Food industry chains, from coffee shops to salad purveyors, are going public one after another, and investors are eating it up.

Not long after donut maker Krispy Kreme debuted on the Nasdaq in June, other restaurant and fast food chains filed to go public, including Sweetgreen, a salad chain valued at $1.8 billion. Other companies rumored to be considering an IPO include California Pizza Kitchen, PF Chang’s, and Panera Bread. 

The latest to IPO, Oregon-based coffee chain Dutch Bros, had a successful opening day. First Watch, meanwhile, announced an upcoming IPO last week. The breakfast chain is poised to do well based on this year’s revenue and a track record of strong average unit sales. 

Although not a chain itself, restaurant software company Toast announced this week that it was seeking an IPO. Toast was one of the many companies in the restaurant industry that suffered through the pandemic, cutting 50% of its staff as restaurants everywhere shut down. Once valued at $5 billion pre-pandemic, Toast is now aiming for a $16 billion valuation for its public debut.

Dutch Bros

The Pacific Northwest’s latest coffee chain to IPO, Dutch Bros, began as a pushcart in a small Oregon town back in 1992. Founders Dane and Travis Boersma, who are siblings, didn’t start opening up franchises until 2000, but found success soon after. To date, the chain has nearly 500 locations in 11 states (all of which are drive-thru), some as far off as Texas and Oklahoma.

In 2007, Dane Boersma was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, and passed away two years later. Following his diagnosis, Dutch Bros prioritized charity work, starting the “Drink one for Dane” fund to donate to ALS research. 

According to our data, Dutch Bros currently has 491 locations, a 18.3% increase from this time last year, signalling rapid growth for the company. Despite that growth, Dutch Bros CEO John Ricci isn’t planning on changing the company’s game plan.

“We are not accelerating growth because of the IPO but staying disciplined,” Ricci told IPO Edge.

Dutch Bros’ first day of trading was a success — after opening at $23 a share, the stock jumped over 50% and closed at $37. That share price would value the company at nearly $3.8 billion, making it the seventh largest company in Oregon. The closing price was so high, in fact, that it became the biggest IPO to come out of Oregon. Even Nike didn’t have as big a debut in 1980, when its share price climbed to $22 (which was no small feat back then considering inflation). 

First Watch

Unlike some other breakfast chains, First Watch only operates from 7 am to 2:30 pm, meaning that all of its employees only work the same 8-hour shift. And unlike competitors like the Waffle House, Denny’s, and IHOP, First Watch offers more traditional restaurant fare: cocktails, dishes using seasonal ingredients, and more dishes made from scratch in-house. And despite not being open around the clock, First Watch’s average unit sales in 2019 totaled $1.6 million, just under Denny’s and IHOP. 

The Florida-based breakfast chain announced an IPO last week, but didn’t set a price range or a debut date yet, according to its S-1 filing. Founded in 1983 by Ken Pendery and John Sullivan, First Watch is currently led by chairman Ken Pendery Jr and CEO Chris Tomasso. 

Our data shows that First Watch has 423 locations in 28 states, up from 382 at the onset of the pandemic. According to its S-1, First Watch has big plans for expansion: It plans to reach 2,200 locations within the next few years. 

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