🠈  Roark Capital Group  🠊

Roark Capital Group

A growing number of companies are seeking the shelter of large (often politically connected) private equity firms. Private equity firms avoid the public scrutiny of publicly traded firms.I dislike this trend as furthers the separation between businesses and the communities they serve.

With headquarters in Atlanta, Roark Capital Group was founded in 2001 by Neal Aronson who was previous a cofounder of U.S. Franchise Systems which bought Microtel and founded Best Inns. The group is named after a fictional character in Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead."


Services and Products

The company specializes in acquiring franchise systems. The vast majority of stores in this system are locally owned. In many cases, Roark bought the franchise from the original founder. I list major brands to the left.



Arby's was founded in 1964 by the Raffel Brothers Leroy and Forrest. The restaurants serve Roast Beef sandwiches as an alternative to hamburgers. The initials of Raffel Brothers and Roast Beef are "RB." Get it? RB's. The Arby's Hat logo was created by Peskin Sign Company for the original store in Boardman, Ohio.

Arby's was acquired in 1984 by DWG Corporation which bought Wendy's in 2008 to create The Wendy's/Arby's Group. Roark acquired an 80% stake in Arby's in 2011.

Auntie Anne's

Aunti Anne's started as a pretzel stand in a Middleton Pennsylvania farmer's market in 1988. The first store opened in 1992 and franchising followed soon after. The company grew rapidly with franchises in airports train stations and food courts. The Jonas' sold the company the Focus Brand division of Roark in 2010. Wikipedia reports that there over 1200 locations in the US and abroad.


Carvel is a chain of ice cream that started as an ice cream truck owned by Tom Carvel in 1929. Carvel's first stationary store opened in 1934 when he had a flat tire in Hartsdale, New York, and well, you get the picture.

In 1937, Carvel added a freezer to the Hartsdale store and began making his own frozen custard. During WWII Carvel opened a stand in Fort Bragg in North Carolina. Carvel learned new refrigeration technology and that soldiers like ice cream. He patented a device called the "Custard King" and began franchising stores soon after. The stores were noted for making a variety of decorative ice cream cakes for special occasions.

Carvel had grown to 865 stores with $300 million in sales by 1985. Carvel sold the company to Investcorp in 1989 which sold to Roark in 2001. The store locator listed 391 stores when I looked at it on Sept 1, 2014.


Cinnabon is a chain of bakeries selling high calorie cinnamon rolls. The first bakery opened in the Sea Tac Mall near Seattle. The Cinnabon franchise was bought by AFC Enterprises in 1998 and by the Roark FOCUS brand in 2004.

Cinnabon bakeries are often located in malls. The company has expanded to cobranded arrangements with Schlotsky's or in travel plazas and convenience stores.

Corner Bakery Cafe

The Corner Bakery Cafe was founded in 1991 by Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises of Chicago. It was acquired by Brinker International in 1995 then sold to Il Fornaio restaurant in 2005 which was acquired by Roark Capital Group in 2011. The restaurant offers baked goods with a breakfast and sandwich menu. The site listed 169 locations on September 1, 2014.

Il Fornaio

McAlister's Deli

Moe's Southwest Grill



Services and Products

Atkins Nutritionals

Batteries Plus


Focus Brands

GFL (German Football League)

Massage Envy

PetValu and Bosley's Petstores

Primrose Schools


Simply Floored

The Home Service Store

Waste Pro

Corporate History

This section shows select transactions that I come across in other research.

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