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Restaurant Finance Monitor: PJ Solomon Adds Morris to Restaurant Group

  • October 22, 2018

The PJ SOLOMON Grocery & Restaurants team spoke with Restaurant Finance Monitor about recent hires, service offerings and how their group is truly different. Read the full article below and on Restaurant Finance Monitor here

PJ Solomon Adds Morris to Restaurant Group

Investment banking firm PJ Solomon Company added a restaurant focus in 2016, and has doubled down on the sector with the addition of Edna Morris as senior advisor to the firm’s Food Retail & Restaurants Group. Morris has over 40 years of leadership experience that includes president of Red Lobster, Blue Corral Seafood (then owned by OSI, Inc.), Quincy’s Family Steakhouse and The James Beard Foundation.

“When we are working with current and prospective clients,” said Greg Grambling, managing director with the firm, “now we can provide even better insight into their business. Edna has the operations skill set, which is a huge differentiator, and helps us provide better service to clients.”

PJ Solomon offers advisory services to restaurant companies on mergers and acquisitions, restructuring, sales, recaps and capital market solutions.

Her role will bring that operations expertise to the table when they are evaluating strategic options for clients, as well as connecting the PJ Solomon team to those restaurant industry contacts she has cultivated over the years, including those who might be a strategic buyer for their clients.

“What I saw as different here,” said Morris, “was these individuals are not just M&A bankers. The breadth of their knowledge and experience in food and retail, and their commitment to bringing that to their clients was the differentiator for me. And there is a depth and tenure to their relationships—that speaks to the trust their clients have in them.”

Scott Moses joined PJ Solomon in 2016 to head up the Food Retail & Restaurants Investment Banking practice, with Grambling following soon after. Moses’ experience includes director positions with Sagent Advisors and JP Morgan, focusing on retail and restaurants. Grambling also has tenure with those two firms.

PJ Solomon, Moses says, has brought in partners who are leaders in their respective industries. “People who have long-standing experience in their areas. Bigger banks don’t necessarily prefer smaller or more complex transactions,” he added, and that is something he says PJ Solomon offers: flexibility.

The group has been and will continue to work with smaller companies, “but at the same time, our skill set and background can help with larger private and public operators in the space,” said Grambling.

“It’s a higher degree of support we can offer growing businesses,” said Moses. “It is rewarding when you can play a pivotal role to help companies work on the hurdles.” That flexibility means working with and advising companies, “whether or not there is a transaction to be done.”

That includes coaching entrepreneurs to understand what an investor might be looking for, how many units they need to have before a transaction can take place and more, said Grambling. It also means asking them “what culturally will work, how much equity are they willing to share, and helping them know the questions to ask themselves” when they are going to bring on an investor, added Morris. “What matters to them?”