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Marc Malnati on new investor in family’s pizzeria: ‘Great pizza will remain great pizza’

The Meritage Group, an investment firm based in San Francisco, is buying an ownership stake in Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria.

Lou Malnati’s deep dish pizza
The Meritage Group, an investment firm based in San Francisco, is buying the ownership stake in Lou Malnati’s held by BDT Capital, a Chicago firm that invested in the pizza chain in 2016.
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An investment firm just hammered out a deal to take part ownership of Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria, but nothing is changing when it comes to pizza.

“Don’t look for changes because there won’t be any. ... Great pizza will remain great pizza,” said Marc Malnati, who with his brother, Rick, will maintain their part ownership in the pizza chain.

The Meritage Group, an investment firm based in San Francisco, is buying the ownership stake held by BDT Capital, a Chicago firm that invested in the pizza chain in 2016, Malnati told the Chicago Sun-Times Friday morning. Financial details were not disclosed.

Marc Malnati, co-owner of Lou Malnati’s pizza chain
Marc Malnati
loumalnatis.com

“Five years ago we brought in a financial partner to support growth into Arizona and the Midwest and they feel like they served their purpose with us, supported us, saw us grow and it was time for them to reinvest some of their funds and so they sold the interest that they bought to Meritage,” Malnati said.

“So nothing really changed on our end. My brother and I are still the largest individual investors and owners, and things just go on,” he said. “I believe we’re focused on excellence as far as pizza, and none of that will change one iota. There’s no personnel changes, no staffing changes, just longer-term capital.”

Deliberate and sustained growth will continue, he said.

“We’re trying to become a mainstay of pizza in Milwaukee and Indianapolis, and hopefully some other Midwestern towns as well as Arizona,” he said of the family’s pizza chain, which is based in Northbrook.

The company operates 69 pizzerias in four states but mostly in the Chicago area.

Mark and Rick’s parents, Lou and Jean Malnati, opened the family’s first pizzeria in Lincolnwood in 1971.