The Lost Cajun’s New Owner Wants to Re-Start Growth After Bankruptcy | Franchise Mergers and Acquisitions

Why did Executive Decisions Group Inc. buy The Lost Cajun, the restaurant chain founded by Raymond “Griff” Griffin that emerged from bankruptcy protection last December with debts shed? “Oh my goodness, for so many reasons,” said new owner Robert Stidham of the 24-unit chain that began franchising in 2015.

“The food is great, the people are terrific, I love the culture of please and thank you and you’re welcome,” added Stidham, founder and CEO of Summa Franchise Consulting, an affiliate of Executive Decisions.

In its first outright buyout after taking minority stakes in a handful of other concepts, Executive Decisions bought 100 percent of The Lost Cajun Enterprises, the franchise company, and The Lost Cajun Spice Company, which provides products to franchisees as well as packaged goods to retailers.

He called the latter “a huge, huge missed opportunity. We’re working right now to move into wholesale distribution for retail sale, for things like our Swamp Salt and our Hot Sauce.” They also acquired The Lost Cajun Slidell, Louisiana, location, which will be used as a training center.

“The one thing that is unusual, we have a long-term agreement with Griff, to be an adviser and a consultant. You would not buy this from me, I’m not the lost Cajun,” said Stidham, who says Griffin is “a little bit like Harland Sanders” of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame.

“We own all of the intellectual property surrounding Raymond Griffin as founder of the brand: every photograph, every image. We did a perpetual license agreement for his likeness, image and so forth, because that is where we come from.”

What’s more, said Stidham about Griffin: “He’s a lovable guy.” Read more about founder Griff Griffin and The Lost Cajun here.

Stidham calls The Lost Cajun “a very economically sound franchisor,” after it emerged from bankruptcy court last year. “The numbers are great,” with store level average unit volumes topping $1 million, he said. Many restaurants are located in smaller cities, such as Byram, Mississippi, and Frisco, Colorado, with rents and wages lower than elsewhere. “The business asset itself is well-performing. We hope this is a good to great story.”

In 2021, Stidham won the lifetime achievement award for contributions to international franchising from the International Franchise Association. In 2018, after consulting and holding executive positions for other franchises for years, “I looked in the mirror and said, this is silly, you have cash, you have operating expertise, you have a great team of people. Why don’t you start looking at things to invest in?”

His first investment was HomeCare Advocacy Network out of Omaha, where he’s chairman of the board. “That investment has proven itself beautifully, unbelievably. We just sole the master franchise agreement for Switzerland.”

He has big plans for The Lost Cajun, too, with dreams of 200 or 300 restaurants. “If I’m wrong I guess I’m going to lose a bunch of money, but I’m not in the money-losing business. If I look at our numbers, I’m right,” he declared.

Cost of investment in The Lost Cajun ranges from $400,000 to $650,000, and a tweaked offering and new franchise disclosure document are in the works, he said.

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