Bobby’s Burger Place, a fast-casual restaurant chain created by Food Network star Bobby Flay, announced on Monday plans to raise $15 million by reaching out to everyday investors through a simplified public offering process.
Created in 2008 by Flay, Bobby’s Burger Palace has sought to carve out a niche in the hugely competitive burger business, with rivals ranging from the fast-food giants to fast-growing chains such as Shake Shack, Five Guys, and Smashburger. Bobby’s Burger Palace is decidedly smaller — it counts just 17 locations, mainly on the East Coast, after nearly a decade in business — but the company said it is ready to make a bolder move, using money from its public offering to expand not just in the United States, but internationally.
For that, the company plans to offer its shares under Regulation A+, Title IV of the American JOBS Act signed by President Barack Obama in 2012 and rolled out in 2015 that allows companies seeking to raise between $3 million and $50 million the chance of wooing a broader group of investors.
“While a traditional public offering is generally reserved for large institutional investors and only the clients of the investment bank, we are taking advantage of new regulations to level the playing field for all investors to participate concurrently in our IPO,” Laurence Kretchmer, managing partner of Bobby’s Burger Place, said in a statement.
While the Regulation A+ is good for young companies seeking to avoid the compliance and paperwork costs associated with a traditional IPO, the process can pose higher risks for investors, analysts say. According to WR Hambrecht + Co, an advisory firm in San Francisco, companies under Regulation A+ don’t have to present audited financial statements, prompting investors to conduct due diligence on their own, especially if the public offering is not backed by a major bank.
In a news release, Bobby’s Burger Palace said the investment bank TriPoint Global Equities, working through its online division, would act as the lead selling agent for the offering. For now, the company said it is officially “testing the waters” to see if there is enough investor interest in an offering.
Bobby’s Burger Palace has tried to set itself apart from rivals by offering cooked-to-order burgers, hand-cut french fries and milk shakes blended from proprietary ice cream. But analysts questioned whether Flay’s celebrity would translate internationally.
“I think that the market is highly competitive and the founder and chef is well-known in the Northeast, but I don’t know how this will play internationally,” said Leslie Pfrang, partner of Class V Group, an IPO advisory firm. “Most of their restaurants are in casinos and malls, so not even stand-alone. On one side, you have Shake Shack, Five Guys, and also more traditional companies trying to get their act together. And you also have a lot going on in the food industry. There’s a lot of disruption in the dining segment.”
The company offered no details about its finances in a news release and said an official offering statement related to the IPO had not yet been filed with the SEC. Executives did not respond to a request for comment.
The company said it ultimately hoped to start trading at the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “FLAY.”