Lou Malnati’s Backers Exploring Sale of Deep-Dish Pizza Maker

The backers of Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria are exploring options including a sale of the Chicago-style, deep-dish pizza chain, according to people familiar with the matter.

The company could be valued at as much as $700 million, including debt, in a sale, said one of the people, who asked to not be identified because the matter isn’t public.

Shareholders, which include the Malnati family and BDT Capital Partners, are working with an adviser, the people said. The group could sell out completely, add a new shareholder or keep its existing structure, they added.

A representative for BDT Capital declined to comment. A representative for Lou Malnati’s didn’t respond to requests seeking comment.

Expectations of a post-pandemic rebound are driving deal-making in the restaurant space. Texas-based chain Torchy’s Tacos is working with advisers on an initial public offering this year while Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta agreed in February to merge his casino and restaurant empire with blank-check company Fast Acquisition Corp., Bloomberg News has reported.

Founded by investment banker Byron Trott, BDT Capital is the merchant banking arm of BDT & Co. The firm first invested in the chain in 2016, taking a significant stake, according to a report at the time in Crain’s Chicago Business.

The chain has expanded its store footprint to more than 50 locations and has a direct-to-consumer business, which is growing strongly, the people said. The chain was founded in 1971 in the Chicago suburb of Lincolnwood by Lou Malnati and his wife, Jean, according to its website.

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