Mercato Partners Launches New F&B Fund to Develop Promising Restaurant Concepts

by Katie Lee

Salt Lake City — Mercato Partners has launched its inaugural food and beverage fund, Savory. This new fund of $90 million will make investments into compelling, up-and-coming restaurant concepts by providing access to capital together with a team of experienced industry professionals to fuel growth and operations.

Greg Warnock

To create this unique investment practice, Mercato Partners founder Greg Warnock partnered with restaurant industry veteran Andrew K. Smith to lead the newly formed fund along with several members of his leadership team. Savory combines the experience of Smith and his team in developing and operating more than 175 geographically diverse restaurant locations with the experience of Warnock and the Mercato Partners team in successfully executing institutional investment strategies through various economic cycles and private equity practices.

Savory fills a noticeable void in the food and beverage industry by delivering access to growth capital together with an award-winning restaurant operations team of more than 50 industry veterans who formerly led restaurant development at Four Foods Group, one of the fastest-growing restaurant operators in the nation. This value-add team brings pivotal resources such as expertise in real estate selection and negotiation, development and construction of each restaurant location, project and event management, talent recruiting, leadership training and development, supply chain/procurement, human resources, accounting, strategic financial planning, facilities management, sales and marketing, and more.

Andrew K. Smith

“Thousands of restaurant brands have built winning concepts with a promising mix of culture, flavor profile and momentum; however, the creativity and courage needed to launch a new restaurant is much different from the skill set required to scale a restaurant concept to dozens of locations in multiple states,” says Smith, managing director of Savory. “Both capital and expertise are essential to create lasting value in the restaurant industry. Savory’s unique approach is to 1) identify where consumers have ‘already picked’ a winner through loyal patronage, to 2) provide capital to rapidly expand while preserving the brand’s uniqueness and to 3) provide restaurant founders with a capable support team ready to go beyond advice and coaching — and actually do work ‘on the business’ while the founders continue to work ‘in the business’ and thereby ensure mutual success.”

Savory’s current portfolio includes popular restaurant concepts Mo’Bettahs, R&R BBQ and Swig. Strong portfolio performance demonstrates Savory’s ability to identify and grow successful concepts at a rate exceeding 40% year-over-year, and to do so profitably. This growth has continued throughout, and in spite of, the economic fallout of the current crisis.

“By providing both capital and relevant expertise, we have unlocked tremendous success,” says Greg Warnock, managing director of Savory and Mercato Partners. “Savory’s limited partner investors and portfolio brand founders appreciate the Savory approach to driving incremental growth and value.”

Dining behaviors have changed in ways both temporary and permanent as a result of COVID-19. Many community favorite restaurants will not survive, and those losses are heartbreaking to their loyal customers. These market shifts and disruptions create an opportunity for brands that are fresh, nimble and well-funded to prosper in the food and beverage landscape for years to come. For more information, visit

Founded in 2007, Mercato Partners provides capital and guidance to firms in periods of high growth. Known as a value-add investor, Mercato works with its in-house performance team and an extended network of advisors and service providers to accelerate growth. For more information, visit



SOURCE: Mercato Partners

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