Retail

Oprah Enters The Restaurant World

Oprah Winfrey is becoming a restaurateur.

As of today, the international media titan has announced an investment in True Food Kitchen, a healthy eating startup based out of Houston. True Food Kitchen’s bread and butter, so to speak, is sustainable, local and organic dining. It was named the 2018 emerging restaurant by data firm Fishbowl.

The size of Oprah’s equity investment is unknown, but apart from money, she is offering her literal presence – she will be joining the brand’s board and acting as a consultant. Centerbridge Partners, a private equity firm, remains the restaurant’s controlling shareholder.

Oprah‘s interest was piqued after she ate at the restaurant and decided to seek out CEO Christine Barone for a possible collaboration.

“I love bringing people together over a good meal,” Winfrey said in a statement. “When I first dined at True Food Kitchen, I was so impressed with the team’s passion for healthy eating and, of course, the delicious food, that I knew I wanted to be part of the company’s future.”

The restaurant is in line with Oprah’s health-centric investment pattern. She purchased an approximately 10 percent stake in Weight Watchers in 2015. Today, she owns about 8 percent of the brand.

Barone said True Food Kitchen ended 2017 with double-digit same-store sales growth, though she did not share more specific numbers. She also noted that the official Oprah seal of approval could hash out with the firm doubling its business in the next three years.

True Food Kitchen only had 12 locations when Barone joined the company in 2016. It has since grown to 23 locations in 10 states. The firm was founded in 2008 by Dr. Andrew Weil and Phoenix restaurateur Sam Fox, and was built around Weil’s anti-inflammatory food pyramid.

“There’s really not a competitor in the full-service dining space for True Food Kitchen,” Barone said. “And I think that’s because many believed that you couldn’t have a singularly focused healthy restaurant compete in this market.”

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