Capital Buzz: Blackstreet Capital dines out on Jerry’s Subs & Pizza


Blackstreet Capital Management recently acquired Jerrys' Subs and Pizza. Interior shot: Aspen Hills location. Exterior : Fallsgrove location

Blackstreet Capital Management recently bought the rights to Jerry’s Subs & Pizza, the iconic mid-Atlantic restaurant chain known for its pizza and cheese steaks — and its radio commercials featuring hungry presidents “Bill Clinton” and “Barack Obama.”

Chevy Chase-based Blackstreet, run by local financier Murry Gunty, bought three company-owned Jerry’s and the rights to royalty fees from 65 others in West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia and Delaware.

“We bought it last month,” said Gunty, who declined to say how much he paid for the Gaithersburg-based company, which opened its first restaurant outside Washington in 1954.

Blackstreet bought the name, the intellectual property and the responsibility to market and support the franchisees. Gunty bought Jerry’s from Dave Terzian.

Each unit averages around $500,000 in revenue, which comes to about $35 million in systemwide sales.

Blackstreet has a lot of experience with running restaurant and franchise businesses. At one time it was the third-largest franchisee of Papa John’s pizza stores; it was the franchisor to a 250-unit group of printing stores called Alphagraphics.

Gunty still owns a controlling interest in a San Francisco-based casual dining Italian restaurant chain called Pasta Pomodoro, which has 20 units.

“We’ve owned a lot of different restaurant companies and franchisors,” Gunty said. “There are some fairly basic operational things that we’ve been able to do at other restaurant companies ... that we think will benefit Jerry’s franchisees.”

Gunty said he plans to introduce new products, including family and value meals, that could broaden the customer base beyond cheese steaks and pizza.

“A combination of operations improvements, along with enhancing the value proposition for the customers, will really help the franchisees,” he said.

One other thing. Those voices on the commercials are not really Clinton and Obama.

Enlisting the military

ShalomLearning, the Bethesda-based for-profit Hebrew education company, is going after the Jewish military family market.

It has created an online version, which launches in the fall, aimed at enhancing Jewish engagement by children and families of military families in order to develop a lifelong love of Jewish learning, according to ShalomLearning chief executive Sarah Steinberg.

Steinberg said there are between 10,000 and 14,000 Jewish families in the U.S. military stationed across the globe, which will cost $800 a year for each child.

“We are an online education service to keep Jews together, and to reinforce their Jewish identity,” Steinberg said. “We expect revenue to be a $25 to $30 million business in three to five years. And the military is just one niche market I’m going after.”

ShalomLearning, which offers live classroom instruction as well as the new online hybrid, was founded in 2011 by Andrew Rosen and Devin Schain.

The Buzz hears:

Anthony Lanier’s EastBanc and Jamestown Properties nailed another big “get.” Kitchenware retailer Sur La Table signed a 10-year lease for 326 King St. in Old Town Alexandria. Sur La Table has already moved in to the 5,970-square-foot space. EastBanc and Jamestown own the 11,000-square-foot building on the corner of King and Royal streets. Sur La Table replaces a CVS, which moved to a new location.

Washington-based Transportation Management Services was in Las Vegas last week, providing hotel bus shuttle services for the U.S. Travel Association’s International Pow Wow, which is the travel industry’s big, annual — well, pow wow.

Owner Frank Sherman said he was presenting preliminary plans for sightseeing tours in the Washington area, including day tours to Annapolis and Mount Vernon. Sherman sponsored an opening reception for 3,000 at the Mandalay Bay Hotel. Sherman’s bus business, Horizon Coach Lines, is promoting its 16 national locations, including Washington and Tuxedo, Md.

Two former Washington RedskinsDerrick Dockery and Rocky McIntosh — are preparing for their post-careers by getting executive MBAs from George Washington University last month. Dockery, 32, is a former offensive lineman. McIntosh, 30, is a former Redskins linebacker. Both live in the area. The Mid-Atlantic Venture Association hosted the two athletes-turned-budding businessmen at MAVA’s Capital Connection Conference earlier this month at the Arena Stage.

Carlyle watch

Carlyle Group this fall plans to begin raising up to $4 billion for a U.S. real estate fund, which is one of the largest real estate funds raised anywhere in recent years. The firm also sold a Manhattan skyscraper for $1.3 billion, making a profit of more than half a billion dollars. The fund will be headed by Robert G. Stuckey.

Factoid of the week

580,000That’s the number of Facebook followers for Lolly Wolly Doodle, the North Carolina-based social commerce apparel company that received a $20 million investment last week from a group of investors led by Revolution Growth, the District-based “speed-up” investment fund headed by former AOLers Steve Case, Ted Leonsis and Donn Davis. Lolly Wolly specializes in children’s apparel and accessories, and sells 90 percent of its products online.

Thomas Heath is a local business reporter and columnist, writing about entrepreneurs and various companies big and small in the Washington Metropolitan area. Previously, he wrote about the business of sports for The Post’s sports section for most of a decade.
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