchisor of a fast-casual sandwich chain on the West Coast, from Dunkin' Brands, parent company of Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin-Robbins. No financial details were disclosed.

Mainsail Partners now holds six portfolio companies, from services to software--and is eager to "build Togo's as a brand," says Jason Payne, managing partner in the private equity firm. "It has a high degree of awareness in California." Payne clearly is enamored of the brand, brushing aside a warning that Canton, Mass.-based Dunkin' Donuts--flatbread sandwich in hand--is expanding south and west. "Have you ever had a Togo's sandwich?" he answered.

The eatery has 261 establishments in the western U.S. that generate $150 million a year in sales, Payne says. Mainsail will take advantage of the management team in place, with Tony Gioia acting not only as investment partner but as chairman/CEO of Togo Holdings, LLC.

Gioia was an executive with Dunkin' Brands from 1990 to 1999, during which time he was president of Baskin-Robbins and sat on the corporation's Retailing Executive Board. "I'm looking forward to working with the Togo's management team and the franchisee community to enable long term success for the brand and the retail system," he said in a statement.



Togo's opened its first location nearly 40 years ago in San Jose, Calif., where the company is headquartered.

Most recently, an ad campaign helped phase in a new logo and put an emphasis on healthier fare, underscored by a new product line called salad wraps. At that time, a brand manager at Togo's said it was repositioning the brand away from sandwich shops and deli style "and anything related to quick-service restaurants and into fast casual."

The salad wraps were the focus of the first three new TV ads which depicted surfers and snowboarders in action as a surf guitar plays. Tagline: "Fuel for your fire."

Online efforts and sampling will support. Undisclosed spending was probably more than the $50,000 Dunkin' reportedly spent behind the brand each of the past two years. Togo's also closed dozens of underperforming units, down from 356 in 2005.

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