CA: Holiday Ham chain to expand, rebrand as Pimento’s
East Memphis restaurant chain Holiday Ham and Deli plans to add several locations and ramp up online sales following an infusion of money by investors including Memphis billionaire Pitt Hyde’s Pittco Management LLC.
Holiday Ham owner Trey Jordan described the growth plans Monday for the 150-employee company, saying he brought in nine investors and recruited former McAlister’s Deli chief executive Phil Friedman as an advisor to help guide the expansion of the fast-casual restaurants.
Holiday was founded in East Memphis 23 years ago as a rival of Georgia-based HoneyBaked Ham and has gradually added food lines to compete in a crowded fast-casual segment with major national brands such as Chipotle Mexican Grill, Panera Bread and Starbucks.
It would be the second fast-casual chain based in Memphis to ramp up in recent years. Lyfe Kitchen was moved to the city from California in 2014 by Wendy’s developer Carlise Corp. of Memphis, which revealed plans to grow from 10 restaurants to 60 throughout the country within two years.
Holiday has sought slower growth. Its restaurant now going in on Poplar Avenue near the International Paper Co. head offices will open as Pimento’s Kitchen and Market. Its decor and menu will be incorporated into three proposed new restaurants in the Memphis area, Jordan said.
Plans call for rolling out the Pimento’s brand in Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi, rebranding the current four restaurants in Memphis and Germantown as Pimento’s and also opening a central kitchen in Memphis to supply the restaurants as well as ham and other foods for the electronic commerce business, he said.
Holiday owns its four restaurants and has one franchisee, Pimento’s Cafe and Market, located on the Mississippi College campus in Jackson. Present plans call for company-owned restaurants rather than franchises. A location for the central kitchen has not been chosen.
“I think if you look at the restaurant industry, it’s growing modestly but the fastest growth is in quick casual,’’ said Friedman, who expanded Ridgeland, Mississippi-based McAlister’s Deli from 30 to nearly 300 outlets within 11 years. An expansion will require planning and making sure the company can sustain growth, he said.
Friedman currently owns and manages Salsarita’s Fresh Cantina, a chain based in Charlotte, North Carolina. He has joined Holiday Ham’s board of directors but is not an investors. Also on the Holiday board is Bryce Hendry, an associate at Pittco, an investment firm founded by AutoZone Inc. founder Pitt Hyde.
Rather than obtain a bank loan for the expansion, Jordan said he decided to recruit investors. “My goal was to bring on strategic investors who could help me think about future growth,’’ he said.
Jordan declined to say how much was invested. He disclosed only two investors, Pittco and Paul Stephens, a Memphian who was part of the team that opened the vacant Tennessee Brewery as a temporary nightspot in 2015 before plans unfolded to redevelop the building into apartments. Stephens is leading Holiday’s electronic commerce efforts.
Each Holiday location opens for early breakfasts and also caters food and operates a take-out market for certain menu items such as black bean and corn salad.
“Panera is the 800-pound gorilla. They’re the benchmark to compete against, but I’d say we’re different,” said Jordan, who launched the ham business with his father. “We have the component competing with HoneyBaked but we also have the deli and we also have the market side (for take out). There’s nobody really competing in our space.’’