Food Industry Veteran Has It His Way; Chuck James Seals Whopper Deal, Becomes Burger King's Largest Black Franchisee

By Lewis, Latif | Black Enterprise, February 2005 | Go to article overview

Food Industry Veteran Has It His Way; Chuck James Seals Whopper Deal, Becomes Burger King's Largest Black Franchisee


Lewis, Latif, Black Enterprise


Food industry veteran Charles H. "Chuck" James III is now Burger King's largest African American franchisee. In a deal announced in November, James, who is CEO and managing owner of C.H. James Restaurant Holdings L.L.C., purchased 37 Stores in the greater Chicago area.

James created C.H. James Restaurant Holdings, an affiliate of C.H. James & Co., in 2003 by leveraging a partnership with Goldman Sachs' Urban Investment Group. Franchising wasn't how the 46-year-old entrepreneur envisioned growing his fourth-generation family business. But after unsuccessful attempts at identifying large acquisitions in the food processing industry, James was urged to consider the quick service restaurant model.

When 26-year veteran franchisee Sheldon T. Friedman announced plans to retire, James and Goldman Sachs jumped at the offer. "We liked the positive momentum that Burger King was experiencing and saw a good opportunity with the 37 stores in Chicago," says James. October marked the ninth consecutive month of positive U.S. same-store sales for the fast-food chain.

After looking at several transactions, Kevin Jordan, managing director of the Urban Investment Group, agreed that Burger King (one-third of which is owned by Goldman Sachs) made the most sense. The firm expressed confidence in James' ability as an operator based on his industry experience as a supplier. Jordan also says the deal "was particularly attractive because it was a great geographic cluster of stores, all within reasonable proximity to one other, in ... one of the top markets in the country." (For a list of James' Chicago-area locations, visit www.blackenterprise.com/bkstores.) An undisclosed amount in equity financing from Goldman Sachs and Bank of America Restaurant Financing Group was used to close the deal on Nov. …

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