• Cici's Pizza buyout for $41.5 million completed

LOS ANGELES—Los Angeles private investment firm Levine Leichtman Capital Partners (LLCP) has completed a management-led buyout of Coppell, Texas-based Cici's Pizza, a 450-unit buffet chain.

According to a news release, Cici's founder and majority owner Joe Croce (see releated stories CiCi's founder, Croce, selling pizza chain to management team and CiCi's Pizza founder insisted sale be an inside deal) sold his interest in Cici's to its current management team: Craig Moore, president; Robert Kulick, president of JMC Restaurant Distribution (the purchasing arm of Cici's); Forbes Anderson, chief financial officer; and Robert Parent, vice president of development.

LLCP received a 28 percent equity ownership in Cici's in connection with its investment.

According to the release, Cici's annual gross sales are more than $335 million a year.

Currently the chain has development agreements for 350 restaurants. Franchisee group Pizza Pals, comprised of former Pizza Hut executives Allan Huston and Pat Williamson, and former Boston Market executive Larry Zwain, have signed on to open 100 units in Colorado (see related story Friends Make Fine Franchisees). The trio expects to open those units in Colorado alone.

LLCP made a $41.5 million subordinated debt investment with Frost Bank and GE.

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