Turning the page on its fast-casual restaurant venture, Publix Super Markets Inc. has sold its 36-store Crispers chain to a Miami investment firm.
Price and terms paid by Boyne Capital Partners for the soup/salad/flatbread sandwich chain often likened to Panera Bread were not disclosed.
Publix invested with the chain's Lakeland founders in 2004, bankrolling expansion from 13 stores to 42 before taking controlling interest in 2007.
In 2008, the New Jersey consultant Publix brought in to be CEO was sentenced to two years in prison for stealing $400,000 from his employer, about $250,000 of which he spent on a Florida condo. Since then a recession cut into all restaurant sales and a half dozen Crispers stores were closed.
"We (originally) bought it because of shared values with the founders and to learn restaurant industry best practices," said Maria Brous, spokeswoman for Publix, the Lakeland-based supermarket chain. "It's different than our core supermarket business where we are concentrating our focus."