Nowadays it really seems like every company you've heard of is owned by an even bigger company whose name might be less familiar — and that if not for antitrust laws, all those bigger companies would be owned by one giant multinational intergalactic overlord.
This is certainly true in the food-service business. Though it’s rarely evident when you walk into your favorite chain restaurant, very few of them are independent.
It’s not easy for an independent company to remain independent, especially if it’s doing well. We hear about corporate takeovers all the time, in every industry, and it’s no different in the restaurant game. The owners of profitable chain restaurants, in many cases, are open to a buyout, and private equity companies are always looking for a good deal, even if it’s a risky investment. The exact reasons behind corporate mergers and acquisitions are varied and complicated, but they’re incredibly commonplace in a capitalist economy.
That isn’t to say that every chain has an umbrella company. Many fast food chains, including McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Chipotle, and Papa John’s, are independent companies. When fast food companies are bought, they tend to be purchased by competitors; both Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins are under the Dunkin’ Brands umbrella, and Dairy Queen owns Orange Julius. And Yum! Brands, as you’ll see, owns some of the biggest fast food chains on earth.
Whether it’s a company that owns only a couple restaurant chains or a massive private equity firm with dozens of holdings, you’ll be surprised by the companies that own some of your favorite restaurant chains. You most likely haven’t heard of most of them! Read on to learn which 10 big companies own many of the most popular chain restaurants.
Bloomin’ Brands was founded in 1987, and as the name might imply, it’s the parent company of Outback Steakhouse, whose signature menu item is the Bloomin’ Onion. The company also owns Bonefish Grill, Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar, and the Hawaii-based chain Roy’s.
Named after founder Norman Brinker, who popularized the salad bar concept and helped found chains Steak and Ale and Bennigan’s, Brinker International today owns Chili’s and Maggiano’s Little Italy. The company previously owned chains including Romano’s Macaroni Grill, Corner Bakery Cafe, and Taco Cabana.