Saving the world’s best sandwich
Decades of fast-food-eating experience has convinced me that the world’s greatest sandwich is a pita filled with steak and vegetables made by D’Angelo Grilled Sandwiches, said Joe Nocera. I used to go to the local D’Angelo in Northampton, Mass., every Saturday with my sons. So imagine my dismay when I read in November that PGHC Holdings Inc., the owner of D’Angelo and its sister chain, Papa Gino’s, had gone bankrupt, shuttering 100 stores “in the dead of night.” Why? Private equity. For 13 years, PGHC had been owned by a Boston-based investment firm, Bunker Hill. That company “made a series of subsequent acquisitions that required expensive turnarounds.” And it was D’Angelo and Papa Gino’s that paid the price. Hopefully, this play will be different from “your basic private-equity-pillages-a-small-company-and-walks-away story.” Bunker Hill sold PGHC to a firm that now “seems determined to bring D’Angelo and Papa Gino’s to their former glory.” To keep the craft of sandwich making alive, it’s bringing back workers who had lost their jobs—and even hiring more. I’m hopeful that the new group can make D’Angelo great again. “But there is a little voice in my head telling me not to get too carried away.” I’ve read too many private-equity tragedies before.