Greer Cos. sells Cheddar’s franchise locations, retains large stake in company

Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen said Thursday that it has completed its acquisition of 44 restaurant locations from Lexington-based Greer Companies, Cheddar’s largest franchisee.

Lee Greer, president of Greer Companies, said that his company will still own the buildings and land associated with the restaurants and will be a minority shareholder with Cheddar’s, holding a seat on its board for the first time.

“We’re getting rolled up with the Cheddar’s corporate brand,” Greer said Thursday.

He said the sale allows his company “to roll a significant amount of equity back into the company.”

Greer said that getting out of day-to-day management of Cheddar’s locations leaves Greer Companies with a decision about how it’s going to focus its attentions in the future: “I have not decided what we’re going to do,” Greer said.

But he is nonetheless glad to still be associated with Cheddar’s at the corporate level: “Cheddar’s has got a lot of great days ahead of it. We were just a franchisee, and had limited growth potential.”

He said that the 6,500 employees of the Greer-held Cheddar’s restaurants “are now a member of the national brand. They have opportunities.”

Greer Companies held franchises in Kentucky, Tennessee, most of West Virginia, several locations in Ohio, Indiana and North Carolina and one in Virginia.

Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen is based in Irving, Texas, with locations in 23 states. After Thursday’s acquisition, the corporation will own 139 of its 164 locations nationwide. Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen is a portfolio company of L Catterson and Oak Investment Partners, which also includes such brands as Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza, Edible Arrangements and Noodles & Company.

Cheryl Truman: 859-231-3202, @CherylTruman