This Dessert Chain Is Going Out of Business and Closing All 85 Locations
Nestlé Toll House Café, a franchised chain of cookie stores frequently found in malls and food courts, is being sold to a new parent company amid a years-long decline in sales. Unfortunately, that also means the end of the road for the dessert café and its 85 nationwide locations.
FAT Brands, which owns Johnny Rockets and Fazoli's, among others, has acquired Nestlé Toll House Café in an undisclosed deal. The company announced it will be converting all of the Café locations into Great American Cookies, a 370-unit gourmet cookie chain it already has in its portfolio.
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The multi-brand restaurant operator also owns 75 locations of ice-cream chain Marble Slab Creamery and is looking to boost its dessert category. The company said the acquisition will additionally improve efficiency and cost-saving at its Atlanta-based manufacturing facility.
"These stores will fold seamlessly into our quick-service division and provide us the opportunity to increase the capacity of our manufacturing business, a key growth objective," said Fat Brands CEO Andy Wiederhorn in a statement.
Nestlé Toll House Café has been suffering from a decline in foot traffic at malls and other shopping areas where it has a presence. According to QSR Magazine, its current parent company, Crest Foods, has been in litigation with Nestlé for the past five years, which resulted in the food industry giant's termination of the license agreement.
All locations of Nestlé Toll House Café will be rebranded by the end of the year, a process during which Crest's franchisees will become operators under Fat Brand's system and will be required to stop selling any products associated with Nestlé.
FAT Brands was up by 13.5% in systemwide sales during the first quarter of 2022, thanks to several major acquisitions it made in 2021. In June, the company announced it was purchasing the Global Franchise Group, which included Round Table Pizza, Great American Cookies, Hot Dog on a Stick, Marble Slab Creamery, and Pretzelmaker. In October, it acquired the sports bar Twin Peaks, and by the end of the year, it added Fazoli's and Native Grill & Wings to the fold as well.
And it seems that FAT Brands has no intention of slowing down its nontraditional growth strategy.
"We want to grow the brands that we already have. Then we'll continue to acquire strategically if we can find interesting acquisitions that are either easy to onboard to our platform … or alternatively, if we find a brand that has high growth opportunities," Wiederhorn told Nation's Restaurant News last year.