Pei Wei’s sale marks Centerbridge’s latest and final move to offload P.F. Chang’s and its sister concepts. In March, the firm sold the Asian sit-down chain to TriArtisan Capital Advisors LLC and Paulson & Co Inc. for an undisclosed amount. At the time, the deal was speculated to rake in as much as $700 million — Centerbridge bought both P.F Chang’s and Pei Wei in 2012 for $1.1 billion.
…It will be interesting to see how this change of hands impacts Pei Wei’s growth plans. The restaurant has made tech a bigger part of its strategy of late, tapping its first CIO, Chris Andrews, last fall. Andrews told CIO Dive he oversees digital innovation at the chain, and replaced Pei Wei’s “very unstable, very costly” custom online ordering application with online restaurant ordering platform Olo. With a deep-pocketed private equity firm at the wheel, the chain could continue to double down on digital innovation to improve efficiencies and capture new growth.
…There is still plenty of room for Pei Wei to grow in the Asian restaurant market. The segment isn’t as crowded as other popular food genres — only 8.6% of the top 500 U.S. chains in 2016 were Asian concepts. But Asian food is the fastest-growing food type in America, rising 135% between 1999 and 2015. Limited-service Asian food concepts also grew sales 8.9% in 2018. This growth is luring competitors to the playing field, with Cheesecake Factory launching fast casual Asian concept Social Monk in February, and more could follow.