Chain restaurant veterans Doug Jacob, the co-founder of &pizza, and Sandy Beall, former CEO of Ruby Tuesday, are raising funds to acquire an existing "quick-serve" restaurant brand.
The pair formed a shell company called FAST Acquisition Corp. that hit public markets on Friday with the goal of raising at least $200 million for the purchase.
"We assimilate fast and I think we'll pick a good brand," Beall told Cheddar.
These kinds of special-purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) were once derided on Wall Street, but have recently become a more popular means of taking a company public.
"The credibility of SPACs has grown tremendously as you've seen in the market today," Jacob said. "It's speed to capital. It's price certainty."
The team's criteria include restaurants with "small dining rooms" that utilize "an alternative way to get cuisine to the customer." The use of third-party or native delivery is also a plus.
Jacob said the team chose now to make this acquisition because coronavirus has accelerated a number of trends in the restaurant industry that it hopes to benefit from.
"You're going to see real estate prices drop dramatically, probably the lowest real estate prices in the past decade," Jacob said. "So our ability to grow through this time, as opposed to growing out of leases, we think is going to be a huge benefit. Talent is also going to be available."
Both executives touted their experience managing public companies, but Jacob highlighted his experience running restaurant chains that employ technology in new ways.
"We're going to apply a lot of our knowledge in tech, both with off-the-shelf solutions as well as building our own tech stack," he said.
In addition to investments in real estate and tech, the team is aiming to help bolster the brand of whatever company it acquires to meet shifting consumer expectations.
"I don't think consumers are going to attach themselves to brands that don't have values that align with their values," Jacob said.