Restaurant News

First Watch acquires The Egg & I to double number of restaurants, expand footprint

UNIVERSITY PARK -- First Watch acquired The Egg & I restaurants Wednesday, a move that will expand First Watch's geographic footprint and roughly double the number of restaurants the company operates or franchises.

The First Watch company, headquartered on Cooper Creek Boulevard in University Park, now has 267 restaurants in 26 states with a combined 18 under development. Sixty-five of the 267 locations are in Florida.

Terms of the agreement between the companies were not released.

First Watch CEO Ken Pendery said the main benefit of the deal for First Watch is gaining a larger platform for success. There is about a 10 percent overlap in the geographic areas covered by the two companies.

First Watch is primarily in Missouri, Ohio, Indiana and Florida with some locations sprinkled on the Northeast coast. The Egg & I has more than 50 of its 114 locations in Texas and Colorado.

"That's why we really like this opportunity," Pendery said. "It's a very similar company, and to be able to combine the synergy and menu and expanded footprint to market very successfully is a great opportunity for both companies."

First Watch made its Colorado debut in Denver on Tuesday and now has 26 additional locations in the Centennial State under The Egg & I name.

Chris Tomasso, chief marketing officer for First Watch, said the restaurants will continue to operate under the two separate name for now. The Egg & I management team and employees will also keep their positions.

First Watch is a California-born chain started in 1983. In 1986, the company moved its headquarters to the Bradenton/Sarasota area. The Egg & I started in 1987 in Fort Collins, Colo., and the company's main offices are now located in Centennial, Colo.

Tomasso said they have no plans to move the locations of First Watch or The Egg & I's headquarters. Pendley and his team hope to expand The Egg & I's lunch menu and "maintain the success of the brand for a successful future."

"This partnership with First Watch not only allows us to create the largest restaurant company in the breakfast, brunch and lunch category, but it also provides an opportunity to combine the incredible strengths of these two leading brands, creating a better guest experience than ever before," Don Lamb, president and CEO of The Egg & I, said in a statement. "I had the chance to spend quite a bit of time with First Watch CEO Ken Pendery and his executive team, and I have no doubt that we will work well together."

Janelle O'Dea, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow her on Twitter @jayohday.