Squatters pubs are back where they belong — in the hands of founders Jeff Polychronis and Peter Cole. And Wasatch’s brew pubs are joining them.
PRC Restaurant Company, which is owned in part by Polychronis and Cole, inked a deal Thursday morning to acquire Salt Lake Brewing Company for an undisclosed price from CANarchy Craft Brewery Collective.
Salt Lake Brewing Company owns seven restaurants and a central kitchen that serve Salt Lake City and Park City as Squatters and Wasatch restaurants. Thursday’s transaction laid to rest the uncertainty of the eateries’ fates after Monster Beverage Corporation announced in January it was buying CANarchy, including the Squatters and Wasatch breweries — but not the brew pubs.
“It’s very exciting for us,” said Polychronis, who is PRC’s chief operation officer. “I think there’s a ton of potential moving forward and we’re excited to be the boss again.”
Polychronis and Cole founded Squatter’s Pubs in 1989 and sold it to a Massachusetts-based private equity fund called Fireman Capital Partners in 2012.
“They bought our brewery and our restaurant and we were its first brewery acquisition,” Polychronis said.
Fireman Capital Partners backed CANarchy and subsequently purchased breweries in Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Texas and California, Polychronis said.
Over the years, Polychronis and Cole talked about eventually buying back Salt Lake Brewing Company from CANarchy, because CANarchy began to focus more on the brewing business instead of the restaurants, Polychronis said.
“So, these restaurants in Salt Lake City and Park City were kind of outliers to what they were doing,” he said. “We talked with them from time to time, but nothing really came out of it.”
As CANarchy prepared to sell the brewing portions of the Salt Lake Brewing Company to Monster, it got more interest in selling the restaurants to PRC, according to Polychronis.
“The restaurants became outliers in what they were focusing on, so we put together a deal, signed a commitment letter on Jan. 14, did a lot of due diligence and closed the transaction this morning,” he said.
Monae Madson, the prior vice president of CANarchy’s brewpubs and taprooms, will remain on board and serve as the Salt Lake Brewing Company’s chief executive officer, so restaurant patrons shouldn’t expect any major changes, Polychronis said.
“Monae Madson and her team are doing a great job, and we’re thrilled to have them remain on with us,” he said. “I think our job is to support them in every way we can but stay out of their way.”
PRC will provide Madsen and her team with the resources to grow and sustain the company, according to Polychronis.
“It’s been a difficult time for everybody with COVID through this last couple of years, and the company has survived and done well, but there is some recovery to do,” he said. “When the dust settles a bit on the pandemic, we will look at other locations to open new restaurants in Utah.”
With Utah in mind, PRC would like to see the restaurants interact more with the local population, Polychronis said.
“Squatters and Wasatch have a history of being involved with the community,” said Polychronis, who was born in Park City and graduated from Park City High School in 1972. “I think they may have gotten away from that with out-of-state ownership. So, we‘re going to recommit to that and get back to our roots in being community minded and locally oriented and go from there.”
PRC’s acquisition of Salt Lake Brewing Company puts Squatters and Wasatch Brew Pub back into local hands.
“It’s emotional for Peter and me, because things like this don’t happen pretty often,” Polychronis said. “You start something from nothing, which we did 33 years ago, and grow it to a size where you’re able to sell it. And then nine years later, the opportunity arises to get it back.”